AHL Announces 23-Team Playoff Format

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)

From the league that brought you Clear Day rosters, the AHL is now expanding the playoff field to 23 teams in a rather convoluted fashion. All but two clubs in each division will make the playoffs with the top teams receiving byes to the Division Semifinals, while the others must face a play-in round best-of-3 to get to the big show.

Things are convoluted to put it lightly. With an uneven number of teams across divisions and an uneven number of games across teams, this is going to be a messy year from the standpoint of the playoffs. However, by next season when Palm Springs joins the league and all teams play 72 games, things should be sorted out.

Here's the release: 

The American Hockey League Board of Governors has approved the qualification rules and format for the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs.

A total of 23 teams will qualify for postseason play when the 2021-22 regular season ends on April 24, with five rounds of playoffs leading to the crowning of a Calder Cup champion.

“Our clubs and their National Hockey League partners recognize the importance of playoff races and postseason experience on overall player development,” said AHL President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Howson. “Expanding the Calder Cup Playoff field will allow some 150 additional players to play more meaningful games in pursuit of a championship.”

In each of the AHL’s four divisions, all but two teams will qualify for postseason play in 2022, creating a playoff field of six teams in the Atlantic Division, five in the North Division, five in the Central Division and seven in the Pacific Division. Teams will be ranked by points percentage in the regular-season standings.

First Round matchups will be best-of-three series. The top two teams in the Atlantic Division, the top three teams in each of the North and Central Divisions, and the first-place team in the Pacific Division receive byes into the best-of-five Division Semifinals, with the First Round winners re-seeded in each division. The Division Finals will also be best-of-five series, followed by best-of-seven Conference Finals and a best-of-seven Calder Cup Finals series.

The 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs are expected to finish by June 23.