How will the Canadian NHL teams rank this season?
After a one-off Canadian division in the NHL last season, things are back to normal and that makes ranking the teams in Canada much tougher. The seven Canadian teams are back to normal, spread across three divisions.
Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto will once again compete in the Atlantic Division, Winnipeg will play in the Central Division while Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver will all play in the Pacific Division out down the West Coast.
It seems likely that these teams will broadly be split into two groups, those expected to make the playoffs and those who are fighting in the hope of making the playoffs, or worse.
Who Will Make the Playoffs?
Working out who will make the playoffs is something that many people like to do ahead of the new season. With playoff odds available, there is the chance to back this up with a wager, but thanks to exciting new betting opportunities such as betting in play, punters have more options that ever before.
In terms of the teams who are expected to make the playoffs, three stand out. The Toronto Maple Leagues, Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers are these three teams, and if they do not make the playoffs, that will be seen as a big disappointment.
Montreal made the Stanley Cup final last season, before being outclassed by champions Tampa Bay, but there was a lot to like about their performance, and with young players on the roster, they can perform well again.
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers both have the same question to answer, and that is their ability to compete and win in the playoffs. They are both expected to get there and have been two of the best regular season teams recently, but when in the playoffs, they have fell apart in recent years.
If either find a way to do that, they would become challengers for Lord Stanley, but until they do, everyone will have question marks hanging over them.
What About the Rest?
Vancouver, Calgary and Winnipeg will be hopeful of making the playoffs, though their chances suggest they are not guaranteed at all. Things are made worse for Winnipeg by being in the tough Central Division, while the weak Pacific Division will give Vancouver and Calgary hope that they can sneak in.
The final team to mention is the Ottawa Senators. If reports that their rebuild is over are true, expectations begin to form here. The Sens find themselves in an incredibly tough division, with Toronto, Montreal, Tampa Bay and Boston all part of it.
That could leave the Senators struggling again, even if they want to move forward, and the likelihood is that another high draft pick is on the way. The Sens are beginning to put together a roster of young talent that will one day compete, but their day may not come this season, it looks as though fans will have to wait a little longer for that to happen.