NHL Realignment Project – Week 30

NHL Realignment Project - Week 30

Seeking 32 (KC, QBC, Hamilton, Portland)

This week, we continue our effort to find the “perfect 32” homes for a slightly expanded NHL. Last week we left all current host-cities alone, just adding two new cities (Kansas City and Quebec) to bring us up to 32 teams. This week, we’re a little less nice. Gone are Phoenix and Columbus and we add two Canadian teams as well as two American teams to bring us up to the magic number. We also tweaked the layout of the four conferences a bit… making travel a little bit more equitable across the board.


The Map:

NHL Realignment Map - Week 30

NHL Realignment Map - Week 30


The Breakdown:

Again, our conferences all have eight teams. Conferences are named for the four cardinal directions: West, South, East, North.

NHL West NHL South NHL East NHL North
1. Anaheim Ducks 1. Carolina Hurricanes 1. Buffalo Sabres 1. Boston Bruins
2. Calgary Flames 2. Dallas Stars 2. Chicago Blackhawks 2. Florida Panthers
3. Colorado Avalanche 3. Kansas City Scouts 3. Detroit Red Wings 3. Montreal Canadiens
4. Edmonton Oilers 4. Nashville Predators 4. Hamilton Tigers 4. New Jersey Devils
5. Los Angeles 5. Philadelphia Flyers 5. Minnesota Wild 5. New York Islanders
6. Portland Eagles 6. Pittsburgh Penguins 6. Ottawa Senators 6. New York Rangers
7. San Jose Sharks 7. St. Louis Blues 7. Toronto Maple Leafs 7. Quebec Nordiques
8. Vancouver Canucks 8. Washington Capitals 8. Winnipeg Jets 8. Tampa Bay Lightning


Gained teams:

Kansas City, Quebec City, Portland, Hamilton


Lost teams:

Phoenix, Columbus


The Benefits:

• Simplicity — It’s much easier (especially for casual or new fans) to understand the setup of the league.

• Fairness — While I, myself don’t subscribe to the “the teams in the 7-team conferences have are more likely to make the playoffs” argument (listen, you are more likely to qualify for the post-season in an awful 8-team conference than a really competitive 7-team conference), this evening up of the conferences nullifies the argument altogether. (For an excellent analysis on this whole argument, check out Bjorn Mikkelsen’s Blog).

• Travel equity — Unlike all the efforts to minimize travel that so many have strived to achieve, we’ve actually increased travel for most teams. In an effort to create a more balanced travel schedule across the league we’ve “forced” every team to be in a conference that has a “medium-distance” travel load. The NHL West and NHL East have a heavier north-and-south travel burden… while the NHL North and the NHL South have a heavier east-and-west travel burden. I’m going to stop trying to explain this with words, now and just refer you back up to the map. 🙂

• Rivalries —  The major rivalries preserved in Gary’s plan are still here, plus we get a Kansas City/St. Louis one to enjoy now… not to mention the Montreal/Quebec rivalry that will be revived as well. Hamilton drops into the middle of the Golden Crescent to make a nice trifecta. Detroit and Chicago stay together, but join the Leafs to make a conference with three Original Six teams. The remaining three O6 teams (Montreal, Boston and New York) are all in a single conference as well.



Same set up as last week:

Each team plays all it’s non-conference opponents once at home and once on the road: 2 games x 24 teams = 48 games

Each team plays it’s conference-mates twice at home and twice on the road: 4 games x 7 teams = 28 games

One home and one away with a single team from each of the other three conferences (rotating each year… completing the loop every eight seasons): 2 games x 3 teams = 6 games

48 games + 28 games + 6 games = 82 games



• Top four teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs

• Round One: Conference Semifinals — #1 vs #4 and #2 vs #3

• Round Two: Conference Finals — Semifinal winners faceoff

• Round Three: “Frozen Four” type matchup. Conference Champ with the best record chooses which opponent they will face.

• Round Four: Stanley Cup Finals


And there you have it.


(H/T to oilersnation.com for the original map)


Don’t forget to share our lil’ project with your hockey fan friends. And, as always, thanks for reading. Until next Sunday!

— TF

Make sure to check out the entire NHL Realignment Project ».

2 Responses to NHL Realignment Project – Week 30

  1. Bjørn says:

    Hey Tom,

    Great work on that layout, looks very nice, and I’m a fan of sharing the travel load. I took the liberty of running the numbers on your setup, and they look good.

    If we assume (best case) that Kansas and Portland are the new franchises and a move from Phoenix to Quebec while Columbus becomes Hamilton, then the playoff bleed is virtually non-existent. The North would benefit with 0.4 spots per year, while the other conferences would combine to lose that amount (South -0.2, East -0.1, West -0.1). Not bad. In fact, those are the lowest numbers I’ve seen.

    If we roll that back to today situation (where Phoenix is still in the West and Columbus is in the South then the numbers are slightly better than the BOG approved plan. We would see West (-0.45) and South (-0.35) combine to bleed 0.8 spots to the East (+0.25) and North (+0.55), compared to a bleed of 0.9 for the approved plan.

    And I’ll tell you another reason why I like your setup more than the approved plan: Hamilton… So we could assume that Quebec and Hamilton are prime for promotion into the NHL, regardless of what happens to Phoenix and Columbus (they could become Quebec and Hamilton, opening the door for Portland/Seattle and Kansas… if they don’t then no harm no foul, they stay where they are.) Anyway, back to Hamilton… If Hamilton became an NHL team then they would kinda have to go into the Eastern conference, with the other Canadian teams, including Quebec, which would then total 9 teams. So one Eastern conference team would have to move into the Atlantic. Geographically that would have to be Buffalo or Boston. Buffalo would hate to lose the Canadian teams, and moving either team would create a super strong Atlantic division that would essentially bleed a whole playoff spot to the other conferences each year! Another solution could involve trading NJ, NYI, and NYR for Ott, Mon, Ham and Buf, but whatever move you made would make the Atlantic division over-competative, unless you moved Hamilton into the Atlantic conference (but for the love of god, why?).

    Your solution completely bypasses this concern, since Hamilton slots into the North and Quebec slides into the East with no added hassle. Although, I’m sure all the EST teams in your North and South conferences would scream bloody murder 🙂

  2. Bjørn says:

    And thanks very much for the plug by the way 🙂 Much appreciated.

    I’ve got a new post up talking about the prospect of adding wildcards plus the 3 best from each conference rather than 4. It goes on a bit, and as I wrote it I actually couldn’t make my mind up what I’d prefer 🙂

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