Welcome to the 2021-22 season! I won’t mess around with some long, drawn-out opening write-up. It’s been a long time, let’s see if I remember how to do this!
* Wildcard team
1. Edmonton – I am picking who will finish first in the division in the regular season. Don’t confuse this with a playoff prediction.
2. Vegas – I doubt they’ll care about where they finish in the division, just as long as they are in. They’re getting Jack Eichel.
3. Vancouver – They’ll be good and I am one of the few who believe OEL is going to return to form, or at least close to it.
4. Calgary – They have no direction and are running the risk of alienating their fan base in a market that is a little more fairweather than other Canadian markets.
5. Seattle – They look OK on paper, but the big difference between them and the 2018 Golden Knights is Marc-Andre Fleury. I know Grubauer had a big statistical season, but I’m not a big believer in him carrying a team.
6. Los Angeles – I know the prospect guys love the Kings system, but I personally only see one pillar. You need much more. As for this season, they’ll be better but I still don’t believe they’re very good.
7. San Jose – It sure looks like it is going to take them a long time to untangle this mess.
8. Anaheim – They’ve stockpiled a few great pieces, but much more is needed.
1. Colorado – Obviously.
2. Winnipeg – Finally Chevy did something about this blueline after a few years of crossing his fingers guys would emerge.
3. St. Louis – Last year was horrible, but I look at the roster and believe they still have too much there to fail.
4. *Minnesota – Forever mediocre…
*5. Dallas – Tremendous blueline, but I just don’t see it with what they have up front. Still a playoff team in my mind.
6. Nashville – Still have a lot of talent there, but it’s a reset season.
7. Chicago – I don’t get what Bowman did other than make PR moves. I don’t see Fleury and Jones doing anything for them other than maybe hurting their draft position.
8. Arizona – Terrible. Maybe the worst team in the league. But it’s what Armstrong had to do.
1. Boston – I believe they have another season left in them of contending thanks to a full season of Hall, but they’re just barely hanging onto that status.
2. Florida – Not as high on them as most, not a big believer in their goaltending, but I’ve always liked the roster.
3. Tampa Bay – The defending champs won’t care about where they finish.
4. *Toronto – Probably a good thing for the Leafs. I believe they’ll struggle a lot more this season, but they’ll be comfortably in a playoff spot and be better for the struggle come the playoffs.
5. Montreal – Even with Price, I’m not a fan of this roster. I’m sorry, but it was legitimately the worst team to ever make the final and they’re worse coming into this season.
6. Ottawa – They’re coming. I haven’t loved everything they’ve done, but they’re pretty loaded moving forward.
7. Detroit – They’re about a year behind the Sens. If Wings fans can just hang in there one more season, maybe you win Shane Wright and if they did, rebuild done and time to add.
8. Buffalo – I feel terrible for their fans. Good fan base, deserves so much better than this.
1. Carolina – It’s time to take a big swing. I’m lost as to why they aren’t in on Eichel. But they are a piece away from being a legit contender.
2. Washington – From 2-6 in this division, I would have the Islanders 3rd or 4th, but the other teams could be in any order. The Caps and Pens can’t hang on much longer, and the Flyers and Rangers are coming hard. For now, I’ll say the Caps are good for one more regular season.
3. Pittsburgh – Tough test starting without both Sid and Geno. Malkin is a UFA after this season, so this could be it for this group.
4. *NY Islanders – I laugh at people picking them to win the division. Are you paying any attention?! They start strong, finish awful, built for the playoffs. Figure it out!
5. NY Rangers – I don’t see this becoming the beast it looked like they were on track to be a year ago at this time. But they’re still really good and will compete for a playoff spot.
6. Philadelphia – As long as Hart bounces back, they will be fine and in the hunt.
7. New Jersey – I’d say they’re a year away, but it’s starting to look pretty good what they’re putting together.
8. Columbus – It’s a rebuild, but they’ll be competitive and it’s not scorched earth as they have some good pieces to build around.
Western Conference Champion
Eastern Conference Champion
Tampa Bay Lightning
Stanley Cup Champion
Connor McDavid – Easiest choice every year, but especially this year with the Oilers looking like they’ll be a top regular-season team.
Connor McDavid – Year in, year out.
Auston Matthews – Last year was the first of many for him.
Victor Hedman – He has simply become my go-to for the award.
Thatcher Demko – I’ve always been a big fan of the kid and he is trending towards a monster season like this.
Mark Stone – It has to happen one of these years for him.
Cole Caufield – As you likely know, I’m not the believer in him most are. But as long as he has anything of a decent season, the media will vote for him.
Gerard Gallant – I only have the Rangers finishing 5th, but they have the pieces and the goaltending to finish as high as 2nd in that division in my opinion. If that happens, media darling Gallant will be hard-pressed not to win it.
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