The NHL announced its plan to return to action this summer with a 24 team tournament, though we still don’t know exactly when yet. But, at least there is progress, and from everything that we are hearing, it does look like they will at least try to give it a go.

NHL Plans 24 Team Tournament

On Tuesday NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman held a  press conference to make some important announcements about the league’s future. Here are some of the most important points:

  • The regular season is officially over.
  • Each conference will be assigned a hub city for the playoffs. Still more to come on this.
  • A 24 team NHL postseason format.
  • The bottom eight qualifying teams in each conference will play a best-of-5 series to get into the playoffs.
  • The top four seeds will play in a round-robin to determine seeding.
  • One big thing, we don’t know if the bracket will then re-seed after each round.
  • Each team will be limited to 50 personnel. Something to keep an eye on as teams get deeper into the playoffs.
  • Training camp will not begin before July 1. No official start date of the season yet.

Format wise, it looks like a 4-team playoff, allowing 12 teams into the playoffs per conference, with the top four teams in each receiving automatic byes to the second round.

Under the new format, the No. 5 seeds will be matched up against the No. 12, No. 6 will play No. 11, and so on, to determine the four teams that will move on to play the top-seeded team waiting for them. Think March Madness bracket kind of setup. Those first round “play-in” series will all be best-of-five series.

Bettman did say he expects the Playoffs to continue into the fall. With training camps starting on July 1st, we can assume that games won’t start until late July or early August, at the earliest. Players need to get into “shape”, and for all leagues, we’re hearing 2-4 weeks to ramp up.

We also still do not know what the host cities are going to be, but the 10 under consideration are: Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/ St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver.

As someone who is from Chicago, that list surprised me. The number of Covid-19 cases in Illinois, and Chicago especially, are still not where people feel comfortable yet, especially Chicago’s Mayor herself. But, things are getting better to the point where Chicago as a city and Illinois as a state is progressing through its phases, so they are probably going off of that. I’m sure everything is fluid right now, but that will be something to keep an eye on in regards to Chicago as this all proceeds.

Speaking of Chi-town, because the NHL are going with a 24 team tournament, a big-market team like the Blackhawks was able to sneak into the mix.

Tournament Matchups

So, how does this NHL 24 team tournament all look on paper?

Here are the matchups in the East.

  • No. 5 Pittsburgh vs. No. 12 Montreal
  • No. 6 Carolina vs. No. 11 NY Rangers
  • No. 7 NY Islanders vs. No. 10 Florida
  • No. 8 Toronto vs. No. 9 Columbus

And in the West.

  • No. 5 Edmonton vs. No. 12 Chicago
  • No. 6 Nashville vs. No. 11 Arizona
  • No. 7 Vancouver vs. No. 10 Minnesota
  • No. 8 Calgary vs. No. 9 Winnipeg

Tournament Odds

Per the WestGate SuperBook’s Jeff Sherman, here are the odds for the NHL matchups:

Canadiens +170

Penguins -190

Rangers +130

Hurricanes -150

Panthers -120

Islanders EV

Blue Jackets +140

Maple Leafs -160

Blackhawks +130

Oilers -150

Coyotes +105

Predators -125

Wild +110

Canucks -130

Jets Even

Flames -120

And, also per Sherman, here are the odds to win the Stanley Cup:

TB 6/1

Bos 6/1

VGK 6/1

Col 8/1

StL 10/1

Wsh 10/1

Phi 12/1

Dal 14/1

Pit 16/1

Tor 30/1

Nsh 40/1

Edm 40/1

Wpg 50/1

Car 50/1

Cgy 50/1

Ari 50/1

Van 50/1

NYI 80/1

NYR 80/1

CBJ 80/1

Fla 80/1

Min 80/1

Chi 100/1

Mtl 100/1

On last tidbit to leave you with. What happens to your season-long futures tickets? My tip to you is check with your book on everything asap. Your Stanley Cup winner tickets should all still be alive, but your regular season tickets will probably be voided.

Let’s see how this NHL 24 team tournament plays out, but the summer is looking like a peak season for sports to return.