The most likely scenario for divisional realignment that has come forward sees the Detroit Red Wings moving conferences and joining the current Northeast Division teams along with the two Florida based teams to form one of the four new look divisions.
PROPOSED NHL ALIGNMENT
|Florida||New York I||Los Angeles||Minnesota|
|Montreal||New York R||Phoenix||Nashville|
|Ottawa||Philadelphia||San Jose||St. Louis|
The Blue Jackets would also move to the Eastern and join the old Atlantic Division teams along with Washington and Carolina. Winnipeg would get their wish and move to the Western Conference, but would be in a conference with all American based teams in the Central, which cannot make them too happy.
The impact on the Senators would be essentially an extra Florida road trip, and also getting another original 6 rival, which has its pros and cons. Already struggling for a decided home ice advantage for games against the Leafs and Habs (and to a lesser extent the Bruins) another popular original 6 team coming in three times a year instead of just once will make “taking back the bank” that much more difficult. Detroit has a large fan base in Ottawa based on recent success and the Steve Yzerman factor, being a Nepean kid who captained multiple Stanley Cups.
It also means fewer visits from the likes of the Penguins and the Flyers, as the teams would apparently play their own conference 6 times each, and each of the other conferences twice (home and away).
For the playoffs, the top three teams in each conference would make it, plus two wildcard teams from the remaining 10 teams, in a format that would foster divisional rivalries in the playoffs for the first 2 rounds for the most part, depending on the wildcard spots.
Personally, I like having the Wings in, and for a winning standpoint Ottawa has a great track record against Florida and Tampa, so having them join the division should give some extra points for the Senators on the whole. I also like the fact that we will still get to see every team come to town at least once.
The proposal still requires approval from both the Board of Governors and the NHLPA before it can become official.
BIG WINNER – Detroit gets its long-standing wish to join the Eastern Conference
BIG LOSER – Winnipeg gets its wish to join the West, but I am sure they anticipated getting into a division/conference with at least 1 other Canadian team!