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MHH Roundtable: Bold Predictions

Come find out how right, or wrong, we will be.

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Seattle Kraken v Colorado Avalanche - Game Seven Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

It’s that time of year to place our bets on how we see the upcoming 2023-24 season unfolding. If anyone has heard our Mile High Hockey Lab podcast you might be familiar with our favorite segment — Bold Predictions! Here we are taking that to written form and putting our calls in writing.

Colorado Avalanche player predictions

Jackie: Ross Colton will spend at least half the season in the top six, either due to injuries or to find line chemistry and will be the most impactful new addition.

Logan O’Connor will spend the majority of at least one game on Nathan MacKinnon’s wing.

Ezra: Jonathan Drouin racks up 50+ assists but barely scores any goals.

Luke: Nathan Mackinnon and Mikko Rantanen, on separate lines, outscore Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and capture the Rocket, Hart, and Ted Lindsey awards at the end of the season, with Cale taking home his 2nd Norris and Conn Smythe trophy.

Evan: Miles Wood will put up at least 40 points, being the surprise of the season.

Adrian: Jonathan Drouin will score the first goal of the season for the Colorado Avalanche and Nathan MacKinnon will log 50 goals for the first time in his career.

Jacob: Bowen Byram will get Norris Trophy votes this year.

Casey: Alexandar Georgiev will be a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. He’s entering his second full season as the Avalanche netminder and posted arguably a top 5 Goalie season in the NHL last season. I think behind a healthy team and a sturdy defensive system, the Avs have an absolute stud between the pipes.

Colorado Avalanche team predictions

Ezra: After a slow start, the boys rally to win the Central and finish second in the West.

Luke: Similar to what Ezra said, but after the 30-game mark, the Avalanche just starts rolling and the train continues all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. They finish top of the Central, top of the West, and 2nd overall to New Jersey.

Evan: The Avalanche finish second in the Central Division, missing out on the top of the division for the first time since 2021.

Jackie: Colorado finishes top 5 in man games lost again but still win the Central division.

Mikko Rantanen will lead the team in points and finish top 10 in the league.

Adrian: The Avalanche will reclaim their dominance of the west and finish with the league's best home record. Moreover, they will face the Vegas Golden Knights in the WCF.

Jacob: The Avalanche will win the President’s Trophy for the second time in the last four years.

Casey: After consecutive seasons as the 28th ranked faceoff team in the league (47.3% in 21-22, 46.7% in 22-23), the additions of Ryan Johansen and Ross Colton will help shoot the Avs back up into the top 10 in team faceoff percentage. Maybe this is the offseason Nathan MacKinnon finally trained in the dot with Sidney Crosby? One can dream.

NHL player and team predictions

Ezra: Buffalo finishes second in the Atlantic behind only Toronto due in part to a point-per-game season from Dylan Cozens.

LA wins the Pacific Division but loses to Winnipeg in the first round because Phoenix Copley is not Connor Hellebuyck.

Jackie: Alex Newhook will score more points than Drouin and Montreal grabs a wild card spot in the playoffs.

Edmonton misses out on the playoffs but Ken Holland still has a job.

Luke: I think the NHL is a good spot. They had 11 players, including Erik Karlsson, break the 100-point barrier. I think this year will be the highest-scoring season we have seen since the 80s, with 20 players including 3 defensemen breaking the 100-point barrier.

I think the East is going to have a fun close race all year with Buffalo, Ottawa, and Columbus making the playoffs. With that comes the teams who I think will fall out and that one team that no one expects to miss, sorry Boston, Carolina, and Florida.

In the West, I don’t really see any major changes from last year. The Central division is pretty cut and dry. Colorado, Dallas, and Minny are the 1-2-3 teams. with everyone else except Chicago making it interesting. The Pacific Division is going to be the division where the biggest question mark in the West comes from. Every team has big question marks somewhere. I think it will end up with Vegas, Edmonton, and Seattle on top with L.A. in a wildcard spot.

Evan: The bloodbath continues out East, but Buffalo and the Islanders slip under the radar to make it at least to the second round of the playoffs. As for players, I think Erik Karlsson will struggle in Pittsburgh, with all of the veterans struggling to put it together and missing the playoffs for the second year in a row.

Adrian: The Buffalo Sabres will eliminate the Toronto Maple Leafs from the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the race for the Rocket Richard will end as follows:

1. Connor McDavid
2. Nathan MacKinnon
3. Tage Thompson
4. David Pastranak
5. Auston Matthews

Jacob: It’s Connor McDavid’s world and we’re just living in it. He might find a way to win the Norris this year for all we know. Give him all the trophies.

Carolina is going to be the trendiest Stanley Cup pick this year (The Athletic’s way too early predictions had 45% of their staff pick the Canes!), thanks to their Eastern Conference Finals appearance, their deep and talented young roster and their oodles of cap space that you could park a Connor Hellebuyck-sized truck in. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years of sports watching, it’s that the “trendy” pick rarely wins. Carolina will probably be a better team this year, but so long as they play in the beast of the East, they’ll be vulnerable against anyone in any round. Ruining the bracket of pundits around the world, their season will still end in the Eastern Conference Final again, this time to a resurgent Pittsburgh Penguins squad making one last run for Sid.

In the West, chalk will reign supreme, as Vegas and Edmonton will meet again after last year’s six-game thriller, while the Avs will survive the first round to face another trendy cup pick in Dallas. The (Canadian) networks will get their wish as the all-world centers will lead their teams to victory, setting up a rematch of the 2022 Western Conference Final with a similar result. The Avs won’t sweep Edmonton this time, but they will survive them, setting up a Stanley Cup Final between mentor and protégé. Nathan Mackinnon will prove yet again that father time is undefeated, and the Avalanche will win a classic Final to begin to make good on all the dynasty talk being thrown around Ball Arena these days.

Casey: The Tampa Bay Lightning will return to the top of the Atlantic Division after the all-in push that came out of that division from the likes of themselves, Toronto, Boston, and Florida. I think a full offseason to rest will do a semi-aging core wonders, and I’m just not confident in the other top teams of that division.

I also think that after the Brandon Hagel 8x$6.5 million extension pushed the Bolts right back up against the cap, with Steven Stamkos a 33-year old pending UFA at seasons end, this will be the final season of Stamkos in Tampa Bay. The salary cap expected jump next summer on top of Stamkos’ expiring deal, and I think the smartest thing for GM Julien Brisebois to do with a loaded UFA market would be to use that excess cap space to restore the depleted depth of Tampa’s roster. The salary cap hell they put themselves into has finally caught up to them in past years, losing the likes of Yanni Gourde (SEA), Ondrej Palat (NJD), Ryan McDonagh (NSH), Alex Killorn (ANA), and of course Ross Colton (COL) all going out the door in past years due to the cap. While Tampa still has a core of Victor Hedman, Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, and Andrei Vasilevskiy locked up, they should be looking to contend for a Stanley Cup every single season.