So we all know that the National Hockey League has cancelled the schedule on 82 games, which has, in essence, cost the Toronto Maple Leafs four games on the schedule unless the league pretends they can tack those games somewhere once a deal gets done October 24th. (right?)
Let’s pretend for a brief second that the NHL season last year was only 78 games. What would have happened to the Leafs? We do know that Toronto had a very strong and unsustainable first half of the year, so would they have been closer to the playoffs?
Eastern Conference standings after 78 games:
The major difference here is that in games 79-82, the Leafs went 2-1-1 while the New York Islanders went 1-3-0. This dropped the Islanders below the Leafs. They wound up picking fourth overall in the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh, selecting Griffin Reinhart. The Leafs got Morgan Rielly.
On the other side however, the Minnesota Wild, 33-35-10 after 78 games, ended up going 2-2 in their last four games and wound up ahead of the Leafs in the standings. They ended up taking another defenceman on Mathew Dumba.
So, realistically, it takes a few more games being lopped off the schedule (without trying to make any jokes) for the Leafs to be closer to the playoffs. Assuming nothing changed in the NHL Draft lottery, this is just a quick re-shuffling, presumably, of some of the available defencemen at the draft.
But remember that Brian Burke said that Rielly was the top player on the Leafs’ draft board. The Islanders apparently offered to move all of their draft picks for Ryan Murray. The Wild said nothing specific about Dumba. Who knows what would have happened?
Either way, it’s something different, and the unknown makes it all the more fun. Next week I’ll have a detailed run-down on why the presumed short season benefits the Toronto Maple Leafs, and other teams that aren’t particularly strong. For a Friday afternoon though, I thought this look would be sort of fun.