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Weekly Question: Playoff Formats and the Draft Lottery

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What’s the best way to navigate this very unique NHL season?

Philadelphia Flyers v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Hockey is slowly but surely nearing a return.

While a final decision has yet to be made regarding the continuation of the 2019-20 NHL season, it’s never to early to discuss fun, unique and absolutely ridiculous scenarios for the playoffs and draft lottery. We’re looking to get your suggestions in today’s Weekly Question!

As most are well aware, the NHL’s “Return to Play Committee” has recently been discussing a 24-team format involving a preliminary round with the #5-#12 seeds of each conference paired off in five-game series. If you ask me, this format gives a bit of an easy path to a team like the Montreal Canadiens, who are well out of the playoff picture. All they would have to do is win three out of five games against the struggling Pittsburgh Penguins and suddenly, they’re in the playoffs.

When it comes to this topic, fans of teams like the New York Rangers or Philadelphia Flyers probably have stronger feelings about this proposed format than I do. However, when you factor in the draft lottery, it starts to become interesting for Sens fans. One major question that’s been circulating is; what becomes of teams that lose in the preliminary round, do they get a shot at a Top 3 pick in the draft?

This preliminary bracket could be seen as the conclusion of the regular season, and so teams that don’t make it into the Round of 16 ought to be placed in the draft lottery, as is such with any other season. However, you run the risk of having a team like the Penguins in the lottery— it’d be like the league handing Tampa a top pick after their infamous “six days in April” last season.

Regardless of what direction the league decides to move with the resumption of the season, not everyone is going to be happy about it. What’s being discussed can be seen as convoluted and unfair to some, but that’s to be expected because the league is working in truly uncharted territory. We can’t expect a perfect outcome.

I want to stress that no matter how close the season is to returning, our obligation to each other needs to continue in full effect. Continue following the recommended social distancing protocol. We’re a hockey team in a sense, everyone needs to do their part in order to achieve success; nobody can be a passenger. The NHL should only attempt a return when they know for sure that it can be done safely.

That being said, be sure to let us know what you think an ideal playoff format and draft lottery could look like when the season resumes! Thanks for reading and stay safe!