If the Atlanta does in fact lose their second NHL franchise and the Trashers move to Winnipeg to become the Jets what affect will it have on the rest of the NHL?
Realignment will be needed since the Trashers have been in the Eastern Conference and if they move to Winnipeg they will have to join the Western Conference. Let's be honest the more teams we can get out of the Eastern time zone the better. But you can't just add one team to the West and not replace it in the East. Currently the NHL has 30 teams, 15 in each conference which is then made up of 3 divisions all containing 5 teams.
There are 3 candidates to move East if the Trashers do become the Jets. All 3 are in the Central division and 2 of the 3 are in the Eastern time zone. The teams are Detroit, Nashville and Columbus.
1. Nashville might make the most sense because it is relatively close to Atlanta and would be able to fill the role in the Southeast left by the Trashers. However they are in the Central time zone which makes things a little easier when playing West coast teams. Ownership has already come out saying they are against the move saying they have developed good division rivalries and would like to stay put.
2. Columbus lost $25 million this past season and could benefit by having superstars like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin come to town a few more times a year. They also would be able to slide into the Southeast division considering Washington is also in that same division and they both are just as far North.
3. The Redwings would love to move East and take over the Eastern conference but I don't think it will happen. I don't see the NHL having 5 of the Original 6 teams all in 1 conference. Also it makes no sense to break up the Hawks-Wings rivalry. Can you imagine them only playing once a year? Also them moving to the East would probably cause another team to move to the Southeast instead of them.
No matter which team goes there will be a spot open in the Central but it most likely won't be filled by the Jets. The Pacific division of San Jose, Anaheim, Phoenix, LA and Dallas will probably stay the same. Most likely either Minnesota or Colorado will leave the Northwest to join the Central allowing the Jets to join the three other Canadian cities of Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.
The Wild might be perfect to stay in the Northwest since they are the Northern most city would fit well with playing the 4 Canadian teams while the Avs might be a little far West to join the Central they are just as far South to join the 4 teams that will be in the Northwest.
One other possibility would be the Dallas Star joining the Central, allowing the Avs to join the Pacific and the Jets joining the Northwest. That might be the best for everyone involved but we will just have to wait and see how it plays out over the next few months.
I personally would send the Columbus Blue Jackets to the Eastern Conference and joining the Southeast division. Moving the Trasher/Jets to the Northwest while realigning the Stars to the Central and Avs to the Southwest. I think that would be the best choice for everyone involved.