The NHL and the NHLPA are discussing a 24-team, conference-based playoff format, which would officially be the restart to the 2019-20 season this summer, sources confirmed to ESPN, no more regular season games would be played.
The playoffs would be conference-based and would remain bracketed, replacing the divisional wild-card format the league has used since 2013. The top four seeds, as determined by their standings points percentage when the regular season was paused, would receive byes through a round of best-of-five play-in series that would feature seeds 5 through 12.
The NHL will likely utilize only two “hub” cities for its restart if the proposed 24-team, conference-based playoff format is approved by the league and the NHLPA.
The NHL explored using four “hub” arena sites for the restart. Commissioner Gary Bettman said Monday that eight or nine locations are under consideration.
Fans will not be allowed at the games, and logistics remain a work in progress.
The NHLPA executive committee will meet Thursday to discuss the format and other “return to play” issues.
Under this proposal, the St. Louis Blues would be the number one seed in the Western Conference.