It appears the NHL has finally set their sights on a playoff format that league would like to pursue if and when play resumes.
Elliotte Friedman and Chris Johnston of Sportsnet reported last night that the league will be proposing a 24-team “bracketed” playoff structure to the players for approval and if agreed upon, would set the NHL on a course to award a Stanley Cup for the 2019-20 season.
The playoff brackets would be set based points percentage and include play-in round between seeds 5-12 in each conference. This means each 1-4 seed would get a bye. That includes: the Boston Bruins (1st in East), Tampa Bay Lightning (2nd), Washington Capitals (3rd), Philadelphia Flyers (4th), St. Louis Blues (1st in West), Colorado Avalanche (2nd), Vegas Golden Knights (3rd) and Dallas Stars (4th).
The bye teams would participate in a three-game tournament to get some action in and not be approaching a playoff series cold. The details of that three-game tournament have not been made clear.
The brackets were appear as follows:
5. Pittsburgh vs. 12. Montreal (winner plays four seed)
6. Carolina vs. 11. Rangers (winner plays three seed)
7. Islanders vs. 10. Florida (winner plays two seed)
8. Toronto vs. 9. Columbus (winner plays one seed)
5. Edmonton vs. 12. Chicago (winner plays four seed)
6. Nashville vs. 11. Arizona (winner plays three seed)
7. Vancouver vs. 10. Minnesota (winner plays two seed)
8. Calgary vs. 9. Winnipeg (winner plays one seed)
Each play-in round would consist of a best-of-five series and from there, each round would go a best-of-seven.
There would still need to be medicals, testing, host/hub cities figured out before anything could happen but this at least gives the players an idea about who would make the postseason and who wouldn’t. This would all start, at the earliest, July or August.
Right now, it sounds like Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto are the likeliest of hub cities to be approved by the NHL to host games.