Sal’s 2013 NHL Predictions

All is right with the world once again

All is right with the world once again

How many of you fellow Canadians plan on boycotting watching hockey this weekend? Yeah that’s what I thought…you’re all weak…weak I say. I’m probably the weakest of them all so I shouldn’t really talk. The start of a season means it’s time for predictions. I’ll give my predictions on the usual stuff like Stanley Cup winner, Hart Trophy winner, etc. but I’ll throw in some fun ones for kicks.

Northeast Division Winner: Boston

Even without Thomas they are solid in net with Rask. They are deep up front and on D. These are still the big bad Bruins. The rest of the division is improving, but still not close to the Bruins caliber.

Atlantic Division Winner: New York Rangers

The Penguins are the sexy pick with a seemingly unstoppable Malkin and a healthy Crosby. However, I think the Rangers will repeat as division champs. They have arguably the best goalie in the league, a solid defence that for the most part remains in tact and now add Rick Nash to the mix and this team is downright scary.

Southeast Division Winner: Washington

New coach, new Ovechkin? Can Adam Oates make this team an offensive powerhouse again? I think he will and I like Braden Holtby in net. They will get a strong push from an improved Carolina team though.

Central Division Winner: Chicago

The big question mark for this team is in net, but with any resemblance of solid goaltending will be a huge bonus for a team stacked with firepower and solid defence. Jonathan Toews is the Mark Messier of his generation.

Pacific Division Winner: Los Angeles

Really going out on a limb here eh? How can you bet against this team though? They can score, they can beat you down and they have a top tier goalie to shut you out.

Northwest Division Winner: Vancouver

They are still the best in this division, but the rest of the division is catching up fast. Minnesota blew the bank on Suter and Parise, Edmonton has the best young talent in the league, Colorado is also full of young up and comers…Calgary…well…they still have Iginla.

Eastern Conference Winner: New York Rangers

C’mon now, would Bettman and his cronies have it any other way? Not saying the NHL is fixed, but having the Rangers in the final would be a dream for the NHL.

Western Conference Winner: Chicago

Yeah I’m not picking my Canucks. I just can’t this year with them not having a 2nd line for the first month or two of a short season. The Hawks are dangerous up front, have arguably the best leader in hockey, arguably the top defensive pairing in the league and a coach desperate to win after two early exits the last 2 seasons. They are primed to win it all but…

Stanley Cup Winner: New York Rangers

Rick Nash proves to be the missing piece that pushes the Blue Shirts over the top in a tough 7 game series with the Hawks.

Hart Trophy: Steven Stamkos

Vezina Trophy: Tuuka Rask

Rocket Richard: Steven Stamkos

Art Ross: Steven Stamkos

Lady Byng: who cares

Calder: Someone other than Nail Yakupov

First player to get injured: Simon Gagne

I was going to go Sami Salo but I’m thinking the warm Florida weather some how helps his glass body

First coach to be fired: Mike Yeo

Firing a coach in the middle of a shortened season is just mean. I doubt it will happen, but if one were to go I’d say Mike Yeo in Minnesota. If he can’t deliver with all the money the owners dropped he’s done.

Biggest disappointment (player): Ryan Suter

Big time pressure with ridonk contract and now no safety net without his longtime running mate Shea Weber. I like the guy, but tough for anyone to live up to that contract.

Biggest disappointment (team): Pittsburgh

Labelled by many to be the team to beat and rightfully so with two of the best players in the world on the team. However, I don’t think they are deep enough or strong enough on the back end to outlast teams like the Rangers or Bruins.

Most improved player: Ryan Getzlaf

Not sure what happened last year, but 57 points from a player of his caliber has to be an outlier. Expect more of a point per game pace this year.

Most improved team: Edmonton Oilers

The main core of youngsters have been building chemistry the entire lockout. I’m thinking they make a huge leap and make the playoffs as a 7 or 8 seed this year.

Biggest injury issue this year: Groin pulls

Concussions have been the main injury concern for the last few years, but I’m thinking we are going to see a lot of groin pulls/tears this season. With some players not being in the best of shape to start the season and no pre-season games to warm the muscles up…riiiiiiiiiiiip.

Biggest Surprise (player): Roberto Luongo

Yeah I’m a Lu lover for life, but we all know Lu will somehow, someway come back to haunt Vancouver one day. So I’m thinking once he does get shipped out he somehow screws us over in a big way. Maybe beating us in a big game to deny us a premium playoff spot, maybe Schneids gets injured soon after he leaves and were left with an unproven back up and miss the playoffs, maybe he beats us in the playoffs and urinates on the Canucks symbol at centre ice…either way we deserve it.

Player most likely to be suspended first: Zac Rinaldo

This guy is craaaaaaaaazy. I think he’s apt to just remove one of his skates one day and start chopping

Canadian teams that make playoffs: Canucks, Oilers, Leafs

Canadian team that does the worst: Habs

First goalie to lose his starting gig: Ilya Bryzgalov

He may get lost in the forest for good this time.

Player with most goals will finish with: 39

Player with most assists will finish with: 40 (Henrik Sedin)

Player with most points will finish with: 65

Will Jerome Iginla be traded: No, Flames too stubborn to do what’s best for franchise

When will Luongo be traded: After the Leafs/Flyers start the season off cold as ice…I say 7 games in

When will PK Subban be signed: After the Habs start 0-3 and Kaberle starts the season -12

Most valuable fantasy player: Henrik Lundqvist

Goalies are fantasy gold. You draft him and you can guarantee yourself a top tier finish

Puck drops in 40 minutes.

I’m jacked.