In a statement put out by the NHLPA yesterday, the Executive Board has announced that they will “authorize further negotiations with the NHL on a 24-team return to play format to determine the winner of the 2020 Stanley Cup.”
The press release said that “several details remain to be negotiated and an agreement on the format would still be subject to the parties reaching agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play.”
Darren Dreger tweeted yesterday that 24 teams would make the playoffs with the top four teams in each conference playing each other while the other 16 teams would play a play-in round.
This format would leave the Devils out in the cold as they would not be in a position to qualify. But this is a unique and clever way to get the playoffs in while not needing to finish the regular season. The bubble teams do not get eliminated in the regular season, but do get a chance to qualify for the playoffs.
Under this format, Boston, Tampa, Washington and Philly would all be the top seeds in the Eastern Conference while St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas and Dallas would be the top seeds in the West. They would all have byes in the first round of the proposed playoff format.
From there, in the East play-in format, Toronto would play Columbus; Pittsburgh would face Montreal; the Islanders would meet the Panthers; and the Rangers would get the Hurricanes. In the West play-in series, Calgary would faceoff with Winnipeg; Edmonton would face Chicago; Vancouver and Minnesota would square off and, in a series that has interest to Devils fans due to the Taylor Hall trade conditions, Nashville would get Arizona. Hall would also be facing his former coach in the Preds’ John Hynes.
In the East, the winner of Toronto/Columbus gets Boston in round two while Pittsburgh/Montreal gets the Flyers and Isles/Florida gets the Lightning and Carolina/Rangers gets the Capitals.
In the West in round two, the winner of Flames/Jets would meet the Blues while Oilers/Blackhawks would get the Stars, Canucks/Wild would get the Avalanche and Predators/Coyotes would meet the Golden Knights.
All of the previous bracket information comes from Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman and Chris Johnston and was tweeted out by Sportsnet on Thursday.