Elliotte Friedman on the sportsnet desk.
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Friedman believes next NHL expansion will change the playoff format

Published April 1, 2024 at 2:19 PM

With the rapid expansion of the NHL, there are so many things that could be impacted by just the addition of one extra team. One of the biggest concerns is the playoff format, as adding a 33rd team will definitely complicate the current division format. Friedman covers what exactly the NHL should about their playoff format when adding more teams.

Friedman suggests that if the NHL expands to bring in more teams, they should implement some kind of format to expand their playoffs. This is a pretty good idea, because a 16-team playoffs may not be the best idea for 33+ teams. If you have over half of the league losing out on postseason play, then you're losing a lot of possible revenue for teams to keep them afloat. According to the latest reports, the leading candidates for the next NHL expansion teams are Utah and Atlanta. .

Friedman states that if the playoffs were expanded, it could have actual impacts on the league itself too. If they can add more teams into the playoffs then it can make the end of the season more dramatic as more teams fight for a spot in the tournament. They can also do things like use the extra revenue to propose more spending on players to team owners.

If playoff expansion could increase the salary cap in the league, that would be absolutely amazing. Majority of teams in the league are right up against the cap ceiling and it makes for much less flexibility in the league. If playoff expansion results in increase of the salary cap it would be more than worth it.

I would propose something like a play-in game, where teams can fight over the last 2-4 playoff spots. If they increase the amount of teams in the tournament, it could increase the amount of underdog runs that happen in postseason, just like the Florida Panthers' Stanley cup run last year. Expanding the playoff format seems like an idea that could only serve to benefit the league, and is something that must be seriously considered with new teams on the horizon.
April 1   |   114 answers
Friedman believes next NHL expansion will change the playoff format

Would you like to see play-in games in the postseason?

Yes, it would bring in more teams3934.2 %
No, there would be too many teams7565.8 %
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