Predictions are stupid. So much can go wrong over the course of a few months, and heaven forbid you try to figure out the playoffs eight months before they happen. With that said, we all like saying “I told you so” when we have educated guesses to run with, and when they blow up in our face, it’s always good to figure out where we went wrong afterwards. With that in mind, I’m going to throw a bunch of stuff out here and see what sticks:

The Standings

Don’t @ me.

Rk Atlantic Metropolitan Pacific Central
1 Y – Toronto Y – Pittsburgh Y – Edmonton Y – Minnesota
2 X – Tampa Bay X – Washington X – Anaheim X – Dallas
3 X – Buffalo X – Carolina X – Calgary X – Nashville
4 Boston W – NY Islanders W – Arizona W – Winnipeg
5 Montreal W – Columbus San Jose Chicago
6 Florida NY Rangers Los Angeles St. Louis
7 Ottawa Philadelphia Vancouver Colorado
8 Detroit New Jersey Las Vegas

The Sportsnet List

Sportsnet.ca had their NHL insider staff weigh in on a bunch of questions, so I decided to answer the same ones.

Team most likely to exceed expectations:  I guess its become cool enough now to say the Carolina Hurricanes that this take isn’t really that hot, but some still aren’t quite on their island. I have been for a while now, though. Their defence is overflowing with talent and Scott Darling should give them a much-needed boost in net. Whether they can score like a contender is up for debate, but they can leverage some depth to make a push for an established name when the time is right – especially if they’re willing to drop the “budget team” distinction and open up the bank account.

Team most likely to disappoint: Again, I’m pretty sure most of Hockey Nerd Twitter has less than zero faith in the Ottawa Senators, but given that this segment of precision was placed on a national mainstream sports website, we’ll treat the crowd as casuals. The Sens were a horrific analytic team last year, had obscene luck in one goal games, and they’ll be starting the year without their far and away best player in Erik Karlsson. I’d bet that they sputter out of the gate and don’t recover.

Canadian team with the highest point total: The Edmonton Oilers are an easy bet for this one. They were the best last year and while some don’t agree with the long-term choices they’ve made to put themselves over the top, they’ve almost assuredly made themselves better simply by ageing a year.

Number of Canadian teams in the Playoffs: I’m going with four: The Oilers, Leafs, Flames, and Jets. Sorry, Montreal; it’s still possible, but I’m not betting on you just yet.

Art Ross Trophy Winner: If you don’t blind pick Connor McDavid for the next fifteen years, I’ll probably question you.

Hart Trophy Winner:  Connor McDavid. Again, he’s the best player on earth and he’s only getting better. Maybe someone else gets picked to avoid a back-to-back winner, but I’m feeling it.

Calder Trophy Winner: Once Anders Lee’s shooting percentage regression starts to kick in, the Josh Ho-Sang show will begin, and it’s going to be great.

Norris Trophy Winner: Similar to McDavid with the Art Ross, Erik Karlsson is in his own world. Even with him starting the season hurt, I think he’ll have the best season. Can’t wait to see him finish second because someone else is due.

Vezina Trophy Winner: Matt Murray has dominated everywhere he’s been over the past few years, and now he gets to be a full-time starter. A hot take with him giving up two goals in his first period of the season already, but he’ll be fine and I think it’s already his time.

Jack Adams Trophy Winner: Mike Babcock still doesn’t have one of these, which is baffling. The Leafs will be good enough to get him one this year. I thought that last year, but Columbus got in the way of those dreams, so we’ll call this his due season.

Coach in the hottest seat: Paul Maurice. I’m not saying this because of the first two periods of his first game, but rather because he’s been with Winnipeg forever, they’ve kinda spun their tires, and the fans, management, and everyone in between is frothing at the mouth to see this team make a leap.

GM on the hottest seat: I’d hope it’s Marc Bergevin. Most of Montreal’s decisions in the past couple of years baffle me, and making themselves even slower this year won’t do them any favours. Especially if his big moves (Weber, Drouin, even Price given his extension) struggle this year, you have to imagine he’ll finally fall out of favour.

After the trade deadline, John Tavares will be a member of the: New York Islanders. I still think the delay on this contract is arena leverage. He’s going to stick around; I’d be shocked if anything else happens.

Matt Duchene will finish the season as a member of the: Carolina Hurricanes. They’re going to get on the roaring start I alluded to at the top, realize they need some goals, and they’ll get their goals, in a speedy, speedy package.

Jonathan Drouin will score __ points for the Canadiens (assuming 75+ GP): 59, if only because people will put an arbitrary expectation on 60 and it’ll be hilarious if he just barely misses it. I hope he succeeds though; he’s an electrifying player who would thrive in that market if he plays like a star.

Auston Matthews will score __ goals for the Maple Leafs (assuming 75+ GP): He’s gonna hit em with the 44. Some might want an even bigger jump than that, but he’ll have lots of options to pass to, so that’s where his growth will come.

Connor McDavid will score __ points for the Edmonton Oilers (assuming 75+ GP): 114. Arbitrary number, but the best will get even better.

The Leafs

Last season, I made these predictions for Toronto’s top five scorers:

Pretty damn great. Probably won’t get there again. But let’s give it a try, just in case:

Player  G A PTS
Auston Matthews 44 39 83
William Nylander 29 43 72
Mitch Marner 22 46 68
James van Riemsdyk 31 33 64
Nazem Kadri 27 32 59

The Playoffs

Look, the reality is that the playoffs are a complete and total crapshoot. You can weight your side of the coin a little bit, and many teams do, but a hot or cold streak for a couple players on your team, or an unforeseen injury can make or break your entire run. Anybody who tells you they know the answer nine months in advance is selling you snake oil.

But whatever, let’s have fun. Leafs over the Oilers in 6. Plan the Parade. Or don’t, the odds on even the favourite are so very slim.

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