The NHL and the NHLPA are having heated discussions about when play could potentially resume. There are serious talks that the postseason could consist of 24 teams. That would make it very easy to decide the NHL Draft Lottery after that is determined.
They are most likely going to decide the playoffs in each conference by points percentage for the 12 best teams. I am not a big fan of it. The Stanley Cup Playoffs should be 16 teams and that’s it. This time of year is usually the heartbeat for hockey fans. The NHL also misses it.
In the NHL’s Eastern Conference, the Boston Bruins (1), Tampa Bay Lightning (2), Washington Capitals (3), and the Philadelphia Flyers (4) would get first-round byes.
The first-round matchups would be: The Montreal Canadiens (12) vs the Pittsburgh Penguins (5), the New York Rangers (11) vs the Carolina Hurricanes (6), the Florida Panthers (10) vs the New York Islanders (7), and the Columbus Blue Jackets (9) vs the Toronto Maple Leafs (8).
Wicked, Wild West
In the Western Conference, the St. Louis Blues (1), Colorado Avalanche (2), Vegas Golden Knights (3), and the Dallas Stars (4) will each have a first-round bye.
The matchups would be: The Chicago Blackhawks (12) vs the Edmonton Oilers (5), the Arizona Coyotes (11) vs the Nashville Predators (6), the Minnesota Wild (10) vs the Vancouver Canucks (7), and the Winnipeg Jets (9) vs the Calgary Flames (8).
There are also going to be a couple of “hub” cities for games to resume in. The potential favorites right now in the Western Conference is either Vegas or Edmonton. The potential favorite right now in the Eastern Conference is Columbus. It is odd that Florida or Tampa Bay is not a likely destination. I am also surprised that Dallas is also not a destination either or Arizona.
Stanley Cup Playoff Layout
The first series would only be a best of five series. After the shortened series is finished, the rest of the Stanley Cup Playoffs would feature a best of seven series. In reality, the teams with a bye would not have to worry about it being a “24-team” playoff format technically speaking in this situation.
There would be no reseeding and it would be bracketed, according to Elliotte Freidman of Sportsnet. This could be a crazy postseason with everyone relatively healthy. I am curious to see how the NHL will schedule the games nonetheless.
I don’t think games would start as early as July at this point. Teams are going to need at least three weeks to prep in order to get ready. There also could be shuffling of some top seeds which doesn’t make sense. They will need to play some exhibition games to get their feet wet as well.
I think at the end of the day, it should be the 16 teams in the playoffs because of where play stopped or they should cancel the season altogether. The other thing is with a 24-team format, the seven teams for the NHL Draft Lottery will be decided between the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, and the Anaheim Ducks.
What do you think the NHL should do about the 24-team playoff format? Leave a comment below.
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Follow Glenn Kaplan on Twitter @glennkaplan13.