These are now going up on my Facebook page. Correct, I would like more readers, though I’m likely going to just alienate anyone who is still on Facebook. Whatever. I alienate people all the time anyway, I assume it’s just kind of a thing people expect me to do.
So I’m supposed to have some kind of opening to really hook you. But truth be told, I’m writing this part last. I just did nearly 6,000 words on everything else, and I really don’t have any fuel left in the tank. Read this. You might find it interesting. Or you might not. Meh.
1. Anaheim Ducks
I don’t feel good about this prediction at all, but I don’t feel good about any prediction in this spot. I really believe their are five teams who could win this division this season. Yes, the two Alberta teams are in that discussion. Not because I think they’re as good as any of the California teams, but I believe all three of the Cali teams could have pretty big issues entering this season that’ll limit their point totals. The Ducks have all that young talent though, and they still have Getzlaf and Perry. Not a fan of the Carlyle hire/return, but having said that I believe Carlyle is a better coach than the analytic guys believe he is.
2. L.A. Kings
I feel safest about the Kings of all the California teams. They won’t miss the playoffs, but they are in a transition. I believe they’ll struggle early on, but they’ll continually get better and better as some of the kids get more experience. Still have Kopitar, still have Doughty, and even though I believe he’s a bit overrated, they still have Quick who is still damn good, and they still have that crusty old Dean behind the bench. They really need some of their kids like Forbort and Kempe to make an impact this season, but if they do this team could be dangerous.
3. San Jose Sharks
Of all the teams, I believe this is the one poised to fall off, yet I’m still putting them third in the division because they SHOULD be better than Edmonton and Calgary. I don’t know what happened in that room last year to all of a sudden elevate this team from after thoughts heading into the playoffs to world beaters until the Cup final. But they are pretty solid all over the roster. I think they’ll struggle like most Cup finalists do, but they should still get in. The depth they have down the middle is such a massive key to their success.
4. Edmonton Oilers
Settle down. I don’t have them making the playoffs yet again. A big jump in the standings, they’ll be in it come late March, but they still aren’t getting in. There are just too many good teams in the Central, so they’d need to finish 3rd in the Pacific. But at the risk of sounding like an Oilers homer, let me point out some things. This team was decimated by injuries last season, which most people fail to point out. McDavid, Klefbom, Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle all missed significant time. As long as key guys don’t go down for big stretches this season it’ll be a massive boost. Also, while they lost the Hall/Larsson deal from a value standpoint, it still improved their defence a lot. Klefbom and Larsson now gives them a legit top pair, and slots everyone else where they should be. As for the Kris Russell signing, I’m not a big fan as I’ve expressed on Twitter, but I do get it. They want a more mobile blueline who can pressure, and they want to keep building a hard nosed/gritty culture. Finally, Connor McDavid is about to become a top three player in the league, and possibly the best starting this season. They’re well coached, much more balanced, and much tougher to play against. This won’t be the same old Oilers this season.
5. Calgary Flames
Coming into the season, I think you can flip a coin between the Oilers and the Flames. Brian Elliott is a massive upgrade for the Flames in goal. But I do worry about the fact that a lot of netminders look great playing behind a Ken Hitchcock squad, then look awful once they don’t. I also am not too high on the hiring of Glen Gulutzan, but it’s tough to question anything Brad Treliving has done thus far. He’s seemingly won every trade, every draft pick he’s made seems to crush it both in value and need, the guy looks like an elite GM thus far. But Gulutzan feels like a stop gap. I don’t think he’s a bad coach, but I’m not sure he’ll elevate the team. But this team should challenge for the playoffs this season and they’re looking tremendous moving forward. Their high end draft picks have fallen perfectly into place. Two centres with their first two (Monahan and Bennett), then land a young RH shot stud D-man with their 2015 first, and then they needed a power forward last year and had Matt Tkachuk fall right into their lap. It’s been a long wait, but the battle of Alberta is getting close to returning.
6. Arizona Coyotes
Another team that looks tremendous moving forward. I loved their draft even though I’m not the biggest Clayton Keller fan. He oozes skill, but I think Tyson Jost is going to be the type of player you build around. Anyway, that won’t be decided for about 10 years. Today, the Coyotes have put together a real solid blueline, they’re really skilled on the wings, and I’m still a massive Dave Tippett fan. Down the middle is where I worry about them, specifically Martin Hanzal. If he can play 80 games, that’ll be huge. They could be in the playoff hunt should that happen. But he never does, so it’s tough to expect that.
7. Vancouver Canucks
It just isn’t going good in Vancouver these days. The Sedin’s are nearing retirement despite still being very solid contributors, they made what looks to be a bad trade for Erik Gudbranson, and it feels like while they’ve drafted high the last few seasons that the pieces aren’t falling into place to making this an easy rebuild/transition. If you want some good things to point to, I like the goaltending situation moving forward. Markstrom will be the starter, and he’s still pretty young (for a goaltender). Miller will be the backup, and while that’s a very expensive backup he only has a year left on his albatross of a deal. Him backing up buys Thatcher Demko a season in Utica, and then Demko moves up next season to split time with Markstrom. But they have a lot of work to do up front and while they aren’t empty by any means on the back end, I’m not sure they have anyone who’ll be high end. Maybe Juolevi but I wasn’t as high on him as most going into the draft. I could easily see another house cleaning of GM and coach at the conclusion of this season.
1. Minnesota Wild
I don’t think many will have this. I’m a pretty big believer in it because Bruce Boudreau has done it in two other spots. Granted, the Central is a heck of a lot better right now than the Atlantic division was in 2008 or the Pacific division was in 2013. But the Wild were also a lot better last season than the Capitals were in 2007 or the Ducks were in 2012. They have good depth down the middle, though lack a legit number one centre. That’s not as big of an issue during the regular season. With Koivu and now Eric Staal, they’ll be able to matchup. Staal isn’t what he was, but he’s still a 6’4 centre with two way ability and can skate (despite the fact he can’t skate the way he once did). The blueline is starting to emerge. I expect pretty big seasons out of Mike Reilly and Matt Dumba. And then while I’m not a big Devan Dubnyk fan, he does give you a chance to win. They have a lot of talent, and nobody gets more out of his talent (during the regular season), than Bruce Boudreau.
2. Nashville Predators
Most will have this as their division pick because of P.K. Subban. I don’t think Subban makes them that much better. What could make them the division champion is a full season and a year older of Ryan Johansen. What’ll also help a ton is if Pekka Rinne bounces back. He quietly had one of the worst seasons of his career. Even then this squad still made the playoffs and got to game 7 of the 2nd round. I like them a lot heading into the season, but I see them getting overrated, and like the Wild a lot more than most.
3. St. Louis Blues
I like this team to finish in the top three of the division yet again this season, but I wouldn’t trust Jake Allen come playoff time. Mind you, I didn’t trust Brian Elliott last year and he came up huge for them. But Allen has an awful track record in big games in his career. I also could see the departure of David Backes hurting them a bit. He was the heart and soul of this team, and even though he had been relegated to the 3rd line, he was still a big part of this team. Still, you counter that with a blueline which could be the best unit in the league, a lot of talent on the wings led by Vladdy Tarasensko, and one of the best coaches in the game in Ken Hitchock.
*4. Chicago Blackhawks
Their depth has taken a massive hit the last few seasons, and I think it has to start showing at some point. I also think Patrick Kane is going to be hard pressed to repeat what he did last year. Most just assume they’ll go right back to the top of the division and compete for a Cup. But they took some big hits again this offseason with Terravainen and Shaw moving on for virtually nothing. Unless Tyler Motte and Ryan Hartman can seamlessly step into those roles, I think this team is going to be challenged most of the season. The blueline is a bit better with the returning Brian Campbell, but he’s now 37. Most likely they won’t miss the playoffs, but I think they’ll struggle in the regular season.
*5. Dallas Stars
They’ll be in tough to make the playoffs. I’ve never liked the way this team was constructed with not much grit. They were showing signs of cracking against a weak Wild team in last year’s first round, and I really don’t know how they went seven with the Blues. The goaltending is weak, although good enough for the regular season. The D has a ton of good young talent set to take the reigns this season, but without a doubt there will be growing pains. Alex Goligoski out, Dan Hamhuis in. Jason Demers out, Stephen Johns in. Kris Russell/Jyrki Jokipakka out, Jamie Oleksiak and eventually Esa Lindell in. It’s a lot of change, and I think by seasons end they’ll be a better group. But I can see them being really shaky out of the gate, and in this division it’ll be tough to get back into it.
6. Colorado Avalanche
The only thing that puts the Avs ahead of the Jets in my mind is Semyon Varlamov. But I do love that Patrick Roy is out as head coach. That was an amazing gift by Roy to the Avs organization. He had lost the room last season, and Joe Sakic didn’t appear to have the…”testicular fortitude” to fire him. Most of you likely don’t know who Jared Bednar is. Hell, I’d be lying if I said I knew much about him. But he led Lake Erie to a Calder Cup this spring and also has an ECHL title under his belt. Coached in the minors for 14 seasons, head coach in the AHL for four of them. He is the anti Roy. Zero flash, zero fan fare, zero grudges against his franchise players. The D still needs a lot of work, but I believe we’ll finally see progress with the Avs this season.
7. Winnipeg Jets
I love where they’re going. They have an insane amount of talent in the organization, and they’re without a doubt a future powerhouse in this league. Scheifele, Kyle Connor, Patrik Laine, Nik Ehlers, Josh Morrissey, whoever they get for Trouba (he will be dealt), Connor Hellebuyck, and then insane depth either going into their second season with the team or in the system that will make this team elite in the West. And I love the vets they currently have to lead the way. Only issue is that they’re in the toughest division in hockey. They might be a playoff team in any other division, but in this one they’re stuck. Easily could finish above the Avs, but I don’t like their chances to be higher than 6th.
1. Tampa Bay
More than anything, I just believe the organization has a TON of momentum after a rocky season last year. They have a good blueline, great goaltending, a ton of offence, Stamkos locked up to a fair deal, Kucherov locked up to a fair deal, and they finally have Jonathan Drouin going. I was pissing on Steve Yzerman a lot last year, and frankly for good reason. But in the end he came out on top and now has the Lightning primed for a Cup run.
2. Florida Panthers
I think the Panthers are the only team that will challenge the Lightning for the division crown. Obviously they won it last year, but the Lightning had a ton of distractions and the Panthers seemingly had very little going against them. Luongo has made it back for the opener, but how ready will he be? And I feel like there is always a regression the season following a break out year, at least in the standings. But this organization finally has their act together and should be a force for a long time to come as they have all the key pieces in place.
3. Montreal Canadiens
I worry that this team is stuck in no man’s land. They’ll never be good enough to get over the hump, and they won’t be bad enough to rebuild it. It feels toxic right now. Marc Bergevin I believe is a damn good GM, but it feels like he might be too close to Michel Therrien. Therefore, while a coaching change might be needed, it ain’t coming. You would have thought the Habs traded P.K. Subban for magic beans. Granted, I’m not sure why the Habs and the Oilers couldn’t have struck up a deal with Hall and Subban as the primary parts, but Bergevin wants to build around his goaltender and I do understand that. Shea Weber still has some miles left, and while he doesn’t push the play like Subban does he is a much better defender. I do worry about what this team has down the middle. Alex Galchenyuk did well offensively last year when he played the middle, but Michel Therrien seems to hate using him there. Price can only get them so far, they’re going to need a couple guys in the system to emerge. They do have some ok pieces coming, but the jury is out on how good they can be.
4. Buffalo Sabres
Yeah, I’ll say they make a big jump this season. I’m not in love with how Tim Murray has run it in Buffalo. I’m not a fan of guys who the media seems to have blinders on for. Tim Murray seems to be a media darling just like Patrick Roy was. Cool, but can you guys please assess the job he’s done, or do we just get to hear more stories about him smoking darts? Praising the guy for tanking to get Jack Eichel would be like praising Craig MacTavish for the Oilers getting McDavid. Anyway, I’ll give it to him that he has put together a talented group, it’ll just be a matter of when they bust out. Evander Kane could be a big distraction. Jury is out on Robin Lehner. They need to get Rasmus Ristolainen signed ASAP. Those three are the x factors for this team. But with Eichel ready to take a step, O’Reilly being one of the most underrated centres in the league, Sam Reinhart quietly emerging as a high end player, this team has a lot of key pieces in place. And I like Dan Bylsma. I don’t love him, but I think he’s good enough to get this team to the playoffs. Not that I’m saying they will, but I do see them being right in the thick of the race.
5. Detroit Red Wings
I hate the fact that they could rebuild it really quickly if they would just give up on this meaningless playoff streak. But they won’t, and there for they’ll still be in the hunt for a playoff spot this season. And if they can get one more relatively healthy season out of Zetterberg and Kronwall then they could make it. But it’s just like watching someone die a very slow death. The Wings are on life support right now, and Ken Holland won’t pull the plug. Perhaps he’s hanging on with the new arena on the horizon? I do like some of the young talent. Not as much as others, but they appear to have a legit number one starter in Petr Mrazek. Gustav Nyqvist should have a bounce back season. Dylan Larkin is what I expected him to be, but because he came out of nowhere for some people he was considered on par with McDavid at some points last season as moronic as that is. He’s real good, a great piece for the Wings to have, but he’s not going to be a superstar. Frans Nielsen can replace a bit of what Datsyuk did for them (not a lot, but at least he’ll stay healthy). Not a fan of what they’re doing, but they’re still a solid team.
6. Ottawa Senators
You know, they have a real solid roster top to bottom. You look at the roster and you say “ok they have pretty good centres, pretty good wingers, pretty good D, depth everywhere, pretty good number one goaltender, what’s the big issue?” The big issue is that they aren’t good in their own zone most nights. Now, if they get that cleaned up, they’ll be a playoff team. And I do think that short term, Guy Boucher can get them going in the right direction. But it’s essentially the same team returning other than the upgrade Derrick Brassard will bring over Mika Zibanejad. That’ll help a lot, but I don’t know if it’ll be enough. Wouldn’t shock me at all if they finished as high as 3rd in the division, they have that good of talent and depth. They just need to clean it up in their own end and until they do, I can’t trust them to finish higher than this.
7. Boston Bruins
This is another team that really needs to blow it up and start over, yet refuse to do so. They’re slow, aging, and outside of a legit number one goaltender they don’t have much else elite. Bergeron would be an elite 2nd line centre, but I don’t think he should be anyone’s 1st line centre…at least not on a contending team. I have no clue why they signed David Backes. Conversely I have no idea why David Backes signed with them, but what does Backes do for them? He makes a slow and aging team slower and older. I really like David Backes, but the Bruins were the last team that should have wanted him. It just feels like this organization has absolutely no plan. A.K.A. they’re a shit show.
8. Toronto Maple Leafs
I’ve been all about this rebuild. I did think it was a pretty massive joke that the Leafs “new rebuild” and the “Shanaplan” got nothing but praise from the Toronto media just because the Leafs got new management. Oilers did the same thing, yet just because the Oilers didn’t label it a “new rebuild” it was the same rebuild and there for the Oilers were still a joke. Ok….Anyway, I’ve loved the direction they’ve been headed, but at this point I’m getting a little worried. I look at this roster and think this is very similar to what the Oilers had for years. Six rookies to start the season, a ton of pressure on Morgan Rielly to carry the defence, Martin Marincin is on their top pairing (according to TSN), and I don’t know that you can trust Freddy Andersen. I love Mike Babcock, love a ton of what they’ve done, but a mix of an extremely young team with a piss poor blueline is a recipe for disaster.
1. Washington Capitals
They need to plug their holes once and for all going into the playoffs this season. They can’t rely on has been’s fresh off the scrap heap being their 3rd line centre. Lars Eller is an upgrade here, but I’m not sure he’s enough of an upgrade. If I were running this organization, I’d be looking to upgrade on Nick Backstrom. People always look to immediately shit on Ovechkin anytime anything goes wrong, but their alleged first line centre is a total fraud. He is a tremendous setup man on the PP. Congratulations, you’re Jason Allison or Andrew Cassels. Ovechkin needs a legit first line centre who can matchup with anyone come playoff time, because wingers can’t carry teams to Cups. It’s the position they play, they can only do so much. Having said all this, they’ll be first in the division again. Too good to not dominate the regular season.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins
The monkey is off their backs! It’s shocking that it took seven years after this core’s last Cup, but they finally won their second. The good news is that they look ready to stay in the hunt this time around. I don’t know how Jim Rutherford did it. I will not move off the point that he’s a bad GM. But he seemingly made one great move that brought everything together in firing Mike Johnston and hiring Mike Sullivan. And Mike Sullivan figured out that with three superstar players who can carry a line all you have to do is let them carry their own line. Fans and media get FAR too caught up in what the line combinations will be and certain players playing in the top six. Who cares?! I want the lines that matchup best five on five. The PP is the time to load up. Anyway, not sure why Rutherford didn’t jettison Marc-Andre Fleury this offseason. If he goes into next offseason with him, Fleury could force his hand to lose Matt Murray for next to nothing thanks to the expansion draft. They would trade him before it got to that, but they still wouldn’t get much for him. As for the Crosby concussion….we’ll see how much time he’ll miss. I felt like he was primed for a career year prior to this news. Hopefully he is only out a few games.
3. NY Islanders
It feels as though the Islanders are destined to be a team stuck in mediocrity. They have Tavares who is a star, but all that losing they went through only produced him and then a lot of B and C level talent. They have yet to develop another star to play with Tavares and it doesn’t really look like they will. Hell of a fun team to watch though! They matchup with anyone in the league as far as grit and toughness goes. Andrew Ladd fits that bill perfectly. Unfortunately for the Islanders they’re getting Ladd on the back nine of his career. I also believe the reason Matt Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier (there is the Griffin Reinhart deal Oilers fans for those of you who said I was an idiot for pissing all over it the second it happened) are making the squad already is they’re worried about their scoring depth. Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome seemed to have stalled in their development.
*4. NY Rangers
It could be a nasty fall off the cliff soon for the Rangers. This feels like a team who is starting to live off their hall of fame goaltender, and their hall of fame goaltender is going to regress one of these days seeing he’s turning 35 before this season is finished. But as of today, I think they still have enough talent to get by. A massive key for them is that Mika Zibanejad gets his career going because Derrick Brassard was a real underrated player for them. If Zibanejad doesn’t take a step in his development, they’re in a ton of trouble down the middle. It just feels like they’re on the verge of a major tumble. I won’t predict it comes this season, but I won’t be shocked if it does.
*5. Carolina Hurricanes
Yep, the Canes are making the playoffs! I love what Ron Francis has done building this team. They’re going to have the best blueline in hockey in pretty short order. That’ll make Eddie Lack better, and it’ll make their smaller skilled forwards better. A lot of small skill up front, and then a big horse down the middle in Jordan Staal who can eat up a ton of tough minutes. And Bill Peters is quietly one of the better coaches in this league. The Canes are extremely structured under him. Some might see this pick as being done for shock value, but I honestly feel extremely confident that the Canes will get in the dance this season.
6. Philadelphia Flyers
While I love how Ron Hextall is building this team, much the same as I love the job Ron Francis is doing with the Hurricanes, I don’t see them getting back to the playoffs. Until more of their blue chip D-men start emerging on the backend I can’t bring myself to be a big believer in this team. Provorov is starting with the team this season, so perhaps he is ready to make an impact? Mason and Neuvirth in net are two guys who have never been able to sustain success in this league. Claude Giroux puts up points, but I really don’t see him as a legitimate first line centre as his all around game is lacking. He is the best player on either the Flyers or the Hurricanes, so perhaps that is an x factor as I see them as very even teams who’ll battle for the last playoff spot. But I just don’t see the Flyers …as of today. But again, really love the direction they’re headed.
7. Columbus Blue Jackets
I’m just going to make the point one more time that I really believe the Jackets made the right call by taking Pierre-Luc Dubois in the draft. Now moving forward, this team looks good on D, good on the wings, and good down the middle. Had they taken Puljujarvi, they wouldn’t look good down the middle. Anyway, while the future looks bright, I just don’t get why John Tortorella is behind that bench. They did improve under him from Todd Richards because it was evident that they needed a change, but this team still lives and dies with the health of Sergei Bobrovsky. They’re built to be solid this season, just because I have them finishing 7th in the division doesn’t mean I think they’ll be a pushover, but I don’t see them being much of a playoff threat.
8. New Jersey Devils
I said this when the trade went down and I’ll say it again: The Devils won the Hall/Larsson trade in terms of value, but I don’t think it made their team any better. Damon Severson now has to take a pretty massive step in his career if he is going to replace Adam Larsson. No doubt, Hall gives them much more scoring up front, and reuniting with Adam Henrique should be a smooth transition. But on the back end this team wasn’t too good last season. Now, they’re even worse. Cory Schneider is going to have his work cut out for him. He is one of the best goaltenders in the league, but he’ll have to be unbelievable to get them close to a playoff spot.
Playoffs, 1st round
Dallas defeats Minnesota
Chicago defeats Anaheim
Nashville defeats St.Louis
Los Angeles defeats San Jose
Tampa Bay defeats Carolina
Washington defeats NY Rangers
Pittsburgh defeats NY Islanders
Florida defeats Montreal
Playoffs, 2nd round
Nashville defeats Dallas
Los Angeles defeats Chicago
Tampa Bay defeats Florida
Pittsburgh defeats Washington
Nashville vs Los Angeles
As good as the West still is, it’s insanely deep, there now doesn’t feel like an elite team. Everyone just has a flaw. The Preds are the one team who could be, but they need Johansen to take a step, and they need Rinne to bounce back. Those are limited flaws. The Kings are another team who could be. For all the warts that a Dustin Brown and Marian Gaborik create with the cap, they still have two elite players in the positions you want them in, still have a top end goaltender, still have an elite 2nd line centre, still have a real good farm system, still have one of the best coaches in the game. And if we get to this point, I’d just have to go with the Kings. Why? Experience. This would be the deepest the Preds have ever been. Also, the Kings matchup with Nashville extremely well.
Tampa Bay vs Pittsburgh
A rematch of the 2016 East final. It wasn’t nearly as close of a series as you’d expect a 7 game series to be. But that was without Steve Stamkos and as much as I get after Stamkos for not being the elite player many make him out to be, he is a hell of a factor. Even if he’s not producing, he gets so much attention from the opposition that it opens it up for that 2nd line five on five, and for the other four during the PP. Writing this today, I’d take the Pens on paper. But the defending champs are always low on fuel and the Lightning I expect to be pretty driven this season after two very close calls the last two seasons. They weathered a season full of turmoil, and I think they’ll be a lot better for it. They’d beat the Pens this time around.
Stanley Cup Final
Tampa Bay vs Los Angeles
Would this be the first ever all “sun belt” Cup final? I think it would be. Does it really matter anymore? That feels like something I’d care about in 2004, not now. Anyway, this would be a pretty intriguing final. The Kings essentially representing what is old, the Lightning representing what is new. I could see this one being a hell of a Cup final. My initial thought is the Lightning would win, but I don’t know. I’d trust Quick in a big game more than I’d trust Bishop. Kopitar is a better player than Stamkos, Carter is better than Johnson, I’d probably take Doughty over Hedman, I’d probably take Sutter over Cooper. So while, full disclosure, I started out writing this assuming the Lightning would be my pick, if it shook down like this I just don’t think the Lightning would have answers for what the Kings would toss at them.
2016-17 Stanley Cup Champion
Los Angeles Kings
Hart – Sidney Crosby (although the concussion news makes me hesitant on that)
I just think he is at his peak right now. Any pressure that existed in past seasons should be gone. Two Cups, and the media is back to acknowledging it’s him and everyone else in this league (although McDavid is obviously coming for that spot).
Norris – Victor Hedman
I expect Tampa to run away from everyone with the President’s trophy a little like Washington did last season (maybe not quite that good), and if that happens then I believe Hedman will start getting his recognition. He’s emerged as an elite D-man already, but the media can be slow on these things unless you put up big numbers. They love them big numbers.
Vezina – Carey Price
He was great before hand. Now, the Habs are primed to have an even safer, more defensive team than they’ve had. A focus on shot suppression and only allowing low quality shots. Not that they haven’t been that team under Michel Therrien in the past, but it’ll be enhanced with Weber swapped in for Subban. This should only improve Price’s already amazing numbers.
Calder – Zach Werenski
As we seen with Connor McDavid, it just never seems like we have a sure thing as Calder winner. So entering the season it feels like it should be a two horse race between Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine. I like Mitch Marner, but Matthews may cancel him out. I like Kyle Connor, but Laine may cancel him out. I’m going to go off the board a bit here and take Werenski. He has a chance to put up really big numbers should he be paired with Seth Jones on the top PP unit in Columbus, and if he’s putting up big numbers, the media will fawn over him being a D-man.
Jack Adams – Bill Peters
This award is always tricky, because it normally goes to the coach of a team that came out of nowhere. Good thing for me, I feel like the Hurricanes could be that team this season, and the media just may see Bill Peters as their darling should they do just that.
Richard – Jordan Eberle
“Homer!!!” Whatever. He’s going to be playing with Connor McDavid, who offensively is going to be a top three player in the league this season. If both players stay healthy, I believe this happens. He developed a one timer this offseason, even without McDavid he was a guy who has put up big numbers in the past, I don’t love the player but I love the potential here to have a massive goal total in 2017.
Selke – Ryan O’Reilly
I don’t know why I’m predicting this award. Who the hell knows who the top defensive forward in the game will be. The media doesn’t know, they just look for guys they deem to be good defensively and pick whoever had the highest point total out of those players. I’ll say O’Reilly. He was on team Canada for the World Cup so now the media will go “hmmmm, he must be good”. Combine that with the Sabres possibly taking a big step this season (at least I believe that), and he’ll at least get consideration. I actually still think it’ll be either Toews, Kopitar or Bergeron because they’re elite, but that’s no fun.
Conn Smythe – Drew Doughty
If it shakes down with the Kings going on another amazing run, the media will look to make up for the insane mistake they made in 2014. Justin Williams had a great run, but Doughty was the MVP that year and he would be again.
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