NHL Returns to the Ice in July with a 24-Team Format

There is some big news coming from the world of ice hockey in North America – the NHL return plan has been released! According to the plan, once the 2019-20 season resumes, 24 teams will take part in the playoff.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman unveiled the NHL return project yesterday, thus suggesting ice hockey may come back to action before other professional team sports. We might see some NHL games in a little bit over a month from now.

Other major American pro sports leagues do not seem as likely to return in July as the NHL. The 2020 NFL season should start in September, with preseason kicking-off in August.

When it comes to basketball, things are even more unclear, as the NBA is currently in talks with Disney World in Orlando to host the remaining matches there.

NHL Returns With a 24-Team Format

There are 31 teams competing in the NHL, but only 24 of them are going to continue the 2019-20 season. The lights have been switched off for seven teams, namely:  

  • Detroit Red Wings
  • Ottawa Senators
  • New Jersey Devils
  • Buffalo Sabres
  • San Jose Sharks
  • Los Angeles Kings
  • Anaheim Ducks

The four bottom-ranked teams from the Eastern Conference, together with three teams from the bottom of the Western Conference, will not take part in the rest of the season. As a result, this is the first time in this century that the state of California will have no representatives in the NHL Playoff.

Once the season returns, the teams will compete for a place in the 16-team playoffs. The top four teams from each conference will get a ticket to the first round of the playoffs directly.

The remaining eight teams from each conference will have to play a best-of-five series to determine who gets to the playoff.

It is yet unclear which format will be used in the playoffs as well as in the Stanley Cup Final, which is expected to take place in August.

Which Cities Will NHL Return To?  

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, travel restrictions still apply in some parts of the continent. This is why the NHL has decided to assign a hub city to each conference, which would serve as the base of the players and personnel, in addition to hosting the games.  

There are currently ten candidates for the hub city of each conference, including several Canadian cities. Even though there’s still a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone entering Canada from the United States, the NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly has expressed his wish to bring hockey back to the northern neighbor of the US.

We would certainly like to have a city in Canada. We’re in discussions with the Canadian government at this point in time on that issue.

Bill Daly said on Tuesday.

At the moment, it’s still not decided where the Stanley Cup Final will take place, with Daly suggesting the location might be one of the cities of participating teams.

2020 NHL Betting Odds

With the NHL return on the horizon, many online sportsbooks that deal with hockey have released their Stanley Cup betting odds. You can check them out in the table below!

Odds to Win the Stanley CupOdds at BetOnline.ag
Boston Bruins+650
Tampa Bay Lightning+650
Colorado Avalanche+700
Philadelphia Flyers+800
Vegas Golden Knights+800
St. Louis Blues+1200
Pittsburgh Penguins+1500
Washington Capitals+1500
Dallas Stars+1800
Nashville Predators+2000