A new NHL season is upon us

October means many things, leaves begin to brown and fall from trees, the weather begins to chill as we get deeper into fall, and perhaps most importantly, it means that a new NHL season is upon us, with 31 NHL teams chasing the right to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Let’s begin with our predictions for the Eastern Conference:

Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs look like the class of the Atlantic.

Atlantic Division

1. Toronto Maple Leafs
2. Boston Bruins
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
4. Buffalo Sabres
5. Florida Panthers
6. Detroit Red Wings
7. Montreal Canadiens
8. Ottawa Senators

In my mind, the Atlantic Division will belong to the Maple Leafs.  Toronto finished the 2017-2018 season 49-26-7 (105 points) and 3rd in the division, however, this young group looks to be improving rapidly and seems primed to make the leap to the top this season.  Led by Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, Toronto boasts as much young talent as any team in the NHL.  As good an indicator as any, NHL betting sites also love the Leafs chances to excel this season.

Metropolitan Division

1. Washington Capitals
2. Pittsburgh Penguins
3. Columbus Blue Jackets
4. Philadelphia Flyers
5. New York Rangers
6. New Jersey Devils
7. Carolina Hurricanes
8. New York Islanders

2017-2018 was a wild ride for the Washington Capitals as Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Braden Holtby and the rest put some early season troubles aside to come together, get hot at the right time and win last year’s Stanley Cup.  We believe that until someone beats them, they have to be the favorites, especially considering that they were able to maintain the large majority of their roster from last season.

Now let’s take a look at our predictions for the Western Conference:

The Jets will go as far as rising star Connor Hellebuyck can take them.

Central Division

1. Winnipeg Jets
2. St. Louis Blues
3. Nashville Predators
4. Chicago Blackhawks
5. Colorado Avalanche
6. Dallas Stars
7. Minnesota Wild

Years and years of struggling has left the Winnipeg Jets with a treasure-trove of young talent.  20-year-old Fin Patrik Laine finished last season with 70 points, including 44 goals, and looks to be on the cusp of maturing into a player who can consistently produce 50-goal seasons from his right wing position.  Despite Laine’s unique skills, the Jets are going to go as far as goalie Connor Hellebuyck can take them.  In his first year as a full-time starter, Hellebuyck became a Vezina Trophy finalist — with more experience, his upside is scary.

Pacific Division

1. San Jose Sharks
2. LA Kings
3. Vegas Golden Knights
4. Calgary Flames
5. Anaheim Ducks
6. Edmonton Oilers
7. Vancouver Canucks
8. Arizona Coyotes

2017-2018 saw the San Jose Sharks earning their way into the playoffs for the third straight year and managing to sweep the Ducks before falling to the Cinderella Vegas Golden Knights.  The Sharks are incredibly deep up front with a top 6 that includes Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Evander Kane, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier.  Combined with the steady play of Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic on the blueline, the team looks primed for a huge year.


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