5 Rule changes the NHL should make

Every year, the NHL makes a handful of rule changes to try to improve safety concerns, the speed of the game, or other things that usually cost a team in the playoffs the year before. 

I came up with a few of my own that I think the league should at least consider.

Eliminate the shootout

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I’m for getting rid of the shootout. I actually don’t mind it. Many fans wanted it in the early 2000s and good for the NHL for doing it. But we’ve reached the point where it’s been going on long enough. There are other ways to finish games and prevent ties.

The NHL doesn’t have shootouts in the playoffs, so why are they doing it for regular season games? That extra point that teams are fighting for shouldn’t come down to a shootout.

I’m suggesting continuous overtime. Keep playing 3-on-3 until there is a goal. If you want to switch sides after 10 minutes or something, that’s fine. The biggest argument, or problem, to this could be if a team is playing back-to-back games and has to travel, it might have a big impact. Still, the game will end eventually and I think overtime goals are much more exciting than ones in the shootout

Ditch the trapezoid

Why is the NHL still preventing goaltenders from stopping the puck in the corners? I never really understood the reasoning behind this. The league implemented the rule so a goalie couldn’t skate into the corners and stop the puck, which would help deny the team’s dump and chase efforts.

While I agree that it helps the offense create more pressure, I’d rather the goalies be allowed to go wherever they want in the defensive zone. If they’re good at puck handling, let them do that. They’re the ones leaving a wide open net and I think that risk is enough to help the offense anyway. 

Playoff format

I’m not sure how this is still happening. The NHL needs to go back to the traditional 1 vs. 8 in each conference. We’re having some of the best teams eliminated in the first round because of premier matchups. 

It’s also much more complicated to figure out who each team might play. The 1 vs. 8 approach was simple and successful. Finish in the top eight of your conference and make the playoffs.

Draft pick game

Here’s one that will never happen. 16 teams make the playoffs and 15 miss out (soon to be 16 when Seattle arrives).

Imagine if they took the bottom four teams and had a small bracket to fight for the first overall draft pick. It’d be a maximum of two extra games, and they would be meaningful.

Again, there is no way this would ever happen. With injuries the top concern, seeing someone sustain something in these games would be very problematic.

But how fun would that be? Rather than watching ping pong balls come up, you could watch Buffalo take on Ottawa for the 1st overall pick.

Line changes on icing

If a team has their goaltender pulled and then ices the puck, they’re not allowed to change their players who are on the ice. I like that rule, but why do they get to put their goaltender back in the net?

Not only can they do that, but they get to take one potentially fatigued player off the ice.

The NHL should modify the rule and force the goaltender to stay on the bench if they ice it.

Those are my five ideas on how to improve the game. Let me know what you think, and if you have any of your own, let me know in the comment section.


Kevin Freiheit
Kevin Freiheit
I founded Buffalo Hockey Central in 2008 and have poured hours and hours into this site. Luckily, we have a great team of writers and designers who have helped keep this up and running despite a ton of out-of-pocket costs. We do this because we enjoy it, and we're desperate to see the Sabres win the Cup someday, but they have to make the playoffs first.
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