NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs, Canadiens, NHL’s 24-Team Playoffs, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, Tyson Barrie comments on his pending unrestricted free agency, and where he sees himself next season. In Montreal, there is renewed talk about the Canadiens going after Mikhail Sergachev. Finally, the NHL has focused in on a playoff format that it plans to propose to the players.

Barrie Comments on Being a Free Agent

Kristen Shilton of TSN spoke with pending unrestricted free agent Tyson Barrie and the Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman noted he’s not sure where his future will be but he knows what he wants.

Tyson Barrie Toronto Maple Leafs
Tyson Barrie, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Barrie is in the final year of his four-year, $22 million contract and noted:

“It’s a weird time to be heading into free agency, that’s for sure. We’re still not certain what’s going to play out here for the second half of the season and playoffs, and obviously that will extend into free agency. It’s an odd time, but at this point I think all I’ve got to do is focus on getting ready to play, if we are going to play, and try to take a run with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the playoffs. That’s why they brought me in and that’d be pretty spectacular, so hopefully we get a chance to do that.”

Of what his intentions are after the season, he says it’s got to the be the right fit. He notes:

“I think it has to be a spot where they obviously are in need of someone like myself and a good team headed in the right direction and a good organization. I think there’s a lot of right organizations that tick those boxes, so it’ll be a process where you sit down, and we’ll just go through everything important to me.”

Some insiders believe he won’t be back with the Maple Leafs but that the Vancouver Canucks might be strong possibility. Barrie was linked to the Canucks before the trade deadline and was born in Victoria, BC. If the Canucks split with Chris Tanev or Troy Stecher in the off-season, Barrie makes sense.

Related: Top 10 Offensive Seasons in Maple Leafs History

Canadiens Interested in Sergachev?

Eric Engels of Sportsnet discussed the idea of the Montreal Canadiens trying to offer sheet Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev in his latest mailbag post. If the Canadiens offered a long-term deal in the $4.2 to $6.4 million range, Tampa Bay would definitely match it. Then, it’s a matter of moving out salary to make room for his new deal.

Mikhail Sergachev, Tampa Bay Lightning
Mikhail Sergachev, Tampa Bay Lightning (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Engels suggests that if the Canadiens really wanted Sergachev, they’d need to offer around $8 million per season and that’s likely too rich because it also includes giving up a first-, second-, and third-round pick. Instead, Engels writes, “But I would think the Canadiens will be sniffing around on whoever the Lightning might look to move to make room for Sergachev and their other restricted free agents.”

Related: The Lightning’s 3 Best Trades of the Decade

24-Team Playoff Brackets

Elliotte Friedman and Chris Johnston of Sportsnet reported last night that the NHL will be proposing a 24-team “bracketed” playoff structure to the players. If the players agree, it could be the plan to award the Stanley Cup if and when the season resumes.

Gary Bettman
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charles Krupa)

There are details and approvals that need to be ironed out even if the players give it the green light, but this is the closest the league has been to determining which direction they want to head.

What Teams Would Be Included?

Friedman notes the teams decided for the playoff brackets would be based on points percentage and include play-in round between seeds 5-12 in each conference. The Boston Bruins (1st in East), Tampa Bay Lightning (2nd), Washington Capitals (3rd), Philadelphia Flyers (4th), St. Louis Blues (1st in West), Colorado Avalanche (2nd), Vegas Golden Knights (3rd) and Dallas Stars (4th) would all have “byes” for the play-in round. He does say that those bye teams would likely participate in a three-game tournament (the details of which are not clear.)

The brackets were appear as follows:

5. Pittsburgh vs. 12. Montreal (winner plays four seed)
6. Carolina vs. 11. Rangers (winner plays three seed)
7. Islanders vs. 10. Florida (winner plays two seed)
8. Toronto vs. 9. Columbus (winner plays one seed)

5. Edmonton vs. 12. Chicago (winner plays four seed)
6. Nashville vs. 11. Arizona (winner plays three seed)
7. Vancouver vs. 10. Minnesota (winner plays two seed)
8. Calgary vs. 9. Winnipeg (winner plays one seed)

How Many Games in Each Round?

The play-in round would be a best-of-five. From there, each round would be a best-of-seven series to follow. There would be no re-seeding which would give the playoffs a March Madness-style bracket system that be different and fun for fans.

One thing to keep in mind is that this proposal that will be presented by the league will not include medical procedures and testing. Johnston tweeted yesterday this “does not cover other critical issues, such as testing protocols, hub cities, visas and many other things.”

There’s still a ways to go before fans get to watch hockey again but it sounds like the NHL is finally settling in on a plan.

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