NHL Return to Play: Predictions for 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers

NHL exhibition games are over and it’s time for the real thing. The Return to Play begins this weekend as 24 teams vie to be crowned the 2019-20 Stanley Cup champion.

These unique times called for unique solutions from the NHL and NHLPA — thus the 24-team format with two hub cities. After the COVID-19 pandemic forced the league to halt the regular season, we get to watch hockey in August. It’ll be different, and maybe a little weird with no fans in attendance, but we’ll hopefully see a completion to the season.

As the Stanley Cup Qualifiers begin Saturday, here are our picks for the eight best-of-five matchups as well as the final seeding for the round-robin. We’ll make our predictions for the NHL’s 2019-20 champion once we know what the First Round will look like.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

PHT’s 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier previews
Eastern Conference top seed round-robin preview
Penguins vs. Canadiens
Rangers vs. Hurricanes
Islanders vs. Panthers
Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets

Western Conference top seed round-robin preview
Jets vs. Flames
Oilers vs. Blackhawks
Predators vs. Coyotes
Wild vs. Canucks

NHL Power Rankings: Stanley Cup-less veterans to root for
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

NHL Return to Play: Predictions for 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers originally appeared on NBCSports.com

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