If all of the planets align, the NHL season could be starting in about a month. Proposed division realignment might bring some old and new foes to the Nashville Predators.
Fans may finally get to see the Nashville Predators take the ice in January. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, teams will be playing more games against new and old rivals as the NHL attempts to return to some form of normalcy.
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Travel restrictions will make it hard for teams to play against each other as they usually would under normal conditions. To alleviate travel time and possible exposure to COVID-19, the NHL is proposing a temporary division realignment for the 2020-21 season.
Realignment would create an “All Canada” division to keep the Canadian teams in their home country. The rest of the league would be divided in a manner that would help alleviate travel time.
With the new divisions formed, each team will play most of, if not all their games in their respective divisions.
Fans can expect to see lots of back-to-back games and possibly three games in four days with the same two teams.
Without realignment, it would be virtually impossible to have a season at all. With the U.S.-Canada border remaining closed for the time being, Canadian teams would not be able to play in the states and vice versa.
Several states in the U.S. also have strict pandemic protocols that would prohibit travel to some areas.
This realignment could make for some exciting hockey during the regular season. The playoffs would be a lot different, with teams not playing out of their divisions very much.
Once the playoffs roll around, scouting would become critical.
When the NHL brought up the divisional realignment proposal, ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski shared the initial list via social media back in November.
This list removes two big powerhouses from the Central Division in Colorado and Dallas. However, realigning the division in this fashion would add three teams who could potentially give the Predators some problems.
The addition of Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Tampa would make the Central Division pretty tough and could cause the Predators to struggle for a wildcard spot.
Proposed Divisions 2.0
As time went on and the news came out stating that the NHL and NHLPA had hashed out their financial issues, the possibility of a season became a little more concrete.
The news shifted away from the financial aspect and moved towards the actual logistics of the upcoming season. With that came a brand new division realignment list and a glimmer of hope for the Predators.
On Monday, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun released the following list via social media with the “Subject To Change” caveat.
This updated version adds Carolina, Columbus, Detroit, Florida, and Tampa Bay to the Central Division, Tampa being the heavy hitter.
The flame of an old rivalry with the Detroit Red Wings would also be re-ignited with this revised Central Division list.
What This Means For the Predators
For the Predators, this new Central Division list appears to give them a bit of breathing room. This division would not be a cakewalk by any stretch, but it’s better than the current division and the initial realignment list.
By moving Colorado (a Stanley Cup favorite), Dallas (a bitter rival), and St. Louis (ugh) to the Pacific Division, the Predators may be able to climb up the division ladder a little easier, especially since most of the games will take place in the respective divisions.
Since the Predators have several new players and a new mindset, they will need to gel quickly and get off to a good start once the season begins.
Without division realignment and taking the other teams into account, I would place the Predators towards the middle/bottom of the list in their division and struggling to make it to a wildcard spot.
If this second version of the realignment list comes to fruition, I will give the Predators more of a fighting chance to make a splash in the Central and take a wildcard spot.
That would be good news for Predators fans who are looking for this team to bounce back from last season, which was fraught with issues.