We haven’t yet seen this season’s champions skate around the ice with the Stanley Cup, although it does look as though the Tampa Bay Lightning will be doing it for the second straight season, but we are ready to start looking ahead to next season. There are several things to talk about when it comes to the upcoming season, all of which we will get into in a moment. Before we do that, let’s take a look back at what went down this past season so you can plan your bets against their NHL odds for the 2021-22 season.
2021 NHL Season Review | Prediction for 2021-22 season
2021 Season Review
This was a different year for many reasons, not the least of which was that we only got to see each team play 56 games. Given that this season started later than usual due to the pandemic, and that it went off without a hitch, you have to say that it was a success, even though it was shorter than we would have liked.
Part of the reason that things went so well was because the league limited the amount of travel required of each team by creating 4 regional divisions, including an all-Canadian division. This was essential given that cross border travel restrictions are still in place north of the border.
The regional setup helped foster existing rivalries, while also building a few new ones, and it also meant that a Canadian team was guarantee a spot in the Stanley Cup Final, which the Montreal Canadiens took full advantage of.
The Canadiens proved to be the surprise team of the season, but as we write this, they are down 3-0 in the final to the Tampa Bay Lightning, with the defending champions in with a shot of closing things out on Monday night.
Looking Ahead to 2021/22 Season
It’s tough to look ahead to a new season when the old one is yet to finish, and especially when there are so many things that the league still needs to decide. First and foremost, the hope is that we will get back to a full slate of games, and while the regional divisions were a hit, the likelihood is that they will not be a permanent fixture.
Much of what happens next season will likely depend on moves made by the Canadian government in terms of travel restrictions. If they open up the borders between now and the start of the coming season, which will begin in October, then we are likely looking at a complete season with divisions returning to their original state. If the Canadians continue to keep things locked up, the NHL will have some decisions to make.
One thing that we do know for sure is that the league will expand to 32 teams for the coming season, with the Seattle Kraken coming into the league. That is going to mean that we will see a lot of player movement this offseason, with the list of unprotected players set to be released soon. The shuffling of lineups makes it absolutely impossible to pick a potential Stanley Cup champion at this time, but it might be fun trying to watch the Lightning go for a threepeat.