Monday, December 5, 2011

NHL Realignment: Four Conferences in 2012

The NHL Board of Governors recently convened and have decided upon a new alignment consisting of four Conferences.  The vote by NHL teams was 26-4 in favour of the realignment.  The drastic new look goes into effect in 2012, and the teams breakdown as follows (sorted by last season's point totals):

Conf A Pts Conf B Pts
Vancouver 117 Detroit 104
San Jose 105 Nashville 99
Phoenix 99 Chicago 97
Anaheim 99 Dallas 95
Los Angeles 98 St. Louis 87
Calgary 94 Minnesota 86
Colorado 68 Columbus 81
Edmonton 62 Winnipeg 80

Conf C Pts Conf D Pts
Tampa Bay 103 Washington 107
Boston 103 Pittsburgh 106
Montreal 96 Philadelphia 106
Buffalo 96 NY Rangers 93
Toronto 85 Carolina 91
Ottawa 74 New Jersey 81
Florida 72 NY Islanders 73

Some quick observations...

1) All-Canadian Playoff matchups are much more likely in this scenario with Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton in one Conference, and Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto in another.

2) Winnipeg would not see a Canadian team in the playoffs unless it advanced to the Semi-Finals (through two rounds successfully).

3) Eastern teams have a 57% chance of making the post-season (4/7) compared to a mere 50% chance for Western teams (4/8)

4) Applying this model to last season's standing reveals that Los Angeles with 98 points would fail to qualify for the post-season, while five teams that did qualify had fewer points.  Keep in mind that these points were obtained under a schedule of playing different teams at different frequencies, so it's not necessarily an example of things to come.

5) The alignment presently suggests eight (8) team divisions would play each other five or six times. In the seven (7) team divisions, they would play each other six (6) times.

6) Existing geographical rivalries should be maintained around the league, while in the next season, some new rivalries should intensify as each Conference appears to have some front runners. Key Conference Matchups include Vancouver / San Jose, Detroit / Chicago, Boston / Buffalo, and Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / Washington

7) Based on last year's standings, Conference D appears to be the strongest:

Conf D 93.9
Conf A 92.8
Conf B 91.1
Conf C 89.9

8) Each team would play teams outside of their Conference twice - one home and one away.

9) Playoffs: Top four teams in each conference play each other (#1 vs #4, #2 vs #3)

What are your thoughts and comments?

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