Found June 26, 2012 on Blue Seat Blogs:

For a while in early December it seemed like realignment was a done deal and the NHL landscape would look dramatically different for the 2012-2013 season.

The players ended up vetoing a plan passed by the owners that would have reshaped the league, but realignment will again be a topic of discussion as collective bargaining negotiations get underway. It’s a good bet that the previously approved plan will be a close match to what is eventually agreed upon between the owners and players as part of the new CBA.

It’s a silly exercise, because A) it doesn’t matter and B) so many other circumstances would have been different, but let’s take a look at what might have been in 2011-2012 if the most popular realignment plan was already in effect.

For reference, here’s how the divisions would have been constructed:

The Atlantic Division would also feature Washington and Carolina in addition to the Rangers, Devils, Flyers, Islanders and Penguins.

Montreal, Ottawa, Boston, Toronto, Buffalo, Tampa Bay and Florida

Winnipeg, Minnesota, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and Dallas

Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Colorado, San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Phoenix

*Four teams from each of the four divisions make the postseason and play each other in a “divisional round” before seeing other opposition.

Washington would have been the fifth seed in the revised Atlantic division, meaning the fourth seed in the revised Northeast, Buffalo, would have made the playoffs instead of the Capitals.

New York would have clashed with New Jersey in the first round instead of in the Conference Finals.

You might look at this differently depending on if you believe the Rangers were exhausted and thus couldn’t outlast the Devils, or if you think the Rangers/Devils series was simply a mismatch.  If you’re of the first camp, then it’s interesting to note that the Rangers would have likely played the Flyers (assuming they beat Pittsburgh again) or perhaps Ottawa in round two.  If you’re more pessimistic, then you might believe the Rangers would have been quickly eliminated in the first round after a monster regular season.

Again, this is all meaningless, but it’s interesting to imagine how different we might be viewing things right now.  If the Rangers had been quickly dispatched from the playoffs at the hands of the rival Devils, then the optimism currently felt by Rangers fans would likely not exist and the organization might be preparing for a much more dramatic overhaul this summer.

 

Just for the record, the top-four division standings would have looked like this:

Boston 102

Florida 94

Ottawa 92

Buffalo 89

 

St. Louis 109

Nashville 104

Detroit 102

Chicago 101

 

Vancouver 111

Phoenix 97

San Jose 96

Los Angeles 95

 

So we would have seen first round playoff matchups of:

New York vs. New Jersey

Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh

 

Boston vs. Buffalo

Florida vs. Ottawa

 

St. Louis vs. Chicago

Nashville vs. Detroit

 

Vancouver vs. Los Angeles

Phoenix vs. San Jose

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