NHL Plans: Canadian Division A Certainty
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NHL Plans: Canadian Division A Certainty

As NHL owners and player reps continue to meet in order to iron out final details, the league is plotting for a January start to the regular season. It's expected that the NHL will go with a 56-game regular season. The continued closure of the Canada-USA border due to the COVID-19 pandemic almost assuredly means that the league will make a Canadian Division a certainty.

  • The NHL is expected to go with a 56-game regular season, with a hopeful start date of Jan. 13
  • Due to the COVID-19 border closure, all seven Canadian teams will be housed in their own division
  • The 24 American teams will be also be realigned into three new divisional formats

The NHL drew rave reviews for its return to play format last summer. The five rounds of NHL playoffs went off without a hitch. In the midst of a global pandemic, there wasn't one positive COVID-19 test among NHL personnel.

However, that was accomplished in a bubble set up, with the Western Conference teams isolated in Edmonton and the Eastern Conference clubs quarantined in Toronto. For the upcoming regular season, that won't be the case. Like MLB and the NFL, the NHL season will be contested with COVID-19 protocols put into place, but team personnel will come and go from the rink.

As both baseball and football have discovered, it's proven impossible to shut COVID-19 out of the picture. Both MLB and NFL seasons felt the wrath of the pandemic and were forced to postpone games and rearrange schedules due to team outbreaks.

Canadian Content

Divisional realignment is a must for the NHL this season. Due to the pandemic, the Canada-USA border isn't about to be opening up anytime soon. With seven Canadian franchises in the league, it isn't going to be as simple as getting the one Canadian club to temporarily relocate to the United States, which is what both the MLB (Toronto Blue Jays) and NBA (Toronto Raptors) did.

OutcomeBovada
Yes-220
No+155

The NHL will be left with no choice but to locate its Canadian teams - the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, and Winnipeg Jets - in a separate division.

They'll play an interlocking schedule against only each other since border crossing won't be feasible.

Bovada is offering a prop wager that the league will go this route. The NHL hockey odds favor there being a Canadian Division this season. Yes is the odds-on -220 favorite. Bet no at odds of +150.

NHL To have a Canadian Division
-220
Bovada

Who Is Canada's Team To Beat?

There is also a betting line at Bovada on which team will win this planned Canadian Division. Last season, the Oilers (83) collected the most points, just ahead of Toronto (81) and Winnipeg (80). However, it was the Canucks who went the furthest in postseason play, reaching the Stanley Cup final four.

TeamBovada
Toronto Maple Leafs+170
Edmonton Oilers+250
Calgary Flames+600
Winnipeg Jets+650
Montreal Canadiens+750
Vancouver Canucks+750
Ottawa Senators+2500

The NHL odds favor the Leafs to win the Canadian Division at +170. Edmonton (+250) is next. Bettors can access +750 odds on both the Canucks and Canadiens.

The Flames, one of the NHL's best clubs in the second half of last season, shored up their goaltending with the addition of free agent Jacob Markstrom and offer great value at +600.

Calgary Flames To win Canadian Division
+600
BetOnline

Planning Ahead

The NHL Vegas odds are listing the Colorado Avalanche as +600 favorites to win the Stanley Cup. If the online sportsbooks were to list betting lines on the likelihood of COVID-19 disruptions to the season, those would definitely be given at negative odds.

Both players and owners are working on solutions to try and make certain those missteps have a limited impact of how the season will play out. A one-week layoff for an NFL team results in one game being rescheduled. In the NHL, a one-week shutdown could mean the cancelation of 3-4 games.

It's anticipated that windows of off-days will be built into schedules to enable any postponed games to be made up. As well, the league is also looking at the possibility of adopting a schedule format similar to baseball, where the same two teams would play each other three games in succession. This formula could help limit any impact a COVID-19 outbreak would have in terms of how many teams would need to be shut down.

Roster Size An Issue

During a normal season, NHL teams carry 23-player rosters. However, factoring in that the American Hockey League, the NHL's top farm league, won't be in action earlier than Feb. 5, teams will need to carry taxi squads of extra players.

This will be necessary to deal with both potential COVID-19 outbreaks as well as the usual rash of injuries that are incurred during a season.

Where To Bet On NHL Canadian Division

There are a number of leading online sports betting sites that will provide bettors the chance to place a wager on NHL Canadian Division action. The best bet you can make is to shop around in advance and seek out the best deal before joining one of these sportsbooks. Check out BetUS and MyBookie as examples.

The signup bonus offers that are in place at all of these recommended sites will prove advantageous to the bettor. And since you'll get a good deal wherever you go, why not shop around and find the best fit for your needs?

Do you want a risk-free first bet as a signup bonus? Perhaps you find a no-deposit bonus to be enticing. Or maybe you simply like the feel of cold, hard cash in your account and you want to go for a matching first deposit bonus. Whatever option you choose, you're already a winner.

See below the top sportsbooks where you can wager online and choose the best one for you: