As a new NHL season opens, predictions from all over the internet emerge. Do many people remember who predicted what? No. Do people get prizes for rightfully predicting the outcome of the season or penalized for being completely off? Never. But this is what makes the birth of a brand new season fun. Here’s who the experts like and dislike for the 2016-2017 NHL season.
We’ll start with NHL.com, where a group of 20 people including NHL Network analysts, NHL.com columnists, correspondents, editors, and staff writers picked Stanley Cup winners. The majority of these NHL media members overwhelmingly chose the Tampa Bay Lightning. Eleven members of this panel selected the Lightning to win the 2017 Stanley Cup. The Lightning blew out every other team, as the teams with the next most selections are the Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings, and Washington Capitals with two. The Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, and San Jose Sharks rounded out the panel with one selection.
The Lightning obviously had the most Stanley Cup appearances with 12 total, with the Predators coming in next with six. The Penguins and Blackhawks were picked by four panelists to play in Stanley Cup, with the Kings, Capitals, and Blues rounding out the panel with three selections.
Two more outlets also pick the Tampa Bay Lightning to hoist the Stanley Cup, TSN and NESN. In his 31 Bold Predictions For 2016-2017 season, Frank Seravalli of TSN picked the Lightning to win it all. He writes, “The Tampa Bay Lightning will capture the Stanley Cup sans (without) Ben Bishop. Tampa Bay has knocked on the door each of the last two springs, but will break through this time with a rejuvenated Steven Stamkos, a clutch assassin in Nikita Kucherov, and Bishop’s heir, Andrei Vasilevskiy, who has already proved to be unflappable.”
NESN’s Nicholas Gase has the Lightning beating the Blackhawks as his preseason pick. Gase writes, “Gooch coaching, excellent puck possession (third-best even-strength Corsi percentage in the East last season) and depth at all positions give Tampa Bay an edge over its conference opponents.”
They may not be a popular pick with the analysts and writers, but the Canadiens have virtual reality on their side. In EA Sports’ NHL 17 season simulation, the Nashville Predators beat the Habs in the Stanley Cup Finals. EA Sports has been putting out predictions for its Madden franchise for the past 12 years, correctly picking the Super Bowl winner a remarkable 75 per cent of the time. The video game correctly chose the San Jose Sharks to represent the Western Conference last season, but incorrectly chose the Washington Capitals to win it all. The Capitals won the Presidents’ Trophy, so the video game wasn’t that far off.
Yahoo has also put out a list of bold predictions. The website has the New York Rangers missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2009-2010 season, along with the Detroit Red Wings snapping their 25-year playoff streak. Continuing the popular trend, Yahoo has the Lightning trading goalie Ben Bishop, with the Dallas Stars as a possible trade partner. They also have Sidney Crosby beating out Patrick Kane in the scoring race, as Sid the Kid leads the Penguins to the Presidents’ Trophy.
The Tampa Bay Lightning seem to be the hands down favorite to win the Stanley Cup this year. There are a few other teams to look out for, as well as some under the radar teams. The pressure is also on the usual suspects such as the Penguins, Blackhawks, and Capitals. It should be a very fun and exciting season, as there are many teams who have their eye on the prize this season.