The league has proposed a new alignment that has been approved and will go into effect next season.
Regular season: Instead of having six divisions and two conferences, the NHL will go down to four divisions. The schedule matrix would see each team play teams in the other conference both home and away. The Sabres would be in with Ottawa, Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Detroit, Florida and Tampa Bay. Here are what the Conferences will look like:
Each team will make a visit to every arena next season, so Buffalo will host every team at least once. There will be 30 games within the conference, 24 against the non-division conference and 28 non conference matchups. The Sabres will also play each of the Western teams twice next season, once at home and one on the road.
Playoffs: The playoff format calls for the top three teams in each division to earn postseason berths. The remaining four spots will go to wild cards, the top two records in each conference. That means there’s a possibility five teams make it from one division and only three from another.
The new plan calls for divisional playoffs, not conference playoffs as the NHL currently has. The division winner with the most regular-season points will play the lowest-seeded wild-card team in the first round, with the other division winner playing the other wild-card team.
The teams finishing second and third in each division will play in the first round of the playoffs. The winners of each series will play for the divisional championship.