With slightly below two weeks till the start of the season, the pre-season NHL predictions are nearing the tip as we await puck drop.
The Hockey Information’ latest ballot of its internet writers and editors is now totally on-line – you may learn Half 1 right here, Half 2 right here and Half 3 right here – but it surely’s all the time good to go over my reasoning for making the picks that I made for the ballot.
I’ve already damaged down my decisions for a handful of classes, together with the NHL awards. However let’s take a look at all of the classes and my ideas on why I voted the best way I did for them.
1. Who will win the Hart Trophy?
I voted for: Connor McDavid
Why I voted for him: As a result of he’s Connor Freakin’ McDavid, the very best hockey participant on god’s inexperienced earth. The Hart all the time causes a little bit of confusion as a result of the “most precious” half often will get conflated with the “most excellent” half. However on this case, McDavid deserves the nod regardless of the way you interpret the trophy. He’s on one other stage than some other elite participant, and he’s nowhere near the very best stretch of his profession. Barring damage, he’s going to win this once more. Learn extra
2. Who will win the Artwork Ross (and what number of factors will the winner get)?
I voted for: Connor McDavid, with 147 factors
Why I voted for him: Similar reasoning as above. That stated, there’s no assure McDavid will surpass his career-high 153 factors from final season – 30 extra factors than he had the season prior. McDavid nonetheless will lead the league in factors, however I can see him truly fizzling out only a smidge and ending barely behind his 2022-23 complete. Learn extra
3. Who will win the Rocket Richard for many objectives?
I voted for: Auston Matthews, with 62 objectives
Why I voted for him: Though his objective manufacturing dropped off considerably final season, Matthews received the Rocket Richard Trophy within the earlier two years, and he’s now totally wholesome and enjoying on a Leafs group that initiatives to be one of many NHL’s most offensively potent teams in 2023-24. Matthews set a profession excessive with 60 objectives in 73 video games two years in the past, and if he can keep within the lineup for the total 82 video games this 12 months, he has each likelihood of breaking that non-public greatest and as soon as once more being probably the most harmful sniper within the sport. Learn extra
4. Who will win the Norris Trophy?
I voted for: Miro Heiskanen
Why I voted for him: Many THN voters picked Avalanche famous person Cale Makar as this coming 12 months’s Norris winner, however Heiskanen is able to be even higher than he was final season when he exploded for a career-high 62 assists and 73 factors in 79 video games. The 24-year-old is among the premier two-way blueliners within the league, and his Stars group is about to do quite a lot of injury within the common season and playoffs. Heiskanen will win a couple of Norris earlier than he hangs up his skates years from now, however this season may embrace his first Norris win. Learn extra
5. Who will win the Vezina Trophy?
I voted for: Igor Shesterkin
Why I voted for him: Shesterkin was the NHL’s most dominant goaltender two years in the past, and although his numbers dropped slightly bit in 2022-23, he nonetheless completed the 12 months with a .916 save proportion and a pair of.48 goals-against common. This season, he’s going to be on a terrific Rangers group (extra on them under), and he’s in all probability going to push his particular person stats again as much as the perfect within the league. Shesterkin additionally deserves to get some Hart Trophy love, however on the very least, he ought to end at or close to the highest of any rating of netminders. Learn extra
6. Who will win the Calder Trophy?
I voted for: Connor Bedard
Why I voted for him: As a result of he’s virtually assuredly going to emerge because the brightest mild on this 12 months’s class of freshmen. I’ve famous that I imagine the Calder race shall be tighter than many anticipate, however the fact is Bedard was far and away the very best rookie chosen within the 2023 draft, and he’s going to get first-line minutes on the Hawks this 12 months. Different rookies, together with Columbus’ Adam Fantilli, Anaheim’s Leo Carlsson and Arizona’s Logan Cooley, will make their very own mark this season, however Bedard goes to be the very best of the very best. Learn extra
7. Who will win the Selke Trophy?
I voted for: Aleksander Barkov
Why I voted for him: With the retirement of perennial Selke winner Patrice Bergeron opening the sphere for the respect of greatest defense-minded ahead within the recreation, this trophy actually may go to any of the individuals who acquired votes in THN’s ballot – New Jersey’s Nico Hischier, Toronto’s Mitch Marner, Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar, and my selection, Florida’s Barkov.
4 different voters agreed with me and selected Barkov, and right here’s why – he’s already received the Selke as soon as, and he stays one of many premier two-way threats within the recreation. No purpose he can’t win it once more this 12 months. Learn extra
8. Who will win the Jack Adams Award?
I voted for: Rod Brind’Amour
Why I voted for him: Though I do suppose his Hurricanes group shall be slightly bit worse than the Rangers within the common season, Brind’Amour will get my vote on this class, which was received by Buffalo bench boss Don Granato (eight votes). Brind’Amour completed second in voting (six votes).
Granato is one other strong selection right here, however Brind’Amour has been one of many NHL’s greatest coaches for some time now, and extra voters acknowledge him as an elite coach yearly. So we’re betting that is the 12 months he wins his second, however in all probability not his final, Jack Adams. Learn extra
Correction: Rod Brind’Amour has received the Jack Adams earlier than, in 2021.
9. Who would be the first coach fired?
I voted for: Dean Evason
Why I voted for him: Blues coach Craig Berube acquired probably the most votes on this class, with 9 voters selecting him as the primary coach to go this 12 months. I believe St. Louis shall be a greater group this 12 months, so I considered another person as my selection – Minnesota’s Evason, who acquired three votes in complete, behind Berube, Ottawa’s D.J. Smith (six votes) and Pittsburgh’s Mike Sullivan (4 votes).
I’m not right here to inform you Evason is a foul coach. He’s achieved comparatively properly for himself as Wild coach. However I do suppose Minnesota goes to underachieve, they usually’ve bought a tricky begin to the season – going through 14 playoff-caliber groups out of 17 video games via the third week of November – and that might spell the tip for Evason. The Wild have to win now, or GM Invoice Guerin will face all kinds of strain for his personal place, by no means thoughts Evason’s. As occurs typically, the coach could possibly be the primary to go.
10. Which GM is feeling the warmth probably the most?
I voted for: Kevin Cheveldayoff
Why I voted for him: Senators GM Pierre Dorion completed in a tie for first place with my selection for this class, Winnipeg’s Cheveldayoff; each males had eight votes apiece.
I took Cheveldayoff as a result of his Jets group seems to have its greatest days behind it, and it may get even worse as soon as he trades star goalie Connor Hellebuyck and ahead Mark Scheifele.
Dorion deserves to be up there as properly, however finally, I believe the Sens are a greater group than Winnipeg, they usually’re doubtless a playoff group in distinction to the Jets, who shall be in robust simply to be a wild-card group. Cheveldayoff is sinking, and the quicksand doesn’t appear to be it’s going away.
11. Which participant is due for a breakout?
I voted for: Matthew Knies
Why I voted for him: Pure hunch decide right here, of us. I appreciated what I noticed of Knies in restricted motion within the playoffs final spring, and I’m guessing he’ll get a good shot at locking up a top-six function with the veteran Leafs. If he does get to play wing with both Auston Matthews, John Tavares or Wiliam Nylander, Knies ought to be capable to thrive. However I used to be the one voter who picked Knies – and the reality is, it was a extremely diverse reply class, with Montreal’s Cole Caufield ending first with 4 votes.
He received’t unseat Bedard for the Calder, in fact, however Knies will get my vote right here as a result of few individuals outdoors Toronto would have seen Knies’ improvement proceed on the upward arc to the diploma it has. The 20-year-old has the palms and smarts to be a high-impact participant, and it actually begins this 12 months.
12. Which group is due for a breakout?
I voted for: Buffalo
Why I voted for them: The Sabres are the attractive decide amongst analysts, and for good purpose. Their offense is dynamic and deep, their protection has two workhorses in Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Energy, they usually look to have a keeper in web with teen Devon Levi. So long as Buffalo can get a barely above-average exhibiting out of Levi, the Sabres must be a playoff group in the end.
13. Which participant will endure a setback?
I voted for: Jamie Benn
Why I voted for him: There was one thing ugly about Benn’s two-game playoff suspension final spring. Though he did have a bounce-back 12 months in 2022-23 with 33 objectives and 78 factors, Benn is 34 years outdated, and it had been six years since he hit the 30-goal plateau earlier than final season. Father Time ought to come a’-callin’ quickly for him.
14. Which group will endure a setback?
I voted for: Boston
Why I voted for them: The Bruins have been virtually an ideal regular-season group final 12 months, and there was actually nowhere to go for them however down. And that was earlier than the mass exodus of expertise in Boston this summer season. The B’s nonetheless have some beneficial belongings, however it will shock nobody to see them take a notable step again this season.
15. Who will win the Presidents’ Trophy as the very best common season group?
I voted for: Rangers
Why I voted for them: One other hunch guess right here for me. I believe the Blueshirts are fantastically deep in any respect three key positions, they usually might have the league’s greatest goalie in Igor Shesterkin. I used to be the only voter for the Rangers on this class, which the Hurricanes received with 10 votes. I like them, too, however there’s one thing about this Rangers group that makes me suppose nice issues are coming to Broadway this 12 months.
16. Who will win the Stanley Cup (and who will they beat)?
I voted for: Dallas over the N.Y. Rangers
Why I voted for them: I really like the Stars’ depth and steadiness between dynamic youth and veteran know-how, and their teaching and administration are among the many league’s best possible. They bought to the Western Convention remaining final season, however with just a few tweaks, together with including ahead Matt Duchene, they need to be even higher this 12 months. Championship-better.
17. Who will win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP?
I voted for: Roope Hintz
Why I voted for him: As a result of Hintz posted one other stellar common season final 12 months (37 objectives, 75 factors) earlier than ratcheting up his recreation in Dallas’ post-season run (14 assists, 24 factors in 19 video games). This 12 months, he takes one step additional and helps energy the Stars to a Cup win.
18. What Canadian group will go the furthest?
I voted for: Toronto
Why I voted for them: I defined my selection on this article. Let’s transfer on.
19. Who can have the very best odds of profitable the NHL draft lottery?
I voted for: Philadelphia
Why I voted for them: Most voters – 18 in complete – picked the San Jose Sharks on this class. Six of us picked the Flyers, tying them with the Anaheim Geese for second place. I like Philly right here as a result of they’re tearing issues down the precise manner. By Christmas, they need to be properly out of the playoff race, inflicting a fair quicker tear-down. They’re additionally within the hardest division in hockey. That ought to make them the league’s worst group.
20. What participant will profit probably the most from a change in surroundings?
I voted for: Erik Karlsson
Why I voted for him: Karlsson’s manufacturing went via the roof final season on a horrible Sharks group, and whereas I don’t anticipate him to surge even additional with the Penguins, I do suppose his total impression will show to be extra useful than some other change-of-scenes participant. The distinction between the barren expertise group San Jose has and the high-end core of expertise in Pittsburgh must be fairly the swing for Karlsson this 12 months.
21. Which group will endure probably the most from purchaser’s regret?
I voted for: Detroit
Why I voted for them: The Penguins led this class with 10 votes, and the Senators completed second, with 5 votes. Our decide, the Crimson Wings, completed third, with 4 votes. All due respect to Steve Yzerman, however lots of the strikes he made this summer season introduced in gifted however not elite difference-makers. Justin Holl’s contract is an efficient instance. Will amount over high quality be sufficient to get them into the playoffs? No, we don’t imagine so.
22. Which star participant shall be traded (and to the place)?
I voted for: Mark Scheifele to Seattle
Why I voted for them: Most voters picked Hellebuyck, however I believe Scheifele shall be dealt first. And as I outlined in a earlier piece, a take care of the Kraken makes an excessive amount of sense to not occur.
23. Aside from Connor Bedard, which rookie are you probably the most excited to see?
I voted for: Adam Fantilli
Why I voted for him: From what I’ve seen of Fantilli, he’s bought the smarts, instincts and all-around expertise to enhance the Jackets’ playoff probabilities this season drastically. Bedard might wind up doing extra so far as particular person stats, however Fantilli performs a terrifically dynamic recreation that hasn’t been in abundance in recent times in Columbus. I anticipate him to do very properly and make Jackets video games value watching.
24. Who will problem Connor McDavid for the Artwork Ross Trophy?
I voted for: Leon Draisaitl
Why I voted for him: Fairly easy, actually: Draisaitl is an excellent participant on one of many league’s greatest offense-minded groups. If McDavid misses just a few video games resulting from minor accidents, and Draisaitl is wholesome the entire 12 months via, he may sneak previous McDavid and declare the Artwork Ross.
25. What low season transfer would be the handiest?
I voted for: Matt Duchene to Dallas
Why I voted for him: This response had a widespread variety of votes; Karlsson to Pittsburgh was first, with six votes, and Brad Treliving to Toronto and Dubas to Pittsburgh every acquired 4 votes. I selected Duchene as a result of he’s going to trigger matchup issues galore for Stars opponents, and he’s on a show-me one-year contract. He’s motivated and able to attaining excellence, and Dallas’ already-potent group is made far more harmful with him aboard.
26. Who’s the NHL’s most overpaid participant?
I voted for: Sergei Bobrovsky
Why I voted for him: Chicago’s Seth Jones bought probably the most votes right here, with six. I voted for Bobrovsky, who, granted, did have an improved post-season. However this $10-million-per-season veteran posted a 3.07 GAA and .901 save proportion, and he’s 35 years outdated and signed via 2026. Yikes.
27. Who’s the NHL’s most underpaid participant (not together with entry-level contract)?
I voted for: Quinn Hughes
Why I voted for him: I picked Hughes as a result of he set new profession highs in assists (69) and factors (76) whereas making $7.85 million per season and being underneath contract via the 2026-27 marketing campaign. And he’s 23 years outdated. That’s a critical cut price. New Jersey’s Jack Hughes and Draisaitl every completed with three votes, whereas everybody else’s votes have been in all places.
28. Whose dangerous season was an indicator of actuality?
I voted for: Winnipeg
Why I voted for them: Granted, the Jets did make the playoffs, however Winnipeg followers have been left with a nasty style of their mouths, given the best way the Jets ended the common season and performed within the first spherical towards Vegas. They regarded passive and torpid, they usually have been comparatively straightforward marks for the Golden Knights in Spherical 1. This 12 months, they’re anticipated to commerce Hellebuyck and Scheifele by the commerce deadline. Darker days are at hand.
29. Whose good season was an aberration? Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
I voted for: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Why I voted for him: One other clarification: I don’t imagine Nugent-Hopkins has one way or the other was a foul participant. He’s clearly an above-average competitor who has helped Edmonton’s offense develop right into a high-octane drive. Nevertheless, his excellent season noticed him rating 9 extra objectives than his earlier profession excessive of 28 and amass 26 extra assists than his earlier profession better of 41. The 30-year-old will in all probability dip again to his extra modest totals. The Kraken did win the column, with 5 votes, however I really feel good in my decide right here.
30. What older participant will present indicators of getting old?
I voted for: Jamie Benn
Why I voted for him: As famous above, Benn is now 34, and he’s logged some onerous miles. Bodily gamers like him often aren’t the longest-lasting gamers within the league, and we are able to see Benn’s numbers dropping off notably, to say nothing of his ebbing affect on Dallas’ total recreation.
31. What backup goalie may find yourself as a No. 1?
I voted for: Jeremy Swayman
Why I voted for him: Swayman and Hurricanes No. 3 goalie Pyotr Kochetkov led this class, every with six votes. They each occur to be enjoying for above-average groups, they usually every are able to stepping in because the starter if accidents cloud the image for the Bruins and Carolina. Swayman is barely 24 years outdated, and he’s able to a lot greater accomplishments.
32. Which metropolis will get the subsequent NHL group?
I voted for: Houston
Why I voted for them: Determination defined right here.
Houston makes a lot sense, and it’s a marvel they haven’t acquired an enlargement (or relocated) franchise sooner.
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