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Leafs projected as favorite to win Canadian Division

December 3, 2020, 6:23 PM ET [241 Comments]
Mike Augello
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With the U.S. - Canadian border expected to remain closed at least the first few months of 2021, the NHL appears set on having an all-Canadian Division for next season. That prospect will limit the number of Canadian teams making the Stanley Cup Playoffs at four when as many as six could possibly make the postseason with the normal divisional setup.

The regular season is expected to be anywhere from 48 to 60 games, but whatever the length or whenever the season begins, the Toronto Maple Leafs are favored to finish on top of the seven-team division north of the border.

The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun took a poll of 15 U.S.-based NHL team front office executives, scouts and coaches to predict the order of finish and nine of 15 chose the Leafs to come out on top of an all-Canadian division, based mostly on Toronto’s upgrades on defense, the additions of veterans Wayne Simmonds and Joe Thornton, as well as confidence that goalie Frederik Andersen can get the club past the first round with more support.

Calgary was second to the Leafs with four first-place selections due mostly to the addition of goalie Jacob Markstrom in free agency, while the Montreal Canadiens finished third with two votes with the bolstering of their defense with the signing of Joel Edmundson and rookie Alexander Romanov, and the acquisition of wingers Josh Anderson, Tyler Toffoli and goalie Jake Allen.

Sportsnet’s Luke Fox’s power rankings once again had the Leafs finish on top based on their possessing the most talented roster on paper, but indicates that it will be up to the players to live up to the lofty expectations.

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