The NHL is officially exploring expansion.

The league is opening a formal expansion review process to consider adding new franchises to its 30-team league, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Wednesday.

Las Vegas, Seattle and Quebec City are the markets that have expressed the most serious interest. A second team in the Toronto area leads the list of additional possibilities for any prospect owner with the likely $500 million expansion fee and a passion for hockey.

“The fact we are going through this process doesn’t mean we are going to expand,” Bettman said. “All it means is we’re going to stop just listening to expressions of interest and take a good, hard look at what they actually mean.”

The Board of Governors met in Las Vegas on Wednesday before the NHL Awards and decided that the league will take formal applications for new franchises on July 6, closing the process Aug. 10.

The NHL hasn’t decided how many clubs it might add, and it doesn’t anticipate expansion before the 2017-18 season, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. Bettman indicated that an expansion fee would be at least $500 million, to be distributed among the existing clubs.

The Board of Governors also formalized the rule changes that were approved Tuesday in a meeting of the league’s general managers. The NHL will play three-on-three hockey in overtime this fall, and coaches will be able to challenge certain goal calls on video replay.

Price wins big

Carey Price came away from the NHL Awards show with a hat trick.

The Montreal Canadiens’ record-setting goalie claimed the Hart Trophy, the Vezina Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award at the NHL’s annual postseason bash in Las Vegas.

Price also shared the already announced Jennings Trophy with Chicago goalie Corey Crawford, but his hefty haul of hardware capped one of the greatest regular seasons for a goalie in NHL history.

Price led the league with 44 victories, a 1.96 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage.