Sources indicate to TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun that the National Hockey League and the NHL Players' Association are making progress on a 24-team playoff format if the league is able to resume its 2019-20 season.
Sources indicate the Return To Play Committee has talked throughout the weekend, NHL-NHLPA making progress on a 24-team format. Sources also stressing there's still work to be done, but clearly the weekend has produced some traction. More talks expected over next day or two.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 17, 2020
Again, tough to handicap at this point whether a format gets agreed upon this week or not but definite progress. A reminder that the NHL has a Board of Governors call Monday at 3 p.m. ET; and that the league may announce decision on the draft this week— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 17, 2020
LeBrun adds the Return to Play Committee has talked throughout the weekend and while there is still work to be done, "the weekend has produced some traction." There are more talks between the two sides expected to be held over the next day or two.
"Again, tough to handicap at this point whether a format gets agreed upon this week or not but definite progress. A reminder that the NHL has a Board of Governors call Monday at 3:00 p.m. ET; and that the league may announce decision on the draft this week," LeBrun tweeted.
LeBrun wrote in The Athletic later on Sunday that the proposed 24-team format would involve games of some kind beforehand and would not jump straight into the playoffs. He adds that not every NHL player is on board with playing this season but anecdotal evidence suggests more players than not on those potential 24 teams are on board with some kind of a resumption.
The league has been exploring a variety of scenarios for what the rest of the season could look like if play is resumed this summer, with 20-team and 16-team playoff formats also being discussed.
"I think it’s very difficult for both sides to come together on a solution that makes sense. When it comes to the 24-team play-in, it’s not for everyone. I think on the players side and amongst some team executives, the idea that Montreal and Chicago would be brought into that doesn’t sit well with everyone when you consider that under one model, the Canadiens would play the Pittsburgh Penguins in a play-in. The Habs were 15 point behind the Penguins at the pause. Still work to be done between both sides but they’re working away at it," LeBrun said on Thursday's edition of Insider Trading.
As for a potential NHL Draft in June before the completion of the season, TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie painted a grim picture of its chances on Insider Trading.
"Well, it’s not officially dead, but it may well be on life support. The NHL still thinks it’s a great idea to do the June draft, but obviously the widespread support isn’t there. I think the NHL is starting to get the idea that the time, the effort and the political capital that would be required to convince enough teams that it is a good idea, might not be worth it. No official word until next week, but it’s starting to look a little more pessimistic on that front," he said.
The NHL paused its regular season on March 12, one day after Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 and started a domino effect that shut down many professional sports indefinitely.