Tha Sports Junkies 101

15 Bold Predictions for the 2016-17 NHL Season

Travis via


Before the NHL 2016-17 regular season officially kicks off, here are 15 bold predictions on how the season will play out:

15. We will not see any improvement in Columbus. 

Whether its wondering if Sergei Bobrovsky can finally stay healthy or if any of their young players can actually reach their potential, this Blue Jackets team is full of question marks. Add in the fact they have one of the worst coaches behind the bench in John Tortorella, who I expect to be fired at some point this season, most likely after he makes a joke of himself, this team will most likely sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference for another season.

14. The Oilers young guns finally show up. 

Having a top pick in the draft will finally pay off. With Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov finding new homes this offseason, the Oilers will put pressure on new captain Connor McDavid and first round pick Jesse Puljujarvi to produce offensively. And they will. This might not be a playoff team in the competitive Western Conference, but the future looks bright in Edmonton.

13. We see a big name goaltender get traded at the deadline.

Most likely either Ben Bishop or Marc Andre Fleury. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins both have great goaltending duos. And while having two top goaltenders is never a bad thing, one will most likely have to be moved in a trade, especially if its the veteran that becomes the backup. Bishop and Fleury would be attractive additions to a number of teams, and watching these goaltender battles early will give us an indication on who gets moved.

12. The Bruins finally realize they don’t have the horses anymore.

Since losing the Stanley Cup in 2013, the Bruins have surprisingly fallen apart. They fired their GM in an attempt to save this team, but its time to rebuild. Their current core just isn’t getting it done, and with captain Zdeno Chara on his last legs, its time to rebuild this Bruins team.

11. The Blackhawks remain one of the leagues top teams. 

The salary cap has punished Chicago for building such a good team. In just the last two years alone, the Hawks have lost Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw, Andrew Ladd, Trevor Daley, Teuvo Teravainen, Bryan Bickell, etc. But the core is still in tact and the Blackhawks have gotten younger and faster. It might not show right away, but expect Chicago to be right up there with the top teams in the league come April.

10. The Blues barely make the playoffs in Hitchcock’s last season. 

The Blues have a new look this season, with veterans like David Backes, Troy Brouwer, and goaltender Brian Elliot all leaving this offseason. They have some very young and skilled players still on the team, but I question whether they are ready to take the next step. They are still talented enough to just make it into the playoffs, but don’t expect a Stanley Cup championship in St. Louis this season.

9. The Maple Leafs give their fans hope, but still miss the playoffs.

The Leafs are almost here, just not this season. Top pick Auston Matthews likely wins the Calder Trophy as the top rookie, and I would expect many of their younger players to have big seasons as well. They seem to have finally added a goaltender in Fredrik Anderson, and behind Mike Babcock we should see huge improvement in this Leafs team.

8. The Ducks make the playoffs, but questions about their core arise again. 

The Anaheim Ducks are a good team, and under new, or old, head coach Randy Carlyle its hard to keep them from missing the playoffs. But I expect fans and media to question whether Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry should be leading this team anymore. Both struggled to get going last season, and another year without a Stanley Cup appearance could spell the end of the road for the teams top forwards.

7. The New York Rangers miss the playoffs. 

It sounds a lot more bold than it is. The Rangers have a horrible defense, giving no help to their star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who will have one of the worst seasons of his career. With nothing special on offense, I don’t expect to see this team go anywhere.

6. Carey Price will win the Vezina and lead the Canadians back to the playoffs. 

Carey Price when healthy is the best goaltender in the league. The key is when healthy, which he wasn’t last season. Despite him missing the first game of the season because of illness, I fully expect Price to come back at 100 percent and show the league why he is the best. Add in some nice additions to the Canadians offensively, and one of the top defenders in the league in Shea Weber, watch for the Canadians to be a threat in the Eastern Conference.

5. The Carolina Hurricanes will make the playoffs.

The Hurricanes haven’t been much of a threat the past couple years, but I would expect that to change. They have one of the youngest bluelines in the game and some very skilled forwards that should give them a boost into the playoffs. Goaltending could become an issue, so a trade for one of the goalies mentioned earlier could be needed to make this prediction a reality.

4. The Dallas Stars will miss the playoffs without adding a goaltender. 

The Stars have one of the best offenses in the NHL, but their defense and goaltending is far below average. Despite having one of the highest paid goaltending duos, neither has solidified themselves as a number 1 goaltender. If they want to be a threat in the stacked central division, they will need to add a goaltender in a trade.

3. The Washington Capitals will repeat as the top team in the league.

The Capitals have one of the most lethal offenses in the NHL, led by stars Alex Ovechkin, Niklas Backstrom, and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Their defense is nothing to brag about, but combined with star goaltender Braden Holtby it causes problems to even the top teams in the league.

2. The Pittsburgh Penguins will not repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. 

The Penguins have a lot of big name players across the board, and showed that they are a threat by winning the Stanley Cup last season. But the Blackhawks and Kings showed us that even if you have the best team in the league, its very hard to repeat. The Penguins will pose a threat and are likely to make it deep in the playoffs, but someone else will be lifting the Stanley Cup in June.

1. The Nashville Predators will make the playoffs, but won’t go anywhere.

The Predators made one of the most shocking moves of the offseason, trading long time Predator and captain Shea Weber to the Canadians for P.K. Subban. Subban is one of the best defenseman in the league, and him and Roman Josi will form one of the most formidable pairings in the league. But the difference between Weber and Subban isn’t a very  huge one, and it will take more to take down the top teams in the Western Conference.