If the Atlanta Thrashers move to Winnipeg, and let's be honest, every day it seems more and more likely, how does the NHL restructure conferences and divisions? One team would move from the West to the East, but which one? And how do you maintain rivalries and keep competitive balance? Well, here are my thoughts:
Scenario #1: CBJ to the East
This scenario is plausible, but the matter of bumping someone to the Southeast division is an issue. Columbus and Pittsburgh have developed a nice rivalry, and you can't break the 3 New York teams up. That leaves the Flyers, who will definitely not move divisions. So, do you move Columbus to the NE? I doubt that. Based on logistics, this seems like the least possible scenario. But, here are my thoughts anyway:
Pacific: LA, ANA, SJ, DAL, PHX
NW: VAN, CGY, EDM, WPG, COL
Central: MIN, CHI, STL, NSH, DET
NE: TOR, OTT, MTL, BUF, BOS
Atlantic: NYR, NYI, NJ, CBJ, PIT
SE: PHI, WSH, CAR, TB, FLA
Scenario #2 DET to the East
Detroit has wanted to move East for quite some time, and they do have first priority if they do want to move. But, the problems posed by Columbus moving are the same here. Who would fill the open spot in the SE division? It wouldn't be Detroit, and the PA teams are inseparable, mostly. The easiest scenario to envision would be exactly the same as the Columbus scenario... but with Detroit in the Blue Jacket's place. If you could think of another scenario, tell me.
Scenario #3 NSH to the East
This makes the most sense geographically, since Nashville is a short hop to Carolina, more so than any other scenario. Nashville may lose money from the rivalries lost with Detroit and Chicago, but they could make that money back quickly based on less travel. This scenario seems the most feasible... and likely because of that.
Likelihood: Most likely
Of course, this is all dependent on the Thrashers moving to Winnipeg, and that hasn't happened yet. But, you have to be prepared in case it does.