The NHL is working to come up with a plan for its return to action, and it now seems the league is focused on getting the playoffs under way without more regular-season contests.
There is clearly a desire to include as many teams as possible in this scenario to compensate for the fact that late-season races to playoff berths were prematurely cut short. That number appears to be 24 — 12 teams from each conference — with just seven NHL clubs not getting a shot at the Stanley Cup.
Today one possible format was put forth for the seeding of the 24 teams. The top four clubs in each conference would earn a bye, and seeds five to 12 would pair off for play-in series.
The Montreal Canadiens are the 12th seed in this alignment, and would draw the fifth seed, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in a short opening round. Once these play-in series are complete, the winner adopts the highest seed (e.g. Montreal would become seed number five if it defeats Pittsburgh), and then a typical eight-team conference alignment continues from there.
This is an early proposal. There’s still time for the format to tweaked, significantly altered, or scrapped entirely. This is the version of the season resumption all parties will be debating over the next few days.
Eastern Conference Play-Ins
(5) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (12) Montreal Canadiens
(6) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (11) New York Rangers
(7) New York Islanders vs. (10) Florida Panthers
(8) Columbus Blue Jackets vs. (9) Toronto Maple Leafs
Western Conference Play-Ins
(seeding based on points percentage)