*Because of lockdown madness, the 2020-21 NHL season will have the four divisions playing against each other in their regions. This is a breakdown of my prediction for the Stanley Cup Playoff participants for the 2020-21 season. The top 4 teams from each division will play each other in the first two rounds. Then what would be the Conference Finals, the four remaining teams will be ranked 1-4 on their regular season point totals. The one-seed will play the fourth-seed and the second-seed will play the third-seed.
1. Colorado Avalanche
They proved in the playoffs last year that they are among the best offensive teams in the league.
2. Vegas Golden Knights
Adding a Stanley Cup winner in Alex Pietrangelo on defense shows they are still in a win-now mode for this young franchise.
3. St. Louis Blues
Losing Pietrangelo will hurt, but getting Torey Krug isn’t a bad consolation prize.
4. Minnesota Wild
Their team depth and playing in a weaker division has them primed for a playoff spot.
5. Arizona Coyotes
Too much turmoil in the front office, but the talent is there for playoff contention.
6. Anaheim Ducks
They’re probably another year away from contention, but the offense needs to start showing more progress.
7. San Jose Sharks
Their run for a Cup has come and gone.
8. Los Angeles Kings
The growing pains will continue as will the cap crunch for goalie Jonathan Quick and defenseman Drew Doughty.
1. Vancouver Canucks
It should come as no surprise that Vancouver played as well as they did in the Playoff bubble last season.
2. Toronto Maple Leafs
There is far too much talent on this team to fail once again. But the frustration will grow when the cap crunch comes.
3. Calgary Flames
A few shrewd moves in the offseason have Calgary hoping they solved their glaring issues. Mainly in net.
4. Edmonton Oilers
Expect huge scoring numbers from the offense. The rest of the group needs to be above average or better to clinch a playoff spot.
5. Winnipeg Jets
They could be a sneaky good team with Connor Hellebuyck in net.
6. Montreal Canadiens
A lot has to go right for them once again. Unfortunately they play in a very talented Canadian division.
7. Ottawa Senators
The future is quickly coming for them and this season will be an interesting one to watch.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning
The defending champions didn’t have to dismantle what they’ve built and another Cup run seems likely.
2. Dallas Stars
Not having Tyler Seguin for a large portion of the year could come back to hurt them. Thankfully their defense is their bread and butter.
3. Carolina Hurricanes
If they can get a consistent goalie during the playoffs, they’ll be tough to beat.
4. Columbus Blue Jackets
Just when you think they won’t be contenders they always find a way.
5. Florida Panthers
If goalie Sergei Bobrovsky can regain his Vezina trophy winning form, they should be a playoff team.
6. Nashville Predators
It looks like the days of ‘Smashville’ are just about over.
7. Chicago Blackhawks
There is no denying that they are rebuilding now and for the foreseeable future.
8. Detroit Red Wings
The growing pains will continue with some veterans being stopgaps for the prospects this season.
1. Philadelphia Flyers
Last year might not have ended the way they hoped, but they are far too talented to not make another run.
2. Boston Bruins
Their defense took a hit in free agency. Their depth on offense should help offset any issues on the blue line.
3. New York Islanders
The Barry Trotz system is working to near perfection on Long Island.
4. New York Rangers
This is their chance to show a quick turnaround in their rebuild to become contenders.
5. Pittsburgh Penguins
It would be shocking to see them miss the playoffs, but there are too many holes that could be hard to overcome down the stretch.
6. Washington Capitals
The cap crunch is coming and some players are starting to show their age on the ice.
7. Buffalo Sabres
If they weren’t playing in a stacked division like this one, they could be contending for a Wild Card spot.
8. New Jersey Devils
They fell flat on the ice last year and this season won’t be any better for them.