Over the weekend, Pierre LeBrun noted that the NHL is inching towards an agreement on restarting the season. While the timing is still undetermined, the 24-team playoff format is still on the table and the most popular choice. Details are scarce, but the original idea had the top-six in each division making the playoffs, which of course leaves the Rangers on the outside looking in.
Making matters potentially worse is that the draft order likely wouldn’t be updated to account for this playoff format. That means the Rangers would not only miss the playoffs, but would not move up to the top-7 in the draft. Meanwhile a team like Anaheim retains a top-10 pick while also making the playoffs. Seems unfair. Then again, nothing is going to be fair in this situation.
Bettman said there must be an abundance of testing for the NHL to return. The NHL cannot be jumping the line in front of medical needs.
— Nick Cotsonika (@cotsonika) May 18, 2020
While the proposal is unfair, it is worth noting that Gary Bettman is now on record stating that the league will not restart until they can test and ensure there is no impact on front line medical needs. This is critical, and shows that even as we discuss this and are in dire need of anything hockey related, the league at least has a functioning brain.
While nothing is set in stone, I would be intrigued to see if the NHL goes by point percentage instead of division standings. After all, it seems weird that in a 24-team format, the 16th best team in the NHL (the Rangers) would be left out. Then again, the playoff format has always had holes.
You can bet that Jeff Gorton and John Davidson will be vocal about how much this idea screws the Rangers. I laugh when Boomer Esiason says there’s a screw the Rangers button, but this time around there actually is one.
The fan in me wants the Rangers in this playoff scenario. A fully healthy Rangers team is in the top-five offensively, has been trending up defensively (not good, but at least average), and can be carried by any of their goaltenders. There is a chance they could make some noise.
My brain disagrees, and wants the Rangers to be left out and ensured they get a top-7 pick in this draft. There is some serious talent in this draft and getting a top flight prospect could really set the Rangers up for sustained success as they come out of the rebuild.
Naturally more details are going to come, eventually.