The 2020-2021 season is almost here, yet there is still much we don’t know. One of the most highly anticipated decisions is one regarding Canada. With the Covid-19 pandemic limiting travel, there has been plenty of talk surrounding the NHL implementing an all-Canadian division for the 2020-2021 season. This has been met with plenty of excitement and rightfully so.
An all-Canadian division will be one of the most exciting things to occur in the NHL for quite some time. Some of the biggest rivalries in the sport are between Canadian teams. Take The Montreal Canadiens vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, or the Edmonton Oilers vs. Calgary Flames for example. With an all-Canadian division, instead of seeing these rivals face off 2-3 times a year, the entire season would consist of such games.
Should the all-Canadian division occur, it will be a battle in the standings unlike one we have seen in quite some time. Every team will be playing with a lot more intensity to earn the title as the best team in Canada.
After a big offseason, the Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to have the best chance of finishing atop the division. Toronto added leadership and depth at every corner and made sure that they are not a team that is going to get pushed around this season. Combine their newfound grit with their current superstars and the Leafs will surely be a fun team to watch.
After Toronto, it is a bit of a tight race. The Vancouver Canucks headlined by Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes and the Edmonton Oilers headlined by Conor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl can make a strong push. Montreal and Calgary also had strong off-seasons. The Canadiens added depth all around, and Flames added elite goaltender Jacob Markstrom and defenceman Chris Tanev, both of whom were formerly of the Vancouver Canucks. For the Habs, their depth could be what propels them back into the playoffs as it did against Pittsburgh in the play-ins. Calgary on the other hand needs to see Jacob Markstrom continue to play at an elite level in order to make it to the playoffs. The Jets didn’t have too busy of an offseason however, they did address their hole down the middle by bringing back Paul Stastny.
The Ottawa Senators are in the process of a major rebuild. While things have been looking up for the Senators, it is still too early to consider them to be contenders however, they could have a couple of surprises up their sleeves. Adding Matt Murray to man the crease and bringing in rookies such as Josh Norris could very well see Ottawa start to string together some more wins. It is going to be a tight race so while the Senators still may finish last, they won’t make it easy for their Canadian counterparts.
The All-Canadian will not be so easy to predict. The power of rivalries and the season-long battle of Canada will make for a regular-season that won’t be so regular.