Evaluating NHL's proposed point systems

This week, the 31 NHL general managers are meeting to discuss a handful of topics. One that's come up is, “How will the game be viewed in five or ten years?”

ESPN's Pierre LeBrun mentioned two different options that were being discussed:

·         1.) Giving teams three points for a regulation win, and

·         2.) Going back to two points for a win and zero points for any kind of loss

Obviously, we have no idea if either of these ideas will come to fruition, but why not take a look at today's NHL standings and see how they'd be changed if these options were in place?

Before we get started, here are the NHL standings by points, in both conferences prior to the games played Monday, March 6.


First, let's start off with giving teams three points for a regulation win. With this, It was suggested to add in the stipulations that teams get two points for an overtime or shootout win, and one point for an overtime or shootout loss. No points, of course, for a regulation loss.

Now, here's how the standings would look:


Things don't change a whole lot for the Sabres, who still find themselves thirteenth in the conference, but with 20 more points. Carolina, New Jersey and Detroit are seeded below Buffalo, in the fourteenth through sixteenth spots in the conference.

But there would be some changes above Buffalo.

Washington stays tops in the conference, but Pittsburgh moves up to second, and lots of other teams move up as well, with Columbus' 88 points no longer enough to be among the top in the standings. The Flyers also bump down two spots, despite having 16 more points than they would with the current standings. And Tampa Bay sees a jump from twelfth to ninth in the conference, with an additional 23 points.

In the Western Conference, Minnesota, Chicago and San Jose remain the big three, but there are a few small changes from there. Edmonton and Anaheim switch spots, and St. Louis gets bumped down two spots. Vancouver also drops down one, switching places with Dallas. Arizona and Colorado remain the last two teams in the conference.

It's certainly interesting to think about. At this rate, every game becomes a three-point game, which makes things quite different. Overtime and shootout wins no longer have the clout they do now, where they're worth the same as regulation wins. Keeping the 'loser point' also seems questionable to me…but we'll get there in a second.

Another option mentioned it to give teams a flat two points per win, with no 'loser points' for overtime or shootout losses.

Again, the standings would be a little different, but would not drastically change, if the NHL adopted this policy. In the East, the Rangers and Penguins would switch positions; Pittsburgh would miss those eight 'loser points.' Philadelphia would jump up two spots, while Toronto would fall a few places after shedding their 14 points earned from overtime or shootout losses. Once again, the Sabres would remain in thirteenth, with 54 points, as opposed to their current 66. Carolina, New Jersey and Detroit stay in the bottom three.

In the West, Calgary moves up, bumping Edmonton and Anaheim down one spot each. But all the other teams remain exactly where they are with the current system, so overall, not much changes here.

This system really comes down to the question of whether or not the NHL should get rid of the so-called 'loser point.' Should teams earn a point just because they got past sixty minutes? It's a good thing to consider. Switching to this system would hurt those teams who depend on the points they ‘earn’ in overtime and shootout losses, and push them to try harder for that win in regulation. Of course, sometimes all it takes is one miscue for a team to drop an overtime decision.

Whether the NHL goes with either of these systems, or sticks with its current system, there are some good questions at the heart of all this. Things to consider include a three-point game, the 'loser point,' and maybe even, on another level of discussion, if the league should even consider cutting the shootout completely.

What do you think about these two systems? Which, if either, would you like to see the NHL implement down the line?

Melissa Burgess