I've always thought it unfair to top seeds that they may end up playing an early-season-sleeper that has come on fire to barely make the PO's. The 1st seed battles all year, for what...the opportunitly to play the Hottest team in hockey in the 1st round. I've been tooling around with an idea to give top seeds a choice on who they play without having to throw games (a major league pet peve of mine) to avoid a certain match-up. I think this revision is the most fair.
For both Conferences
1st seed can pick to play the #7 or #8 seed
2nd seed can pick to play the #6 seed or the remaining seed between #7/#8
3rd seed can pick to play the #5 seed or the remaining seed between #6/#7/#8
4th seed gets home ice and plays the only team not picked.
My original idea was to have the 1st seed be able to pick from seeds 5-8 with the next 2 seeds picking from the remaings seeds, but that makes seeds 5-8 basicly the same in the 1st round. It'd at least be nice to know that if you finish 6th, you can avoid the #1 seed at least in the 1st round.
I think this would make the regular season more exciting and important, give the top seeds a chance to avoid their nemesis, yet still have motivation for middle seeds to win--All without having to throw games at the end (which could effect other teams) in order to avoid a certain match-up.
I think that if I'm the #1 seed the last thing I want to do is announce to the world who I want to play in the first round. Every player on the other team is going to be twice as motivated as they otherwise would have been, and even if they lose, their competiveness could easliy translate to dirty play.