Earlier this year, the idea of replacing the shootout with a 3-on-3 continuation was an idea that gained much media attention and warranted discussion during the NHL's Owners Meeting. There was no official progress made towards installing it, but as a fan, I can't help but wonder, could it work?
The argument for it is that it would eliminate the unpopular notion of a skills competition (the shootout) deciding the outcome of a game, and installing in its place a high-offense, high-skill mode of the sport while still having the two teams playing each other.
However, would require a reworking of NHL rules. The most notable of these is that each team can only have a minimum of 3 players on the ice (ie. no two, or even one player penalty kills), and since there will only be 3 players per team on the ice to begin with, that particular rule would have to be edited. It may not seem quite so bad at first (teams being able to replace penalized players), but the lack of consequence for taking penalties mixed with the necessity for taking them brought on by the surplus of offensive space would create a very dangerous game. Why not just make the minimum players 2 for 3-on-3 play? That is a possibility, though it would still be dangerous, and you could feasibly only have a minimum of two players per team (could you imagine a 3-on-1 power play?).
All in all, I don't think 3-on-3 hockey could be a legitimate shootout replacements for the reasons just listed, and because I think having six total players on the ice has just as much of an arcade game, skills competition feel to it as the shootout. Feel free to post your opinions or ideas on shootout alternatives in the comments. Thanks for reading!