On the bright side, the New York Islanders won’t have to travel very in their realigned division for the 2020-21 NHL season, but that doesn’t mean it will be any easier on the ice for them.
On Wednesday, Pierre LeBrun reported that the possible realignment that was presented during an NHL Board of Governors meeting included the Islanders playing in a rather tough division. If the divisions that were reported are in fact the ones the NHL adopts for next season the Islanders would find themselves in the same division as Washington, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, The New York Rangers, New Jersey, Boston and Buffalo.
Not finalized yet, and still subject to change, but the 2020-21 four-division re-alignment currently looks like this according to sources:
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) December 9, 2020
The New York Islanders would not have Carolina or Columbus to deal with. but adding Boston into the mix is a frightening exchange. The Islanders went 1-1-1 against Boston during the 2019-20 season, with their final matchup being a 4-0 drubbing at the Nassau Coliseum on Feb. 29.
Boston has gone 15-3-1 against the Islanders dating back to January 27, 2014, and they have finished with 100 or more points in the standings for the past three seasons.
Add to the equation teams like Washington, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, which are all traditionally tough opponents in the Metropolitan Division and are constantly battling for a playoff spot. All three finished above the Islanders in the standings last year.
And don’t forget to add the New York Rangers to the conversation. The Islanders’ midtown Manhattan rival was a point away from catching the Isles in the standings before the COVID-19 pandemic brought the season to a halt.
The rest of the divisions would look like this:
Anaheim-Arizona-Colorado-Dallas-Los Angeles-Las Vegas-San Jose-St. Louis
Several owners are not happy with the way the divisions are realigned, according to TSN’s Frank Seravalli. It’s hard to imagine the Islanders or any of their new division mates are in that camp.
The New York Islanders would remain essential in the Northeast of the United States which keeps their travel down and hopefully limits their exposure to any COVID-19 associated risks. The NHL still needs to hammer out COVID-19 protocols with the NHL Players Association before a proposal is approved.
The positive momentum has continued, though, with hopes that they can have a vote on a proposal by the end of next week.
Teams have also been making preparations to play in their home rinks. The New York State Department of Health confirmed to NYI Hockey Now that the state has been in contact with all three NHL teams based in the Empire State, as well as the NHL, about potential plans for a new season.