There is still a lot to be determined as it relates to the starting up of the NHL season.
One thing we know is the playoff format. It will be a 24 team tournament which will begin possibly as late as July.
The NHL and the Players Association finalized this part of the agreement yesterday.
Right now it doesn’t look like there will be a completion to the regular season which means seven teams will miss the post-season.
The NHL board of governors is expected to approve of this plan early next week.
The top four teams in each conference would play each other in a mini-tournament for seeding, while the remaining 16 teams face off in a best-of-five series play-in round to set determine the final 16 to play for the Stanley Cup.
The Lightning along with Boston, Washington, and Philadelphia are the top four seeds in the east and will play in the mini-tournament to determine the top four seeds.
The rest of the pairings look like this.
Top seeds: Boston Bruins (1), Tampa Bay Lightning (2), Washington Capitals (3), Philadelphia Flyers (4)
Play-in Series: Pittsburgh Penguins (5) vs. Montreal Canadiens (12), Carolina Hurricanes (6) vs. New York Rangers (11), New York Islanders (7) vs. Florida Panthers (10), Toronto Maple Leafs (8) vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (9)
Top seeds: St. Louis Blues (1), Colorado Avalanche (2), Vegas Golden Knights (3), Dallas Stars (4)
Play-in series: Edmonton Oilers (5) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (12), Nashville Predators (6) vs. Arizona Coyotes (11), Vancouver Canucks (7) vs. Minnesota Wild (10), Calgary Flames (8) vs. Winnipeg Jets (9)
The health and safety of the players remain the top priority and one of the issues that need to be worked.
There is also work still being done on the hub cities that would host the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Las Vegas is pushing hard to be one of those cities in the US, while Edmonton is making a strong case to be one of the host Canadian cities.
Vegas is particularly attractive due to the hotel rooms available in the city.
Other cities being mentioned as hub cities include Columbus, Ohio; Nashville, Tennessee; Raleigh, North Carolina; And St. Paul Minnesota.
Games would be played without fans in attendance. Another issue to work on is how to deal with the players being sequestered and away from their families for a long period.
Toronto maple leafs defensemen Tyson Barrie said “Obviously, it’s not ideal, but I think in a time like this, how can anything be super traditional? I think we all have to adapt and kind of realize that it’s not going to be this perfect, classic NHL playoffs. I think for the situation we’re in, for a year, I think that’s fine.”
According to various reports, the NHL is open to having the playoffs extend into September and pushing the start of the 2020-21 season as late as January.
The NHL season was put on hold on March 12th due to the CO-VID 19 pandemic.
Here are the latest odds to win the Stanley Cup.
Tampa Bay 6/1
St. Louis 10/1