SOH Hot Takes: 2021 Season

A day late, a dollar short.  Well…I don’t know about the dollar short stuff, I don’t get paid for my blogs.  At least not the Soups on Hockey ones.  So it’s only a day late.  But here are my hot takes for the 2021 NHL season!

Now, rather than forcing one for every team, I just left some teams out if I couldn’t think of one for them.  But it worked out to the nice round number of 25.  25 hot takes, every Canadian team has one, etc.  For example, I didn’t have one for the Avs.  They’re great, and I’m a massive fan of what they’ve done in Denver, but I just simply don’t see a hot take that I’d have.  What…Bowen Byram makes the team?  They win the West?  They trade for a goaltender?  These aren’t anything controversial!  What I’m going for here is takes that I believe COULD happen and/or takes that I’m not seeing anyone in the MSM discuss.

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Anaheim

This will be Ryan Getzlaf’s final season.  Maybe not that hot of take to start these off, but I’m not hearing anyone mention this so far.  I was told for years by a few loose connections to him that he always planned on only playing 10 years and then calling it quits.  It’s the final year of his deal, and he’s still effective and could play elsewhere, but I believe he’ll hang up the blades.

 

Arizona

Rick Tocchet is getting fired no later than the end of the season.  Nobody in the media has mentioned this (that I’ve seen), likely because they really like Tocchet.  But he isn’t Armstrong’s guy, and maybe more than that…what has he done for them?  They play not to lose.  In doing so, the system has crippled the performance of many players who don’t wear a glove and blocker.  Conversely, those who do wear that type of gear, look terrific.  Do people seriously not notice this?  I believe Armstrong will.

 

Boston

Charlie McAvoy is going to be a finalist for the Norris trophy.  With Chara and Krug gone he is going to get a lot more attention from the media without Chara, and likely see much more PP time without Krug, meaning that people are going to realize what some already do, which is that McAvoy is one of the best defencemen in the game.

 

Buffalo

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen will be their number one goaltender by the end of the season.  I’m SHOCKED that Kevyn Adams didn’t do a damn thing to upgrade their goaltending this off-season.  I thought we were going to see the complete opposite, which would be Adams badly overpaying to bring in someone either via trade or free agency.  Luukkonen is one of the top prospects between the pipes in the game, and neither of Carter Hutton or Linus Ullmark are very large roadblocks.

 

Calgary

This is Brad Treliving’s final season as GM.  Everything aligned for the Flames to take a step back, clear out most of the “2015” guard who they’ve built around, and begin to build around guys like Tkachuk, Lindholm, Andersson, Valimaki, Mangiapane, Dube, etc.  Yet, Treliving ended up just essentially maintaining.  That makes no sense from what reliable insiders were saying were their plans…unless ownership gave Tree an ultimatum of “win a round or else”.  Add to this, it has always been a bit of a weird dynamic between Treliving and Flames ownership.  I’ve never believed in the group that they’ve built around, and can’t see them making any kind of playoff run, and if that’s the case then I believe Treliving will be out (although not long, as I believe he’s a quality GM).

 

Carolina

They’re going to make a massive splash on the trade market.  This organization has been stockpiling terrific talent in the draft, and already has one of the deepest current rosters in the league.  We’re getting close to the time where Eric Tulsky I MEAN Don Waddell…loads up a package and attempts to bring in a star to help take them to the next level.  The obvious acquisition would be a big-time goaltender, but I’m not seeing the tendy who would fit that bill at the moment, so don’t sleep on them going after a centre or a defenceman.  And again, I’m not talking about them bringing in a good player like they did with Trocheck.  I’m saying it will be a BLOCKBUSTER.

 

Chicago

Duncan Keith is dealt.  I don’t feel like this is a good one, but I had trouble getting one for every team (as you’ll see), but the more I gave this thought, the more I felt like Keith will want to move on and take another crack at winning.  Corey Crawford is gone, Jonathan Toews is out, this is going to be a taxing season mentally on a proud vet.  So taxing that I believe it’ll push him over the edge and he will green-light a deal.  Now, maybe with the pandemic on and what that would mean for seeing his family, it crushes this theory.  Entirely possible.  But I’m still going to say that he either green lights a trade, or outright asks out to get another shot at the Cup.

 

Columbus

Max Domi won’t last as their 2C.  He and Torts are either going to love each other, or loathe each other, no in-between.  And I really don’t know which one it will be, but I can’t see Torts liking him as a centre.  Torts likes centres who play a complete game or at least commit to playing a complete game.  That’s not Domi.  Domi loves to dangle, he loves to get in the opposition’s face and loves to be a POS (I mean that as a compliment).  But he’s never been too interested in competing for the Selke.  I can’t see that flying with Torts, and I could actually see this being a one and done scenario.  Now, I will add (because this blog was started long before the P.L. Dubois trade request), this won’t be the case if Jarmo Kekalainen doesn’t get a centre back for Dubois (should he move him during the season).  I doubt the trade goes down during the season (I’d put my money on the summer), but if it did, and if they didn’t get a ready centre back in the return, then Torts likely won’t have a choice but to roll with Domi in the middle.

 

Dallas

This group has peaked.  This isn’t too hot, but I just don’t see them getting near the final again.  If you look at them up front, it’s pretty amazing they’ve been as good as they’ve been.  Great goaltending and a great blueline, but not overwhelming.  Everything just seemed to come together at the right time.  But the reality is that Seguin and Benn are declining, they’re already limited offensively as is, I believe they’ll be good, but I don’t see them being anything more than a perennial playoff team from here on.

 

Edmonton

Jesse Puljujarvi will get his career on track.  He’s not going to pop like I always assumed he would, but as the season wears on he will become an increasingly more valuable player for this team.  Dave Tippett and Ken Holland are guys with reputations of working with players.  It also appears as though they’re prepared to put him in a terrific spot to suceed, seeing soft minutes on a 3rd line with a highly respected vet in Kyle Turris helping him along.  But more than that, people forget that Puljujarvi was once growing in the league and becoming an increasingly dangerous player.  I’ve always gone back to this game, and the Canucks were bad at the time, but I don’t believe you can dominate an NHL game and not at least be a good player.

Puljuarvi did that night, and had been trending up all season prior to that game.  And we don’t know when the hip issues began.  Is he ever going to meet his potential of becoming one of the best wingers in the league?  Highly unlikely.  But can he be a 20 goal, 40-50 point guy who can be leaned on to play tough minutes?  Eventually, yes, and I believe he will take significant steps towards becoming that player this season.

 

Florida

Chris Driedger will emerge as their number one goaltender.  No doubt that the organization wants Bobrovsky to be that guy, and I do believe he can be a good goaltender again.  Not what he was, not worth 10 million per, but solid.  But they need to at least take the pressure off him and lighten his workload.  Driedger was awesome for the Panthers in 12 appearances (11 starts) last season, posting a .938 Sv%.  The Panthers need to ignore the Bobrovsky contract and simply run with the best guy they have.  And more time for Driedger will likely do a lot of good for Bobrovsky.

 

Minnesota

Marco Rossi will emerge as their number one centre.  Somewhat a necessity given their moves this off-season.  But I’m a very big believer in Rossi and even though I wasn’t shocked he fell a bit in the draft, I was shocked he fell to 9th where the Wild stole him.  He’s NHL ready, and given the extra time this fall to develop physically, I believe he is going to turn a lot of heads this season.  I’m not saying it’ll will start this way at all, but by the end of the year, he will be their guy at centre.

EDIT: As of writing, Rossi was hurt in camp today.  The extent of the injury is unknown but he is out indefinitely.  Obviously, you can scratch this one if he’s out for a significant period of time.

 

Montreal

The rights to Cole Caufield will be traded before the start of next season.  Marc Bergevin was a mad man this off-season.  You can tell, no matter how much some Habs fans want to live in denial, that he is a guy desperate to keep his job.  So he began throwing shit against the wall.  Nevermind the fact that his squad still has a lot of big question marks in key positions, how do you feel right now if you’re Cole Caufield?  Anderson, 7 years.  Gallagher, 6 years added to this final one.  Toffoli, 4 years.  Drouin, 3 more years.  The paths for Caufield going to the show are closing up.  Tomas Tatar only has a year left on his deal.  If Bergevin lets Tatar walk, then Caufield may still feel as though it’s a good situation for him.  I don’t get the sense that Bergevin is going to let Tatar walk though.  That leaves one spot on the top nine for Caufield, with only two more seasons to go for him to become a UFA and simply pick the best situation for himself and his family.  If Caufield doesn’t need the money, then I know what I would do.  If it makes you feel better though Habs fans, I’m one of the few who question his ability to play in the NHL, so you might not even be losing an NHL player!

 

Nashville

The dismantling will begin.  Now, this was my call before they went out and made some excellent signings by bringing Mikael Granlund back and adding his old buddy from Minny, Erik Haula-famer (I LOVE that the guys in Minny used to call him that).  But despite these very good signings (in my opinion anyway), I still see this as a slow, aging roster with suspect goaltending.  Frankly, I was shocked that David Poile took Yaroslav Askarov with the 11th pick in the draft, believing he’d take a kid who was close and could help this group quicker.  Not that it would have made a difference, but what I’m saying is that it’s good on the part of Poile to perhaps recognize the window is closing fast and that he is better off preparing for what is coming.

 

NY Islanders

Noah Dobson is going to pop.  Last season was a write-off, but his analytic numbers were actually pretty good.  This year, I wouldn’t THINK they’ll dick him around like they did last season, and if they simply slot him properly and allow him to breathe, I think he’ll be back on the radar as one of the best young defencemen in the game.

 

Ottawa

Matt Murray will get his career back on track.  I’m not the only one who thinks this.  Pierre Dorion doesn’t even think his career left the track apparently!  Hated the trade (I don’t believe Rutherford was getting anything close to a 2nd for him, everyone knew he was fucked), and like everyone else I wanted to puke when I saw the contract they gave him.  Having said this, the guy has been beaten down by injuries and personal tragedy with his father passing away nearly three years ago.  When he’s right, he is a number one guy in this league.  14 goaltenders have played 25 or more playoff games since 2016.  Of those 14, he ranks 4th with a .921 Sv%.  That’s irrelevant if we’re talking about someone past their prime (hello Mike Smith with his “best playoff Sv% of any active goaltender in the league).  Murray is still only 26.

 

Philadelphia

It’s not a hot take for just this season, but this team is going to settle in mediocrity.  Their rebuild is done, and now that the dust has settled, do they have superstars to build around?  Arguably Carter Hart, but even with Hart I ask myself “how much more is there?”  Because Hart isn’t that big.  He’s big enough, but he isn’t that big.  He isn’t that athletic.  He isn’t that agile.  He isn’t that quick.  He’s a guy who has always been incredibly technically sound.  I love Carter Hart, but I just don’t know if the upside is there to be a superstar type netminder (some will be rattled by that because I “only” see him as a regular top 10 goaltender and don’t see him as a perennial Vezina candidate, how DARE I, hey guys?!)  But let’s say Hart becomes that guy, who is the other guy?  Provorov?  POSSIBLY but I think a safer bet is just a good top-four guy.  Myers?  He continues to grow but he would still be an incredible long shot to get to THAT level.  Now, that’s ok if you have depth.  But I don’t see them having the type of depth they’d need to overcome a lack of elite players either.  They’re deep right now, but the system isn’t stocked.

 

Pittsburgh

They’re going to miss the playoffs.  Without Tristan Jarry standing on his skull last season, they were flat out bad.  Jim Rutherford’s attempt to keep their window open is actually closing it quicker as he’s pissed away so much asset capital and cap space for very little return.  They’re done.  Part of this rationale is that they’re playing in a very tough division.  But even if they do make the playoffs, this team isn’t scaring anyone.

 

San Jose

They’ll be in the hunt for a playoff spot right until the end of the season.  Most think they’re done, and they are.  But what’s done are their Cup aspirations.  This team still has the horses to drag their carcass of an organization into the playoffs.  You think a guy like Logan Couture is going to just fade into the sunset?  Or Erik Karlsson?  Possibly, but I can’t see it.  I believe this will be a team with something to prove after such a humiliating fall last season.  I’m not calling for them to make it, but I believe they’ll be a bitch to play and will be very much so in the hunt.

 

St. Louis

Ville Husso will emerge as their number one netminder.  So this one is funny.  I did this same piece two years ago, and said the exact same thing.  I was spot on with everything…except the goaltender who would win the number one job which of course turned out to be Jordan Binnington.  Husso was always ahead of Binnington though, and despite some difficult years in the AHL, I still believe he can fulfill his promise.

 

Tampa Bay

Repeat.  I hardly ever call repeats.  I did it one time, 2017, and I stuck with that all season long.  They aren’t going to be hurt by normal grind that defending champs face as they’ve had some long layoffs in between the regular season, and then even after the bubble they’ll have had the same rest as a standard champ.  They also were swept in 2019 which could actually benefit them at this point.  In fact, go back to 2017 where they missed the playoffs, 2018 they went to game 7 of the East final, then the sweep.  So they haven’t been accumulating deep runs, just one every other year.  Finally, they will get a healthy and very well rested Nikita Kucherov come playoff time thanks to the paper cut on his hip I MEAN HIP SURGERY…keeping him out for the entire regular season.  That is going to be a massive advantage for the Bolts.

 

Toronto

Freddy Andersen is in his final season with the club.  I just don’t think it’s Dubas style to pay a goaltender big money.  This is a guy who try to go dirt cheap with his backup, and kept Garrett Sparks over Curtis McElhinney because it was the better long term play (even though Sparks never looked like he had much potential).  It just isn’t his style.  Now, perhaps Andersen and his agent get a sense of the market next off-season and they re-sign with the Leafs at the last minute for a reasonable number, but I just can’t see him passing up the big pay day that is coming assuming he plays up to his potential this season.  Add to this, if the Leafs let Andersen walk, there is expected to be quite a few quality goaltenders available for cheap on the trade market in the off-season as teams prepare for the expansion draft.

 

Vancouver

Braden Holtby is bouncing back.  Braden’s career might end up being remembered as just another guy who was good playing for Barry Trotz rather than as a Stanley Cup winning netminder.  But there is no denying that since Trotz left, his goaltending has remained terrific while Holtby’s game has spiraled.  But as I mentioned in the Flames section, Jacob Markstrom has only looked good playing for one coach and that is Travis Green.  Combine that with a lighter workload than what he was getting in Washington, and I believe that Holtby will have a very solid 20-30 games this season.

 

Vegas

Peyton Krebs, 2C.  Mostly because they are insanely thin down the middle and yet for some reason believe that having a number one defenceman is worth being horrendous at centre.  But if you have read my stuff, especially my draft stuff, then you know how big of a believer I am in Krebs (well before we all saw him at this years WJC).  This kid has a pro game, and even though I’d leave him in Winnipeg for another season, I believe he can handle the minutes that the Golden Knights are going to need someone to eat up.  Cody Glass is a candidate for that spot too, but he did not show well in his limited time last season.  I’m calling it now, Krebs will be the guy.  It won’t be immediate, but by midseason, he will be in that spot.

 

Winnipeg

Patrik Laine is getting dealt, but that’s not the hot take.  What the hot take is will be that I believe they are going to fleece whoever they deal with.  I don’t think it’s a given that it will be a major need for the Jets coming back the other way.  They could use a centre, and they could use a defenceman.  But if they for lack of a better word just punt on this one and take the best offer, I believe someone is going to give up something they shouldn’t for Laine.  I’ve been over it a million times now, snipers don’t move the needle for teams.  What if the Flyers offered Travis Konecny?  I’m doing that deal if I’m Cheveldayoff.  Konecny plays a give and go game, he’s fearless, he’d fit the Jets perfectly.  Bad organizations think you win with Laine, good organizations KNOW that you win with a kid like Konecny.

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SOH 2021 Season Preview: Soups Prognostications

The 2021 NHL regualar season is finally here!!  There is going to be very little “regular” about this season (see what I did there?!), but nevertheless the NHL is back and we are in for 116 straight days of action!

As always to kick off the season I bring to you my prognositcations.  Now, I did a podcast laying all this out that I urge you to check out.  But sometimes written form is better, and even though I don’t blog near as much as I did, I still enjoy having content up on the site.  So here are my 2021 NHL prognostications.  But before I begin don’t forget to:

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North

Tier One

1. Toronto

It’s an improved roster, but I’m not sure they are any more of a Cup threat than they’ve been.

Tier Two

2. Vancouver

The only thing I worry about is they lived off goaltending most of last season and it is now a question mark.  But I think they’ll be ok.

3. Winnipeg

Not what they were, but remember how much went wrong for them last season and they were still in the hunt at the pause.

4. Edmonton

The special teams will likely regress, but they’re now three lines deep and move the puck better than they have in a long time.  Goaltending is terrifying though.

5. Calgary

They might make the playoffs, but they’re officially stuck in mediocrity.  The goaltending actually scares me despite most believing they upgraded and solidified it.

6. Montreal

I don’t like what Bergevin did long term, and I don’t believe they improved near as much as is getting hyped, but this is an improved roster and will challenge for a playoff spot.

Tier Three

7. Ottawa

They won’t be the “off-night” they’ve been, but I also don’t see them threatening to make the playoffs for at least another season.

 

West

Tier One

1. Colorado

It is incredible how well this team is set up given where they were just three years ago.  Saad, Toews and Byram all added, only Zadorov subtracted, and a ton of asset capital still to play with.

Tier Two

2. Vegas 

What a mess.  This feels like a bomb and we’re all just waiting for it to go off.  Having said this…no doubt that they’re a Cup contender.

Tier Three

3. St. Louis

Still going to be very good, but I believe they’ll really feel the loss of Alex Pietrangelo.

Tier Four

4. Arizona 

They’re a huge mess in terms of their cap, but it’s still an ok roster and in a very weak division past the top three, they might be the best of the worst.

5. Minnesota

I’m not a fan of what Billy Guerin has done thus far as their GM, but at the end of the day he still may have put together a roster that can make the playoffs.

6. San Jose 

I fully expect this team to come back strong.  Too many established vets not to have that kind of pride.  The problem is that they’re insanely thin.

Tier Five

7. Anaheim

They have a goaltender with a higher ceiling than LA.

8. Los Angeles

They potentially don’t have as good of goaltending as Anaheim.

 

Central

Tier One

1. Carolina 

I’d watch for them to take a mighty big swing by the trade deadline.  There are good goaltenders available, and given how strong their system is, it might not be just a goaltender they go after.

2. Tampa Bay

This is a better team than the Canes, but I just simply believe the Canes will take the regular season much more seriously than Tampa will.

Tier Two

3. Dallas

They are good, not great.  I think last year was the peak for the group they currently have.

4. Columbus

Depends on the PLD situation and whether they hold off on that until the summer.  I believe they will and if that’s the case, I like them to get in.

Tier Three

5. Nashville

This is starting to feel like a very large rebuild that just hasn’t started yet.  Older, slow, and I’m not a fan of the goaltending.

6. Florida

I fucking hate this team because for years I said they were about to turn the corner and never did.  Although…what if Bob gets his game back?  Then maybe they would?  And they have Dreidger who was good!  Actually now that I think about it, the Panthers might be the best team in the divi…NO!  Me and the Panthers are done forever!  I’m not having them cheat on me AGAIN!  They’re finishing 6th!

Tier Four

7. Detroit 

They move up a spot thanks to the Blackhawks being even more shitty than they are!  HOO-RAY!

8. Chicago

No Toews, Dach or Crawford.  YIKES…

 

East

Tier One

1. Washington

This is what they do.  I like the Laviolette hiring, and I’m a big believer in what Samsonov could give them this season.

2. Philadelphia

Barring Hart becoming the franchise goaltender some believe he will become, I don’t see this team being anything more than a very good regular season team.  But that’s all we’re talking about here.

3. Boston

Some are expecting them to take a step back, and they could.  But I don’t believe it will be because of who they lost.  What scares me is the age of so many of their key players.  Having said this, I’ve been worried about it before and it hasn’t happened yet.

Tier Two

4. NY Islanders

I don’t know how or why they’ll make the playoffs, but they will.  Barry Trotz is the best coach in the league, I’m not sure anyone else is even close at the moment.

5. NY Rangers

I like them better than the Islanders!  Yet they are a spot below them.  Why?  Because once again, you know that Barry Trotz is going to work his magic.

6. Pittsburgh

Yep.  Aren’t making it.  If they had caught a break and been placed in an easier division, then they could.  This division is a couple of Kevyn Adams swings on some goaltenders from being 7 quality teams deep.

Tier Three

7. Buffalo

I’m stunned that Kevyn Adams didn’t do everything he could to go get a goaltender.  I know they were scarce this off-season, but I really assumed he’d overpay if he had to.

8. New Jersey

Tom Fitzgerald made some nice moves at last years trade deadline, but they have a long ways to go here.

 

Playoffs

Round 1

N1 Toronto vs N4 Edmonton

All depends on Ken Holland addressing the goaltending situation.  If he gets someone who can really move the needle, I love the Oilers chances.  If he doesn’t though, the Leafs could pick apart the Oilers netminders.

Leafs in 6

 

N2 Vancouver vs N3 Winnipeg

This would be an interesting matchup, but give me Connor Hellebuyck over either Demko or Holtby.  I know he wasn’t great against Calgary last year, but all the more reason to assume he’d come back strong should the Jets get back in the dance this year.

Jets in 7

 

N1 Toronto vs N3 Winnipeg

The Jets at this point would be all wrong for the Leafs in a playoff matchup.  Bigger, maybe faster, a little more experience for the Jets, there’s area’s the Leafs are the better team but I just wouldn’t feel good about the Leafs chances here.

Jets in 6

 

W1 Colorado vs W4 Arizona

Did you see their series last year?  Might be worse.

Avs in 4

 

W2 Vegas vs W3 St. Louis

Are the Golden Knights going to address how thin they are down the middle?  If they don’t, the Blues are a bad matchup for them in a 7 game series.

Blues in 7

 

W1 Colorado vs W3 St. Louis

This could be a very interesting matchup.  Styles make fights, and in this case you have the veteran Blues, former champs, who play a total team game vs the future high flying champs in the Avs.  All the potential to be a classic.

Avs in 7

 

C1 Carolina vs C4 Columbus

The finesse Hurricanes vs the gritty Blue Jackets.  As much as I love how the Canes go about their business, if they don’t address their goaltending, and the Blue Jackets don’t pull the trigger on a PLD deal until after the season, the Blue Jackets would be all wrong for the Canes.

Jackets in 7

 

C2 Tampa Bay vs C3 Dallas

A rematch of last years final in the 1st round of the playoffs!  The last time that happened was 1973 I believe when Boston and the Rangers had a final rematch.  It’s very possible this season with these two, but unlike 73 when the Rangers got revenge on the B’s, I believe it would be the same result as we saw in Edmonton.

Lightning in 6

 

C2 Tampa Bay vs C4 Columbus

The rubber match!  I couldn’t see this going any different than it did in the bubble though.  The Blue Jackets caught them with their pants down once, it won’t happen again.

Lightning in 5

 

E1 Washington vs E4 NY Islanders

The Islanders embarrassed the Caps in the bubble.  I’m not sure they would do that again though.  It would be a tough series, but I just believe the Caps are going to have a bit of new life this season.

Caps in 6

 

E2 Philadelphia vs E3 Boston

I have a little theory with the Bruins this season.  I feel like it’ll be a slow decline.  Maybe really hot out of the gate, but slowly as the season goes on their lack of depth both on the blueline and up front will start to really show.  Philly doesn’t really lack depth, or anything.  I don’t love them, but they don’t have any holes.

Flyers in 6

 

E1 Washington vs E2 Philadelphia

I can’t really explain why I like the Flyers to go to the final four this season, but it’s a really balanced division 1-6, and someone has to get through.

Flyers in 7

 

Final Four

1 Colorado vs 4 Winnipeg

I could see the Jets being miserable for the Avs.  And they would own the goaltending advantage.  But the Avs nearly made the final last year with Michael Hutchinson, they can overcome that.

Avs in 6

 

2 Tampa Bay vs 3 Philadelphia

This matchup would be all wrong for Philly.  Tampa matches their depth, and they have higher end talent across the board.

Lightning in 5

 

Stanley Cup Final

Colorado vs Tampa Bay

I love the idea of this final.  This was my pick this year, and likely would have transpired had Philip Grubauer not gone down.  I love the Avs.  To think about where they were following the 2017 season, it is shocking that they now are where they are, which is THE favourites in the Western Conference and a legitimate Cup contender.  But now that the Lightning have got over the hump, I don’t believe they’re done.  This is a team that is fast, deep, strong down the middle, strong on the blueline, strong between the pipes, and I don’t believe they have to worry about fatigue.  They’ve had deep runs over the years (2015, 2016, 2018, 2020), but they’ve also had early exits (2017, 2019).  Combine that with the road I have them going through on this run, it wouldn’t be too taxing on them.  I believe this would be an awesome series, but the Cup will stay in Tampa.

Lightning in 6

 

Awards

Hart Trophy

Nathan MacKinnon – He’ll have the team, the stats, it’s the hip new thing to claim guys like him are better than McDavid, and he won’t have to worry about splitting the vote.

Art Ross

Connor McDavid – He would have won it last year had he stayed healthy and they finished the season.  1.52 PPG was 2nd in the league.  This season it looks as though Dave Tippett will have him with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.  The dirty little secret about McDavid is that from January on, he didn’t have consistent wingers at ES.  And he still finished the year at a 1.52 PPG clip.

Richard

Auston Matthews – I don’t feel like people give his shot the love that they should be.  He doesn’t have a bomb of a one-timer, but his wrist shot is insane.  The release, the accuracy, the velocity, it’s a thing of beauty.  If people would back off the “second-best player in the world” talk and just focus on how tremendous of a sniper he is, maybe expectations would be a lot more realistic with him.

Norris

Victor Hedman – Third-year in a row I’ve made this pick.  Man, was it just lovely to see him get his due in the playoffs.  He’s been the best defenceman in the league for years now in my opinion.  Nobody close.  Yet he needed to be in everyone’s face every night before the media finally noticed.  Again though…Charlie McAvoy at +2500 to win this award is a bet I strongly urge you to throw a few bucks on.

Vezina

Frederik Andersen – He’s playing for a fat new contract, coming off the worst season of his career, and he has some trusted backups behind him to give him some rest.  I’m expecting a big season out of Freddy.

Selke

Mark Stone – People are taking more and more notice of how terrific he is defensively.  You also have to figure the Golden Knights will be among the elite in the league which will help his case, and the added sexiness that goes with him not being a centre.

Calder

Igor Shesterkin – A kid who looks like a stud goaltender, for the biggest market team in the States, I know there is a concern that he splits votes with his teammate and 1st overall pick, but I just think Shesterkin is THAT good.

Jack Adams

Peter Laviolette – Again, I think he’s going to have a major impact on a Caps team that has flatlined quite a bit since winning the Cup in 2018.  I love the energy Laviolette led teams play with.

Conn Smythe

Brayden Point – Obviously if I got the Lightning winning it all, then one of their players is likely to win this.  The media will want a new hero, and Point would be full value I’m sure.

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