Eastern Conference standings
1. New York Islanders- John Tavares proves to everyone this is his year. Welcome to Brooklyn.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins- Sidney Crosby + Phil Kessel = goals.
3. Washington Capitals- New additions Justin Williams and TJ Oshie accompany Alex Ovechkin on a team with one of the best forward groups in the league.
4. Tampa Bay Lightning- A Stanley Cup appearance last season bodes well for a young team that managed to retain its weapons.
5. Montreal Canadians- The Canadians are here by virtue of Carey Price. They’re good elsewhere, but need a new coach. Michel Therrien won’t last the season.
6. New York Rangers- I don’t care what Rick Nash does in the playoffs; he performs in the regular season. Oh, and Henrik Lundqvist.
7. Columbus Blue Jackets- With the arrival of Brandon Saad, this team now has a talented group of top forwards and good goaltending. That will get you into the playoffs.
8. Florida Panthers- The surprise team of the season. Coach Gerard Gallant is coach of the year while the extremely young core performs.
9- Detroit Red Wings 10-Buffalo Sabres
Western Conference standings
1. Anaheim Ducks- Now or never for Anaheim. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf are 30, and Ryan Kessler is 31, so the mantra is clear: the time is now for the Ducks.
2. Chicago Blackhawks- You can’t go against the defending champs. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are two of the best in the world, so as long as Kane’s distractions don’t get in the way too much, another high finish for the Blackhawks is on the horizon.
3. Calgary Flames- With one of the best young defenses in the game and a fresh-faced offense, the Flames are here to stay.
4. St. Louis Blues- Despite losing TJ Oshie to the Capitals, St. Louis still boasts some of the best forward depth out there. Ken Hitchcock needs to find a way to win in the postseason.
5. Dallas Stars- This team has offense–Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Patrick Sharp–but no defense. It may be a stretch for me to put them this high up, but you can’t argue with the attacking talent.
6. Minnesota Wild- Newly-re-signed goalie Devan Dubnyk provides stability behind a very good defense.
7. Los Angeles Kings- A team coached by Darryl Sutter that has this much talent does not miss the playoffs two years in a row.
8. Nashville Predators- Pekka Rinne in the crease and Shea Weber and Roman Josi in front of him is a good combination, but will the offense hold up?
9- Winnipeg Jets 10-Edmonton Oilers
Hart Trophy (MVP): Jamie Benn, Stars
Art Ross (leading scorer): Sidney Crosby, Penguins
Maurice Richard (most goals): Phil Kessel, Penguins
Norris (best defenseman): Erik Karlsson, Senators
Calder (top rookie): Jack Eichel, Sabres
Selke (best defensive forward): Patrice Bergeron, Bruins
Vezina (top goalie): Carey Price, Canadians
Jack Adams (best coach): Gerard Gallant, Panthers
Stanley Cup: Dallas Stars
You may say I’m crazy, but the Stars might actually win the Stanley Cup.
Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Patrick Sharp together on the same team means success for any team, no matter who else you have. They will definitely make the postseason, and then, if the defense holds up, they could very possibly go on a nice postseason run.
The defense doesn’t have to be extraordinary. It just has to do the job, and while it doesn’t have the big name Norris Trophy candidates anchoring, it will still be able to get the team through. Maybe, just maybe, to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Harrison Hamm