I guess it’s that time of year, to make ridiculous predictions in relation to how the National Hockey League will play out this season, and to make an attempt at guessing the order of finish for the four divisions in the league.
The new year always promises excitement, with questions to be answered, and results to be seen.
Here we go!
(x- denotes playoffs)
- x-Tampa Bay Lightning: No reason to see any regression in one of the more exciting, young, teams in the league. Goalie health will always be the main question; the rest of the team is solid.
- x- Montreal Canadiens: Carey Price. PK Subban. That is all. Will all lead to another playoff flameout because of lack of grit and secondary scoring.
- x- Detroit Red Wings: It has become impossible to not pick them to make the playoffs. They always find a way.
- Boston Bruins: Weird off-season, no signs of improvement.
- Florida Panthers: A team on the rise, but there are still too many teams to overcome to be a serious threat.
- Buffalo Sabres: A lot of excitement around the changes to this bottom-feeder, and rightfully so. Should be entertaining to watch, at least.
- Ottawa Senators: Goalie regression. That is all.
- Toronto Maple Leafs: It’s great to have Babcock at the helm, but he is basically trying to coach a raging tire fire of a roster.
- x- New York Islanders: They are one of the more entertaining teams in the league, filled with a ton of offense. There will be a lot of 5-4 games. Which is awesome. Time for them to take the leap.
- x- New York Rangers: Becoming a perennial contender. Good looking roster, with plenty of depth.
- x- Columbus Blue Jackets: A team destroyed by injuries last year. Their top line will rack up the points this year. An underdog, but should not be overlooked.
- x- Pittsburgh Penguins: I still see the same problems with the Pens: very top heavy, with very little depth once you get past the first line and a half of players.
- x- Washington Capitals: A trendy Cup pick that I don’t see doing much more than it usually does.
- Philadelphia Flyers: Not enough change on a roster that failed next year. They will be playoff contenders, however, and should make it interesting down to the end.
- Carolina Hurricanes: The team that most people forget even exists in this league. Nothing to really report on here. Just become the Quebec Nordiques already.
- New Jersey Devils: A weird looking roster filled with dinosaurs. The lone bright spot is Cory Schneider.
- x- St. Louis Blues: So much depth. Need to break the playoff curse against the ‘Hawks.
- x- Minnesota Wild: Underachieved for most of last year because of terrible goaltending. The problem seems to be fixed, and it is time they made an upwards move instead of simply being a fringe team.
- x- Dallas Stars: The Islanders of the West. All offense, questions on whether or not they can actually prevent goals. Upgrades all around during the off-season. Tyler Seguin for the Art Ross?
- x- Chicago Blackhawks: They have to get tired after all the playoff games at some point, right? Right?
- x- Winnipeg Jets: A solid looking team (as long as Ondrej Pavelec gets fewer and fewer starts in net) stuck in a very good division.
- Nashville Predators: How many off-seasons can they have where they do nothing to improve their middling offense?
- Colorado Avalanche: Probably better than they were last year, with bounce-back years from their kids. But not good enough to take over from any of the teams above them, all of whom have playoff potential.
- x- Anaheim Ducks: Just a strong team all around. They will grind their way to the top.
- x- Los Angeles Kings: The roster is too good to miss the dance for a second year in a row.
- x- Calgary Flames: All heart, wanting to prove that last year was no fluke. Many are calling for them to drop in the standings because of poor fancy stats. I don’t see much of a drop.
- San Jose Sharks: Maybe one of the tougher teams to get a read on. Questions in goal will doom them.
- Edmonton Oilers: After nearly a decade at the bottom, they will finally begin to rise. Should be entertaining to watch, and oh yeah, I see McDavid as a legitimate threat to win the scoring title in his rookie season.
- Vancouver Canucks: There is basically nothing to like about this roster. They have done very little from their heyday a few years ago, and now they look old and boring.
- Arizona Coyotes: A ton of potential and young talent with this team, and should be scary. In a couple of years.
Insane Stanley Cup Prediction
In the West, I see the Blues finally breaking through, beating the Kings in the Conference Final. On the other side of the continent, I’ll go with a crazy prediction and take the Islanders to top the Blue Jackets in the semis.
Blues vs. Islanders final. The Blues win the Cup, and the Islanders re-establish themselves as legitimate contenders for years to come.