The NHLPA executive board voted on their proposal for a 24-team playoffs format to finish the 2019-20 season. There are still a few hoops left to jump through, including approval by the NHL Board of Governors, before this format is finalized. We are still at the first step in preparing for the playoffs, the NHL still hasn’t figured out testing, hub cities, or travel visas for the players.

31 Thoughts: Player vote underway on NHL playoff system

While there has apparently been some progress on those USA-Canada visas, there is still no word for those currently in Europe and elsewhere. Edmonton is currently pulling out all the stops in trying to get games in their city, but there yet little progress in that area. And both Canada and the states have been struggling when it comes to testing from the onset of the outbreak.

But hey, at least we have progress on a playoff format! Let’s talk about it, because this is a version that we haven’t yet seen before. The Anti-Toronto Bias is strong. Typical.

The NHLPA is proposing the league scrap the Divisional format altogether and focus purely on the Eastern and Western Conferences. After sorting by Points Percentage, the top-12 teams in each Conference make the playoffs. Simple! The top four teams in each Conference earn byes, while the bottom eight play each other in a best-of-five series called the “Play-In.”

If we’re assuming a pre-2013 format where the first seed would play the fourth seed and the second and third seeds are lined up against each other, here’s what the Leafs path through the playoffs might look like as the eighth seed (note: it might not be very long, Boston is in the way).

Thursday FTB: Nick Robertson wants to play for the Leafs in the playoffs

Play-n Round:

Columbus Blue Jackets (9)

This might be a good matchup for the Leafs, it’s definitely not the Tampa Bay Lightning. That said, last season the Blue Jackets beat the Lightning. So it might be a worse matchup.

The Blue Jackets suffered through incredible injuries this past season, they were out more than half their regulars for a large portion of the year, including most of their forwards and all their goaltenders. Elvis Merzlikins has been a revelation for them, earning a sweet contract extension that will start next season, he will be a problem if he can be what he was before the break.

While the Leafs have been injured a bunch and will hopefully have a full lineup when we resume, so will Columbus. And if they bring the same unrelenting, physical style that they beat the Lightning with, they’ll be a problem. We can’t pretend the Leafs haven’t had issues with grinding teams that suffocate offense and take liberties with the body. The Leafs got no penalty help, and this is the playoffs.

First Round:

Boston Bruins (1)

Of course.

It wouldn’t be a playoffs without the Bruins in “Round One.” If we lose to them, it’ll be the same old story. If we beat them, they’ll throw an asterisk with us.

But as the Wise Sage Seldo said,

We might beat them. The Leafs have as good a chance as any. It’ll really depend on which goalie is hot. October Freddy has sucked, but the Leafs have generally not to start the season. But whether the pressure of the playoffs will choke up the offensive fun most teams (especially the Leafs) have every October is an unknowable question until it happens.

Second Round:

Philadelphia Flyers (4) OR Pittsburgh Penguins (5) OR Montreal Canadiens (12)

A series against any of these teams would be kinda crazy. I don’t really know what Philly is currently, but they have good players and we have a Conference Semi-Finals axe to grind from 16 years ago. Pittsburgh is Pittsburgh, and beating Sidney Crosby in the playoffs would be a pretty special thing. Montreal would rather be in the Draft Lottery than here, but apparently Carey Price has been resting for the last two summers for this moment.

Third Round:

Tampa Bay Lightning (2) OR Washington Capitals (3) OR Carolina Hurricanes (6) OR New York Islanders (7) OR Florida Panthers (10) OR New York Rangers (11)

Who knows who’s going to come out of this group of teams into the Conference Finals. I just find it funny that the Leafs were initially supposed to play the Lightning in the first round, but in this more sane scenario, neither the Leafs or the top seed Bruins will see them until the Conference Finals.

In the original format, the Leafs wouldn’t have to play as many teams, but the quality of competition is much more reasonable. They don’t have to go through Tampa, boston (most likely), and then the winner of the Metro all back-to-back-to-back. Here, they get two chances at a lower seed before the Conference finals where before they might’ve had to play all three of the top seeds in the Conference.

Leafs Branches

  • There was yet another level to the playoff format that was proposed. It includes having the top four seeds in each Conference play each other to determine what order they sit in. It would be similar to a Round Robin. /
  • Roller blades are all the rage right now. /
  • The HHoF is going to be doing their voting digitally for the first time ever. Usually, there are paper ballots that get counted up at a conference. “‘This voting system we developed actually might work very well and be more efficient in the future because we can use it on tablets within the meeting and make the balloting more efficient,’ said Jeff Denomme, president of the Hockey Hall of Fame.”/

Hockey Hall of Fame forced to go digital with its voting process for 2020 inductees

  • The league is reportedly working to make sure non-cap contracts are extended so coaches and trainers can be paid to work the playoffs. “There has been talk that the league will work towards trying to support clubs in extending staff contracts to capture the days beyond June 30th.”/

Source: NHL intends to slide expiring player contracts to...

  • Please, let it be Toronto. Please, let it be Toronto. Please, let it be Toronto. /
  • 31 Thoughts are here. There’s a couple Leafs things, including a thought about adam Brooks and why his super cheap contract is appealing for the Leafs to have on their roster. /

31 Thoughts: Player vote underway on NHL playoff system

  • Alexander Barabanov also apparently did the same thing. /