The NHL is restarting its season and skipping straight to the playoffs. Technically, the first round of games are not part of the playoffs, according to the NHL, but for our purposes they are effectively playoff rounds.
The league will have a traditional 16-team Stanley Cup playoff tournament, but it will be preceded by an 16-team qualifying round. The top four teams in each conference have a bye through this qualifying round. The next eight teams in each conference will square off in best-of-five series to advance.
The NHL will have two hub cities hosting the conferences, and will reportedly announce those cities on Monday, June 22nd. Once that happens, each conference will be split up.
In the meantime, we know how the qualifying series are set up, and now we have initial series odds at DraftKings Sportsbook.
The higher seeds are favored across the board, but it’s noteworthy that the 8/9 matchup in the East between the Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets has the second biggest favorite in Toronto at -175. The closest line is the 8/9 matchup in the West between the Flames (-118) and Jets (-106).
Hub city 1 (Eastern Conference)
East Top 4
1. Boston Bruins
2. Tampa Bay Lightning
3. Washington Capitals
4. Philadelphia Flyers
Hub city 2 (Western Conference)
West Top 4
1. St. Louis Blues
2. Colorado Avalanche
3. Vegas Golden Knights
4. Dallas Stars
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