According to an Elliotte Friedman report released last night on Sportsnet, the NHL and the NHL Players Association are negotiating on a possible extended, 24-team conference focused Stanley Cup playoff.
Friedman notes that the first round would be a play-in playoff to reduce the number of teams from 24 to the regular 16, and the top four teams in each conference will earn byes in the second round of the playoffs (based on points percentage).
Nevertheless, the teams earning byes will also be taking part in a three-game tournament to get some gameplay in before round two begins, and the outcome of that mini-tournament may have an effect on the second round seeding.
Therefore, to explain, all twenty-four teams will be playing games in the first round of the extended post-season but the top four seeds would not be excluded in each group. They are assured that they will reach the second round, which is totally fair.
The seed number 5 will face seed number 12 and the winner will go on to meet the seed number 4 in the second round.
The seed number 6 will face seed number 11 and the winner will go on to face the seed number 3 in round two. Seed number 7 will face seed number 10 and in the second process the winner will go on to meet seed number 2.
The seed number 8 would face seed number 9 and the winner will go on to meet the seed number 1 in the second round.
In the new standings, the Eastern Conference will earn the byes from the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers, and the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars.
The Florida Panthers will be the No. 10 seed in this system and face the No. 7 New York Islanders in the first round, and the winner will go on to meet the No. 2 seed.
In 2016, the two sides played in a closely contested six-game series that the Isles took from the skin of their teeth.