Canada invented the sport of hockey, but there hasn't been a Stanley Cup champion from north of the border since the Montreal Canadiens beat Wayne Gretzky's Los Angeles Kings in the 1993 Cup Finals. Might that drought end this summer? Canada's hopes overall will get a huge boost with the news that Edmonton and Toronto will be the two hub cities for the 24-team playoffs (12 from each conference), with Edmonton hosting both conference finals and the Stanley Cup Finals.
As of this writing, there has been no official announcement by the NHL, but TSN's Bob McKenzie is the Adam Schefter/Adrian Wojnarowski of hockey reporting and if he's reporting it's a done deal, well, it's a done deal. The Canadian government has made specific exemptions for the NHL to allow for all the players to enter the country – usually, visitors must quarantine for 14 days.
Las Vegas had been a huge front-runner to be the Western Conference hub city opposite Toronto (East), but the NHL was scared off by a coronavirus spike in Nevada and elsewhere in the USA. Canada has the virus much more under control.
According to McKenzie, training camps will open July 13, teams will report to hub cities July 26 and games will start Aug. 1 – obviously, coronavirus-willing. The Stanley Cup playoffs should wrap up in early October.
William Hill sportsbook has not changed any NHL futures odds as of yet, but this is clearly a massive advantage for the Oilers and Maple Leafs. Keep in mind there could be fans in attendance at some point, which would only help those two teams.
Edmonton is the West's No. 6 seed and is a -155 favorite against No. 12 Chicago (+135) in the best-of-5 qualifying round. The Oilers are +1200 on the moneyline odds to win the Western Conference and +2500 to win the franchise's first Stanley Cup since 2006.
Toronto is the East's No. 8 seed and is a -170 favorite against No. 9 Columbus (+150) in the qualifying round. The Leafs are +1200 to win the East and +2500 to win the Cup as well – Toronto's championship drought of 51 seasons and counting is the league's longest active streak.
Lastly, NHL fans will find out which team earns the top overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and the right to select mega-prospect Alexis Lafreniere on Aug. 10 with Phase 2 of the lottery. Each of the eight teams that lose in the qualifying round will have a 12.5 percent chance of winning the top pick – a "placeholder" playoff team won Phase 1 of the lottery.
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