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How the 2021 NHL West Division Was (Will Be?) Won

The NHL will have new divisions for the 2021 season. We are previewing what to expect from the new West Division.

Bruins vs. Maple Leafs by Jeff Dhouly is licensed under CC BY 2.0

How the 2021 NHL West Division Was (Will Be?) Won


Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

The NHL 2021 season will begin on January 13th, and it will look a bit different. Due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic there will be new division realignment. The season will consist of 56 games played over 116 days, and includes an increased amount of back-to-back games for each team. Each team will only play the teams in their division, and the top four teams from each division will make the playoffs.

This season is going to be a brave, new world for the NHL and we’re starting our preview series with a look at the new Honda West Division.

Who’s in the division?

  • Anaheim Ducks
  • Arizona Coyotes
  • Colorado Avalanche
  • Los Angeles Kings
  • Minnesota Wild
  • San Jose Sharks
  • St. Louis Blues
  • Vegas Golden Knights

The four US teams in last year’s Pacific Division have switched to the new West. They are joined by the Avalanche, Wild and the 2019 Cup Champion Blues from the Central Division (the one not sponsored by Discover).

Who are the new faces?

Torey Krug, Defenseman, St. Louis Blues

The Blues added Krug on a seven-year $45.5 million contract in one of the few big money deals awarded in this NHL offseason. Krug is coming the St. Louis blue-line after nine seasons in Boston, which included two Cup Finals runs (a 2013 loss to Chicago and a 2019 loss to these Blues). While Krug is not replacing former Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo as the team captain, Torey’s production this season will be consistently compared to what Pietrangelo might have offered the team if he had been retained instead.

Kevin Shattenkirk, Defenseman, Anaheim Ducks

Shattenkirk signed with the Ducks this off-season with a three-year $11.7 million contract. This could be a tough transition from bringing home his first cup win last season with the Lightning to joining a Ducks team expected to be more in contention for the #1 pick in the draft. A tough go for Anaheim could see Shattenkirk’s name back in the trade rumor mill he’s been so frequently a part of during his career.

Who was told goodbye?

Alex Pietrangelo, Defenseman, Las Vegas Golden Knights

Pietrangelo was the captain for the Blues first Stanley Cup victory in 2019, and even scored the clinching goal in game seven. After 12 seasons, Pietrangelo will lace up his skates for a new team this season as he joined the Golden Knights on a seven-year $61.6 million dollar deal. The two-time All-Star will look to help Vegas get back to the Cup Finals for the first time since their 2018 loss to Pittsburgh.

Joe Thornton, Center, Toronto Maple Leafs

Jumbo Joe signed a one-year $700k contract with Toronto in December which could very well be his finale season at 41-years-old. He leaves a Sharks team he was a part of for 15 seasons, where he scored over 1,000 points, won three Hart trophies and went to the Cup Finals in 2016. The Sharks face a massive challenge to replace Thornton’s presence in the room, similar to what his old team the Bruins face with replacing Zdeno Chara.

What should fans watch for?

Clash of the Titans

There are a lot of heavy-hitters in this division as it boasts teams with the #1 (Avalanche), #3 (Golden Knights) and #8 (Blues) odds to raise the Cup this season. Watching these top teams face off against each other eight times a year is going to be something.

Captain Introductions

Three of the eight teams in the division will be introducing new captains this season. This includes the Blues’ Ryan O’Reilly, Wild’s Spurgeon and the Golden Knights’ yet-to-be-announced captain. San Jose also just named Logan Couture their captain last season and the Coyotes’ captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson requested a trade this offseason. There is a lot of uncertainty/unknowns at the top spot on teams in this division and it will be interesting to see if this has any effect.

How will the final standings look?

  • Colorado Avalanche
  • St. Louis Blues
  • Vegas Golden Knights
  • Minnesota Wild
  • San Jose Sharks
  • Arizona Coyotes
  • Los Angeles Kings
  • Anaheim Ducks

The Avalanche seem like a sure bet to take the top spot in this division, with the drama coming more for the 2nd/3rd spots. The Blues will be able to overtake their former captain’s new team to finish behind Colorado. The final playoff spot will go to the Minnesota Wild who make the postseason for the first time since 2018.

Terry is from Massachusetts and is a passionate fan of the Patriots, Celtics, Red Sox and Bruins. He also will admit he only pays attention to Syracuse basketball when they're good. If there's a Twitter trade rumor even remotely associated with one of his teams, he's likely fallen for it. Finally, he believes 100% that if the Celtics had beaten the Heat in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals they would have swept the Thunder in the Finals.

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