Most Overrated Team
Liam Horrobin: The Calgary Flames had a busy offseason, however, they failed to improve on their biggest flaw: goaltending. The addition of both Mike Smith and Eddie Lack was wrong and will not benefit this team; they may as well have just stuck with Elliott and Johnson, by the way, are better statically. This decision will come back to haunt them and be the reason why they miss out on the playoffs.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Going to go with the Chicago Blackhawks here. They lost Hossa, Hjalmarsson, Panarin, and Darling over the offseason and the returns they got were all downgrades. Yes, they have the remainder of their core intact, but in a tight Central division there’s no room to take a step back, and they did. Some are calling them Stanley Cup contenders? Nope.
Liam Horrobin: This year we will see the fall of the Chicago Blackhawks. Teams in their division improved whilst they got worse. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Colorado Avalanche were the only team below them in the Central once the year is over.
Tyler Yaremchuk: I think the St. Louis Blues may finish lower than some expect. I’m not a huge fan of their depth down the middle, they’re already running into injury problems and Jake Allen can be inconsistent. Also with no Shattenkirk and Bouwmeester out to start the year, their d-core is getting thin. The Central division being as tough as it is doesn’t help either.
Liam Horrobin: In my eyes, Arizona had the best offseason in the NHL. They allowed old aging players to leave and brought in talent that can actually help them compete. My favourite addition was goaltender Anti Raanta. He is a big upgrade on Mike Smith and will be the key to their success. Watch out for the Coyotes challenging in the Pacific Division this year.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Gotta agree with Liam on this one. Arizona brought in Anti Raanta, who I believe is an upgrade on Mike Smith. They also added Stepan, Hjalmarsson, and Demers which gives them a solid group to compliment their young stars. Speaking of their young stars, I’m expecting big things from Keller, Dvorak, and Domi this year.
Liam Horrobin: Now, this one is a bit of dark horse pick but I think Shea Theodore will have a great year with the Golden Knights. Theodore will be racking up the minutes on the Vegas’ top pairing and will likely be quarterbacking the powerplay. He’s been a solid offensive defenceman everywhere he’s been, however, he was unable to blossom with the Ducks due to the amount of defenceman. That will all change now that he’s with the Knights.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Oscar Klefbom. I know he’s coming off a good season, and those around the Oilers recognize how good he is, but I think this is the year he blows up. I’ve been looking into his numbers and in my eyes, he’s already producing like an elite d-man. Expect his point totals, and star status, to rise astronomically.
First big name to be traded
Liam Horrobin: It’s an easy way out but I’ve got to go with Matt Duchene. It has been a story for a while now and you’ve got to think it’ll come to an end soon. The Avs will get a great haul for him, it’s just about finding the perfect match. Maybe the Blue Jackets?
Tyler Yaremchuk: It’ll be Duchene, but I gotta switch things up so I’ll go with Mike Green. The Wings need cap space and if one contending team suffers a blow to their defense *cough* Edmonton *cough* then Ken Holland’s phone line will be ringing.
Stanley Cup Winners:
Liam Horrobin: With all the new faces they’ve brought in, the Dallas Stars are my favorites to lift Lord Stanley. With the addition of Radulov, Hanzel, and Bishop the Stars quickly became the best team in their division. Offensively they’re gifted on every line, on the blue line they’re solid on all three pairing, and between the pipes, Ben Bishop should resolve their goaltending issues. The only team I could see stopping on Stars, in the west, are the Edmonton Oilers.
Tyler Yaremchuk: I hate doing this. But they’re due for a bounce-back year and I’m a big believer in Andrei Vasilevski, so I’m going to say Tampa Bay. Adding Sergachaev helps as well. They also have one of the deepest offensive groups in the league.
Liam Horrobin: If all goes well, Connor McDavid will take home his second straight Hart Trophy. Until teams can figure out how to defend against him, he will likely win this award year after year. The new slashing rule can only benefit his game too.
Tyler Yaremchuk: I think Steven Stamkos is going to return to his elite level form. My projections have him winning the Rocket Richard and being close to a point a game. The injury problems are gone and I think one of the games best goal scorers will thrive with the talent around him and the focus being of Nikita Kucherov. 50 for Stammer and a Hart Trophy to go with it!
Liam Horrobin: Sergei Bobrovsky won it last year, and he’ll do the same this year. The young defense in front of him has only got better which can only benefit his game. He posted the best numbers by a goaltender last season and if he can stay healthy the same thing should happen.
Tyler Yaremchuk: The safety net of Fleury is gone, but Matt Murray has never really cracked under the pressure before, so I say he takes another huge step forward and comes home with the Vezina. Also, a full year of health and Kris Letang should help.
Liam Horrobin: Erik Karlsson is simply the best defenseman in the NHL. Even if he does miss a few games to start the year it shouldn’t make much difference. He’s too much of an elite player not to have another top quality campaign.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Erik Karlsson got robbed last year in my eyes. I think he’s just too dominant, and even if he misses a few weeks, I think he’ll turn in another solid campaign. My second pick would be Victor Hedman, but Karlsson is the favorite for obvious reasons.
Liam Horrobin: Brock Boeser performed well during his nine-game audition at the backend of last season. This year, he’ll be given maximum opportunity to showcase his abilities to the Canucks fans. Out of all the rookies, Boeser stands above all.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Charlie McAvoy is my pick. I thought he played a very solid game in his brief stint with the Bruins during last years postseason and I expect him to pick up where he left off. I believe he’s the successor to Zdeno Chara on that blueline, and this year he’ll be the Calder winner.
Liam Horrobin: Arizona’s new head coach, Rick Tocchet will be this year’s Jack Adams winner. Expectations are mixed for the Coyotes. However, with the improvements they made over the offseason; Tocchet should be able to guide them back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
Tyler Yaremchuk: This award usually just goes to whichever team overachieves the most, but in terms of which coach I think will have the biggest impact on their teams’ success? I’ll go with Ken Hitchcock out in Dallas. If he gets them firing, they could win the West.