The NHL and its players took another step forward Friday evening in establish a course of action to return to play.
The NHLPA accepted the league’s proposal of a 24-team format as part of its proposal to return to play. There still are details to be hashed out, so nothing is official at this point, with things likely to continue to being discussed and possibly reworked.
That said though, here is a framework that SportsNet’s Elliotte Friedman reported is under consideration by the league (each team’s seed is in parenthesis).
— Pittsburgh Penguins (5) vs. Montreal Canadiens (12); winner plays Philadelphia Flyers (4)
— Carolina Hurricanes (6) vs. New York Rangers (11); winner plays Washington Capitals (3)
— New York Islanders (7) vs. Florida Panthers (10); winner plays Tampa Bay Lightning (2)
— Toronto Maple Leafs (8) vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (9); winner plays Boston Bruins (1)
— Edmonton Oilers (5) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (12); winner plays Dallas Stars (4)
— Nashville Predators (6) vs. Arizona Coyotes (11); winner plays Vegas Golden Knights (3)
— Vancouver Canucks (7) vs. Minnesota Wild (10); winner plays Colorado Avalanche (2)
— Calgary Flames (8) vs. Winnipeg Jets (9); winner plays St. Louis Blues (1).
Again, a lot of these details could change over the coming weeks and days so exact framework is confirmed at this point. The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun pointing out a couple potential things that’ll be discussed.
Aside from the bracketing versus re-seeding decision, another open issue on the 24-team format: whether the first round of the actual playoffs (16 teams) should be the normal best-of-7 or instead a best-of-5 like the play-in series beforehand…
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 23, 2020
However, this all reinforces the league’s commitment from the day it paused to figure out a way to play out the rest of the season and award the Stanley Cup.