As always, any of this is dependent on the NHL actually moving forward for games. The NBA announcement today probably makes the reality of the NHL working something out seem more plausible, and in addition, there is an actual agreement on how the playoffs will work…

How does this affect the Leafs?

Well, assuming the Leafs beat the Blue Jackets in a best of five series, they wouldn’t be locked in to playing the top seed team (presently the Bruins), and instead would face an opponent based on the initial ranking (Leafs are ranked 8th in the Eastern Conference).

If there aren’t any upsets in round one and the Leafs beat the Blue Jackets, the Leafs would face the top seeded team (to be determined in the round robin format, but presently the Bruins.)

Any potential upset by the Panthers over the Islanders, Rangers over the Hurricanes, or Canadiens over the Penguins would give Toronto a more favourable opponent, although Washington and Tampa aren’t really more favourable than the Bruins, and really this seems like hoping for the Flyers.

The interesting part is that the playoffs will reseed after every round, not just the first, and for an eighth seed like Toronto, that’s going to mean a pretty tough path to the Finals, likely facing the top seed available in every round.

Not that there is a full blown home ice advantage, but the Leafs will be going into best of sevens knowing they will have one fewer game with last line change, and more frequent use of the vistors dressing room instead of the generally superior home locker room.

Generally speaking and not looking at this from just a Leafs perspective this is a much better format for the playoffs, and the insistence on keeping the “actual” playoff rounds at seven games adds a bit more integrity to the close of the 2019-20 season.

If there is a drawback to it, it’s that if you win your series in four games (3 in the play-in) you have a wider pool of teams that you need to consider for the next round, and mapping out strategy and studying film is somewhat limited. Of course if you are locked down in an Edmonton hotel, you’ve got nothing but time to watch film, so you probably can get more done in two days this year than you’d get done in a week in a regular year.

The inching towards hockey continues, and with the Phase 2 mini skates starting up next week, and no real attempt to have training camps before July 1st, the NHL has a couple of weeks to sort out their Hub cities and the numerous other details that will go into pulling this off.