NHL Approves Realignment Plan — What it Means For Buffalo Sabres
Well, the NHL's new alignment is not perfect, that is for sure. The approval of the realignment was to better equip teams with more efficient travel and business efforts. In addition, there's a whole new playoff format as well. What does this mean for the Sabres?
First, there still be both conferences. The Eastern Conference will have 16 teams, and the Western will have 14 teams. Within each conference there will be two divisions.
In the Eastern Conference, Detroit will join the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators in one division.
According to USA Today, the NHL has also instituted a wild-card playoff setup. The first three places in each division qualify, plus the remaining two teams with the best records in each conference. In other words, it's possible for five teams from one division to make the playoffs.
There has been speculation that this setup won't stay in place for long because the NHL might at some point want to go to 32 teams. Quebec City officials have expressed interest, plus there is talk of putting a second team in the Toronto area".