NHL 2018-2019 Team Predictions

This past season we have seen a remarkable shake up of team standings. Seven teams that were in the playoffs at the end of the 16-17 season missed the playoffs in the 17-18 season. In the East the Flyers, Devils, and Lightning replaced the Rangers, Canadiens, and Senators. In the West the Jets, Golden Knights, Avalanche, and Kings replaced the Oilers, Flames, Blackhawks, and Blues. Absolutely no one predicted the changes that would happen this last season. Next year's season could prove to be as volatile as this past one. These are my power ranking for the NHL next season.

 

Atlantic Division

1) Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning have an absolutely stacked team. I cannot see them finishing less than second in the Atlantic division. Their forward group is Led by both Stamkos and Kucherov. Stamkos is in his prime and the team Possesses great forward depth. On defense they have Hedman, McDonagh, and Sergachev to lead the team. In net it gets even better. They have a young elite goalie in Vasilevskiy. GM Steve Yzerman has crafted an almost perfect team avoiding cap issues.

2) Toronto Maple Leafs

With the addition Of John Tavares, the Maple Leafs will be an absolute power house in the east. The young offence this team possesses can overpower any defense in the NHL. Their blue line is still not strong enough to be champions, nor is their goaltending. If Sparks can make his impact in the NHL, then I believe the Lightning and the Maple Leafs would be equal in terms of talent.

3) Boston Bruins

The Bruins' have the same team they did last year. McAvoy and Pasternak should be even better than they were this year. Bergeron should still be an elite center, and Marchand will still continue to score goals and annoy everyone who isn't a Bruins fan. The only independent variable is Tuuka Rask. If he has another good season, the bruins will absolutely make it to the second round at the very least.

4) Florida Panthers

I like what the panthers have. Their offence has a lot of Elite talent. Barkov is one of those guys that just has remarkable talent. He can play at both ends of the ice, and is one of the most underrated centers in the NHL. Followed up by Trocheck, Huberdeau, and now the addition of Hoffman. Defensively If Ekblad can stay healthy, this team will make the playoffs this season.

5) Buffalo Sabres

From the bottom to the middle. The Sabres have made many changes to their core that will place them right outside of the playoffs this season. Rasmus Dahlin immediately makes their blue line stronger. With the prospect Guhle and the addition Of Hunwick, Buffalo's defense almost doubles in strength and depth. Up front if Eichel can play 82 games he will be a point per game player. Mittlestadt will play his first full season with the sabers, and can be a 70 plus point forward. With the addition of Sheary, Sobotka, and Berglund the forward depth is now there. The big question for Buffalo is goaltending. The goaltending this season will determine if they're 4th in the Atlantic or 6th.

6) Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings absolutely killed it in the draft this year. Somehow Zadina Fell to 6th and the Wings snagged Veleno too. I believe that these two will be elite players in the NHL. Zetterberg doesn't have much time left in the NHL, and besides Larkin and Nyquist the Red Wings don't have too much to look forward to this season. Almost everyone I know likes the Red Wings so, it's hard to see them go through a rebuild. They had a great draft this year, and they will have to continue building a new team through the draft.

7) Montreal Canadiens

Montreal is a mess this year. Bergeron makes very questionable decisions and his position is surely being evaluated. The Canadiens still need centers and there is no immediate answer for this. I don't agree with the Canadiens passing on Zadina, but I understand that they are rebuilding through the draft. Weber and Price has health issues that may affect their quality of play in the future. The Canadiens should trade for picks, and do a total rebuild. I don't think there's any way the Canadiens can prolong this.  

8) Ottawa Senators

"Tire fire". Everything that could go wrong in Ottawa is going wrong. They should move Karlsson while his value is through the roof. After almost going to the Stanley Cup Final two years ago, the team has completely fallen apart. Like Montreal the Senators need to sell what they can and build through the draft. They should start building a team around Brady tkachuk.

 

Metropolitan Division

1) Washington Capitals

The defending Cup champions will be a threat next year. With no signs of slowing down, the capitals could collect another Cup before Ovechkin is out of the picture. The capitals have great forward depth Led by Ovi, Backstrom, and Kuznetsov. Carlson can lead the defensive core, and will be there forever. Holtby is outstanding, and can lead the Capitals to another Cup appearance. The Capitals are just getting started.

2) Pittsburg Penguins

As long as Crosby and Malkin are still kicking, the Penguins will always be contenders. Along with Matt Murray in net, they will be in the playoffs for years to come. The Blue line is the only thing that need improvement. The Blue line that is led By Letang will be the Achilles heel of this team.

3) Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers showed us quite a lot last season. The forward core Led by Giroux is very powerful, and has a lot of depth. Gostisbehere will be a stud next year on defense and has a solid top 4 to play with. The Flyers should make the playoffs next year. The only crutch on the team is goaltending. If the flyers find a number one goalie they will be golden.

4) New Jersey Devils

The devils have a good young team. Taylor Hall was the MVP of the league last year and shows no sign of slowing down. He is such a hardworking elite player who can lead this team to a cup in the future. They have decent forward depth, and good defensive depth.  As long as the goaltending holds up, the devils should make the playoffs.

5) Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets are a question mark for me. They have extremely good defense led by Werenski and Jones. They also have two elite Goaltenders. If anything were to happen to Bobrovsky, Korpisolo can step up and take over the net. However, Panarin is having his doubts about being a Blue Jacket and I don't know how stable the team is. I can see them finishing 3rd in the division, but I can also see them dropping out of the playoffs. Columbus is a hard team to judge.

6) Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina could have an incredible bounce back season. With the addition of Hamilton, Ferland, and Fox the Hurricanes could make the playoffs this season. They have good forward stars like Aho and Skinner. The Hurricanes have a depth problem on defense, and not so good goaltending. The stars on the roster will need to carry the team.

7) New York Islanders

After losing Tavares the Islanders do get worse. Everyone who played on His line will have reduced points. Barzal will be able to lead this team to a cup. He has incredible skill, but the Islanders need more depth. In Goal the islanders upgraded to Robin Lehner, but I still don't think that is good enough. On defense I can't name any stand out players. In the draft this year the Islanders made out like bandits getting both Wahlstrom and Dobson. I think the Islanders need more key players before they make a playoff run.

8) New York Ranger

The Rangers are officially doing a rebuild. The next few years will be tough for Rangers fans. Lundquist is past his prime, and they traded away a lot of key players. The Ranges will have to draft intelligently to build another Cup winning team.

 

Central Division

1) Winnipeg Jets

The Jets have an incredibly talented team. The Jets are much like the Maple Leafs. They have an incredible young offense. This team can only get better with time. Scheifele, Laine, and Wheeler lead their awesome offensive core. They're defense is above average, but this team isn't about defense. They also have a star-studded young Goalie in Hellebuyck. The Jets could potentially be the best team in the west next year.

2) Nashville Predators

The previous President's Trophy winners will be a dominant team in the west. With a strong defensive and offensive core, the Preds will undoubtable return to the Cup hunt. With players like Subban, Rinne, Rosi, and Forsberg, this team will be a challenge to beat. They have the power to make it all the way back to the finals. If Rinne's age doesn't affect his play, this team will be an absolute powerhouse next year. I project that they will fall a place or two in the standing, but will most likely be the 2nd best team in the Central Division.

3) St. Louis Blues

The Blue will be trouble for every team in the west. Adding Ryan O'Reilly to the team makes them incredible down the middle. With other additions like Perron and Bozak the forward depth goes through the roof. With O'Reilly and their current D, this team will be incredibly hard to score against. Jake Allen should have no trouble holding down the fort in net. Last but certainly not least, Tarasenko is due for a comeback season. He has the potential to have another 50-goal season easily. Don't worry Blues fans, this might be the best season you've had in a long time.

4) Colorado Avalanche

Two years ago, the Avalanche were the worst team in the NHL. With a miraculous comeback season last year, the Avalanche clinched a playoff spot. With Grubauer in net they get even better. The Aves have a lot of energy and a lot of talent on their team. Mackinnon, Landeskog, and Jost will hopefully lead their team back to the playoffs this year. I can see them finishing in a wild card spot.

5) Minnesota Wild

Like Detroit I have never met anyone who dislikes the Wild. They just have that cool factor. If Parise can have a comeback season, and Eric Staal is a beast again this year, this team will make the playoffs. They have solid defense and good goaltending. If, however the players on this team perform just average, I think they may drop a few spots on this list.

6) Dallas Stars

The Dallas stars have a lot going for them. If the Stars can get Karlsson from the Senators, the team will immediately make the playoffs. Could you imagine Karlsson, Klingberg, and Heiskanen on one team. Up front Benn and Seguin could carry this team to the playoffs. Seguin has not reached his potential yet, and is capable of a 100-point season. If the stars can land Karlsson, I would immediately put them in front of Colorado, and possibly even St. Louis.

7) Chicago Blackhawks

Oh how the salary cap has affected this team. The Blackhawks severely underperformed last year due to Crawfords injury. This team has an incredible first Line of Kane, Toews, and Saad. After that however the offense really drops off. Their best blue liners are aging, and can no longer fight for Norris trophies. With Cam Ward this team can have a bounce back year, but not enough to make the playoffs this year. At best I can see the Blackhawks finishing 5th in this division.

 

Pacific Division

1) San Jose Sharks

The sharks have a very well-rounded team. They have a good top 6 up front, led by Pavelski, Kane, and Couture. They have good depth on both offense and defense. Burns is always a stand out defenseman. Martin Jones has proven that he has no trouble holding down the net. The sharks don't have huge stars but they have great depth, and their goaltending, offense, and defense is very solid. If Ryan Merkley can make an impact on this team, in a positive way, the Sharks will continue to be a threat in the Pacific.

2) Anaheim Ducks

Like the Sharks the Ducks are a solid team. They are equipt with good offensive depth and defensive depth. Gibson is a fantastic Goaltender and has many years left to play. The Ducks are a physical and hardworking team who will be able to beat down their opponent. I can't see the Ducks missing the playoffs this year.

3) Los Angeles Kings

I am giving the Kings the benefit of the doubt. The kings are an older and slower team. Kopitar, Doughty, and Quick will have to perform just as good as they did last season. They will have to play a physical game to slow their opponents. Adding Kovalchuk is a huge maybe. I'm positive that he will help the Kings with their goal scoring problem. I'm not sure if he will be worth the 7.5 million dollar cap hit however.

4) Calgary Flames

The Hannifan/Lindholm trade will make the flames a playoff team. They have great Forward talent, led by Gaudreau, Monahan, and Lindholm. Defensively the flames have a good top 4. If the Flames play to their full potential they shouldn't have a problem clinching a playoff spot.

5) Arizona Coyotes

At some point Arizona has to break out of the NHL's basement. They have accumulated so many young prospects. If Strome plays the way he's projected to play, then the Coyotes could make Cup runs in the future. I think this is the year the Coyotes finally breakout. They will most likely place 5th in the division. Adding Galchenyuk and resigning Ekman-Larson really makes Arizona a deadly team. Watch out for the coyotes this season.

6) Vegas Golden Knights

I'm not sure what to think about the knights. They had a miracle season last year, and their luck ran out in the Cup final. The team rallied around many things last year and proved to everyone that they are important players. Now that they don't have to prove anyone wrong anymore I feel that Vegas won't have the magic, confidence, and luck that they had this past season. Can Karlson repeat his 40-goal season? Can Fleury play like a hall of fame goaltender again? I predict they will drop in the standing quite a bit this season.

7) Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks have some high elite talent on their team. I don't think they are ready to make a playoff push yet, but Boeser is one of the best snipers in the league. Elias Petterson is an Offensive wizard. Playing together, both of them could amass 100 points each. If Demko can get into the lineup, and perform like an elite goaltender, the Canucks will have a lot to look forward to in the future. I still think the team needs to add a few more key players, but they are definitely on their way.

8) Edmonton Oilers

Edmonton needs to get it together. The NHL has given them 4 of the last 7 1st overall picks. Edmonton need to just stop trading people away and start playing like winners. McDavid is the most talented player in the NHL. They have some good defensive depth, and forwards with elite potential. Hopefully Edmonton has a bounce back season and gets back into the playoffs. Currently, the way they are playing, I have them finishing at the bottom of the Western Conference.

Mitch KozlowskiComment