NHL Announces Return to Play Plan
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the league’s Return to Play Plan on Tuesday, which set the guidelines for the postseason if professional hockey returns.
The NHL will have 24 teams earn a spot in the postseason. The top four teams in each conference will play in a round robin for first round seeding. The remaining teams will play in a 5-game series in the qualifying round, looking to advance to the first round. The length of the first and second rounds will be determined at a later date. The Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final will be a 7-game series.
Each conference will be assigned to a Hub City with secure hotels, arenas, practice facilities and in-market transportation. Each team will be limited to 50 personnel in each city. Testing will be offered in both of those cities. The locations will be announced at a later date.
The NHL expects to return to home facilities for voluntary and small-group training in early June. They expect to open formal training camps no earlier than July 1.
The seven teams that don’t make the playoffs will enter the NHL Draft lottery, along with the eight other teams eliminated in the qualifying round of the playoffs. The Phase 1 draw will be June 26 to determine which teams receive the top three picks. The teams competing in the qualifying rounds will receive placeholders until the round is over. The Red Wings currently have the best odds to receive the top overall selection.