Last Updated on May 27, 2020

Following Tuesday’s announcement that the NHL is moving forward with a 24-team playoff format, the betting world turns its attention to the first-round matchups. In both conferences, the top four seeds will have a bye, while the five through 12 seeds will battle it out in best-of-five series.

The NHL is making significant progress in its quest to award a Stanley Cup champion, but there are still numerous hurdles to jump. For one, each conference will take place at a centralized “hub” but the league has yet to decide on what cities to use.

Additionally, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has yet to announce specific dates and times for these playoff matchups. Considering the volatile nature of the coronavirus and the safety risks involved with finishing the season, he’s hesitant to assign exact dates. Right now, the plan is to have teams return for training camps at their own facilities in early June (Phase 2) before holding another training camp for teams in the “hub” cities in July (Phase 3).

Although these first-round series don’t have a definitive time and place yet, the matchups are set and DraftKings already released early betting odds.

First-Round Betting Odds

Eastern Conference (Byes: Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers)

No. 5 Pittsburgh Penguins (-195) vs. No. 12 Montreal Canadiens (+155)
No. 6 Carolina Hurricanes (-129) vs. No. 11 New York Rangers (+105)
No. 7 New York Islanders (+118) vs. No. 10 Florida Panthers (-105)
No. 8 Toronto Maple Leafs (-157) vs. No. 9 Columbus Blue Jackets (+127)

Western Conference (Byes: St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights, Dallas Stars)

No. 5 Edmonton Oilers (-157) vs. No. 12 Chicago Blackhawks (+127)
No. 6 Nashville Predators (-129) vs. No. 11 Arizona Coyotes (+105)
No. 7 Vancouver Canucks (-122) vs. No. 10 Minnesota Wild (+100)
No. 8 Calgary Flames (-122) vs. No. 9 Winnipeg Jets (+100)

Anything Can Happen

To put it bluntly, these play-in series are going to be a complete toss-up. The last time any NHL teams played a game was on March 10 and given the long layoff, there’s no telling which teams come out rusty and which are firing on all cylinders. Everything we thought we knew about the 2019-20 NHL season has changed dramatically over the last two-plus months.

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Danny is bringing his years of experience as a New York sportswriter to the Action Rush team. He’s spent time covering just about every professional team in New York for Elite Sports NY. Whether it’s writing, podcasting, video content, or anything in between, Danny has done it all.