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Photo Credit: NHL.com

NHL’s 24-team playoff format appears more possible; league pushing back draft

A few news and nuggets from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman released Thursday suggest the league may be pushing back their entry draft.

Friedman noted the league said they would be giving 30 days notice to clubs on the date of the draft. With an early suggestion of June 5th or 6th, the ability for a 30-day notice has since come and gone.

The league could go back to its original date of June 26–27, but online. However, there is a growing sense that the league office is backing away from this fight. On the Board of Governors call three days after that memo, it’s believed that approximately half the teams indicated they were completely against doing it before the end of the playoffs. Even more of an issue was there weren’t many teams willing to fight for doing it early. One of the concerns with having it in the fall is suddenly the sports calendar is jammed with NFL, tennis majors, golf majors, big horse races, MLB, etc. But that argument is not swaying anyone. Friedman’s 31 thoughts 

I think it’s a good thing that the league is looking to push back their draft. There’s lots of work that needs to put in from the different teams and to be honest, I’d prefer holding a draft online (albeit online) and that’s largely because I think it’s necessary to be able to trade players as part of the draft. Some of the most work teams do is on the draft floor.

On the playoff format

While nothing appears to be set in stone, Friedman noted that it sounds like an announcement could be made next week. Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving told media the other day “…I do sense some momentum that next week there could be at least a preliminary plan in place for where we go.”

Adding there’s no guarantee on what’s to happen, the 24-team playoff format sounds likely.

Friedman breaks down what the hub cities could be, and how it would work.

METROPOLITAN HUB: Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Carolina, Islanders, Columbus

ATLANTIC HUB: Boston, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Florida, Montreal, Rangers (added as lowest seed from Metropolitan — Bruins are top-ranked in East, and should have that reward in their hub)

CENTRAL HUB: St. Louis, Colorado, Dallas, Winnipeg, Nashville, Chicago (Blackhawks stay in Central because Blues are top-ranked in West)

PACIFIC HUB: Vegas, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Arizona, Minnesota

The first round “becomes” a five-game round robin — with a handicap by standings at arrival of the pause. Based on points percentage, the seeds could be given from 10 points (first) to 0 (sixth) at the start. If you think that’s too much, maybe go from five points to zero. That way, every team that comes back gets a minimum of five games.

Top four move on to the next round, and decide if we’re dealing with best-of-five or best-of-seven from then on.

I’m all for more hockey, but this seems… a little excessive. I’d rather see a tighter pool for these games as there are some teams like Chicago and Montreal who are much farther out of the race than other teams.

Nonetheless, I’m hopeful the league is able to figure out a way to safely play the game whenever it feels ready. My biggest concern, as should be the league’s is the safety of everyone involved in the game.

On Twitter: @zjlaing