The NHL and NHL Players’ Association are mulling a return to action this summer with a playoff format featuring 24 teams in a conference-based setup, SportsNet reported Wednesday night.
Discussions within the NHLPA executive committee could take place as early as Thursday, according to SportsNet report and ESPN.
Under the plan, the top four seeds in each conference based on points would earn byes into the second round based on points percentage as of March 12, when the NHL paused the season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Based on that, the top four seeds in the Eastern Conference would be the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers. The top four Western Conference teams would be the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars. Those teams would play in a three-game tournament to stay sharp, SportsNet reported.
The other 16 teams would play in a best-of-five, play-in first round.
The rest of the bracketed playoff format would have the 5 vs. 12 winner playing the fourth seed, the 6 vs. 11 winner playing the three seed, the 7 vs. 10 winner playing the two seed and the 8 vs. 9 winner playing the one seed in best-of-seven series, according to the report. All remaining series would be best-of-seven, too.
ESPN reported that two hub cities would be utilized if the plan is approved and that fans would not be allowed in the arenas.
—Field Level Media