When heading into the start of a new season - whether it be the NHL or any other sport - it’s fun to make prediction. Whether bold or bland, people will prognosticate how they think the season will unfold. What is a lot less fun is re-visiting those predictions to see just how wrong we all were.
We’re going to do just that. Back on October 1st, I posted my predictions for the 2019-20 season. While none of us could have predicted the unprecedented way the season would unfold, I have to say, I’m impressed that I wasn’t TOO far off from how the actual on-ice season played out.
Below are my predictions (the original post is here for accountability purposes), let’s see how they went:
With the 2019-20 NHL season upon us, it’s time for the obligatory predictions. For the first time in a while, the Colorado Avalanche are being seen as a legitimate contender by many around the hockey world. They’re a young team led by a superstar, with a supporting cast that is significantly deeper than last season. That said, the Avalanche are going into the season with an unproven goalie tandem and a division that could be the most competitive in the league.
Will the Avs take that next step into the top-three in the division, or are they going to be fighting tooth and nail to grab a Wild Card spot like the previous two seasons? Winnipeg is likely to take a step back, but the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars both look improved going into the season and of course there are the defending Stanley Cup Champions lurking in Central.
With a ton of league-wide roster movement over the summer, this promises to be an incredibly exciting season both in Denver and around the NHL. Now let’s get to the predictions:
*the number in brackets is where the team actually finished in the division
- Dallas (3)
- St. Louis (1)
- Colorado (2)
- Nashville (5)
- Winnipeg (4)
- Chicago (7)
- Minnesota (6)
Bump Dallas down two and I got the top-three playoff spots correct. Also, if we’re going on point percentage, Winnipeg jumps over the Preds in the actual standings, so that top-five was pretty good. Predicting Chicago and Minny to be really bad wasn’t hard.
- Vegas (1)
- Calgary (3)
- Edmonton (2)
- Arizona (5)
- Vancouver (4)
- San Jose (8)
- Anaheim (6)
- Los Angeles (7)
Wild Card: Vancouver & Arizona
Again, the top three here are bang on - just in the wrong order. Vegas is on top of the Pacific while the Alberta teams did finish second and third, just in a different order. I was higher on the Arizona Coyotes than I should have been. In a traditional 16-team playoff, the Coyotes would be on the outside looking in as the Canucks and Jets would have grabbed the Western Conference wild card spots.
- Washington (1)
- Carolina (4)
- Philadelphia (2)
- Pittsburgh (3)
- NY Rangers (7)
- Columbus (5)
- New Jersey (8)
- NY Islanders (6)
In the Metro, I got the top-four correct but gave a little too much credit to the Carolina Hurricanes. The Caps are again the number one seed and if we see a playoffs, they’re going to be hard to knock off. This entire division was very impressive this season - except for the Devils who finished a full 11 points behind the 7th place team thanks to some really poor goaltending.
- Tampa Bay (2)
- Toronto (3)
- Boston (1)
- Florida (4)
- Buffalo (6)
- Montreal (5)
- Ottawa (7)
- Detroit (8)
Wild Cards: Florida & Pittsburgh
Once again, I was correct about the top-four but really thought this would be the year the Bruins started to show their age. One of these days, Boston is going to fall off - it wasn’t this season. The Bruins spent most of the season as the best team in the NHL and have to be the favorites for the Stanley Cup.
Hart Trophy: Nathan MacKinnon (runner up: Artemi Panarin)
These two should definitely be among the three finalists for the award and they are the two most deserving of it. I suspect both will be robbed by Leon Draisaitl since voters still have trouble understanding there’s much more to evaluation an MVP than checking the point totals.
Art Ross Trophy: Nathan MacKinnon (runner up: Connor McDavid)
MacKinnon finished second in league scoring while Connor McDavid was second behind his teammate Draisaitl. Who knows how high MacK’s point total could have been if he hadn’t played most of the season without his usual linemates.
Richard Trophy: Auston Matthews (runner up: Alex Ovechkin)
Alex Ovechkin finished tied with David Pastrnak with 48 goals but he wins the award because he played two fewer games. Auston Matthews finished only one goal behind them while leading the league with 35 even-strength goals.
Norris Trophy: Roman Josi (runner up: John Klingberg)
I was way off with Klingberg, he had an off year (for him). Josi could still win this award, he’ll be among the finalists but the Norris will likely go to John Carlson because again...points.
Calder Trophy: Cale Makar (runner up: Quinn Hughes)
One of these two is going to win the award and it’s likely to be a very close vote. Really, both are deserving.
Vezina Trophy: Ben Bishop (runner up: Sergei Bobrovsky)
Bobrovsky was a terrible pick - he was bad and Florida is going to be praying for a compliance buyout to get out from under that horrendous contract. Bishop could be in the final three. He had a decent year but the award will likely go to Tuukka Rask or Connor Hellebuyck.
Jack Adams Award: Joel Quenneville (runner up: Dave Tippett)
I think Jared Bednar deserves this award. What he did with the Avs was tremendous. He took one of the most injured teams in the league and put them in a realistic position to win the conference. Mike Sullivan in Pittsburgh is another strong candidate.
Selke Trophy: Sean Couturier (runner up: Mark Stone)
Sean Couturier won this during the PHWA’s midseason vote. I think he’ll win it at the end of the season as well.
Lady Byng Trophy: Sean Monahan (runner up: Morgan Rielly)
Nathan MacKinnon and Auston Matthews were the top two vote getters at midseason. They’ll probably be up there in the season-end vote as well. MacKinnon ended with 12 PIMS while Matthews only had eight. Part of that difference though is that Toronto is the team that takes the fewest penalties but also has the fewest called against them. Refs just don’t call penalties in Leafs games.
Ted Lindsey Award: Nathan MacKinnon (runner up: Auston Matthews)
Draisaitl wasn’t the most valuable player but you can make the argument that he was the most ‘Outstanding’, so winning this one makes a lot more sense than winning the Hart. I would vote for either MacKinnon or Panarin, but any of those three are worthy winners.