Vancouver Canucks and Washington Capitals are going to meet up at the Stanley Cup Finals. The NHL will need more red light bulbs as scoring will be up. Dallas Stars and Anaheim Ducks will see increased production from their top line. Roberto Luongo and Alexander Ovechkin lead the NHL this season. Here are 10 predictions for the upcoming NHL season from Fantasy Hockey Coach.
James Neal is training this off-season with Gary Roberts and we all know how that impacted Steven Stamkos last season. Don’t expect a 50-goal season from Neal just yet but he will definitely score 40+ goals this year. Loui Eriksson has quietly improved over each of the last 3 seasons and watch for him to continue this trend, as he and Neal both will score 40+ goals and 80+ points.
Zenon Konopka led the NHL in PIMs last year and will defend his title again this year; however Konopka will display his scoring touch with the Islanders. New York doesn’t have a lot of scorers so if Konopka can replicate what he did in the AHL he could easily pot 10 goals this season. In 5 AHL seasons Konopka never scored less then 17 goals and scored 20 or more twice.
Ovechkin failed to defend the “Rocket” Richard trophy last year and hasn’t won the Art Ross Trophy in 2 seasons but that will change this year as Ovechkin plays a more controlled game and wins both trophies. Ovechkin will once again score 60+ goals.
Vancouver and Washington fans have been disappointed year after year with early exits from the Stanley Cup playoffs. At the start of each season Canuck and Capital fans get all giddy thinking that this is finally the year, well it is finally here. The Canucks are going to win the Presidents Trophy this year as they are in the weakest division in the NHL (think Detroit back a few years ago). The Stanley Cup finals will showcase the Canucks against the Capitals, however Canada will have to wait another year for the Cup as the Capitals win in 6.
The not so “Mighty” Ducks will struggle this year without Scott Niedermayer but they do have one of the best lines in the NHL. The line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan combine for a high scoring, gritty 1st line. With the distraction of the Olympics gone these three Olympians can focus on their NHL season and it will be career years for all three. If he can stay healthy Getzlaf will break the 100-point mark this year.
We all know about the goal scoring ability of Mike Green, Shea Weber and Drew Doughty but how many people remember Anton Babchuk and what he did in the NHL. Before Babchuk jumped to the KHL last season he scored 16 goals in 72 games in the 2008-2009 season. All 4 of these defensemen will score 20 or more goals this season.
The NHL is slowing moving out of the defensive/trapping era and back into a more exciting, offensive era like the 80’s. Last season 7 players scored 40 or more goals well this year that number will more then double as we could see close to 20 players scoring 40 or more goals. Veterans like Jarome Iginla and Eric Staal return to form, Daniel Sedin will finally score 40 while young stars like Kopitar, Tavares, Backstrom, Eriksson, Neal and Kessel all reach the 40 goal plateau.
Now before you say this is a homer pick lets look at the situation that Roberto Luongo and the Canucks are in. Vancouver has finally hired a full-time goalie coach this will make a huge difference, as Luongo will be held more accountable and get more attention from the coaching staff. The Canucks are in the weakest division so that means more games against weaker opponents. Vancouver also brought in Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard to give the Canucks one of the deepest top 6 in the league. All this adds up to a career year for Luongo who will lead the NHL in wins and shutouts.
Subban came into a pressure filled situation last year during the Stanley Cup playoffs and shined. Most nights Subban was the Canadiens best defenseman, scoring 8 points in 14 playoff games. Subban is an explosive, offensive defenseman who can carry the puck end to end to bring fans out of their seats. Subban will score 45+ points and win the Calder Trophy.
Not since the 1995-1996 season has the NHL seen this many players score 100+ points. Last year only 4 players (Henrik Sedin, Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Nicklas Backstrom) score 100+ points. This season 4 more players will join those guys to give us 8 players who score 100 or more points. Daniel Sedin, Ryan Getzlaf and Steven Stamkos will break this mark for the first time in their careers while Evgeni Malkin makes a return to the century total.