Pittsburgh Repeat? We don't think so! The greatest thing about the NHL is unlike some leagues, ahem NBA, there is a ton of parody to the league. Right now at VegasInsider.com the largest odds for anyone to win the Stanley Cup is 75/1 between 3 teams (Hurricanes, Maple Leafs and Canucks). In the other 3 major sports odds can get as high as 200-1, I have even seen them at 500-1 but thats usually just the Cleveland Browns!
The 2016-17 NHL season sets up to be a great regular season with down to the wire drama for wild card sports and the Presidents Trophy. With just over a month to go until the World Cup of Hockey we look forward to the NHL season with some bold predictions to award winners, conference winners and the 2016-17 NHL Stanley Cup winner! Lets begin:
James Norris Memorial Trophy (Best Defenseman)
Winner: P.K. Subban
Now this may not be BOLD in many minds since he won this trophy in 2012-13 with the Canadiens but I think many of us can agree that was not warranted considering he has very mediocre stats and the Canadiens got spanked by the Senators in the 1st round of the playoffs. The Montreal Canadiens did him a favor by trading him to the Nashville Predators. The Canadiens are heading in the complete opposite direction that the Preds are and with the success Nashville has had in the defense over the last couple of seasons and what I will call a very mediocre career will blossom into finally a career year for P.K. He has only reached 60 points once, and is averaging 10+ goals a game in his 1st full 6 seasons with some minor injuries during those years he still hasn't performed where he should be. He is a 25+ goal scorer. He gains most of his points in the assists but with the addition of Josi on his line this year his scoring chances should go up and the Predators Power Play which was 10th in the league last year will be at least a top 5 team this upcoming season!
Art Ross Trophy (Points Leader)
Winner: Steven Stamkos
In the 8 seasons that Stamkos has been in the league he has lost more than half the season twice due to injury and just last year missed just about all of the Lightning's playoffs due to injury. Even in 6 full played seasons, in three of them he has over 90 points, which compared to PTS leader totals over the last 10 years is just about where he need to be to make a run at the Art Ross Trophy. The Lightning have keep the entire core of the franchise in tact for the upcoming season (still waiting on Nestorov which will make or break this prediction) and with a healthy and hungry Stamos in the lineup putting up 100 PTS should be attainable. The real question is- Who becomes that guy out of nowhere to start off on a record pace...maybe Benn?
Vezina Trophy (Best Goaltender)
Winner: Jake Allen
In the last 10 years in the NHL the Vezina Trophy winner has averaged 2.084 GAA. While Allen is well above that at 2.34 GAA (a little bit skewed with his 1st season in the league abbreviated) his Save Percentage, Wins, Shutouts, basically every other statistical category has increased.each year. The only thing that has held him back is the fact that he has been plagued by injury and even though there were talks of Elliot winning his spot back, its not going to happen! Allen this season if healthy will post a sub 2.10 GAA with a Save Percentage around .950. on his way to his first (but not last) Vezina Trophy.
Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP)
Winner: Evgeni Malken
Some may say that Malken is the most overrated player in the NHL, we think Malken is the most overshadowed player in the NHL. On a team with Crosby, Kessel, Fluery that also had greats like Lemieux and Jagr its easy to not think of one of the biggest components of the Pittsburgh Penguins.Evgeni Malken has been a recipient of this trophy in the 2011-12 NHL season so this isn't quite that much of a stretch. What will be the stretch is if he can play in enough games to be eligible. It feels like a common theme in our BOLD predictions, but once again we have another player that has been bitten by the injury bug. Malken has only played in over 70 games in an NHL season four times in the 10 years he has been in the league. Three of the four years he played in 70+ games he has scored over 100 points, had 59+ assists and scored 47+ goals. Here is our equations 75+starts= Hart Memorial Trophy.
Now some really BOLD predictions:
Eastern Conference Champions
Winner: New York Islanders
The Islanders took a step in the right direction last year with. Lets start with right off the bat they signed Chimera, what a great offensive weapon to add to the 11th best offense in the NHL. That signing should propel them into the top 10 this year. In the past decade the thing that has kept the Islanders mostly in a position to win a Conference Championship has been their defense and goaltending, and shocker, Halak was out 28 games last year with injury including the entire playoffs, who knows maybe with Halak in goal they beat Tampa.....and with a 4-1 record over the Pens in the last 2 years....maybe just maybe this happens last year. However, it did not, but we love them representing the East in the Stanley Cup Final this upcoming season!
Western Conferene Champions
Winner: St. Louis Blues
We first want to say that like the Islanders pick the key to success in winning a Conference Championship, or even a Stanley Cup at that matter is goaltending. With our Vezina Trophy winner pick with Allen this can't come to as a shock, but it is an interesting pick as the West is very deep and last year we saw the emergence of some new teams like Dallas and Nashville. The Blues offense was the one thing that needs improvement if they are wanting to win the West, but additions like Perron (staying healthy), the resigning of Schwartz (staying healthy) and getting rid of and overrated Backes (Boston) will help what was a very bad 5v5 team. Don't get us wrong, the Power Play was great, actually 6th in the NHL but after teams figured out that penalties were not a good thing to take against the Blues it was all over! Look for a great core to come back with a much improved offense and stellar goaltending (even when Allen is out, Hutton is great too.) to take the West!
Stanley Cup Champions
Winner: St Louis Blues
Two Words- Jake Allen.