2021 NHL Season Preview


New addition Devon Toews aims to help push the favorited Avalanche to the Stanley Cup Finals. (Courtesy of Twitter).

Last week marked the beginning of the NHL season, one that will last a total of 56 games for each team culminating in a very different playoff format. The fan-less arenas continue into 2021, but the entertainment and intensity are there from the beginning with this NHL season. As usual, I will provide my predictions for the season. Last year did not go so great but I did pick the Stanley Cup Champion correctly. 

For the teams in each division and an explanation of the format, click here. 

In the North division, I have Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver making it to the playoffs. It was tough to leave Montreal out and I could definitely see them sneaking in, but these four teams are all looking to improve on successful seasons last year. Vancouver’s young core gained playoff experience this past summer that can help catapult them over Montreal in the division. Toronto comes in with the highest expectations once again. On paper, they should dominate this division. However, the reality of the Maple Leafs of recent years is that they fall well short of expectations quite often. I have them winning the division in the regular season, but Calgary advancing to the semi-finals. The addition of Jacob Markstrom fills a large need in the net and their offensive star power should be able to win them a couple of playoff series. 

In the East, I have Boston, the Islanders, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh making the playoffs with the New York Islanders once again making it to the semi-finals. The Isles biggest loss this offseason was Devon Toews, traded to Colorado, but they are hoping 21-year-old Noah Dobson can fill his spot on the blue line and the powerplay. I have them advancing to the semi-finals because the goaltending tandem of Seymon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin means they can beat anyone on any given night. Their top-notch defense and timely scoring from the playoffs made a return in their 4-0 season-opening victory over the Rangers as they look to keep that going this season. The Bruins lose their captain Zdeno Chara but not much else and are poised for another good season. Philadelphia is a very well-rounded team and a hot pick to win the Stanley Cup. I do not quite see that high of a celling, but another good season from Kevin Hayes and Carter Hart and they could be a contender in the East. Finally, I went with Pittsburgh over Washington simply because I believe in the depth of Pittsburgh. It would not surprise me if Washington or the Rangers cracked the top four by season’s end. 

The Central division has a lot of great storylines, including Joel Quenneville facing the Blackhawks numerous times this year, and a Stanley Cup Final rematch. I have Tampa representing the division in the semi-finals, beating Dallas, Carolina, and Columbus on their way there. This could be somewhat of a last hurrah for Columbus, as Nick Foligno and John Tortorella are in the final year of their contracts, and Pierre-Luc DuBois has asked to be traded. Carolina keeps improving every year but this division has some stiff competition, so I do not see them getting to the semis despite a nice season overall for a young and exciting team. Dallas looking to capitalize off their Western Conference Championship gets paired with the only team that beat them last summer in their division. A tough break for the stars, who also just went through the NHL’s first COVID-19 outbreak. This could be a very fun division that I can certainly see going a lot of different directions

Finally, the West division, I have Colorado representing them in the semi-finals. Vegas, St. Louis and Arizona are all poised for nice seasons as well, but this feels like Colorado’s division to lose. With the addition of Devon Toews to their backline and a healthy Phillip Grubauer, a team that was one goal away from the Western Conference Finals last year will get there this year. Vegas and St. Louis are the only real competition for that division crown, with all three California teams in a deep rebuild. 

So, from the Flames, Islanders, Lightning and Avalanche, I’m going to pick Colorado to win the Stanley Cup. Nate Mackinnon had a phenomenal playoff run last year and can do it again no doubt. As long as they can stay healthy, which they could not last summer, they seem like the team to beat.


Hart: Nate MacKinnon (COL) 

Vezina: Andrei Vasilevskiy (TBL) 

Calder: Trevor Zegras (ANA)

Norris: Cale Makar (COL)

Adams: Travis Green (VAN)