Ramblings: New phase for NHL return; playoff format; future Wild Card games – May 26

Michael Clifford

2020-05-26

We're starting to get some details about the NHL roll-out for playoffs. We saw the 24-team format (in some manner) get approved last week while the actual protocols for returning to practice are starting to leak out. Readers can just flip through this tweet thread from Sportsnet's Chris Johnston for more details. Limited contact, a handful of players at a time, twice-weekly testing, that sort of thing.

It seems pretty obvious we're still, at best, several weeks away from hockey returning, and a lot can happen in the meantime. Let's just hope things work out.

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Renaud Lavoie of RDS in Canada reported the following:

 

For argument's sake, let's say the 26th of June is the date for the draft lottery. What does that tell us?

For one, it tells us that all the non-playoff teams that are normally entered into the lottery will not be entered this year. The trade-off for having 24 teams in the "playoffs" is that the extra teams don't get a chance to move up. (That is assuming they don't finish the play-in games within a month of today, which is, I think, a safe assumption.) The bottom-7 teams are in the lottery – well, six because of the San Jose/Ottawa swap – and those teams will decide the bottom of the draft order. The rest of the draft will be filled out by then.

For second, if this is the trade-off, we can see just how much the playoff revenue is valued, and how much teams just want a shot at a Cup. No, I don't think Minnesota or Florida are actual Cup contenders, but they might think they are, and that's all that matters. These teams voted yes, meaning they'd rather have a one percent chance at a Cup than have a shot at moving from like 11th overall to seventh. I think it's the right answer, but I also think it's a fun debate worth having. Would you rather have, say, a 1-in-200 chance at a Cup, or the shot at moving up a handful of spots for a draft pick? I think it's an easy choice, but I wonder about the actual expected value here i.e. is it worth more for, say, Florida to have a minimal chance at a Cup, or have a chance at a game-breaker on a cheap contract in the first 10 picks?

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With that 24-team playoff looming, one thing I wanted to mention was the Carolina Hurricanes voting "no" on the format (Tampa Bay also voted against it). The reason for that is pretty clear: they'd have to play the Rangers. I get that team