10 NHL Predictions For the Upcoming Season
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It is that time of year again: the NHL officially kicked off this last week with many indications that this will be a thrilling season to come. At this time, around the nation, pundits are putting in their two-cents about the season to come, but their bets are often too safe, and what fun is betting if there is little risk? Here are ten of my predictions for the upcoming NHL season, some easy calls, some long shots:
- Rookie Auston Matthews will lead the Maple Leafs to the Stanley cup.
I am 100% joking, this is more bold than I feel comfortable with, especially with the Maple Leaves.
- Matthews will however win the Calder Memorial Trophy.
If Matthews’ four goals in his debut game against the Senators is any indication, Auston Matthews will be a run-away favourite for the rookie of the year award. Matthews was the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft, and for good reason; Matthews is a dynamic player who Toronto is in desperate need of. His addition will greatly help the Maple Leafs this season.
- Pennsylvania is on the up.
Everyone knows that the Penguins will be good in regular and postseason play, the Stanley Cup winners are still a fantastic team and Crosby is still at the helm, something Pittsburg fans will be thankful of. The Flyers, however, are set to surprise this season. A couple of years of flying (see what I did there) under the radar will put the Flyers in a sleeper position, expect to see them in the playoffs. Pennsylvania hockey fans: smile.
- The Calgary Flames and The Ottawa Senators will solely represent Canada in the postseason.
Bouncing back from a year with zero Canadian teams in the postseason, both the Senators and the Flames will represent our neighbors to the north this time around. The Senators will be lead by Erik Karlsson (see no. 5) and will be involved in a dogfight with Boston for third in the Atlantic. Even if they fall short, the wild card will be theirs. Calgary will make easy work of lighter division in the Pacific this year and cruise into the postseason. No other Canadian team however will break into postseason play.
- Erik Karlsson will be assist leader in back to back seasons, this time exceeding 70 assists.
Erik Karlsson is the greatest distributer of the puck in the NHL. While this statistic is rather unimportant this far into the season, Karlsson has 3 assists in 2 games. If that tally is kept up (and it will not be), Karlsson would notch 123 assists. This obviously will not happen, but the likelihood Karlsson gets over 70, is pretty good.
- Holtby to win back to back Vezina Trophies
Assuming Holtby continues to see the puck as the size of a cheeseburger, keeping it out of the net should be no problem for the Washington star. Holtby will be the first goalkeeper to win the award in back to back seasons since Martin Brodeur did so in the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets will be the worst team in the entire league.
Not only is the Metropolitan Division very good this year, Columbus is very bad. Very bad may be a bit harsh, but most mediocre is not. If goalkeeper Sergei Bobrovsky continues his decline as suggested by past seasons, Columbus is in an even worse world of hurt. Their coach John Tortorella is a bad fit as well and will last as the team’s coach for at most a season and a half more.
- Jaromir Jagr will be up to his old, old, old tricks.
Jaromir Jagr is an ageless wonder, and this season, like almost everyone preceding it will be one to remember. Jagr will pass Mark Messier on the all time points list, he will surely give another unhealthy habit up during lent, and he will lead Florida to the Eastern Conference Finals (perhaps a bit of a long shot).
- Local Avs to reach playoffs.
Assuming Varlamov plays like everyone knows he can and the Avalanche defense makes any improvement over last season’s, it may be just enough to squeak into a tight playoff race. The Avs will have to survive a very tough central division if they want some postseason glory. Colorado’s dynamic attack will help them outscore opponents and if the team gets a strong start in the first 15-20 games, it will put them in a great position to crack into at least a wild card spot. The Avs will get a playoff berth this season.
- This will be Alexander Ovechkin’s season.
People have described Alexander Ovechkin as the most underperforming MVP ever. That ends this year, Ovechkin will lead his team all the way to the Stanley Cup finals, scoring once again more than anyone in the league. As much as I hope this does not come true, the Capitals will win the Stanley Cup this season.