The 2019-20 NHL season has finally begun. While the Anaheim Ducks are our favorite team, there are still 30 other teams in the league, and I’ve got some interesting thoughts about them.
After a long summer of waiting, the 2019-20 NHL season is well underway. There are 31 teams making to look an impact this season, with their eyes on the ultimate prize. Lord Stanely. We’ve already taken a look at bold predictions for the Anaheim Ducks. Nevertheless, there are still many interesting narratives that could take place around the league this season, and today, we’re going to look at a few bold predictions that pertain to the entirety of the NHL.
Two Of the Calder Trophy Finalists Will be Defensemen
The attention around the NHL has largely been centered around names like Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko when it comes to the top rookies heading into this season, and rightfully so. They’re two highly-anticipated players and will be stars for years to come. However, when I look at the crop of rookies who could take home the Calder Trophy awarded to the league’s top rookie, my attention goes to a pair of defensemen, one sharing the surname of Jack Hughes.
Quinn Hughes is set to make a big splash for the Vancouver Canucks this season as the Canucks look to make another step towards competing after a fairly quick rebuild. I think Quinn Hughes will help that quite a bit. Cale Makar is another name set to make a big impact. The Colorado Avalanche are on the rise and, after moving Tyson Barrie in the off-season, there’s a chance for him to be a top tier defenseman immediately, and I see him doing that well.
Lastly, a defenseman who has surprised me immensely in the pre-season so far has been Rasmus Sandin of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Chewing up big minutes, playing extremely well and doing his best to solidify a spot on the big club for him. I think it’s inevitable that at least one forward will be a finalist, but I truly believe that this will be the year of the rookie D-Man
Florida Surprises Everyone
When it comes to the Atlantic Division, it’s pretty much a 3 team race between the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, and the reigning President Trophy winners, the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s not hard to see why. Those 3 teams have built juggernaut level teams and over the course of a full regular season, it’s hard to bet against them. But there’s some intriguing teams in the Atlantic Divison.
Buffalo has a team that’s been seemingly ready to break out over the past couple seasons, the Montreal Canadiens have made a lot of noteworthy moves recently that have made them formidable, but the one who stands out to me as a team who could look to dethrone one of the top 3, but also could make a push in the playoffs should they get there, it’s the Florida Panthers. A team with one of the best lines in the league, they have an underrated defense and they signed arguably a top 3 goaltender in the league. The Panthers have the makings of a Cinderella story and I’m all aboard that train.
Calgary, San Jose, and Arizona Make the Playoffs from the Pacific
The Pacific is the weakest division in the NHL currently, that’s just the way it is. Even the best teams in the Pacific have questions surrounding them. Calgary has no legitimate goaltender, San Jose has an aging core and a weak goaltender, Arizona has a great goaltender… Who can’t stay healthy.
However, despite these question marks, they are the 3 I see atop the Pacific when the end of the season rolls around. I don’t think the Knights make the playoffs this season, I do think it’s likely that one of the Canucks or Oilers makes the playoffs as a wildcard, the Ducks and Kings I don’t see making much of a splash in the standings. I see them being in the bottom 2 of the division.
The Anaheim Ducks Will be Much More Exciting, But Not in the Standings
The Anaheim Ducks are in a transition. They’re in the process of moving on from the era that saw the likes of Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler as mainstays. The Ducks have a youth movement going on and that also includes the coaching staff as Dallas Eakins takes the reigns. With that youth movement, I think we’ll see a refreshed Anaheim Ducks team, a more exciting, energized and determined hockey team.
I don’t think that that is necessarily going to lead to a more successful season in the standings. The Ducks have the best goaltender in the league, they have a great defensive pairing in Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson, and they have some promising forward prospects ready to take the next step. I just don’t think it’s going to be enough at the end of the day. The Anaheim Ducks will take a step in the right direction with their play, but without a true blue, bonafide goal scorer, I don’t think the Ducks will be able to put together many more wins than last season.
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The Knights, Blues, and Jets Miss the Playoffs
I think the Central Division will be led by the Colorado Avalanche and the Dallas Stars, behind them I think the Predators are going to regress further but will ultimately still end up 3rd. I also think we will see the Blackhawks rebound and surprise with a wildcard berth of their own. The Blues, I think, are due to fall back down to earth a bit as I see Jordan Binnington hitting a bit of a “Sophomore Slump.”
The Jets have some major question marks as Laine’s comments may lead to a locker room divide. They also have lost Jacob Trouba and possibly Dustin Byfuglien without adequately replacing them. The Knights defense isn’t exactly stellar, they have the likes of Shea Theodore and Nate Schmidt but beyond that, it’s not pretty. They’ve gotten by because of the weakness of the Pacific, but with the Pacific making some positive strides (albeit baby steps) I think Vegas’ magic will run out this season.
The Anaheim Ducks Will Have At Least One Significant Roster Move By January
For my final prediction, I come back to the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks continue their re-tool entering this season; they were reportedly heavily in the hunt on Kevin Shattenkirk and Justin Faulk. They have one right-handed impact defenseman on the roster and a log jam on the wings, leading to a minimum of at least one talented winger sitting on the sidelines or in San Diego on a nightly basis.
In the famous words of Led Zeppelin, “If it keeps on rainin’ levee’s going to break” and I think that will ring true for the Anaheim Ducks by the New Year. I think the Ducks are going to struggle, and in times of struggle eyes shift to the general manager to make a move and I think he will make one. Likely one of our young forwards for a top 4 defenseman.
Those are some of my predictions regarding the 2019-20 NHL season. What do you think? Do you have any bold predictions of your own? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter!