The regular season is over
Each conference will be assigned a hub city for the playoffs
24-team postseason format
The bottom eight qualifying teams in each conference will play a best-of-5 series to get into the playoffs
The top four seeds will play in a round robin to determine seeding
We don’t know if the bracket will re-seed after each round
Each team will be limited to 50 personnel
Training camp will not begin before July 1
Bettman did say he expects the Stanley Cup Playoffs to spill over into the fall, which likely means a late July start to the postseason, at the earliest.
We don’t know the host cities either, but here are the 10 under consideration: Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Vancouver.
What’s the Format?
The NHL will roll with a format reported last week — 24 teams, with the top four teams in each conference getting a bye (though they will be playing each other for seeding).
That would pit the 5 vs. 12, 6 vs. 11, 7 vs. 10, and 8 vs. 9 in best-of-five series.
The winners of those play-in series will play the 1-4 seeds, who will play a round robin against the other three teams to determine seeding. (We don’t have full details on that yet).
The league is unsure if the true first and second rounds will be best-of-five or best-of-seven, but the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final will be a seven-game series.
The teams eliminated during the qualifying round will be eligible for the NHL Draft lottery, along with the seven teams that finished 25-31 during the shortened regular season.
Intentional or not, the expansion does rope in some of the league’s biggest markets with the New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens all qualifying when they would not have in a normal year.
Play-In Round Matchups
Some of the smaller markets won’t be happy with how this shook out.
Here are the matchups in the East.
No. 5 Pittsburgh vs. No. 12 Montreal
No. 6 Carolina vs. No. 11 NY Rangers
No. 7 NY Islanders vs. No. 10 Florida
No. 8 Toronto vs. No. 9 Columbus
And in the West.
No. 5 Edmonton vs. No. 12 Chicago
No. 6 Nashville vs. No. 11 Arizona
No. 7 Vancouver vs. No. 10 Minnesota
No. 8 Calgary vs. No. 9 Winnipeg
Great job Bettman, it's important to the league, and fans there or not, I suspect not, it's being a leader in the sports world and I don't know anyone, even those who aren't big hockey fans, who is not looking forward to this. Lots to work out but they're going to make it happen, and it's much needed. Thanks! And go Lightning!
I think the NHL did a good job here, even though there is some controversy letting 8 more teams into the playoffs, it's still fairly reasonable since teams didn't get to finish out their season. I'm glad they're jumping right into the playoffs too and not playing any regular season games. I can imagine there would be some backlash from players like there was in the NBA. As for me this works out pretty good since I'm a Leafs fan and this break has given them some time to rest and heal up since a few key players were pretty banged up, AND we don't have to play Boston first round and might make it to the second round of playoffs for once lol.
I think they can still workout some way to allow spectators into the arenas by having a lottery and blocking off certain seats/sections to allow for social distancing. It would be tough to manage but there's a debate to be had for this kind of idea.