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  • Tyler Adelle

Early 2020-21 NHL Predictions

photo credit: Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

As we all know from the reports in the last few days, the NHL season should be starting sooner, rather than later. With a rumored start date of January 13th, hockey fans may only need to wait just over a month to get their fix of hockey that we all desperately are craving. With this rumored start date, also comes a set of rumored division alignments, that go as follows:

Canada Division

Calgary Flames

Montreal Canadiens

Ottawa Senators

Winnipeg Jets

Vancouver Canucks

Edmonton Oilers

Toronto Maple Leafs


Boston Bruins

Buffalo Sabres

Carolina Hurricanes

New Jersey Devils

New York Islanders

New York Rangers

Washington Capitals

Philadelphia Flyers


Chicago Blackhawks

Columbus Blue Jackets

Detroit Red Wings

Florida Panthers

Nashville Predators

Pittsburgh Penguins

St. Louis Blues

Tampa Bay Lightning


Anaheim Ducks

Arizona Coyotes

Colorado Avalanche

Dallas Stars

Los Angeles Kings

Minnesota Wild

San Jose Sharks

Vegas Golden Knights

These alignments are based on limiting travel for teams, to avoid potential COVID-19 exposure as much as possible. But seeing how these divisions align, this may be their best bet of limiting travel.

Now for the fun part. After the 2020 Entry Draft, free agency, and some trades, it’s time to predict how each team will fare in the 2020-21 NHL Season.

*This would be saying that there is a regular playoff format, with three teams from each division-clinching, plus two wild card teams. These predictions are based on the PROPOSED NHL Division Alignment.

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Canada Division

Edmonton Oilers - 1 Seed

Toronto Maple Leafs - 2 Seed

Vancouver Canucks - 3 Seed

Winnipeg Jets - Wild Card

Ottawa Senators - eliminated

Montreal Canadiens - eliminated

Calgary Flames - eliminated

This is probably the last time I can give the Oilers any form of hope. With two of the best players in the world, there's no reason for the Oilers to not be a legitimate threat not just in the division but in the entire NHL. The Maple Leafs will do as they always do. They will have a great regular season and blow it in the first round of the playoffs. Which is a shame. They have all the talent in the world between Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and so on. They just can’t seem to get out of their own way. Vancouver is on the rise, stunning quite a few people with their overall performance last season, they are a team that can only get better from here. Winnipeg was very shaky in the bubble last year, but they are another team loaded with talent that should be a playoff team. Ottawa made a handful of fantastic moves this offseason, arguably the biggest one being the acquisition of goaltender Matt Murray that significantly improved the Senators roster for the future.

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Boston Bruins - 1 Seed

New York Islanders - 2 Seed

New York Rangers - 3 Seed

Washington Capitals - Wild Card

Carolina Hurricanes - eliminated

Buffalo Sabres - eliminated

Philadelphia Flyers - eliminated

New Jersey Devils - eliminated

I almost didn’t even want to do this division at all. It's such a good division top to bottom that anyone can make the playoffs, as easily as they could be eliminated. This “modified metro” division is far and away the best in the league and will be the most fun one to watch all season. Boston is the easy shoo-in to win this division, as they are still one of the top teams in the league, regardless of their division. The Islanders are a strong team and won’t go away easily, as they proved in the playoff bubble last season. With the unfortunate announcement of Johnny Boychuk's career being ended due to an eye injury, this leaves a void in the Islanders defense, one that can be filled from within Bridgeport. The New York Rangers went from bad to “what the hell just happened” in only a few seasons. Although their longtime veteran goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was bought out and is now with the Capitals, the Rangers Successfully acquired the number one overall draft choice in Alexis LaFraniere, who hasn’t played a single minute but will surely make a lasting effect on the on-ice performance of the New York Rangers. The Washington Capitals never fail to be a playoff team, with captain Alex Ovechkin leading the way, along with new coach Peter Laviolette, the Capitals are just as capable of making noise as anyone else in this division. As far as Carolina, Buffalo, and Philadelphia go, any one of those teams are as capable as the next to secure a playoff berth, so if any of them make it in over one of my predictions, I would not be surprised.

photo credit: Getty Images


Tampa Bay Lightning - 1 Seed

Pittsburgh Penguins - 2 Seed

Chicago Blackhawks - 3 Seed

Florida Panthers - Wild Card

Columbus Blue Jackets - eliminated

Detroit Red Wings - eliminated

Nashville Predators - eliminated

St. Louis Blues - eliminated

This is another fun division that has its favorites but generally has talent all over. It would almost be criminal to put the Lightning any lower than the 1 Seed, not based on their Stanley Cup Championship, but based on how they beat down nearly every team they played last season. They are a legitimate force in the NHL and should have no issue locking up the top spot in this division. Bearing any offseason mishaps, the Pittsburgh Penguins should walk into this season with a completely healthy roster. Although they seem to be giving the starting duties in net to Tristian Jarry, he has more than enough star power in front of him to help carry the Penguins to a wild card spot. Teams like Detroit and Columbus are still progressively getting better, but the teams they are aligned with just have that extra one-up on them.

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Colorado Avalanche - 1 Seed

Dallas Stars - 2 Seed

Arizona Coyotes - 3 Seed

Vegas Golden Knights - Wild Card

Anaheim Ducks - eliminated

Los Angeles Kings - eliminated

Minnesota Wild - eliminated

San Jose Sharks - eliminated

This......uh……...division…….where hockey is played. It is a bad division. Extremely lopsided. Seeing that three of the four teams marked as eliminated on my prediction didn’t even qualify to go to the bubble the last playoff, I expect the same result for those clubs again. Making my picks much easier to do. Colorado is far and away the best team in this division, as they should make a deep playoff run this year. Dallas will be looking to repeat their appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. The Coyotes have improved significantly in the last few seasons, and even with the departure of Taylor Hall, I would expect them to be a hard team to beat this season as well. Vegas, although going through personal drama, as rumors circulated about potentially trying to move Max Pacioretty and Jonathan Marchessault, are still a great team with a plethora of key veteran pieces in their lineup, which poise for them to yet again be a playoff team. As for the remaining teams in the division, well, you know.

This year will certainly prove to be a fun one. With a proposed 56 game season, and games only played within the division, every game will mean that much more to every team.


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