The NHL season starts around the beginning of October and since the free agent frenzy has pretty much ended I have a few bold predictions for next season that go against “the norm”. In other words, predictions that are bold and go against the public. Here are a few I have:
1. The Vancouver Canucks make the playoffs.
Albeit I’m very biased towards them, I am willing to bet this happens. Everywhere I go people are counting them out saying how they are a tenth seed, etc. I have followed this off season. I followed last season. They sucked ass last season and a large portion of it was due to the goons known as John Tortorella and Mike Gillis. There is no way this team should have been playing a defensive dump and chase style. It doesn’t fit the team. Coach Tortorella is a goof who will never land a job in the NHL again (a not so bold prediction or opinion there either). Jim Benning has made some shrewd moves that I think will pay off. The jury is still out on his draft picks Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann. But signing Ryan Miller for a few years, good move. The pay is a bit steep but that’s the price you must pay for a decent goaltender. Miller looked bad in St. Louis especially in the postseason but that’s his only dark moment of his career so far. I’m willing to see if he has more to offer. Dealing Ryan Kesler was the best move they made. Nick Bonino is a great kid and plays the game hard. Outside of all these moves Jim Benning made in terms of player personnel, the biggest and the one I think will pay off was not made just by him but also president Trevor Linden: hiring Willie Desjardins. The guy has won at every level besides the NHL. He made the Texas Stars in the AHL a great team. He made the Dallas Stars have serious depth alone due to the way he coached the young kids on the Texas Stars. He also won multiple times in the WHL before. I have not heard a single bad word about him. Just great things. Look for him to turn the Vancouver Canucks around, be a well liked coach by the players, and have them become a winning franchise. No, I don’t think they will be Stanley Cup contenders or fighting for the presidents trophy. I also don’t think they will win the Pacific Division, that’s crazy. They will make the playoffs as a sixth-eighth seed. I am putting my mouth on the line here.
2. Pekka Rinne gets exposed as an over rated goaltender
I’m sorry Preds fans. I always hear people talk about him as if he is a top goaltender in the league, top three, etc. I’ve never seen it. He was a huge body in front of the net behind Ryan Suter and Shea Weber all those years. That’s why he looked really good. Take out coach Barry Trotz and his boring ass defensive system and replace him with offensive minded Peter Laviolette, look at people to start doubting Pekka Rinne as among the league’s best in net. This is a little bold and the term “over rated” seems to imply I think he sucks. I think he will still be good, just not in the top three as people typically have him in in their lists of best goaltenders in the NHL.
3. The Boston Bruins don’t repeat as regular season powerhouses this year
The Bruins have been a very successful franchise for years now in the NHL but I think they won’t repeat as president trophy champions or as a top team in the regular season. Just a weird feeling I have. Chara is getting old, he has been slowing down season after season. It is only a matter of time before he retires or fades away. He is a huge driving force behind the team. Without him, I don’t know. They got rid of top scorer Jarome Iginla and replaced him with…well…nothing really? I think this team should have kept him for another year, he fit well in the system. I say they are still a playoff team but finish no higher than third in the eastern conference. And then come playoff time, Tukkaa Rask gets exposed as a choker once again. The Flyers and Canadiens completely lit this guy up when his team had both series in a stranglehold. Definitely not worth the money they are paying him. Roberto Luongo got hated on as a Canuck, why is this guy excused?
4. The Montreal Canadiens don’t go on a huge playoff run again
Not sure if this is bold. I don’t think they have the same success as they did last year. Carey Price is a monster in net no doubt and they still look like a playoff team, but I think they got by last year in the playoffs playing a really gritty style that many teams typically don’t repeat. They had guys such as Dale Weise scoring clutch goals or Daniel Briere (who they got rid of). Leader Josh Gorges was dealt to the leagues worst Buffalo Sabres for scraps. I don’t see this team going as far in the playoffs as they did last year. I rooted them on, it was a great run, but let’s be realistic here.
5. The Anaheim Ducks do not make it far in the playoffs
Of course they make the season with Boudreau being head coach. That’s his bread and butter. I have no shame in admitting they may be a fifth to first rank team in the western conference. But come playoff time, they will lose, again, like Boudreau coach teams do. No way am I betting on this team to win the cup. I also would like to make the bold prediction that Ducks fans become disappointed with Ryan Kesler’s production and wish for Nick Bonino back. Seriously. He has not been good at all since Vancouver’s cup run and I am glad to get Sbisa and Bonino for him. Not joking or trolling. Gibson is young and a question mark. He’s said to be a phenom but this will be his first full year. I don’t know about giving him such a heavy task. Andersen is also a question mark as a 1B/backup goaltender. Look for the Ducks to be golfing by the semi finals and their fans complaining about Boudreau and Kesler.
6. The Kings, Blackhawks, or Penguins become Stanley Cup champions (again)
Okay, this is not very bold at all. This is with the norm. I think the Kings or Blackhawks are easily in line to take home another cup along with maybe the Penguins in the east. Mike Johnston as newly hired head coach of the Penguins should take them into the playoffs. The last time the Pens hired a head coach they destroyed the rest of the league. They were something like 18-3 before going into the playoffs with Bylsma. Mike Johnston may have the same success or it may backfire. The Kings and Blackhawks are still the premium teams of the west. The Blues, Sharks, and Ducks are all teams capable of doing well in the regular season but then shitting the bed in the playoffs. I don’t see either team passing the torch in the west this season unless they have injuries to key players.