Eastern Conference (NHL)

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Current logo of the Eastern Conference

The Eastern Conference is one of the two conferences in the highest North American ice hockey league , the National Hockey League . It contains a total of 16 of the 31 teams in the NHL and is divided into two divisions : the Atlantic Division and the Metropolitan Division .


The Eastern Conference has existed since the 1993/94 season under its current name, which was given to it in order to align the NHL with the geographical naming system of other US sports leagues (e.g. NBA ). The Eastern Conference is the successor to the Prince of Wales Conference , which was founded in 1974/75 when the NHL became too big for two divisions after continuing expansion .

Until 1998 there were only two divisions and a division-based playoff mode in which the four best teams in a division played for division victory and then the two winners for the conference title. With further expansion of the NHL that was no longer possible. The Southeast Division was added in the 1998/99 season and a different playoff mode was introduced, in which the three division winners are placed directly and the remaining five places were filled with the teams with the highest points in all divisions.

At the beginning of the 2013/14 season , the existing concept was changed again. With the addition of new teams such as the Minnesota Wild and the Columbus Blue Jackets and the move of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg , the new geographical distribution made a reorganization necessary. For this purpose, the Southeast Division was dissolved and the Atlantic was renamed Metropolitan Division, while the former Northeast Division is now called Atlantic Division; in addition, the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets switched to the Eastern Conference, while the Winnipeg Jets switched in the opposite direction. This results in 16 teams in the Eastern Conference, which were divided into eight teams each between the two remaining divisions ( Atlantic and Metropolitan).

With this restructuring, the allocation of play-off places also changed. In the now two divisions, the first three teams are directly qualified for the play-offs after the end of the regular season, while the remaining two places are filled with the best points from both divisions. This also makes it possible for one division to have five teams for the play-offs and the other only three. The winner of the play-offs of the Eastern Conference receives the Prince of Wales Trophy and plays against the winner of the Western Conference for the Stanley Cup.


NHL outline map
Atlantic Division

(on the right in the map in blue )

Metropolitan Division

(on the right in the map in green )


Eastern Conference logo from 1993 to 1997
Logo of the Eastern Conference from 1997 to 2006
year Regular season Playoffs
1993/94 New York Rangers New York Rangers
1994/95 Quebec Nordiques New Jersey Devils
1995/96 Philadelphia Flyers Florida panthers
1996/97 New Jersey Devils Philadelphia Flyers
1997/98 New Jersey Devils Washington Capitals
1998/99 New Jersey Devils Buffalo Sabers
1999/00 Philadelphia Flyers New Jersey Devils
2000/01 New Jersey Devils New Jersey Devils
2001/02 Boston Bruins Carolina Hurricanes
2002/03 Ottawa Senators New Jersey Devils
2003/04 Tampa Bay Lightning Tampa Bay Lightning
2004/05 Lockout
2005/06 Ottawa Senators Carolina Hurricanes
2006/07 Buffalo Sabers Ottawa Senators
2007/08 Montréal Canadiens Pittsburgh Penguins
2008/09 Boston Bruins Pittsburgh Penguins
2009/10 Washington Capitals Philadelphia Flyers
2010/11 Washington Capitals Boston Bruins
2011/12 New York Rangers New Jersey Devils
2012/13 Pittsburgh Penguins Boston Bruins
2013/14 Boston Bruins New York Rangers
2014/15 New York Rangers Tampa Bay Lightning
2015/16 Washington Capitals Pittsburgh Penguins
2016/17 Washington Capitals Pittsburgh Penguins
2017/18 Tampa Bay Lightning Washington Capitals
2018/19 Tampa Bay Lightning Boston Bruins
2019/20 Boston Bruins

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