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Ducks Could Be A Playoff Team In Latest Scenario
By Michael Walters
As the NHL continues to try to figure out how to conclude the 2019-20 season, Richard Gonzalez and I offered up some solutions on the recent episodes of the DucksNPucks Podcast. We both felt the league could forego the regular season and go straight to playoffs with obviously some type of minicamp beforehand.
Some formats we discussed would include a shortening of the first two rounds to five-game series instead of seven. We also discussed the idea of making the Conference Finals five games instead of seven as well. The overall thought process is to still finish the playoffs, but in a condensed format regardless of how many games each series will need to have played.
As far as who would make the playoffs? We discussed two options: one would be to go with the regular format with 16 teams playing, 8 from each conference based upon the current system in place. The second idea was to go with just the top 8 teams in each conference similar to how the league used to do it years ago.
Another idea the league is discussing was brought to the forefront by Sportsnet’s Mark Spector. If the regular season was canceled, then the league’s current popular playoff scenario would be the following: The top 6 teams from each Division meet in one city. They would open with best-of-three series between the number 1 and 2 seeds to decide a Division winner, while number 3 meets 6 and 4 meets 5 for the right to keep playing.
According to Mark Spector, there is a bidding war between nine and 12 teams to host the proposed four NHL playoff “tournaments” to conclude the season. The selection of the cities would have to be approved by health authorities. Regardless of the plan to finish the season, arranging travel, food, hotels, etc would all have to be done while ensuring the safety of the players.
It’s a strange scenario in which the Anaheim Ducks and Buffalo Sabres would be playoff teams, while the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers would be out. The Ducks currently sit at 6th in the Pacific Division but are 11 points out of a wild-card spot. The Sabres are in 6th place in the Atlantic Division and are 13 points out of a wild-card spot. The Blackhawks have five more points than the Ducks and the Rangers have 11 more points than the Sabres. Chicago and New York are both ranked 12th in their own conference while Anaheim and Buffalo are both 13th respectively.
Obviously, the Rangers and Blackhawks would likely cry foul, but also what about draft positioning?
The Anaheim Ducks are looking to get at least a top-five pick in the draft lottery, being the 27th worst team in the league. If they were able to be in some type of playoff, then their draft pick would be a few spots lower. If the Ducks got bounced out of the playoffs immediately, then they would likely have the 9th pick in the upcoming draft under this latest format.
The only way the current draft spots would remain unaffected is if the league still plans on holding the entry draft in June, which has been discussed. The NHL has thought about having the draft and then finishing the 2019-20 season afterward, which brings on a whole another set of issues.
The league should consider trying to figure what they are going to do with the 2019-20 season first and then schedule the draft accordingly.
Statement From NHLPA:
The “Return To Play Committee” met again. Currently, the league is in Phase 1, which is isolation and is working on Phase 2, which allows players to practice in small groups. Phase 3 would include the opening of training camps and the last step would be Phase 4, which would be the NHL resuming play.
In their latest statement, the committee said the league is working on a transition to Phase 2 some time in mid to late May. The NHL and NHLPA have not made any decisions on when the league will actually resume playing. The committee plans to continue to meet regularly.
Statement From DucksNPucks
This event is bigger than the Anaheim Ducks and sport of hockey. It affects the entire sports industry and the world as a whole. Our sympathies and concerns go out to anyone affected by this worldwide incident. This will be a trying time for the world, but the triumph of the human spirit will get us through this.
Stay strong, stay safe, be kind, and love one another.
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April 29th, 2020