As the “Return to Play” Committee continues to negotiate various NHL playoff scenarios, multiple sources indicate the NHL and NHLPA are working on a 24-team conference-based playoff setup.
Let’s be clear: nothing is set in stone. The teams and players must still approve it, but discussions on the proposal could happen as soon as Thursday.
The top four seeds (based on points percentage) in the East would be Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington and Philadelphia. Top four in the West would be St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas and Dallas.
They would receive byes through the play-in, but participate in a three-game tournament to get some action.
The rest of the playoffs would be “bracketed.” That means, in both conferences 5 vs. 12, 6 vs. 11, 7 vs. 10, and 8 vs. 9.
So that would mean an Eastern Conference opening round of:
• 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)
And a Western Conference opening round of:
• 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)
The play-in series would be a best-of-five. The rest of the playoffs would be best-of-seven.
Once again, it depends on approval from both the teams and players — which could come over the next few days.