Expansion franchises should be granted to Baltimore, Hamilton, Hartford, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Portland, Quebec, Salt Lake City, Saskatchewan and Seattle. Then realign into 7 divisions of 6 teams each while eliminating conferences.
Atlantic Division: Boston, Brooklyn, Hartford, New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.
Northeast Division: Buffalo, Hamilton, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec and Toronto.
Metro Division: Baltimore, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Washington.
Southeast Division: Carolina, Dallas, Florida, Houston, Nashville and Tampa Bay.
Central Division: Chicago, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Saint Louis and Winnipeg.
Southwest Division: Anaheim, Colorado, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and San Jose.
Northwest Division: Calgary, Edmonton, Portland, Saskatchewan, Seattle and Vancouver.
The regular season should be contracted to 66 games, including 3 home and 3 road vs. each division opponent = 30 + a single game vs. the 36 other teams. If contracting 16 games is too many, then it could be expanded to 76, including 4 home and 4 road vs. each division opponent.
I am in favor of keeping the 16-team playoff format, yet I am also in favor of contracting the 1st 3 rounds of the playoffs to best of 5, while keeping the Stanley Cup Finals best of 7. Since conferences have been eliminated, this means that any 2 teams, even from the same division, could meet in the Stanley Cup Finals.
My reason for all this contraction is to guarantee that the Stanley Cup Champion is crowned by Memorial Day, because June is not hockey season, nor basketball season for that matter, as I have a similar plan for the NBA.