12 Oct 2016/17 NHL Season Preview
The NHL Season is all set to get on its way as of tonight and this season has a different feeling than most others, I don’t know if it is because we were treated to the World Cup of Hockey or if the feeling I am getting is that it could be a season where “the torch is being passed” we will dive into that a little bit later on. The feeling you got as a little on Christmas Eve is the same one I get when the NHL season is almost here without any further ado here are my regular season standings predictions.
(Note * denotes playoff berth)
We will start out with the Eastern Conference.
|Tampa Bay Lightning*||Washington Capitals*|
|Florida Panthers*||Pittsburgh Penguins*|
|Montreal Canadiens*||New York Islanders*|
|Boston Bruins||New Jersey Devils*|
|Ottawa Senators||New York Rangers*|
|Buffalo Sabres||Philadelphia Flyers|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||Carolina Hurricanes|
|Detroit Red Wings||Columbus Blue Jackets|
I won’t go too deep into the entire standings but I will point out a few things.
- The goalies in the Atlantic division will be facing a lot of rubber this season. Defences in the Atlantic are quite weak outside the state of Florida and that will mean a lot these teams will be trading chance for chance each night which could lead to some tiresome nights for the goalies of each team.
- This isn’t just the year that the Red Wings streak ends it will end with them bottoming out in my opinion. They have tried to stay afloat for many seasons by signing aging veterans but I believe the loss of Datsyuk and a less than stellar defence will lead to Detroit’s demise in the 2016 season.
- All 3 teams “New” teams make the playoffs. The most surprising of the 3 may be New Jersey they have a much better top 9 forwards then they have had in years past and have potentially the best goalie in the entire NHL in Cory Schneider, these 2 items plus the addition of a legitimate first line winger in Taylor Hall I think has the Devils bound for the playoffs for the first time in 5 years.
- Montreal edges out the Boston Bruins for the final spot in the Atlantic Division. Now most people (myself included) were not a huge fan of the Shea Weber for PK Subban deal now I think everyone can agree that the trade was mostly a bad idea for the future of the Canadiens as opposed to the present. I think Weber will put up solid offensive number while in Montreal and the addition of Alexander Radulov could be a very good one for the Habs. The biggest reason I see the Canadiens making the playoffs is they have Carey Price who showed everyone at the World Cup of Hockey he may be the best hockey player on planet earth, going from what Montreal had last season to price is about a big of an upgrade as you can get!
- Washington and Pittsburgh battle it out all season long for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division. As news came through today about Sidney Crosby’s concussion I couldn’t in confidently put them number 1 over Ovechkin and the rest of Washington’s dynamic scorers. It will be a tight battle all season long but I currently give the edge to Ovechkin, Holtby and the rest of the Capitals. In Crosby’s absence look for Evgeni Malkin to step up in a huge way.
Moving over to the Western Conference things do not get much easier.
|San Jose Sharks*||Nashville Predators*|
|Los Angeles Kings*||St.Louis Blues*|
|Calgary Flames*||Dallas Stars*|
|Anaheim Ducks*||Chicago Blackhawks*|
|Arizona Coyotes||Winnipeg Jets|
|Edmonton Oilers||Minnesota Wild|
|Vancouver Canucks||Colorado Avalanche|
- Again this is not meant to preview all 30 teams so I will just touch on a few things that might catch people off guard.
- Has there ever been a division as good as the Central? I don’t think anyone would be surprised if any of those top 4 teams walked away with the division title at the end of the year but I believe with the addition of PK Subban and a full year from Ryan Johansen they are one of my favourites to win Lord Stanley this season. I think it goes without saying for this to happen though Pekka Rinne needs to play more like his 2nd half last season and nothing like the first half tire fire he was last year.
- The loss of David Backes will not hurt the St.Louis Blues at all! They are one of the deepest teams up front in the entire league. The St.Louis Blues have to kind of go all in this season as it is very likely that they lose Kevin Shattenkirk on July 1 2017. The only question mark on the Blues this season is if Jake Allen can handle a full workload because they dealt Brian Elliott to the Calgary Flames and have put all their eggs in Jake Allen’s basket. If the Blues falter out of the gate Ken Hitchcock could be on the hot seat.
- The Chicago Blackhawks star’s will be doing some very heavy lifting this season. Only 5 of the Blackhawks 13 starting forwards will be making $1 Million or above this season due to Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews making a combined $21 Million. The Blackhawks went all in last season and it didn’t work as planned. They are still very dangerous but the depth that has been in Chicago in prior years is no longer there.
- Anaheim realizes that as a budget team you can not afford to make mistakes with money (Bieksa, Stoner, Kesler) John Gibson will also not do as well as he did in limited time last season but the Ducks will fly together and sneak into a playoff spot.
- The San Jose Sharks will be a team that needs to win soon as some of these pieces may not be as good as they are now for much longer (we are looking at you Thornton and Marleau). The Sharks are a very good team from top to bottom and it would be a surprise to no one if they made it back to the Stanley Cup Final.
- We have 3 of the 4 Canadian teams not making it into the playoffs this season which is actually an upgrade on last season. Edmonton loses Hall and Yakupov and replaces them with Lucic and likely Versteeg, Players who both have stanley cup rings but both of them have their best years likely behind them. Winnipeg has one of the deepest prospect pools in the league and won’t do awful but they will have to wait at least 1 more year to really make an impact. Calgary Flames have a bunch of fiery young stars that will likely lead them into the playoffs with a veteran goalie in Brian Elliott minding the twine this season.
- There is one Canadian team I forgot you say? Ohhhhh the Vancouver Canucks! They are going to finish dead last!
Sportsfanjer’s Stanley Cup Prediction
I teased it off the top that this could be a year of passing the torch and I think we will have some new blood in the Stanley Cup Final. I believe that each of these teams have went through struggles to get where they are and where as the NHL and broadcasters may not be thrilled at the ratings this final bring in but I think in his first season in the country music capital PK Subban will be playing for Lord Stanley against a team that is full of young and talented depth and likely a Norris Trophy candidate in Aaron Ekblad.
I think all the kids in the sunshine state win one and Jaromir Jagr finally retires when he lifts the stanley cup after he scores the game winning goal in the 7th and deciding game of the series.
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