Another factor is for a potential "Bubble Team" like us, is that the winners of the three divisions get into the play-offs automatically. In our division [ATL.] the odds strongly favor the 4 big cap teams finishing ahead of us in the coming couple of years. That leaves us fighting for 1 of the last 2 post season slots with the 9 remaining teams in the conference. Not a hopeful outlook.
Here is my suggestion for a fairer realignment of the Conference
1. The Flyers and Penquins [natural cross state rivals] move together to the SE div.
2. In the SE, the Caps now move to the NE, [where they along with the Sens will represent the capital cities of the USA and Canada] and the Jets move to the NW div where they belong.
Now the ATL has 3 NY State teams + the natural rival the Devils and the Columbus Blue Jackets who are west of Buffalo in Ohio. A distance of 536 miles and under 1.5 hours flying time from NYC. This distance is much shorter than many of the spans in the SE, NW, and Pacific divisions.
Some may argue that this change breaks up the Devils - Flyers, and the Leafs - Sabres rivalries, but they really don't. They end up playing each other still 3 or 4 times a season. Certainly no one would argue that the Rangers and Bruins are a huge rivalry even though they play in different divisions.
The result of this realignment is that we play the Sabres 1 or 2 times a year more and the Blue Jackets 5 or 6 times more. At the same time we are playing the Flyers and Pens 2 or 3 times each less. If this change leads to more winable games and points is of course speculative. Nevertheless as followers of the sport many of us would agree, depending upon how you do the math that the potential for 8 to 12 additional points for the Islanders in the final standings and a play-off spot is a reasonable goal. Comments Please!