For a variety of seasons now, the Metropolitan and Central have been the deeper and better of the NHL’s four divisions.
That has intended teams in the Atlantic and Pacific have been picking higher in the entry draft in recent years.
Is that balance of power on the verge of shifting this year? According to my yearly preseason forecasts, the solution is yes — at least to some level.
Some of these predictions — by the divisional standings to the playoff picture into the draft lottery chances — are, admittedly, aggressive in character.
Perhaps that’s the Vegas result or the fact that parity is alive and well in the NHL, with lots of playoff turnover and standings shuffling from 1 season to another.
William Karlsson Golden Knights 2018
(THW file picture )
William Karlsson and the Vegas Golden Knights exceeded all expectations last season whilst fully ruining everyone’s predictions. The slate is wiped clean and we are starting from scratch .
With the exception of a handful of groups, it’s safe to presume 25-plus owners and general managers are entering this year with the expectation of making the playoffs or believing in that potential.
Heck, that amount might be as high as 31. Again, Vegas demonstrated whatever is possible by advancing to the Stanley Cup Final as an expansion franchise.
Granted, that has been a remarkable run of Leicester-level improbability, but it’ll be hard to dispute any predictions from this day forward.
For the record, my preseason forecasts from last year had the Golden Misfits bringing up the rear in the Pacific, not only missing the playoffs but finishing dead last with the greatest odds of winning the Rasmus Dahlin lottery.
Boy, was I ever wrong about these Golden Knights, but so was everybody else who posted their predictions before last season. I can not remember a single published prediction of Vegas producing the playoffs in its inaugural effort.
Come to think of it, my mind is also drawing blanks on any printed predictions from last collapse in favour of Colorado or New Jersey creating the playoffs? Feel free to inform me, but they have been few and far between to be sure. Most had three of those clubs at the lottery mix according to my memory. Yes, such as yours truly.
(Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Taylor Hall and the New Jersey Devils amazed the hockey world by creating the playoffs last year. Hall was dominant in the second half that he proceeded to win the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player.
Counting Vegas, there have been seven distinct teams in 2018 in 2017. That’s nearly half — 7 of 16!
That included Winnipeg, Colorado, Vegas and Los Angeles in the West, replacing Chicago, St. Louis, Edmonton and Calgary. From the East, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia and New Jersey bumped out Ottawa, Montreal and the New York Rangers.
A year makes.
Sure, that has been a crazy year and might have been more turnover than usual, but I believe it is going to become the new norm thanks to that aforementioned league-wide parity.
In reality, I’m feeling a tad conservative in calling”just” six distinct teams in 2019 out of 2018. Set the over/under in five and I am totally taking the above.
Tempting as it is to show that listing right here and right now, I’ll hold off on the spoilers and make you continue reading. However, apologies ahead of the 15 enthusiast bases of groups that didn’t make my playoff film, especially the six that fell from last season since they’ll be the most enraged.
Without further ado, here are my 2018-19 preseason predictions (using the variation from my offseason predictions in parenthesis)
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