NHL GMs reportedly like the idea of expanding the number of playoff teams

The NHL is in the process of expanding to 32 teams, and if some of the league's general managers have their way, the NHL will also, at some point, be in the process of expanding its playoff field beyond 16 teams.

That's according to The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun, who surveyed GMs this week and found that there is, in fact, a sense that "it makes more sense than ever to increase the pool of teams who get in."

The Stanley Cup Playoffs, of course, aren't exactly spot-free as they stand. Since the NHL's realignment in 2014, there have been annual debates over the league's four-division/two-conference format, namely involving the guarantee of three playoff teams from each division -- a system that can hurt contenders that just so happen to play in superior divisions.

And select NHL executives, as told to LeBrun, view an expansion of the playoffs as an opportunity not only to satisfy some of the disadvantaged teams but to accompany the league's expansion as a whole.

Yet there are currently 16 playoff spots in the NHL season, so even with the addition of this year's Vegas Golden Knights and the prospective addition of a Seattle franchise, at least half of a 32-franchise league would still be deemed postseason material by season's end. Anything more than 16 playoff spots would make the NHL the only major professional sports league outside of the NBA to allow more than 50 percent of its teams to enter the playoffs.

Besides making a few more teams happy, why would the NHL even consider this?

The same reason the NHL steered clear of the Winter Olympics, of course -- money.

"More playoff teams (equals) more fan bases with the pleasure of experiencing the playoffs," one GM told LeBrun, "(which equals) more revenue for owners/players to share (which equals) more meaningful games for national rights holders (which equals) more GM/head coaches who can say they made the playoffs and hopefully keep their jobs."

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