The NHL season has begun, and there has been a lot of exciting hockey. A lot of games have been canceled so far due to COVID-19, but fans have gotten a good look at each team so far. The new realigned divisions are great, and the new schedule is something I hope stays in the future. Right now, the focus is on my take on how each team looks and my super early predictions for the final standings.
Starting things off with the Scotia North division, which is made up of all of the Canadian teams, where every team hates each other, and some exciting hockey has been played.
The Calgary Flames have been disappointing so far. They have a very good top-6 forward core, but they just have no depth. Three of their five losses have been by one goal. They’re right there with these teams, and they’ll figure it out soon.
The Edmonton Oilers have the best duo with Erie Otter alumni Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but they will not get 5 points a night. Their defense is not so good, and goaltending is rough.
The Montreal Canadians have had a great start to the season as Jeff Petry has had a Norris Trophy candidate start to the season. Tyler Toffoli and Nick Suzuki have had a monster start to the season, but it’s the Canadiens, so expect their luck to run out.
The Ottawa Senators are rough. They still have no defense and Matt Murray has been awful for them. The only good thing for this team right now is their future. Expect them to go for the 1st overall pick in the draft.
The Toronto Maple Leafs look amazing so far. Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner have been lights out to start the year. They look very good and they’re a contender for the President’s trophy. The Vancouver Canucks have a good team, but this division is too talented for this young squad. They’ll be a good team come midseason but not good enough for the playoffs.
The Winnipeg Jets have a very good squad, and they look scary this year. They just acquired Pierre-Luc Dubois, and he will help their team a lot.
Moving on to the Honda West, the Anaheim Ducks have an average team. They’re not a bad team, but they’re not good enough to make the playoffs this year.
The Arizona Coyotes are in the same boat. They have a solid roster; they just won’t make the playoffs this year.
The Colorado Avalanche have the best roster on paper. They have the second-best player in the league, Nathan Mackinnon, with great depth on their forwards and defense. If they can stay healthy, they have a great shot for the Stanley Cup.
Next, the Los Angeles Kings. They have Kopitar and Doughty, but their roster is getting old and Jonathan Quick is way out of his prime. They will compete for the first overall pick. My hot take for this year is the Minnesota Wild. They are my sleeper team to make the playoffs. They have a very solid roster, but goaltending seems to be an issue. If they can find a good goalie at the trade deadline, they will surprise the league.
The San Jose Sharks have lost all of their top players and will compete for the first overall pick.
The St. Louis Blues are a very strong team and have the core for a deep playoff run. This year they have an easy division, so I see them making the playoffs with no problems.
The Vegas Golden Knights have a great team. They have the tools to compete for the Stanley Cup once again. They will be one of the top teams once again.
The Discover Central Division is a very interesting division with the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning and the team they beat to win the cup, the Dallas Stars.
Starting off with the Carolina Hurricanes, they are once again an elite team. They have an electric team there, but I don’t see Petr Mrazck taking them far. The Chicago Blackhawks are in a rebuild. They have an okay roster with some Erie Otters alumni Alex Debrincat and Dylan Strome. They will be missing Jonathan Towes, so they are kind of a meh team. Defense and goaltending is a major problem there.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have an okay squad there. Lazy Patrick Laine is not the answer there and their playoff luck will run out this year.
The Dallas Stars are one of the top teams in the league, but they’re missing their top goal scorer in Tyler Seguin for the whole year. They’ll make the playoffs but won’t be going too far once again.
The Detroit Red Wings are basically an AHL team. They will be competing for the 1st overall pick and playing golf once again this summer.
The Florida Panthers have a team that might surprise people during the regular season. Sasha Barkov is one of the most underrated players in the NHL and he can lead this team to a first-round exit.
The Nashville Predators are an okay team. Their stars aren’t as good as they were in years past, and they just don’t have it this year to make the playoffs.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are missing Nikita Kucherov for the whole season, but they have one of the best rosters and have a great shot to defend their title.
Lastly, the MassMutual East Division. This division has some very exciting teams and looks to be the best division. My Boston Bruins still look great this year. Without Zedano Chara and Torey Krug, they still have a great team. Now that they have the “Perfection Line” back with David Pastrnak back and Brad Marchand playing at 100 percent. They will make another run for the cup as long as they pick up someone to score more goals for them.
The Buffalo Sabres just acquired Taylor Hall this offseason. He and team captain Jack Eichel will lead this team to a first-round exit. The New Jersey Devils have a decent team, but they’re too young and their defense is rough. They’ll be last in the division.
The New York Islanders’ defensive scheme system has been very good the past few years. This year they just don’t have what it takes to make the playoffs. The New York Rangers have a young roster built for the future, but this division is too good for them to make the playoffs. Now the team I love to hate, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Defense doesn’t seem to exist in Pittsburgh to help out goalies Tristian Jarry and Casey DeSmith, and it’s hard to believe that Sidney Crosby is on a rebuilding team. “This team just doesn’t have what it takes,” said Penguins fan and Prep junior Avery Ball.
The Philadelphia Flyers are an elite squad. They have a good squad there and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make a deep playoff run.
The Washington Capitals will forever be good as long as Alex Ovechkin is still there. They have good offense, but defense and goaltending are still big question marks.
Final Standing Projections:
- Toronto Maple Leafs
- Winnipeg Jets
- Calgary Flames
- Edmonton Oilers
- Vancouver Canucks
- Montreal Canadians
- Ottawa Senators
- Colorado Avalanche
- Vegas Golden Knights
- St. Louis Blues
- Minnesota Wild
- Anaheim Ducks
- Arizona Coyotes
- San Jose Sharks
- Los Angeles Kings
- Tampa Bay Lightning
- Carolina Hurricanes
- Dallas Stars
- Florida Panthers
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- Nashville Predators
- Chicago Blackhawks
- Detroit Red Wings
- Boston Bruins
- Philadelphia Flyers
- Washington Capitals
- Buffalo Sabres
- New York Rangers
- Pittsburgh Penguins
- New York Islanders
- New Jersey Devils
Colorado beats Edmonton
Boston beats Carolina
Colorado beats Boston to win the Stanley Cup
Mackinnon wins the Conn Smythe Trophy
Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP to their team): Connor McDavid EDM
Calder Memorial Trophy (Best Rookie): Kirill Kaprizov MIN
Vezina Trophy (Best Goalie): Frederick Anderson TOR
James Norris Memorial Trophy (Best Defenseman): Cale Makar COL
Art Ross Trophy (Points Leader): Connor McDavid EDM
Frank J. Selke Trophy (Best Defensive Forward): Patrice Bergeron BOS
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (Most Sportsmanlike): Matthew Tkachuck CAL
Jack Adams Award (Best Coach): Dean Evason MIN
Maurice Richard Trophy (Most Goals): David Pastrnak BOS
Ted Lindsay Award (MVP): Connor McDavid EDM
General Manager of the year: Brad Treliving CAL