That's how many NHL teams would qualify for the playoffs. It would be the most of any professional sport, and that's a good thing. As a lifelong fan of a team who has seen a string of Stanley Cup wins followed by years of futility I would make 24 playoff teams a priority.
After Seattle inevitably joins the league in 2020 the NHL should adopt the NFL division format, with 8 divisions. The 32 teams would be split in this way:
Northwest Division - Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Seattle
Pacific Division - San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Vegas
Midwest Division - Winnipeg, Minnesota, Colorado, Arizona
Central Division - Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Columbus
South Division - Tampa Bay, Florida, Nashville, Dallas
Atlantic Division - Carolina. Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh
Metro Division - New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Boston
North Division - Buffalo, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa
32 teams and 24 make it in. The last placed team in each division is eliminated. "It sucks to suck" is the expression I believe.
The first place team receives a bye week after the regular season.
The second place team and the third place team will play a best of 3 series (in five days) at the home of the second place team. The winner of the 3rd vs 2nd series will play the division winner in a best of 7 series.
After the division championship series the remaining 8 teams will be ranked 1-8 based on the regular season standings. 8 vs 1, 7 vs 2, 6 vs 3, 5 vs 4 with the highest ranked teams having home ice advantage. The winners will advance to the semi-finals and those winners will play for the Stanley Cup.
My idea keeps teams in the playoff hunt longer, puts a premium on winning the division (home ice and a rest week) and allows the second place team to have all the home games in the first round vs the third place team.
Fans of the NHL, you're welcome.