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The idea of the all-Canadian division just for this year (because of the border issue) has all kinds of appeal… For starters, it should be tremendously competitive. With that in mind, I reached out Monday to a number of U.S.-based NHL team front office executives, scouts and coaches to get their predicted order of finish for the all-Canadian division. I heard back from 15 of them. Here’s what they had to say.
Let’s cut to the chase and summarize the predicted orders of finish in tabular format:
The participants all agreed on one thing: that Ottawa Senators are likely to trail the field. There were differences of opinion on the other six spots.
“Tremendously competitive” notwithstanding, a clear majority of respondents picked Toronto to finish first, while just three clubs garnered first-place votes. The Oilers were not among them. The locals squad collected a near-even split of selections for 2nd through 6th, and averaged out at 4th place, 3 teams above, 3 below. Doesn’t get any more middle-of-the-pack than that.
LeBrun summarized their plight in a couple of bleak sentences.
The Oilers didn’t get much mention in these responses. They lost to Chicago in the play-in last summer and I think hockey people still see goaltending and lack of roster depth as a problem.
A little bit of recency bias in there, I say, at least when it comes to that play-in series. Which is not meant to sugarcoat the fact it was a massive disappointment to Oil fans, even as subsequent analysis of the series suggests Edmonton carried the play for much of it and likely deserved a better fate.