The 2020-21 NHL season is going to be a weird one. Already we are seeing a delay in starting the season, but we likely are going to be seeing a temporary realignment to better coordinate the regular season during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Greg Wyshynski recently tweeted what we may see as the temporary realignment for the 2020-21 season. This is of course speculation, but there have been rumors of an all-Canadian division for a while so even if it isn’t this exactly it will likely be something like this.
If things do proceed this way, the Arizona Coyotes will be greatly impacted. The Coyotes currently play in the Pacific Division, with plans to move the team to the Central once the Seattle Kraken joins the league.
The Pacific Division will lose its three Canadian teams, the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, and Vancouver Canucks, and gain three Central Division teams, the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, and Minnesota Wild in forming the new West Division.
This past season the Oilers, the Flames, and the Canucks all finished above the Coyotes. Of course, things won’t necessarily be easier for the Desert Dogs, as the Wild, Stars, and Avalanche finished with more points than the Coyotes. And while the Canadian teams leaving are generally seen as on the rise, the Stars made it to the Stanley Cup Final this past season and the Avalanche are one of the best teams in the NHL.
If last season is any indication, their new division rivals will make things difficult for the Coyotes. The Coyotes were 1-5-1 against the Avalanche, Stars, and Wild this past season, with a game against the Avalanche and one against the Stars being canceled with the regular season. Compare that to the team’s 4-4-2 record against the Flames, Oilers, and Canucks, with the Coyotes missing their final two games against the Canucks.
This past season the Coyotes matched up terribly with the three teams joining their division. The games against the Wild were especially brutal, including an 8-5 loss on December 19th.
Things didn’t get much better in the post-season either. The Coyotes were a terrible matchup against the Avalanche in the second round, falling in five games. The Coyotes lost their final two games 7-1. The losses were so bad it may have changed fans’ opinion of the roster and the season itself.
The Coyotes have made a few moves in the offseason, which could potentially help them. They got more physical with the signings of John Hayden, Johan Larsson, and Tyler Pitlick, which will hopefully help them against the teams from the Central.
Even if a pandemic wasn’t causing a complete change to the 2020-21 season, it would still be a weird season for the Coyotes.
The team has a new General Manager in Doug Armstrong, who is going to need to decide if the team’s roster can be salvaged or if it needs to be blown up entirely. It is also the final year of Head Coach Rick Tocchet’s contract, and a new General Manager will often bring in their own coach to take over.
Arizona is also preparing for their move to the Central Division, which is currently set to happen after this season. More games against two of the best teams in the Central, and the Minnesota Wild, should provide the Coyotes’ front office with plenty of information that will be vital moving forward.
As soon as the regular season was canceled and the post-season was delayed, we all knew that the 2020-21 season was going to be different. And while we still don’t know exactly what it is going to look like, it will likely have a big impact on the Coyotes’ season and future moving forward.