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NHL Canadian Division
The NHL is finalizing details for the 2021 season. One detail yet determined is division realignment and if there will be an NHL Canadian Division. You can find our prediction on NHL realignment, plus see what teams we are betting on to win the Stanley Cup in 2021.
Will there be a Canadian Division in the NHL?
While the players and the league have agreed to play a season in 2021, there are still many details they need to figure out before they can finalize all the details.
One of the most significant looming issues is border closures between Canada and the United States. The continual extension of border restrictions and the 14-day quarantine when returning from international travel forces the National Hockey League to consider a Canadian Division, which we are betting the league will do for the 2021 NHL season.
There are seven Canadian teams in the NHL – which is the size of the Central Division. That means realigning the divisions will not cause an imbalance of teams* in one division.
*There would have been eight teams in the Central Division this season after Seattle joined and one of the more eastern teams in the Pacific Division moved to the Central Division. However, the league has delayed Seattle's expansion until 2022.
The travel makes sense. Other sports have already made schedule adjustments to decrease travel, which reduces the risks of an outbreak. Baseball did this in a condensed season and awarded the World Series despite some hiccups along the way.
Playing in short-term hubs has also been discussed to decrease travel – however, the hub idea is failing to gain as much traction as division realignment. The league could go for a combination idea – 14 days in one Canadian city, ten games for each team, then a week off – but that requires additional planning and will delay the season's start.
Overall, it makes sense – especially for a 56-game season – to have every Canadian team in one division. The league wants to have things return to normal for the 2021-22 season, and unless they want to wait out the Canadian government ending its quarantine mandate, the only move that makes sense is realignment.
Pick: Yes (1.45) there will be a Canadian Division in the NHL
Odds of Each Canadian Team to Win the Stanley Cup
Canadian Teams We are Betting on to Win the Stanley Cup
If the NHL goes to a Canadian Division, four Canadian teams will make the postseason. Four teams will give Canada great odds to end its Stanley Cup drought finally. We are betting on two teams to end Canada's Stanley Cup drought – since the value on Canadians is extra-high this year.
The Vancouver Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks had the best run of any Canadian team last season, advancing to Second Round and taking a veteran Vegas Golden Knights team to Game 7. The Canucks are one of the best young teams in the NHL, and now with three rounds of playoff experience (including the qualifying round) under their belt, they are the best Canadian team in the NHL.
The team's top-eight scorers last season were 27 or younger. A similar comparison is the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks – a team that went on to win the Stanley Cup. Six of the top eight scorers on their Stanley Cup-winning roster were 26 or younger – including Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. The year before the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, the team advanced to the Western Conference Finals – giving their young roster three rounds of playoff experience.
The Canucks have their own combination of Toews and Kane in Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat. Pettersson is one of the best young players in the NHL and should only improve this season. Horvat is a great young goal scorer who is due to become elite in 2021.
The Canuck also added Braden Holtby in the offseason. While Holtby is coming off his worst season in the NHL, he is one of the most successful goaltenders of the last decade. Holtby may just need a change of scenery to rebound in 2021. He is only 31 this season and three years removed from leading the Washington Capitals to their first Stanley Cup.
Pick: Vancouver Canucks (27.00) to win the Stanley Cup
The Winnipeg Jets
The Winnipeg Jets have as much talent as any team in the NHL this season. They just need to put it together in 2021, which we think they can do to the point they can compete for and win the Stanley Cup.
The Jets have the reigning Vezina Trophy winner in Connor Hellebuyck. Hellebuyck is an elite goaltend, entering his prime at 27 this season. He has posted a .922 save percentage in two of his last three seasons and led the NHL in shutouts in 2020. The Jets also have some excellent young defenders in front of Hellebuyck in Neal Pionk and Josh Morrissey
The Jets have a potent offence as well. They were above average in goals scored, powerplay, and shooting percentage. Patrik Laine – their young superstar – looked good over the second half of the season last year, averaging 0.50 goals per game. When Laine was scoring at that clip during the 2017-18 season, the Jets made the Western Conference.
If Laine can play as he did over the second half of last season and Kyle Conners follows up his breakout season (38 goals in 71 games) with another monster season, this team can go all the way in 2021.
Pick: Winnipeg Jets (33.00) to win the Stanley Cup
Best Online Sportsbooks to Bet on the NHL
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