As the end of the 2009-2010 regular season nears, fans get ready for what comes after. For fans with playoff bound teams, they begin to see if their team can go far. For fans with non-playoff teams, they look towards the Lottery, Draft and July 1st to see how their team can improve.
Now because of this, I decided to make some predictions for the end of the season, the playoffs, the draft and even free agency. Some are crazier than others, some are based in actual logic (crazy I know) and others are just plain wacky.
Ah, the Draft Lottery. Fun and nerve racking if your team is within it, and boring if your team is not. But this year could be a whole lot different than years before making it more interesting that it has been since the Crosby Lottery. Never before has a team and its fans hoped that they did not win the lottery. Yes, I am talking about the Leafs.
As the season ends, the Leafs push themselves right to the brink of Lottery territory, ahead of Edmonton, New York Islanders, Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lighting. Leaf fans all breathe a collective sign of relief.
But then Lottery day comes. Guess what Leaf fans, the worst has come to pass. The Leafs win the lottery and the number one overall pick goes to the Boston Bruins. A team has traded the first overall pick without even knowing it.
Another dubious honor happens that day. For the first time in history, Leaf fans and haters are joined in one. They all preach doom and gloom for years to come and they all ignorantly ignore the fact that the Leafs actually have a team worth watching and a team that has a decent future.
The 2010 Playoffs begin. Intrigue for all!
The match that has everyone's eyes on it is the 2 and 7th seed. Phoenix pulls of a shocking end to the season to win the Central division, beating out Chicago and Detroit. They end up drawing divisional opponent Detroit. To the surprise of no one hockey experts, analysts and writers everywhere almost unanimously pick Detroit to beat Phoenix. For the first time, the media bias towards Detroit finally makes itself known (Yeah, I said it, and lots of other people are thinking. The Media love Detroit).
To the surprise of almost everyone, Phoenix upsets Detroit and moves to the second round. Its the first time in the history of the NHL, that a 2nd seed "upsets" a 7th seed, but it happens. The Phoenix, success story continues on.
The Cinderella story ends though, in second round defeat to Chicago. Thankfully, because had they continued on, the conspiracy nuts would have started preaching the NHL was letting the Yotes win so as to sell them for more.
And so begins the 2010 Stanley Cup Final! Lets get ready to watch....
Out of the Eastern Conference...Montreal Canadiens!
yeah, I went somewhat off the board with this one, sue me. Both goalies are firing on all guns right now and I truly believe Price will step it up in the playoffs and play magnificently. Maybe thats just where he plays best. Plus they found a number one line with Gionta, Poliout and Gomez and they have another first line in Cammaleri and Plekanecs. They will be a dangerous team because no one really expects them.
Out of the Western Conference...the Vancouver Canucks!
Yes, I am picking them above the Blackhawks. Vancouver is second most in goals per game. They have one of (if not the best) most dominant lines in the NHL and they have something that neither the Caps or Hawks have. Solid, proven goaltending. Watch out for the Canucks.
The 2010 Stanley Cup Winner - The Vancouver Canucks!
First Canadian winner since 1993.
After watching the Canucks capture the Cup, attention soon turns towards the draft. On the first day, Gary Bettman walks up to the stand and invites up Peter Chiarelli.
Peter Chiarelli - "The Bruins are proud to announce the number one pick overall is...Taylor Hall!"
Bruins fans everywhere rejoice, Edmonton fans sit dejected and Hall secretly praises God for not going to the leagues worst team. On a side note, almost every Toronto fan personally wants to scream at Brian Burke.
Steve Tambellini walks up and proudly announces that the Oilers draft Tyler Seguin. Surprisingly, he looks ecstatic. Almost as if he wanted Seguin over Hall.
Funny enough, Edmonton fans later find out they received the best player in the draft and kindly thank the Bruins for it. The Bruins, end up drafting a very Kessel like player, right done to the sniping talent and somewhat selfish attitude. Bruins fans hope Chiarelli doesn't end up trading that sniper in the future as well.
To the surprise of everyone, Gary Bettman goes up to the stand quite quickly, and announces that the Rangers have acquired Vinny Lecavalier for Drury, the Rangers 2010 1st Rounder and Bobby Sanguenetti. Everyone once again wonders how the hell Sather is going to keep his job after acquiring a longer length contract than Drury's and giving up a 1st and a top prospect. Tampa fans are excited to know that in one day they added Fowler (3rd overall), Austin Watson (8th overall) and Sanguinetti and cleared the megacontract Vinny had, making it possible to resign St. Louis, Stamkos and Hedman without problem. Oh and they know that they will so have one of the youngest most talented teams out there.
Not long after, Gary Bettman again walks up to the stand announcing another trade between Toronto and Dallas. Brian Burke and team have finally succeeded in trading Thomas Kaberle after so many times of trying since Fletcher first started working for the Leafs. Going back to the Leafs, winger James Neal and Dallas's 1st rounder. Leaf fans are quite surprised to be drafting in the first round, in the top 10 no less. The Leafs quickly announce that they have drafted hulking 6 foot 5 USHL rearguard Derek Forbort. How Burkean of them.
11 picks go by, before Gary Bettman once again runs up to the stand and announces yet another trade, this one more shocking than the last two. The Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators have hooked up for a trade.
The Ducks were having problems with resigning two time 30 goal man Bobby Ryan and decided they did not want to risk losing him to an offer sheet. With the potential of the picks used in any offer sheet to come from what is widely regarded as the weakest draft in over a decade, Anaheim decides to move the budding power forward. Nashville trades Ryan Sutter, Ryan Ellis, and their 1st in 2010 for Bobby Ryan and Anaheim's 2nd. Everyone is stunned. Nashville has suddenly become a much more dangerous team.
One more trade follows. The Montreal Canadiens trade Jaroslav Halak to the Philadelphia Flyers for James Van Riemsdyk in a good old hockey trade. Seems Prices miracle run grabbed him the one and only starter spot in Canadien land. Not as shocking as the other trades but a good trade nonetheless.
Fans so far have been treated to an exciting day but become quickly disappointed when no more trades of consequence are announced. The only other bit of news for fans, one time top 5 pick Kiril Kabanov dropped all the way to the third round before being picked up by the Toronto Maple Leafs. What ultimately led to this drastic drop? His departure from Moncton (the QMJHL) to head back to Russia. Injuries, work ethic and selfishness all contribute to the drastic fall.
July 1st comes with little fan fare. Ilya Kovalchuk had resigned with the Devils to a one year, 7.7 million dollar in hopes of winning a cup. Pat Marleau resigned with the Sharks after a run to the conference finals.
The biggest name to hit free agency? Tomas Plekanec.
But shortly after he resigns with Montreal. As does Hamhuis with Nashville. Fans become severely disappointed.
But then it happens. The first offer sheet since the infamous Dustin Penner sheet hits the news. In response to an ultimatum being place before him by team owners, Darryl Sutter offers Nicklas Backstrom a 6 year, 51 million dollar contract. The hockey world is stunned. Whats more the question arises, can the Caps match that? With the resigns of Fleischmann and Shutlz to a combined 5 million and a newly inked 5 million dollar a year deal to Martin, they sit at a 45 million dollars for 15 players. Signing the deal would leave McPhee with only 2.5 million dollars to sign 6 players. It could be done, but it would be very, very tight. Does he sign it? Its up to you.