Now that the American Hockey League has a 30 teams in the league and all of the divisions are unbalanced, there’ll now be a crossover rule in both the East and West Conferences. There will still be 16 teams total making the playoffs.
Updated: I had originally said only the Eastern Conference had the crossover rule.
The Eastern Division will have eight teams and the Atlantic will only have seven this coming season. What the cross over rule means is that the fifth place team in the East would make the playoffs if it has more points than the fourth place team in the Atlantic. That means that five teams could make the playoffs in the East and only three in the Atlantic.
The same thing applies for the West and North Divisions. If the fifth place team in the North has more points than the fourth place team in the West Division the fifth place team will make the playoffs.
Now that the league has 30 teams the ideal scenario would be for the top eight teams in each conference to make the playoff no matter what division they are in. Unfortunately this is the American Hockey League though and what would seem to make the most sense does not happen.
Thanks to Lindsay Kramer for the original post providing the information and also clarifying the rule.