PWHL Announces Playoff Format and Gold Plan for 2024 Draft

PWHL playoff format and draft order rules are here.

PWHL Announces Playoff Format and Gold Plan for 2024 Draft
PWHL Ottawa lined up on the blue line (Photo Cred: PWHL)

As we cruise into the second half of the PWHL’s debut season, the league has released the details on their playoff format. 

Starting during the week of May 6, four teams will earn playoff berths, with the highest-ranked team gaining the opportunity to select its opponent for the best-of-five semifinal series from either the No. 3 or No. 4 seed. The No. 2 seed will then play whichever opponent is not picked, while having home ice advantage. The winners will then advance to a five-game championship series. 

"Another way to be innovative and creative," PWHL senior vice-president of hockey operations Jayna Hefford said on a video conference call with reporters to mark the season's midway point.

"That No. 1 team may look at a more favourable travel schedule, they may look at a better matchup against the team. It's really up to those (general managers) and coaches to determine. I think that adds another element of engagement for our fans."

Previous leagues typically stuck to best-of-three series for the semis, wrapping up with just one final game.The PWHL is leaning into their competitiveness that we’ve seen on the ice with this playoff format.  

The PWHL also announced it will implement the "Gold Plan" for the 2024 PWHL Draft.

Suggested by statistician Adam Gold more than a decade ago, this system incentivizes continued effort even after a team has been eliminated from postseason contention. The goal is to both have something to play for and stop clubs from tanking for the top pick.

"There'll be a different type of race," said Hefford. "Every game from that point on means something and it earns them points. We felt like it was another way to continue to engage our fans in a different way than maybe they've seen elsewhere."

The second ever PWHL draft will be held in mid-June with seven rounds and 42 selections.

"It's still weighted, obviously, towards the team that is eliminated first," Hefford said of the format. "But it's not simply just a lottery system. We really liked the idea that the performance of the team could also get them to that first draft pick."

As of February 29th, the PWHL standings are as followed:
Montreal (13 GP, 24 PTS)
Minnesota (14 GP, 22 PTS)
Toronto (13 GP, 21 PTS)
Boston (12 GP, 18 PTS)
Ottawa (13 GP, 16 PTS)
New York (13 GP, 16 PTS)