The qualifying round will be a best-of-five series, while the four subsequent playoff rounds will use the best-of-seven format. Teams will also be reseeded upon the conclusion of each round.
NHL Public Relations @PR_NHL
The @NHL has announced more details of the playoff format for the Return to Play Plan following approval by the League’s Board of Governors and the @NHLPA. The agreement is subject to the NHL and NHLPA reaching an overall agreement on resuming play. https://t.co/KThKX88JBb https://t.co/8GLKgYoYfN
The NHL announced on May 26 it was wiping out the remainder of the regular season. Instead, the top 12 teams in each conference will move to a hub city for a modified tournament.
The top four teams will face off to determine seeding in the first round. The other eight teams will meet in the qualifying round, the results will lead to a more traditional playoff bracket.
This represents a return to the old approach the NHL used prior to realignment for the 2013-14 season, when teams were reseeded following the conclusion of each round. More recently, the postseason has had a more rigid format.
While moving straight ahead to the playoffs isn't ideal, teams should at least be on equal footing in terms of rink rust. The round-robin and qualifying rounds will serve as a sort of warm-up as well.
The date on when play will resume remains unknown.
The NHL broke its Return To Play Plan into four phases. Phase 3 is an official training camp to get players back into shape, and Friedman reported the league informed players that camps won't open until at least July 10.