Realignment seems all but certain for the NHL, but the specifics of some pretty radical changes still have to be figured out. It sounds like the league is getting closer to squaring that away, though.
ESPN.com obtained a memo the league sent to all 30 teams outlining the proposed realignment and playoff changes.
The ESPN.com report falls in line with the latest realignment rumors which called for four total divisions in two different conferences.
As a reminder, here are those divisions and their teams.
Division A: Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto
Division B: Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington
Division C: Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg
Division D: Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver
Now, what will the playoff situation be under this new proposal? According to ESPN.com, the plan will see divisional playoffs, not conference playoffs. The top three teams from each division would reportedly make the playoffs. Two wild-card teams from each conference would also make the playoffs.
The division winner with the best record will play the lowest-seeded wild-card team. The other divisional winner will play the remaining wild-card team. The wild-card teams could be from the same division, meaning one division could have five playoff teams and the other division in the same conference may have three.
The proposal still needs to be approved by the NHLPA and the board of governors.
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