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If the 24-team playoff proposal is ultimately approved, the top four clubs in each NHL conference would be playing meaningful games against each other in order to prep for their subsequent playoff matchups.
Under the prospective plan the NHL and the NHLPA are reportedly discussing, the eight best teams will jockey for seeding even while being guaranteed a playoff spot, reports Sportsnet's Chris Johnston.
The Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, and Philadelphia Flyers would play a round robin against each other in the East, while the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights, and Dallas Stars would do so as well in the West.
These games would help determine how those teams are seeded No. 1 through No. 4 when the playoffs begin, according to Johnston, who cautioned that the plan still hasn't been finalized or approved.
It was reported Wednesday that the format would be organized by conference standings and that the top four seeds in each conference would play a three-game tuneup tournament. However, it wasn't previously clear whether those contests would carry any weight.
In the proposed postseason structure, the 16 other teams would take part in bracketed best-of-five play-in series to determine their next opponents.
The NHLPA's executive board took a vote Thursday night on the 24-team return-to-play format, according to Johnston, who added that the results aren't expected until Friday. TSN's Darren Dreger later reported that the process isn't likely to be concluded until Friday evening.