Report: NHL will dramatically realign in 2012

The league will be dramatically realigned for the 2012-13 season, a move spurred by the Atlanta franchise's move to Winnipeg, the Sporting News reported Saturday.

Winnipeg, which is about 70 miles north of the Minnesota border, will play next season in the Eastern Conference division in which Atlanta played, the Southeast, which also includes the Lightning, Capitals, Panthers and Hurricanes.

The Jets were going to be put in a more compatible group after the season, but the league, also knowing that Western Conference teams Detroit, Nashville and Columbus would like to be in the East, decided realignment would be the best thing to do, the Sporting News said.

The leading plan calls for the league to be divided into four divisions, two with eight teams and two with seven teams, it said. The divisions would be time zone-based, Yahoo Sports reported. The plan is expected to be finalized at December's Board of Governors meeting.

"I'm just happy we're discussing it," Columbus general manager Scott Howson said.

The Blue Jackets plan a proposal that would place Columbus in the East, Howson said. He said he hopes the league would be open to the idea of 16 teams in one conference and 14 in the other.

"We're going to work something up over the summer and see if it has any legs," he said.

Carolina GM Jim Rutherford said it's a good time for realignment. "There's some tinkering that could help realignment," he said.

Draft roundup: After Rounds 2-7 were completed on the second of the two-day event in St. Paul, Minn., it was obvious talent is flowing from Sweden.

Twenty-eight Swedes were selected overall, third behind Canada (79) and the United States (64). A record four Swedes were taken in the top 10 and a record-tying six in the first round, matching the totals from 1993 and 2009. Rounding out the top five countries in selections were Finland (nine) and the Czech Republic and Russia (eight each). Fourteen countries had at least one player taken.

More by-the-numbers: The top junior league in the United States produced 25 picks, behind the Ontario league (46) and ahead of Quebec major junior (22). … Ten Minnesota high school players were take on Day 2. … Pittsburgh strengthened its position on the list of U.S. areas producing players outside of New England and the Midwest. Four players from Pittsburgh were taken in the first 64 picks, including first-rounder J.T. Miller by the Rangers (15th overall).

Flames: The team sent veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr to the Sabres after he waived his no-trade clause, clearing space under the salary cap for it to re-sign left wing Alex Tanguay to a five-year, $17.5 million contract. Regehr has spent his entire 12-year career with the Flames. The whole deal: The Flames sent Regehr, right wing Ales Kotalik and their second-round draft pick in 2012 to the Sabres for defenseman Chris Butler and center Paul Byron.

Report: NHL will dramatically realign in 2012 06/25/11 [Last modified: Saturday, June 25, 2011 11:10pm]

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