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Quebec City and Las Vegas take lead in NHL's formal expansion process @NHL

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Quebec City and Las Vegas are now at the forefront of the NHL expansion movement.

Owners in those two cities were the only ones to submit expansion applications before Monday's deadline, the league has confirmed.

The NHL said it received requests from and sent applications to 16 different groups or individuals.

Quebecor submitted a bid to bring the Nordiques back to Quebec City, while Bill Foley applied for a Las Vegas franchise.

Ownership groups in the Toronto and Seattle areas considered applying but ultimately did not.

The NHL said the intent of the expansion process was to "set realistic guideposts to distinguish between bona fide expressions of interest ... from those indications of potential interest which were, at best, merely hopes or aspirations."

"Apparently, only Mr. Foley and Quebecor have the confidence in their ability to secure an arena and suitable ownership capability to move forward with this process," the league said.

Quebecor manages the Videotron Centre, which will host a pre-season game between the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins in September.

A new arena is under construction on the Las Vegas strip and is set to open in the spring of 2016.

The NHL intends to focus "exclusively" on Las Vegas and Quebec now that the applications have been submitted.

There are two more stages of the expansion process, which goes until Aug. 10.

Expansion would be for the 2017-18 season, commissioner Gary Bettman said last month.

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