2017-2018 NHL Standings Prediction
Honestly, I am dreading writing this because there is no good way to do it. People are going to get mad regardless, so that isn’t a factor. However, what is a factor is that the NHL has so little parity now that the standings are near impossible to predict.
Anyways, I am going to give it my best shot and try to explain myself in the most rational manner. Here goes nothing.
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- Washington Capitals
- Pittsburgh Penguins
- New York Rangers (Wildcard #1)
- New York Islanders (Wildcard #2)
- Carolina Hurricanes
- Philadelphia Flyers
- New Jersey Devils
The Metro is hell on Earth for any team residing in it. There are three dominant teams, four really good teams, and one team that is rapidly improving. Essentially, there is a lot of wiggle room for teams to move up and down.
To break it down, we’ll start at the top. Columbus proved how good they can be last season and they are a fairly safe bet to remain up top this season. Sergei Bobrovsky’s health could go south again and that would sink them way down, but he seems to be on a safe track. Also, they do not necessarily have a number one center. The team is deep though. That gets them the nod.
For Washington, they lost a lot of pieces, but they remain very, very good. If young players like Jakub Vrana and Christian Djoos can come in and amicably fill in the holes that exist, the Capitals will be in good shape. It’s not out of the question for them to win another division title.
For the Penguins, they do not have that great one-two punch in net anymore. But, they are still the Penguins. I think a division title may be out of reach, but all bets are off in the playoffs as we know.
The Rangers and Islanders are two teams that should be primed to have better years. The Rangers partially overhauled their defense, and both teams have young rookies coming in to energize the team (Andersson/Chytil for the Rangers and Barzal/Ho-Sang for the Islanders). There may be scoffs at the prediction that these two teams will get the wildcard positions, but I think they are both due for good years.
That being said, it pains me to exclude the Hurricanes from the picture. They are an exponentially improving team and are on the right track for the future. But, with the Metropolitan Division the way that it is, the Hurricanes might be one more year away.
The Flyers have a good core, but I do not trust the tandem of Michal Neuvirth and Brian Elliott. Furthermore, Hakstol and Hextall need to place more faith in the kids of the organization. That’s the way they need to go but haven’t.
The Devils got way better this offseason, but they are still the worst team in the division.
- Tampa Bay Lightning
- Toronto Maple Leafs
- Ottawa Senators
- Montreal Candiens
- Boston Bruins
- Buffalo Sabres
- Florida Panthers
- Detroit Red Wings
The Atlantic Division doesn’t make things much easier.
Starting at the top, I’m just going to say one thing about Tampa Bay: I, along with everyone else, pick them to be at the top of the division each year. It has to happen sometime, and I think that this is he year that it actually happens. Steven Stamkos staying healthy would be a good start.
After the Lightning, the Maple Leafs and Senators fall into place. Both teams had great showings last year and both should be primed to repeat them. The Senators need to get over the hump of not having Erik Karlsson and Colin White at the start of the season, though.
As for Montreal and Boston, I don’t see them making the playoffs. Montreal’s team is absolutely abysmal in front of Carey Price (although the offense has improved). Boston is just stuck in limbo between young and old in a very good conference. People are going to be upset with these two, but someone has to miss.
Buffalo and Florida are just kind of floating. Neither is good enough to make the playoffs, but neither will be a basement dweller either. So here we are.
Detroit is the weakest team in the division. It’s time for Ken Holland to suck it up and go for a rebuild, or the team needs to fire Holland and find someone that will.
- Minnesota Wild
- Dallas Stars
- Chicago Blackhawks
- St. Louis Blues (Wildcard #1)
- Nashville Predators (Wildcard #2)
- Winnipeg Jets
- Colorado Avalanche
Regarding the way it is set up, the Central is eerily similar to the Metropolitan. Granted, they do not have as many sure-fire dominant teams.
I have the Wild winning the division. I think that they will be the most consistent throughout the regular season. The playoffs, however, will be a different animal for them. The latter point is the case for almost every team in the Central Division, though.
The Stars got a lot better and they should be primed for a good year. Their defense gets a lot of slack, but the goaltending there was atrocious last year. Ben Bishop will rectify that.
The Blackhawks brought back some old players to try to re-kindle old magic. I’m skeptical about the moves, but the Blakchawks usually find a way regardless to hit the postseason.
The Blues and Predators both got worse this offseason, but both could still be playoff teams. As we saw last season, the last team to make the playoffs is able to do some serious damage.
The Jets, much like the Hurricanes, are right on the cusp. They need a true #1 goalie and a few more depth pieces until they are cruising.
The Avalanche are going to be terrible, but hopefully for them, they will not be as terrible as they were last year.
- Edmonton Oilers
- Calgary Flames
- Anaheim Ducks
- San Jose Sharks
- Arizona Coyotes
- Los Angeles Kings
- Vancouver Canucks
- Vegas Golden Knights
At the top, Connor McDavid and Cam Talbot alone present a solid argument for the Oilers. Regardless, the Pacific is not as strong as the other divisions so that can be taken with a grain of salt.
The Flames got massively better this offseason and now feature one of, if not the, best defensive core(s) in the league. They will be an interesting team to keep an eye on this year. Mike Smith needs to step up big time, though.
The Ducks have a great tandem in net, but injuries across the board remain a concern. The defense remains quality, but the offense is not getting any younger. It’s a weird mix there.
After that, I think that the Sharks do in fact miss the playoffs. Much like the Canadiens, this is a risky pick. But I think that the Flames got that much better. I could definitely see San Jose squeaking in past Nashville though.
Arizona got a lot better and will be a fun team to watch this year. They need time to develop, though.
The Kings and Canucks still need to get better if they want to crack the playoff picture. As for Vegas, it is a long road ahead, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
That’s what I have. If you want to send me your predictions, I will be very eager to see them. Just keep in mind: the only thing that is certain in the NHL this year is that nothing is certain.