We Rank the all Canada NHL Scotiabank North Division Rankings
The NHL season begins this week and, due to Covid-19, the divisions have been temporarily realigned. Because of border restrictions in place between the United States and Canada, all seven Canadian teams are in their own division – affectionately called the Canadian Division, instead of its sponsored name courtesy of Scotiabank.
None of them will face a U.S. team until the third round of the playoffs. Despite not meeting the other Canadian teams often, there is always an extra bit of electricity in the air when two Canadian NHL teams meet. The Northern teams make up just under a fifth of the league. Players and fans alike want to show the opponent who has the most Canadian pride and better hockey skills.
Since these special divisions were announced, rankings of the seven northern teams have been made and remade by fans and hockey writers alike. Hockey is not played on paper so any rankings – including this one! – are to be read with a grain of salt.
The games must be played and no matter how objective someone tries to be, some bias still sneaks in. I collected data on all the Canadian teams since the 2011-12 season, which is when the Winnipeg Jets returned from Atlanta and awarded points for
More wins than losses against Canadian teams since 2011-12
More wins than losses against Canadian teams in a shortened season.
Overtime losses (OTL) being fewer than 10 (two points) or fewer than 20 (one point)
Playoff appearances. For the purposes of this ranking, the 2020 play-in round was counted as a playoff appearance, but not the first round.
Advancing past the first round of playoff games.
Win-heavy playoff record.
Win-heavy playoff record against Canadian teams.
Off-season moves after the 2019-2020 season.
Hockey is almost a religion in Canada. Hockey is life and this one-off North division will give a new meaning to Hockey Night in Canada!! Hockey is life for many. The Scotiabank North Division will at least for this season settle the age-old argument of who is better.
Let us get to the North Division Rankings.
7th – Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton has frustrated hockey fans for the last couple of seasons. Even fans of other teams are not sure why they are not succeeded more. They have Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ethan Bear, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and yet they have only made the playoffs twice in the last nine years. Their big rival is with Calgary in the Battle for Alberta, Canada we want this to be what we think it should be!! “the battle of Alberta that we have waited three decades for” We will see what playing 10 times will do to light the fire and keep it burning.
They have depth, even more so since signing Tyson Barrie for a year. 2019-20’s season was a slump for him, but the two seasons before saw him with 57-plus points. He could add to the point totals that McDavid and Draisaitl are expected to achieve, pushing the Oilers higher in the standings. The thing with the Oilers is that they are a beautiful, complicated machine: everything must go exactly right for them to work. They do have a winning record against Canadian teams in a shortened season.
6th Calgary Flames
It could be different living out west or cheering for a western team, but Calgary seems too often to be an afterthought until they make the playoffs. Doing that in four of the last six seasons. They have done well against other teams from Canada.
However, they currently have a lot of players on the team who are out to prove themselves, new signings who could benefit from having a chip on their shoulder. They really must show up though. Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, and Andrew Mangiapane cannot carry the team to the playoffs. Their goalie situation will be one to watch as well since they signed Jacob Markstrom to head up their goalie tandem.
5th – Winnipeg Jets
The Jets are another team that seems to do well for a minute and then something blows up and you are not sure exactly what happened. They have made four playoff appearances in the last six seasons but only advanced past the first round once. The expectations for this team are high and they have been high since they moved back to Canada.
Adding Nate Thompson to their center lineup bolsters their bottom trios with some size and stability. Two other signings in Paul Stastny and Nate Beaulieu will add to what Thompson brings. Stastny is returning after two years in Vegas, bringing some experience to the second line, and Beaulieu had his contract extended for two more years. He tends to yo-yo on the stats sheet, but this season, he is due for an upswing and double-digit points.
They have a losing record against Canadian teams in both a standard and shortened season. Winnipeg and Calgary tied in points, but the Jets are a bit more cohesive already, so they get the higher spot.
4th – Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto has a lot to prove this season!!! Plain and simple!!!!
They have made the playoffs five times in the last eight years and succumb in the first round each time. They have some big-time players – Austin Matthews, Jonathan Tavares, Joe Thornton, and Mitch Marner. The rest of the roster reads like a fantasy team picked by someone who let auto-draft take over after the first few rounds.
Tavares has a bit of a mark on him. His return home to Canada has not produced the results many have hoped for. Marner is developing into a stud. Mathews needs to step up and be the leader everyone knows he can be. During Camp Mathews and Marner played on a line with “grandpa” “jumbo” Joe Thorton. this line has people scratching their heads and at the same time going “DAMNNNNN”
T.J. Brodie could be a good boost for them. In 2019-20 he tallied 19 points in 64 games, which was his lowest-scoring season since 2012-13, but every other season between now and then he has amassed 31-plus points. The Leafs also re-signed Jason Spezza. He is 37 but has still gotten 25 points in the last three seasons and bolsters their bottom six with experience.
Playing Canadian teams and a shortened season works to the Leaf’s advantage.
3rd – Ottawa Senators
Everyone seems to be rating Ottawa low this season. They do have a reputation for not being hard to beat in a one-and-done, but they are annoying and mean, and playing them repeatedly in a season is going to wear teams down.
They have a good record against Canadian teams in both the regular season. In the playoffs, they have advanced twice in the last nine years.
The Senators acquired some depth on their bottom-six with the additions of Cedric Paquette and Alex Galchenyuk. Galchenyuk could play in a higher position as the team may believe he can get back to the 40-plus point mark he reached in the four seasons before the most recent one where he only managed 24 points in 59 games.
They also traded a prospect and a pick for goaltender Matt Murray, signing him to a 4-year deal as their starter. The Senators have a lot of new names and have given up a lot in the last few years with not much to show for it but being able to just beat other teams down by exhausting them gives the Senators a huge advantage.
2nd – Vancouver Canucks
The offseason did not bode well for Vancouver. The Canucks looked a bit deflated. A few players pursued free-agency and the once-formidable team was…messy.
However, WALA, they went an acquired defenseman Nate Schmidt who boasted a 31-point campaign for the 59 games he played in 2019-20. Vancouver also wooed a friend of Schmidt’s, goaltender Braden Holtby.
This past season was Holtby’s personal worst with a .897 Save Percentage and 3.11 Goals Allowed Average, but the Vezina winner is not done yet and will compete with Thatcher Demko for the starting goalie spot if the games are not split between the two. Vancouver has a great record in a short season and a fairly good one in a regular-season against Canadian teams.
Getting the new players to mesh? That is the question mark they need to answer.
1st – Montreal Canadians
The Habs were busy during the offseason. They extended Brendan Gallagher, Victor Mete, Xavier Ouellet, Jeff Petry. Then traded for Josh Anderson, Joel Edmundson, and Jake Allen, signing all to extensions. Allen finally gives Carey Price a bona fide backstop in the net. The Habs also signed Tyler Toffoli, Corey Perry, and Michael Frolik. This added size, speed, and useful depth, not just grit. They have the best record against Canadian teams in a standard and shortened season. They have made the playoffs six times in the last eight years and gone past the first round three times.
After their performance in the 2019-20 play-in round and playoffs and everything added this summer and autumn, they have a lot to prove and will come out swinging hard against rivals Toronto and Ottawa.
The Scotiabank North division turns a lot of past performance on its ear. Playing just Canadian teams between nine and ten times will make each game feistier and Meaner than the next. That is just in the living room of most of Canada. The Players are up for this. This could be some of the best hockey we have seen in a long time. How my rankings hold up? Who knows? But I cannot wait to look back on them and laugh or maybe even gloat a bit. No matter where teams end up, it is great to have hockey back!
Ok, you caught me I am a Habs fan and a co-host of Habby Hour.