It’s been awhile but we are back!
Welcome to Spinorama Hockey’s annual NHL predictions for the 2017-2018 season. We see some really incredible first round playoff match ups with some cool historic relevance that include Winnipeg vs Edmonton, Dallas vs Chicago and Montreal vs Toronto! We also see some breakthrough playoff seasons from Carolina and Winnipeg plus some better than expected seasons from Buffalo and Colorado. But let’s start with our Division and Selected Team Watch Segments!
All 3 of these guys playoff bound?
Division Watch: The most complicated division. Chicago, Minnesota, Nashville, St Louis and Winnipeg can all challenge for the Cup or not make the playoffs. St Louis has some injury problems but still pretty deep. Dallas seems to be everyone’s favourite to win the division and how can they not be. It’s all up to you Ben Bishop.
Team Watch: The Winnipeg Jets seems to be “the pick” to rise out of the ashes with all the offence and young talent on the roster. Coach Maurice under any other organization would have about 25-30 games for him to prove he can take this team to the next level. Unfair you say but the truth of being a National Hockey League coach especially in the hotbed of hockey known as Winnipeg. Yes Jets fans, players will want to play and stay here. Win some games and see what happens. Ask the Green Bay Packers. PoMo needs to choose his roster wisely and light a fire under the team’s leadership and host of young players. Don’t think if the Jets make the playoffs that they can’t go all the way. Look at the conference, Chicago and Anaheim are not what they once were (suffering either by Cap or Age). A few key losses for the Sharks and by my count the biggest problems for the Jets are shockingly the Canadian teams of Edmonton and Calgary. Get this team in the playoffs, win around and I will be the first to sculpt the PoMo statue on Portage Avenue.
Team Watch 2: The Avalanche won’t make the playoffs but will be better than expected. Expect a big year from Nate McKinnon. Varlamov & Bernier could be an underrated tandem and expect JT Compher, Miko Rantanen & rookie Tyson Jost to make their marks. I know everyone who reads this will think we are off our rocker.
Division Watch: Who doesn’t love the Pacific division? The rivalry’s of Oilers-Flames and the California trio of the Kings, Sharks and Ducks. Don’t forget the new rivalry of Vegas & the Coyotes soon to be dubbed the Battle of the desert. This will change quickly to the battle of the deserted (in the stands of course) if winning doesn’t become a thing. The Ducks and Oilers are certain to be the class of this division. I have a feeling the Flames will disappoint. Not sure Mike Smith is the answer either for them.
Team Watch: The Jagr signing caught me by surprise but I believe makes Calgary better. You hear of the young guys have to learn from the veterans on how to be a pro. How about learning what it takes to win. Who better than 68? Showing young players how to win and what it takes for me is what many of the young teams are missing (a.k.a Winnipeg Jets). Talk about taking pressure off your young guys having big 68 around.
Team Watch 2: Anaheim will just not go away but the Oilers are determined to be the team to beat not only in the division but in the conference. Say what you want but Chiarelli seems to know how to put his team in a position to succeed. No one builds a team to win the cup by luck. Cam Talbot and that crop of veteran and highly skilled young forwards is a recipe for success. McDavid who has already come into his own should tear up the league. Defence looks calm and steady and that’s all they require. Take note that we picked them to go to the final last year.
Division watch: Pittsburgh is the favourite and Washington needs to win this year. Teams on the downside for me include the Caps, Rangers and the Islanders. Columbus should challenge for the division, the Devils have made some improvements and Philly is going young. Should be interesting in the leagues toughest division (yes ahead of the Central).
Team Watch: Is it just me or does every year someone say this is the year that Washington needs to win the Cup. This is it again. Maybe try having a mediocre season and barely make the playoffs, this usually bodes well for playoff success especially the last number of years.
Team watch 2: Carolina is on my mind. If they get goaltending (see: Scott Darling – this is still in the air), love the defence, love the coaching, love centre ice and just enough experience to make a serious push this year. Maybe they add Matt Duchesne. Doesn’t matter, like most teams, it’s all about goaltending.
Division watch: Tampa Bay is still the team to beat. I’m going with a step back for the Leafs, Bruins, Sens and Wings. Some upside from Buffalo (even with Evander Kane) and some trading from the Panthers.
Team watch: Why is everyone so down on the Habs? They lose Radulov and gain Drouin and all hell breaks loose? Claude Julien, Carey Price and Shea Weber on the same team will make the playoffs. All you Montreal haters need to stop
Team watch 2: Are the Leafs really as good as they are perceived to be? The media seems to think so. Is it too early for Babcock to wear off? Will they win this division? Can you say sophomore slumps? For pete sake Ron Hainsey is still on this team. Better hope Freddy Anderson stays healthy or this may be a long season in the centre of the universe.
Our picks for the upcoming season:
1 Columbus Blue Jackets
2 Pittsburgh Penguins
3 Carolina Hurricanes
WC Washington Capitals
WC New York Rangers
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders
1 Tampa Bay Lightning
2 Montreal Canadiens
3 Toronto Maple Leafs
Detroit Red Wings
1 Dallas Stars
2 Minnesota Wild
3 Nashville Predators
WC Winnipeg Jets
WC Chicago Blackhawks
St. Louis Blues
1 Edmonton Oilers
2 Anaheim Ducks
3 Calgary Flames
San Jose Sharks
Vegas Golden Knights