The 2019-20 NHL season remains on pause, but the league has talked about different scenarios that could unfold if a return to play happens.
One potential scenario, according to TSN's Pierre LeBrun, involves a 24-team format.
Again, tough to handicap at this point whether a format gets agreed upon this week or not but definite progress. A reminder that the NHL has a Board of Governors call Monday at 3 p.m. ET; and that the league may announce decision on the draft this week— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 17, 2020
TSN's Darren Dreger also reported that, under a 24-team scenario, there would two hub cities with each one hosting 12 teams. TSN's Bob McKenzie provided more context to Dreger's report on Monday morning.
BTW, there are still multiple cities in the mix to be NHL hubs and the number of hubs is still TBD.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) May 18, 2020
Two hub cities is a good number for a few reasons, one being that it would limit travel between all of the teams.
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Another aspect for the league to figure out if it resumes the season is whether to go straight to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If the league doesn't want to jump right into the postseason, two options are playing more regular season games -- most teams have played around 70 of the 82 regular season games originally scheduled -- or having some kind of play-in tournament. According to LeBrun, it seems that the league is thinking of the second scenario.
Maybe it’s semantics, but my understanding of what’s being talked about with the 24 teams is that it’s still 16 teams in the actual playoffs but that there would be “play-in” series to get into the field of 16... https://t.co/RzpiOZmtFA— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 18, 2020
A play-in tournament would be a lot of fun and give the teams on the playoff bubble a chance to sneak into the playoffs.
The Eastern Conference has five teams in the wild card race. The Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets occupy the two spots with 81 points apiece. Three other teams have at least 78 points. The Western Conference has four teams in the wild card chase within at least three points of each other.
It's still unknown if the 2019-20 season will return. It has been paused since mid-March amid the outbreak of COVID-19. However, it its encouraging that the league is looking at some different scenarios if game action does resume. Perhaps we will find out more after Monday afternoon's Board of Governors meeting.