This post is to give my opinion.....and well...entertain myself. Maybe you will find it entertaining too.
If they are going to realign with several significant changes, then they need to take advantage of an opportunity to level out the traveling distance and time zone changes. Esesntially, blow how it currently is all to pieces and start over. Where do you start? By making divisions that span from the east coast to the west coast. The following breaks it down and gives what I see as an interesting realignment scenario.The Time Zone Breakdown:
16 Eastern Teams. 6 Central Teams. 3 Mountain Teams. 5 Pacific Teams.
The NHL seems to want 2 Conferences and 4 Divisions. Using that, here is an example.
Each conference would have 8 Eastern and 3 Central. One Conference would have 1 Mountain and 3 Pacific while the other would have 2 Mountain and 2 Pacific.
Hopefully by keeping the above in mind, all of the bad involved with a team playing out of time zone would be minimized and spread out more evenly amongst the 30 teams. The bad being primarily travel distance and odd local start times.
The following is a realignment scenario that I thought up and find interesting to consider.
Conference 1 (C1), Division 1 (D1): Anaheim, LA, Winnipeg, Minnesota, Toronto, Buffalo, Detroit, Columbus.
C1, D2: Colorado, Phoenix, Dalls, Ottawa, Montreal, Boston, New Jersey
C2, D1: San Jose, Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington, Carolina, Nashville.
A few notes on the above scenario:
1) I tried to keep in mind current rivalries and keep them alive where possible. I wanted each team to have at least one other team that was a current rival or could be a naturl rival based on geography within their division.
2) Obviously, 30 teams don't divide into 4 divisions easily. I tried to leave the 2 open spots in divisions that could handle any possible expansions. Especially if the popular suggested targets of Seattle and Quebec City get teams.
3) I left the centrally located teams to be allocated last when doing this. It turned out teams like Nashville, Chicago, and St. Louis were the hardest to place. In the above scenario I would say I personally like how those teams got placed, but Chicago is probably the 2nd or 3rd worst situation out of these with St. Louis being their possible rival.
4) Vancouver and San Jose are probably the 2 with the most disappointing rivalry scenarios. Maybe if Seattle gets a team it would fix that.
Hope you enjoyed!