After a few weeks of speculation, the first proposal for a new realignment plan has been put on the table.
According to Bob McKenzie of TSN, the National Hockey League has tabled its first official proposal for a new realignment plan, that will take place as early as next season. As it's been speculated, the plan will involve four separate divisions, which will have two divisions in the West, and two divisions in the East.
The division breakdowns are as follows:
This was a hot topic among the new realignment proposal, and many people were wondering how exactly the playoff format would operate. Well, according to McKenzie, the three teams in each of the two Eastern Conference divisions will make the playoffs, while the top three from each Western division will make it as well.
Here's where things get pretty interesting. The NHL is adopting "wild card" teams into the playoff picture, as two of the ten remaining teams in the Eastern divisions will also get a bid into the post season. As for the West, two of the eight remaining teams between both divisions will get in as well.
To be honest, this doesn't seem very far off from their current playoff format with the first seed going up against the eighth seed, and so on. Whatever works I guess.
As far as scheduling goes, each team have a home-and-home with the other teams throughout the other three divisions. Now for the divisional matchups, they will factor out a little bit different in the East, than they would in the West divisions. For the East, each team will either play five or six games against their divisional opponents, sort of like it is now, with the condensed schedule.
For the West, each team will faceoff against their divisional opponents six times throughout the regular season. The difference is numbers is based on the West divisions have one less team per division.
Overall, the proposal by the NHL doesn't look too bad to be honest, with the exception of the playoff format changing. The main reason for the realignment is to drastically cut down on teams, mainly in the West, having to add on a ton of mileage, just to travel within their divisions.