Five Bold Predictions for the 2015-2016 NHL Season
The NHL season starts tonight, and each year something happens that makes all of us scratch our heads. Whether it’s a trade, firing, or odd standings movement, the league will look different than it did last year, just as last year looked different than two years ago. Some of the items on this list are much bolder than others – but here are five predictions for the upcoming hockey season.
1. Both Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn finish top-five in Art Ross scoring
Benn won the Art Ross last year on the last day of the season, and will likely pick up the same pace. Seguin led the league in points for a short period before he got hurt, and he and Benn established themselves as one of the best duos in the league. The three on three overtime will also benefit this pair as whether they’re with John Klingberg or Jason Spezza, there will be goals. Lots of them.
2. Claude Julien will be fired by January 1st
Claude Julien’s future looked bleak this summer but he managed to survive by a thread. The poor Bruins play that is possible this season is more of a direct result of Don Sweeney’s overhaul of the roster, but Julien will be the first (or last, however you want to look at it) to go. Julien has been in Boston since 2007 and will have no trouble finding another job.
3. The Winnipeg Jets will finish in 24th or below
The Winnipeg faithful had their first taste of the new-era Jets in the playoffs last year, but that trend will be a tough one to continue. Ondrej Pavelec will have to be rock solid again because the Jets roster remained essentially unchanged despite young kids Nik Ehlers and Nic Petan making the squad. Also, the Jets are in a position to deal Dustin Byfuglien, and if they don’t do it before the trade deadline, no contender will want to part way with a roster player in a deal. They’re in a tough spot in a good conference.
4. Eric Staal will remain a Hurricane, Cam Ward will not
There have been a lot of rumors regarding these two players over the past two years but nothing has come into fruition. Ron Francis has been aggressive in his tenure as Hurricanes GM already and that won’t stop this year. That being said, I believe they will keep Eric Staal on a two or three year deal past this season but trade Cam Ward mid-season when a goalie injury happens for another team.
5. St. Louis cleans house
This one won’t necessarily happen during the season. If the Blues falter in the playoffs again, it could be the last straw. Ken Hitchcock is already on the hot seat and would undoubtedly be axed. Doug Armstrong isn’t sitting too comfortably either. The upside for the Blues is that they have a lot of nice core players like Tarasenko and Pieterangelo to build around. We’ll see where this year takes them.