As in the inaugural Ultimate NHL Playoff, there are three automatic qualifiers. The ’19-’20 Quebec Bulldogs, the ’34-’35 St. Louis Eagles and the ’30-’31 Philadelphia Quakers all automatically qualify for the tournament since those seasons are the only one of those respective franchises to play in the NHL.
Also, the reigning champs, the ’76-’77 Montreal Canadiens, do not qualify for this tournament. The Canadiens will still have a representative, but the ’76-’77 team cannot be their representative. The same goes for any of the future tournament champions for the foreseeable future. At some point there will be a “champions” tournament where only teams that win an UNP can qualify. When will that happen? I don’t know yet.