CarterHud’s 2021-2022 NHL Predictions

CarterHud’s 2021-2022 NHL Predictions

by October 13, 2021 0 comments

Thank goodness it’s hockey season again! As the game looks to grow under ESPN once more, we will be blessed with a full season for the first time since 2018-2019. That means the time for predictions has returned! So with the season kicking off, let’s go through the divisions to predict the order of events.

Atlantic Division

The defending back-to-back champions, the Lightning, will make the playoffs. But will they take the division? Their Florida rivals are becoming legitimate challengers. The Panthers will get a full season out of top prospect goalie Spencer Knight. With Aaron Ekblad returning from injury, Anton Lundell vying for a regular spot, and Sam Bennett looking to take the next step after a great post-deadline season, Florida can beat Tampa Bay. The Bruins and Maple Leafs are both good again, although injuries could be troubling for them.

The real problem is Montreal, and not having the defending Stanley Cup finalist in the postseason should be a bold decision. But is it? Losing Phillip Danault and Tomas Tatar hurts, but the team at least got some replacements. However, with Shea Weber‘s injury and Carey Price taking time off, the Habs have a hole to dig out of. Ottawa could be a fun team, but not a serious playoff contender. Detroit and Buffalo will engage in a trash-off, which will be sad to see.

Projected Atlantic Standings
  1. Tampa Bay Lightning
  2. Florida Panthers
  3. Toronto Maple Leafs
  4. Boston Bruins*
  5. Montreal Canadiens
  6. Ottawa Senators
  7. Buffalo Sabres
  8. Detroit Red Wings

*  = wild card birth

Metropolitan Division

Not only did the Islanders just make it to the third round of the postseason for the second consecutive season, but they now have captain Anders Lee once again. New York also added vets Zdeno Chara and Zach Parise to help them come playoff time. Their goaltending tandem of Semyon Varlamov (currently on injured reserve) and Ilya Sorokin is strong. The Hurricanes’ goaltending is risky, with veterans Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta looking for bounce-back seasons. Still, this Carolina team is the deepest in the division. The Capitals and the Penguins are on the same page; will their aging cores be able to hold off a total collapse. Washington should be in the clear, but with Sidney Crosby out, and Evgeni Malkin to be sidelined for months, the Penguins are a team that we should not be so sure about.

While their emphasis on grit this offseason was questionable, the Rangers did not dismantle their team enough to not be considered. A full season out of Artemi Panarin, another great year from Adam Fox, and substantial development from K’Andre Miller, Kaapo Kakko, and Alexis Lafreniere will get them where they need to be. A lot of people are picking the Flyers, should they? Carter Hart could easily rebound, but is the rest of the team good enough anyway? The forward core is very bland. Decent, but nothing special. The defense upgraded on the top pair with Ryan Ellis but downgraded with Rasmus Ristolainen below Ellis. Adding Dougie Hamilton will be huge for the Devils, but they were so far apart from the playoffs last year. Sorry to all the Blue Jackets fans out there, but they are not close to the pack.

Projected Metropolitan Standings
  1. Carolina Hurricanes
  2. New York Islanders
  3. Washington Capitals
  4. New York Rangers
  5. Pittsburgh Penguins
  6. New Jersey Devils
  7. Philadelphia Flyers
  8. Columbus Blue Jackets

Central Division

This division has a new team, in case you forgot. Unfortunately, that team is the now-awful Coyotes. No playoffs for them. Everyone else is in contention, one way or another. The Avalanche were a great team last season, and for the most part, the team is the same. Losing Brandon Saad, Joonas Donskoi, and Philipp Grubauer sucks. But rookie Alex Newhook looks good, and Darcy Kuemper was a great addition. The Jets adding Nate Schmidt and Brenden Dillon elevates them from a borderline playoff team with a glaring weakness to a division contender. Adding Saad and Pavel Buchnevich while holding onto Vladimir Tarasenko gives the Blues great forward depth throughout the lineup. Defense is an issue, but the hope is that Colton Parakyo stays healthy. With Tyler Seguin back in the fold, the Stars can upgrade from the team that barely missed last season.

The Wild was led by Kirill Kaprizov last year, and he now has a new contract. This team is strikingly similar to last season. Dropping Nick Bonino and Carson Soucy does not exactly drop them out of the postseason. The Blackhawks and Predators both made some big moves this offseason. Trading Ellis will kill the Predators, leading them into trading Mattias Ekholm and Filip Forsberg at the deadline. Will the additions of Seth Jones and Marc-Andre Fleury propel Chicago into the postseason? Fleury is the real headliner here, as he can fix a mediocre goaltending crew from last season.

Projected Central Standings
  1. Colorado Avalanche
  2. Winnipeg Jets
  3. Minnesota Wild
  4. St. Louis Blues*
  5. Dallas Stars*
  6. Chicago Blackhawks
  7. Nashville Predators
  8. Arizona Coyotes

Pacific Division

The final division is easily the weakest. The only real Cup contender here is Vegas. The Golden Knights lost Fleury, but Robin Lehner can carry that load. Anything but first place would be a massive disappointment for them. The Oilers may not have a defense, but the Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl combo is overpowered. Someone will have to be the surprise team. The Kraken and Flames are extremely average. All three California teams are very, very bad. In steps Vancouver. They are no doubt, the biggest boom-or-bust team in the league. A bounce-back season from Quinn Hughes and Oliver Ekman-Larsson would be monumental. The top-six is very, very strong. Call me crazy, but this might be a third-place team.

Projected Pacific Standings
  1. Vegas Golden Knights
  2. Edmonton Oilers
  3. Vancouver Canucks
  4. Seattle Kraken
  5. Calgary Flames
  6. Los Angeles Kings
  7. Anaheim Ducks
  8. San Jose Sharks

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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