The NHL announced Sunday the league will begin its 2020-21 season on Jan. 13.
Teams will play 56 games in this pandemic-shortened season.
It was revealed earlier on Sunday that the trade deadline is scheduled for April 12. The expansion draft (Seattle’s first season in the league is 2021-22) will be held July 21. Free agency will get going July 28.
So, to recap:— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) December 20, 2020
Puck drop: Jan. 13
Trade deadline: April 12
End of reg season: May 8
Expansion draft: July 21
NHL draft: July 23-24
Free-agent Frenzy: July 28
July 29: LeBrun goes to cottage https://t.co/um2EkAIOc6
LeBrun added the latest the Stanley Cup final round would be held is July 15 -- it won’t go later than that.
Realigned divisions, playoff seeding altered
The divisions are realigning due to the cross-border travel ban between Canada and the United States. That means there will be one division with all seven Canadian teams and three divisions with the rest of the U.S. teams. Those three divisions will be realigned based on geography.
The divisions look like this with new names East, West, North and a modified Central:
East: Boston, Buffalo, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington
Central: Carolina, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Chicago, Florida, Nashville, Tampa
West: Anaheim, Arizona, Colorado, Los Angeles, Minnesota, San Jose, St. Louis, Vegas
North: All seven Canadian teams
Teams will play within their divisions with the top four in each division making the playoffs. That is a change from the top three making the playoffs with two wild card spots in each conference scenario that we have become accustomed to since 2013.