An expansion of the current playoff system is being discussed internally by both the NHL and NHLPA, according to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos.
Kypreos reports that the new format would include 20 teams, up from 16. However, it should be noted that the topic has not yet been broached in formal negotiations.
Now, it shouldn’t come as a surprise this has come up internally. We’re sure lots of ideas have been discussed (it’s not like they haven’t had time to brainstorm). So there’s no guarantee this is actually going to happen.
But if it does, how might a new format work? Well, first recall that the NHL wants to realign into four conferences. So our best guess would be one-game (maybe best-of-three) playoffs for the fourth- and fifth-place teams in each of the four conferences.
This would have two advantages. First, the additional games would provide additional revenue. Second, more teams in the playoff race theoretically means fewer fans giving up on their teams during the regular season.
Major League Baseball recently introduced an expanded playoff system as part of its new CBA, with one-game playoffs between two wild card teams in each league. In October, the new format allowed the 88-74 Cardinals to beat the 94-68 Braves in a one-game showdown and advance all the way to NLCS (where they lost in seven to the Giants).