31 bold predictions for the 2019-20 NHL season

Oct 1 2019, 5:36 pm

A new NHL season is upon us, with 31 teams eyeing either a playoff spot and a shot at the Stanley Cup or a lottery pick and a shot at Alexis Lafreniere or Quinton Byfield.

There’s a lot of hockey to be played between now and then, with no shortage of possibilities as to how it will all play out.

Here are 31 predictions to get you ready for puck drop. Maybe don’t take them to the bank, but at least have a little fun with them.

1. The Toronto Maple Leafs will win a playoff round

For the first time in the shootout era. They’ll¬†finally¬†beat the Boston Bruins in the first round.

2.¬†The first head coach fired will be…¬†

John Tortorella. For obvious reasons.

tortorella speech

Fox Sports Ohio / YouTube

3. Oilers still stuck in neutral

Speaking of Edmonton, the Oilers won’t be a playoff team. Case in point:

4. Canadian playoff teams will be…

The Leafs, Calgary Flames, and (wait for it…) Vancouver Canucks will make the playoffs this season. The Oilers,¬†Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, and Winnipeg Jets will all miss.

5. Hart and Art Ross Trophies will go to…

Oilers superstar centre Connor McDavid will, however, shake off a knee injury and regain his title at the NHL’s leading scorer and MVP.

6. The Western Conference champions will be…

The Vegas Golden Knights will make a second Stanley Cup Final appearance in three years. And (prediction 31 spoiler alert) THAT’S NOT ALL!

7. Player most likely to be traded…

Jonathan Drouin.

8. Alberta goalies will meet different fates

Cam Talbot’s move from Edmonton to Calgary will help rejuvenate his career, while Mike Smith’s will prove not to be the answer in net for the Oilers.

9. Wing swap won’t fly

Related: Neither Flames forward Milan Lucic nor Oilers winger James Neal will benefit from their new surroundings. They are what they are at this point in their careers.

10. The battle of Florida will truly begin

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers will meet in the playoffs for the first time ever, but certainly not the last.

11. The Coach of the Year will be…

Joel Quenneville. A playoff spot will help seal a Jack Adams win.

12. The Selke Trophy winner will be…

Aleksander Barkov will win his first Selke Trophy, and Sergei Bobrovsky will be a Vezina Trophy finalist. Yeah, I’m high on the Cats. It will be a purrfect debut season for the new head coach.

13. The Preds will regret trading Subban

Staying in the East, PK Subban will re-enter the Norris Trophy conversation with a masterful season with the Devils. He is, after all, shooting to the delight of New Jersey fans.

14. The Rookie of the Year will be…

Subban’s rookie teammate Jack Hughes will win the Calder Trophy.

15. Hall isn’t going anywhere

All of the above will convince pending unrestricted free agent Taylor Hall to sign a long term extension, quietly putting his Maple Leafs bed sheets back in the closet for the time being.

16. Surprise non-playoff team

The Pittsburgh Penguins miss the playoffs. Hot dog! (or lack thereof, I should say).

sidney crosby penguins

NHL / Twitter

17. Worst team in the NHL will be…

The Senators will finish last, win the NHL Draft lottery and actually get to make their first-round selection this time. Also in the running will be the Los Angeles Kings, Detroit Red Wings, and Anaheim Ducks.

18. Most improved team

Speaking of the Colorado Avalanche, everyone’s high on this team, and for good reason. This team will rise to the top of the Central Division in the regular season, then tumble in the postseason. They’re still a year or two away from snowballing to success.

19. More post-game fun in Carolina

In lieu of the Storm Surge, the Carolina Hurricanes will project this at centre ice after every win:

20. Best matched offer sheet…

Sebastian Aho, by the way, will emerge as a superstar on a team with legit Cup chances.

21. Leading goal scorer will be…

Alex Ovechkin will win ninth Rocket Richard Trophy as the league’s top goal scorer, inching closer to breaking Wayne Gretzky’s all-time record.

22. Gritty will continue to be the best mascot in the league

Second place isn’t even close.

23. Elias reaches elite status

Calder Trophy winner Elias Pettersson will join the Sedins, Pavel Bure, Alex Mogilny, and Markus Naslund as the only Canucks players ever to score 100 points in a single season.

24. Surprising goalie tandem of the year

As mentioned above, the Canucks will make the playoffs, in no small part to what will be an excellent tandem in net: Jacob Makstrom and Thatcher Demko.

25. Goalie most in need of rest will be…

Staying on the goalie front, Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen will lead the NHL in starts, and that heavy workload will once again come back to haunt the team when it matters most.

26. Maple Leaf will hit 50

On the bright side, Auston Matthews will crack 50 goals for the first time in his career despite his very fishy off ice behaviour.

leafs cod fish newfoundland

Toronto Maple Leafs / Twitter

27. The Winter Classic will be historic

The 2020 Winter Classic in Dallas might be best served to be played on roller blades. The outdoor game will be the warmest January 1 classic in NHL history, pushing over 20 degrees Celsius.

28. Seeds will be planted at Heritage Classic

At least one member of the Jets or Flames will wear a watermelon helmet on the ice in Regina prior to the The Heritage Classic.

29. Trade deadline will be …

Boring as hell due to a lack of high-profile names on the market.

30. Playoff teams will be …

Tampa Bay

NY Islanders
New Jersey

St. Louis

San Jose

31. How the season will end

Stanley Cup Final prediction: Vegas over Carolina in Game 7 on an overtime goal scored by Nate Schmidt. The Golden Knights later gather to re-enact this scene.

It all starts Wednesday, October 2.

Ian McLarenIan McLaren

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