Folks, we did it. After an offseason that was both several months shorter than usual and felt like it took an eternity, we made it to the NHL regular season. There’s a lot going on with this season as it looks to be the first 82 game season we’ve had in 3 years. There’s more uncertainty about which teams will be good, great, and shit. So we gathered up some of the elite (and some of the not so elite) hockey minds of 10K to try and predict how this season is gonna go. Leggo!
Who wins the Stanley Cup this season?Deno: Tampa Bay Lightning. Last team to 3-peat was the New York Islanders in the early 1980s. While they have lost depth players like Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman they still return all World talents like Kucherov, Stamkos, Point, Hedman and the best goalie in the world Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Marlow: Boston Bruins. They have a solid 2ish year window where they will remain a powerhouse organization. They had a big loss in Krecji, but I feel like it’s now or never for this team. No one is saying it won’t be tough, but if (big if) Boston can stay healthy, they are never really a team that seems to truly be out of the race. I can’t imagine Tampa can 3-peat, and I want nothing but the worst for the “favorite” Colorado Avalanche.Dev: YOUR Minnesota Wild. Ok, not this year, but in the next couple. This year, I think we have a legit chance at a 3-peat but I just can’t shake this awful feeling those dickheads in Denver are going to win it all. Give me the Avs.
Cam: Carolina Hurricanes! They’ve come close a few times in recent years. And okay yeah, sure, on paper they appear to have become a much worse team than last year but that’s WHY YOU PLAY THE GAMES, BABY!Kid Jen: The New York Islanders. The Isles are such a stingy team defensively and their goaltending is awesome. They suffocate you in the neutral zone and once their offensive stud Matthew Barzal gets the puck on his stick it’s nearly impossible to get it off. With the addition of vets like Zdeno Chara and Zach Parise, I think this is the year Barry Trotz takes them to the top.
Veech: New York Islanders. Listen, this team has been so close for the last couple of seasons. If they can avoid injuries to key players come playoff time this year, I think they’ve got it. Plus, they’ve got a handful of Minnesota boys on the team, so they’re easy to root for.
Who loses to them in the Cup Final?
Deno: Edmonton Oilers. This is the season that McDavid and Draisaitl finally break through and lead the Oilers past the 2nd round. The biggest question surrounding this team is the goalies and whether the can get secondary scoring.
Marlow: Colorado Avalanche. Remember. I want nothing but the worst for them. I hope they blow a 3-0 series lead and lose Game 7 in triple OT because Darcy Kuemper makes a heartbreaking mistake.Dev: The Boston Bruins. Boston has a few years left in their window. They’re already a good team. Tuukka has all but agreed to play for $250k and some Bud Lights once he gets healthy. They get close, but ultimately can’t quite pull it off.
Cam: The Colorado Avalanche. Buncha bums who will coast to the final because there’s no one else in the Central as good as them and they can beat whoever comes out of the Pacific. Then they get swept by the Canes. Book it.
Kid Jen: Vegas is gonna make it out of the West. Colorado won’t even make it to the Western Conference Finals. They’re a team that just doesn’t know how to win the important ones. Meanwhile, Vegas will return to the Stanley Cup Finals after a devastatingly long 4 year drought, but still won’t be able to bring Lord Stanley to Sin City.
Veech: The Edmonton Oilers. Fuck it. McJesus finally gets out of the first round, and the second round and actually goes on a run. It’s all looking like it’s finally coming together until the Oilers get snuffed out by the Islanders in the Final. It’s just as heartbreaking for the kid, but with more time to sweat it out, especially knowing Connor or Leon could score at any second.
Who takes home the Hart this year?
Cam: Kirill Kaprizov. Duh. If you don’t think he’s the most valuable player in the league, get off the Wild bandwagon right now.
Deno: Connor McDavid. He will put up 150 points this season. No one faster, no one more electric and finally with the new TV deal, more of the US will get to watch him.
Marlow: As much as I want to take a deeper pick here and take Matthews, I’m going to be smart and select McDavid. No one can slow him down at all and we all know he can continue to produce no matter who you put around him.
Dev: McDavid is the smart pick. I can’t remember a time where there was such a heavy favorite to win the Hart year after year. Barring injury, I don’t see a world where McDavid doesn’t lead the league in points. He’s pretty sound defensively. I weirdly think the addition of Zach Hyman could hurt McDavid’s chances at being the first repeat Hart winner since Alex Ovechkin, since they can theoretically get scoring from a line that doesn’t have McDavid and Draisaitl. So because of that, I’ll take the world’s biggest Carbonara hater: Nathan MacKinnon.
Veech: Nathan MacKinnon. Is this a “bold” pick? No. But McDavid is the odds-on favorite and where’s the fun in picking a repeat? Alternatively I could have gone with Kucherov who will actually be healthy for a full season after putting up video game numbers in his return last year, after finding a loophole and circumventing the salary cap. It pains me to choose an Avalanche player, but The Dogg is fun to watch and he’s among a LONG list of NHL all-stars who went to Shattuck, so we get to brag about that still, which is nice.
Kid Jen: Kiril Kaprizov. It’s hard to look around the NHL and find someone more important to their team than Kaprizov is to the Wild. He has brought flavor and color to one of the most vanilla franchises in the league. Kaprizov is going to take the league by storm this year. Get your popcorn and Stoli’s vodka ready.
Who’s your Calder winner?
Deno: Jeremy Swayman. It’s a little outside the box but I expect Swayman to get the bulk of the starts in Boston even though the signed Linus Ullmark this offseason. He has big shoes to fill with Tuukka Rask no longer playing in Boston but in the 10 games he played last season he had a 1.50 GAA and a 945% Save percentage.
Veech: Cole Caufield. I will hear no negativity about this pick. My hands are tied. As somebody who screams for College Hockey to be more popular, I’ve got to pick Caufield here. Hell, if you followed me during the NHL playoffs last year, I was rubbing people’s ignorant noses in it every time he recorded a point.
Marlow: I’m predicting a sophomore slump (you know what I mean) for both of the favorites in Caufield and Zegras. I’m just not a fan of how both of those teams are structured, so I’m going with a deeper pick of Nedeljkovic. A forward has won 9 out of the last 11 years, and no goalie since I graduated high school. He’s on a Red Wings roster that will see a SHIT TON of shots on net. He’s proven to take a team to the playoffs, and it’s time to break that forward streak. Also it’s hilarious that a Calder finalist last year is still eligible for it this year. Bring on the chaos.
Dev: Did y’all see Cole Caufield in the playoffs? Kid absolutely rules. I think the Habs will be bad too, or at least not…whatever the hell they were last year, but Caufield is a legit scorer. He’s fun. Let’s not overthink this one.
Cam: Jamie Drysdale. Kid is legit. He’s got flow for days and absolutely looks like the type of polite gentleman you hope the ladies in your life all find. He plays defense and can score? Sign me up, let’s get this boy some hardware.
Kid Jen: There aren’t many other players I’m more excited about this year than Raymond. His shot is ludicrous, his two-way game is spectacular, and he is beyond mature for his age. On a team starving for offense, Raymond should provide plenty of that for the Red Wings in his rookie year. Pure filth.
Who wins the Norris this NHL Season?
Dev: We’re approaching a golden age of d-men. Makar is awesome. Adam Fox is filthy. McAvoy rules. Aaron Ekblad was in the conversation before he went down. Hedman had a “down year” and was still a Norris finalist. Ultimately I think it’s Makar’s to lose this year, though.
Deno: Cale Makar. The Norris has turned into the best offensive defenseman trophy, so it goes to Makar this season. He will quarterback one of the top PP units in the league alongside MacKinnon, Rantanen and Landeskog. A lock for 60-70 points.
Veech: Cale Makar. I can hear the haters now, “Real original Max, picking the favorite”. Yeah yeah yeah, but it’s deeper than that. Well, not really…just another college hockey player absolutely dominating in the NHL. What can I say, I’m a sucker for
a schtick my bit. Knowing the Norris voters and how much they LOVE to fellate East Coast hockey, it’ll probably be Charlie McAvoy though.
Cam: Jamie Drysdale. Just kidding, but that would be sick. It’s gonna be Cale Makar, no doubt. Dude is unreal and got robbed last year. That narrative alone has all but sealed his fate for winning the Norris this NHL season.
Marlow: I’m a Charlie McAvoy fanboy, and I’m going to take him to be bold against the rest. Makar is the smart pick as people feel he was snubbed last year, but if my Cup winner prediction is correct, it’s because Charlie is leading them all the way.
Kid Jen: Miro Heiskanen. Already one of the smartest defensemen in the NHL, I think this is the year where Heiskanen becomes a household name. His skating is among the best in the league and his transition game is immaculate. If he unlocks it offensively, look out.
Dark Horse Team: Which team will surprise some folks?
Deno: The St. Louis Blues. I’m not sure what constitutes as a dark horse but I think the Blues still have the roster it takes to win the Cup. Binnington is almost a lock for Team Canada come Beijing in February and the Defense looks formidable as well. The key to winning the Cup is the Center position and the Blues have some good ones in Ryan O’Reilly and Brayden Schenn. Depth scoring is a must and the Blues currently have perennial 30 goal scorer Vladimir Tarasenko on the 3rd line.
Marlow: Flyers 110%. That roster is so fucking strong, it’s bonkers that they are a mess. Huge subtractions, but even bigger additions such as my bearded brethren Ryan Ellis. Ellis is the most underrated defenseman in the league and this will be the NHL season he finally gets the recognition he deserves. Fight me on it.
Dev: I’m not sure if they’re a sleeper, but I haven’t seen them mentioned a ton in the elite team conversation even though I think they are a legit Cup contender: The Florida Panthers. Minus the $10,000,000 Bobrovsky sized hole burning in Bill Zito’s pocket, this team is great and deep. They have some questions on the blue line after Ekblad and Weegar, but that offense is going to be potent and Spencer Knight looks like he could be a dark horse Vezina candidate.
Cam: Calgary. Everyone’s been shitting on them, but the fact is that division blows and they should be decent. They’ll make the playoffs for sure. Plus, how sick is it to say “the Flames are on fire” after they win 5 in a row during their homestead at the end of October into the first week of November. You heard it here first.
Kid Jen: The Anaheim Ducks. With a sudden infusion of youth, the Ducks are looking like an exciting team to follow this year. They’ve always been a rock-solid defensive team, they just struggle to score goals. Top prospects Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale are in line to become full-time NHLers this season and when you’ve got one of the best goalies in the world, John Gibson, on your team, you’ve always got a chance. Quack, quack baby.
Veech: Maybe it’s the people I surround myself with, but I expect the Blackhawks to take a big step forward this year compared to the circus that they had on the ice last season. I have no real substantial evidence to back this up, but I DID see Flower’s new leathers and that’s enough for me. History shows that he’s a pretty decent option between the pipes.
All the NHL Season Picks in one shiny graphic!
Minnesota sports weren’t stressful enough, so I went to Auburn. Diehard everything fan. Will drink beer for money. Deathly allergic to chicken.