The Toronto Maple Leafs will face the Columbus Blue Jackets in a best-of-five games qualifying round at a date to be named later. That much we knew. Now we have most of the rest of the picture.

What this means is that we can’t know who the first actual playoff round opponent would be if the Leafs defeat the Blue Jackets. The current ranking for the 12 teams in the Eastern Conference who will be in one hub city together are:

  1. Boston
  2. Tampa Bay
  3. Washington
  4. Philadelphia
  5. Pittsburgh
  6. Carolina
  7. New York Islanders
  8. Toronto
  9. Columbus
  10. Florida
  11. New York Rangers
  12. Montréal

The order of the top four teams can be changed in their seeding round by an as yet undefined process*, and the four winners out of teams 5 through 12 who play in the qualifying round will be ordered based on their current ranking.  Toronto could finish anywhere from first among qualifiers to last.

All we know is that if the Leafs beat Columbus, they will face one of those top four in the next round. So pick your poison, who do you hope for?

Assuming the Leafs win their qualifying round series, who do you want as the round-one opponent?

Tampa Bay117

The timing of the playoffs is still an open question, despite the NBA announcing firm dates. The NHL has kept a more “wait and see” approach to this.

As of today, Phase 2 hasn’t even commenced yet, and no firm date has been set for Phase 3 (training camp), although it is not expected to begin until after July 10. The qualifying round is likely to begin very late in July or early August.


This says that the top four teams will be seeded entirely by their round-robin results, with the current standings used only to break ties.

Semi-related update: