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How the schedule details released today impacts the Leafs

The NHL has been working hard all weekend finalizing the details for the 2020-21 season. Today, we’ve been getting a lot of details about key dates for some the biggest events of the season. While some of these could be changed barring any complications with COVID-19, and the politics surrounding it (especially with Canada and the NHL team’s provinces), let’s take a look at some of the important dates for this season.

Training Camp

Based on the current dates, the Leafs will start their training camp on January 3, something Pierre Lebrun reported on Friday. This will be the starting day that most teams will have, while the teams that weren’t in the playoffs in the summer will get a few extra days.

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This will give the Leafs 10 days before the start of the season to get their systems in place and figure out their lineup. That will be important because there will also be no preseason games, similar to the 2012-13 lockout shortened season. That will probably lead to some sloppy play to start, but at least it will get the season started quickly.

Trade Deadline

This year’s trade deadline will fall on April 12th, which is a little bit later into the season considering that that comes at about 4/5 into the regular season, although that was about the same point that the 2012-13 lockout season had their trade deadline as well.

What this will do is give the Leafs plenty of time to figure out their team before making deals, while still giving the new additions a few weeks to get used to the team before the playoffs.

This might also make the deadline more active because hot and cold starts will probably decide teams fates pretty early and more teams will be looking to move pieces than normal.

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Playoffs

The regular season will end on May 8th, while the latest day that the Stanley Cup can be awarded is July 15th. Not to get too ahead of ourselves with the Leafs playoff success, but considering both the strength of the team and the mediocrity of their division, these dates could be more important than we usually think.

Expansion Draft

Hey, remember this? The Leafs will have to figure out who they want to protect, and who they want to expose to the Seattle Kraken by July 17th, with the 21st being the day of the actual expansion draft. So, uh, if they go on a run to the Finals, they might have two days to figure that out (but I’m assuming they’ve probably already started working on it already).

Offseason

The offseason will have slightly more normal dates this year, as the draft will fall on July 23rd and 24th, and July 28th will be the day that free agency starts. With the current trajectory with COVID vaccines, there’s a good chance that the NHL is aiming to have a short offseason and aim for an October start for the 2021-22 season, although it might be mid-October instead of early October.

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Other details

A couple non-schedule related details to be released today also have some importance. Elliotte Friedman reported today that the entry level slide drops from 10 to 7 games, which will have some impact on Leafs players like Nick Robertson, as well as other Leafs rookies that could surprise out of camp.

Also, Chris Johnston reported that teams will be required to carry three goalies on their roster and taxi squad at all times. Assuming that means players on the taxi squad won’t have to go through waivers, that means the Leafs won’t have to worry about losing both Aaron Dell and Michael Hutchinson, who the Leafs added this offseason as goalie depth in a year where they’ll definitely need it.