What's In Store For Canadian NHL Teams After The All-Star Break
Will Winnipeg Finish In First In The Central?
The Winnipeg Jets have had a great 2017-18 so far and got to the break holding a one-point lead over Nashville in the Central Division. If the playoffs were to start now, Winnipeg would hold the #2 seed in the West (Vegas would be #1, how crazy is that), and would like their chances with home ice advantage - they are 17-3-1-0 SU at home this year - to make a deep playoff run. It would be up to the Jets or Calgary out West as far as Canadian teams go in that scenario, but Winnpeg has to hold on to that spot first and get through these final 32 games strong.
The problem for Winnipeg in that scenario is the fact that they've got a lot of very good teams biting at their heels. The defending Western Conference champions from Nashville are one point behind with three games in hand, and even the St Louis Blues and Dallas Stars are just three and six points behind respectively. I know that hope is high right now in Winnipeg, but I do think we see them slide a bit as one of those three US-based teams will take the division crown when all is said and done.
Will We See Edmonton Make Their Push?
Sitting in 13th of 15 teams in the West is not where the Edmonton Oilers expected to be at this stage of the season, but that's precisely where they sit. Edmonton is 10 points behind the 8th and final playoff spot right now and with four teams tied in that spot at the moment, there is basically no margin for error for Edmonton going forward. The Oilers have to come out of the break with guns blazing and string together at least one significantly long winning streak to get back into it.
Everyone knows the Oilers - despite their record - are still likely to be "buyers" as the trade deadline approaches and it will be interesting to see how many and how impactful the moves end up being. Everyone knows McDavid needs more help, and wasting some of his best early years with no playoff appearances aren't ideal from a long-term organizational standpoint. But with six of thier first nine games out of the break on the road, things won't be easy for Edmonton going forward, and should the next 3-4 weeks go south in a hurry, it may be time to just fold up shop for this season.
How Ugly Will It Get For Montreal, Ottawa, And Vancouver The Rest Of The Way?
All three of these Canadian NHL teams aren't likely to make any sort of playoff push coming down the stretch, although there still might be an outside shot the Montreal Canadiens can prove me wrong there. But Ottawa and Vancouver will end up in pure "sell" mode in terms of moveable assets, and it will be interesting to see just which assets both organizations deem as "moveable." I expect both to be active sellers as the trade deadline approaches.
The best part about knowing which teams are likely to be sellers now is that from a betting perspective they turn into great 'fades' on the ML. Obviously the odds on the ML will never exactly be in the favour of the Canucks or Senators, but knowing they are very likely to lose more often than they win the rest of they way is a good place to start when you are handicapping their games and trying to figure out how much value exists in fading them.
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