Find out the latest on COVID-19's impact on the sports world and when sports are returning by subscribing to Breaking News push notifications in the Sports and COVID-19 section.
The NHL and the players' union are working on a 24-team playoff setup based on conference standings, sources told Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.
Friedman noted that nothing is set in stone and that both teams and players must still approve it. He added that discussions on the proposal could happen as early as Thursday.
Friedman admitted he's not certain of every detail, but said he has an idea of how it would work: The top four seeds (based on points percentage) in each conference would receive byes through the play-in but participate in a three-game tournament to serve as a tune-up.
The rest of the playoffs would be "bracketed." In each conference, the No. 5 seed faces the No. 12 seed (winner plays No. 4), No. 6 faces No. 11 (winner plays No. 3), No. 7 faces No. 10 (winner plays No. 2), and No. 8 faces No. 9 (winner plays No. 1).
The play-in series would be a best-of-five, and the rest of the postseason would be best-of-seven series.
Here's a look at the current standings based on points percentage:
|2.||Tampa Bay Lightning||.657|
|7.||New York Islanders||.588|
|8.||Toronto Maple Leafs||.579|
|9.||Columbus Blue Jackets||.579|
|11.||New York Rangers||.564|
|1.||St. Louis Blues||.662|
|3.||Vegas Golden Knights||.606|
Another major change in this format would be the lack of reseeding. For example, if a No. 10, 11, or 12 seed managed to pull off an upset in the Eastern Conference play-in, the higher-ranked winner of Toronto and Columbus would still play Boston next.
This conference-based format would erase the NHL's much-maligned divisional playoff system - at least for one season.