NHL season is here, and that means it’s time to get BOLD.
1.) The Seattle Kraken make the playoffs.
Justification: The problem is, Vegas made it seem so easy for an expansion team to make the playoffs. The way I remember it, teams had to fight to make the playoffs within three years of becoming an expansion program. Obviously some more generous expansion draft elements have helped, but I think Seattle did a good job of building a team which should be fairly competitive out of the gate.
2.) Bowen Byram is a top 5 defenseman in terms of points.
Justification: He has the offensive pedigree and he’s on Colorado, which should provide ample offensive opportunities. Recent defensemen have shown the ability to come out of the gate hot, and perhaps he can continue that trend.
3.) Jeff Carter leads the Penguins in scoring.
Justification: This would be the first year since 2005-2006 that a player NOT named Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin led the team in points. Crosby will be coming back soon (with Malkin out an additional two months) so the likely contender is Sid—but historically when Crosby has injuries they tend to linger. This has me concerned about his output this season. Meanwhile, Carter began his first game with a goal and looks to be their primary person to take the reigns this season.
4.) Jack Hughes doubles his point total from last season.
Justification: Obviously he has a few extra games to play with, but I think this is the year he really comes into his own. If you watched the second half of last season, he really started to look more comfortable in the flow of play and I think that carries over into this year. He had 31 points last year, and it would not surprise me to see him climb to 70 this year.
5.) Darcy Keumper leads the league in shutouts this year.
Justification: Keumper is solid, but his move to Colorado should translate into an excellent season. Colorado should prove to be an improved group ahead of him, and should help him facilitate more elite games where he becomes a brick wall.
Predictive Trophy Winners
Art Ross Trophy: Connor McDavid – as much of copout as this is, he’s at such an elite level right now.
Rocket Richard Trophy: David Pastrnak – I think he somehow moves to yet another level this year.
Vezina Trophy: Phillip Grubauer – If the Kraken can settle in at defense then he has serious value.
Calder Memorial Trophy: Cole Caufield - I’ve been outspoken that I think he is going to be a dominant force in the league for quite some time.
James Norris Trophy: Austin Eckblad – The injury derailed last season a bit, but defensemen are notoriously slower to come into their own and he has been coming up big over the last 12 months.
Jack Adams Award: Barry Trotz – I am continually FLOORED at what he’s done with the Islanders.