The past two seasons I have managed to share my season predictions with the blogosphere, and I see no reason to skip over the 2016-2017 season. With that in mind, here are my completely arbitrary and totally correct 2016-2017 season predictions.
Matthew Coller chimed in as well, because he likes being wrong on the internet from time to time.
|1||Tampa Bay Lightning|
|6||Toronto Maple Leafs|
|7||Detroit Red Wings|
Shane: The Tampa Bay Lightning are the cream of the crop in the Atlantic Division, and should finish in first quite easily. The Florida Panthers would be second, but injuries to Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad will put them behind the eight-ball, and a strong season from Carey Price should carry the Habs to second. Boston slips into the fourth spot, just ahead of Toronto and Ottawa. A Datsyuk-less Red Wings struggle massively, and with Jack Eichel missing the majority of the season, the Sabres finish last.
Matt: Tampa Bay somehow witch-doctored themselves under the salary cap with a bunch of brilliant work by Steve Yzerman and luck that nobody decided to offer sheet Nikita Kucherov, so the Lightning should be considered a favorite for the entire Eastern Conference. The big swing team here is Montreal. If Carey Price plays 60 games, they can win the division, but if he doesn’t they could be drafting high again.
|4||New York Islanders|
|5||New York Rangers|
|6||New Jersey Devils|
|8||Columbus Blue Jackets|
Shane: The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals are the two best teams in this division, and they prove it with strong regular season performances. The Flyers, led by a bit of a youth revolution and the consistent play of Steven Mason/Michal Neuvirth, make it in the number three spot. The Islanders finish fourth, while the Rangers defense continues to be awful, forcing them down to sixth. The Devils improve, but not enough for the playoffs, while the Hurricanes and Blue Jackets bottom out for the second straight year.
Matt: The Flyers are certainly an intriguing team here because Ivan Provorov could give a major boost to a mediocre defense corps and Jakub Voracek looks like he’ll have a bounce-back season, so they could be dangerous. You could see any of the bottom three teams being the big surprise of the league. The Devils with Taylor Hall, the Hurricanes who have been rebuilding for awhile and the Blue Jackets that could get Bobrovsky back to form. Whether the Penguins or Caps win could depend on Sidney Crosby’s health.
|4||St. Louis Blues|
Shane: The Nashville Predators, and already good team, got even better by acquiring P.K. Subban. They win the Central, while the Dallas Stars offensively overpower teams on their way to second place. The Bruce Boudreau-led Minnesota Wild surprise the league and finish third, while the Blues and Blackhawks battle over fourth and fifth. The Jets narrowly miss fifth place, settling for sixth, while the Avs finish in last.
Matt: The Winnipeg Jets may end up surprising us now that they have vastly improved their goaltending situation. They have a group of young skilled forwards that will make them deeper offensively this year. The Trouba situation is certainly a problem though. Is Chicago ready to make that big of a slide? Not sure they are. And Nashville is going to be the must-watch team with Subban, but there should be some concern over their goaltending. That’s the only thing that stands between them and a division title.
|1||San Jose Sharks|
|2||Los Angeles Kings|
Shane: The Sharks continue their recent run of strong play, and win the Pacific Division. The Kings Corsi their way to second, while the Flames, given a boost by newly acquired Brian Elliott, manage to sneak into third place. The Ducks “Randy Carlyle” their way right out of the playoffs, while Connor McDavid carries the Oilers to fifth place. The Coyotes and Canucks battle it out for last in the division.
Matt: It wouldn’t be shocking to see the Flames win this division. While the Sharks were in the Cup Final last year and still have horses, age catches up with everybody and they have several candidates to hit that curve hard. Edmonton is clearly the most interesting because Connor McDavid could be considered the league’s best player by April.
Wild Card: East
|2||New York Islanders|
Wild Card: West
|1||St. Louis Blues|
Stanley Cup Final
|Prince of Wales||Tampa Bay Lightning|
|Clarence S. Campbell||Nashville Predators|
|Stanley Cup||Nashville Predators|
Shane: The Tampa Bay Lightning advance out of the Eastern Conference, narrowly edging the Penguins in a close series. The Nashville Predators advance out of the West, as they prove to be too much for Los Angeles to handle. The Predators take home the Cup, as their stacked blue line leads the way past Tampa, and brings Lord Stanley to Nashville.
Matt: Very solid picks, Shane. You have to wonder if Washington will ever get to a Cup Final with Alex Ovechkin. They still lack the horse defenseman like Letang or Hedman to get it done. The Predators will be a force. The Blues are in the same boat as the Capitals where every year you wonder if it’s their year.