When I thought about writing this post, I was sure I will be able to write close to 25 predictions. However, the more I thought about it, the shorter my list started to get!! This NHL season we are going to see the parity at its fullest, which the salary cap had promised us! One thing is for sure...NHL 09-10 is going to be crazy!! and here are my predictions:
1. San Jose is going to be a very average team:
Contrary to popular belief, I think San Jose lost more than they gained from the Heatley trade. On paper it looked like Cheechoo and Michalek for Heatley. However, they gave up Erhoff and Lukovich for spare change and not re-signing Grier will come back and bite them. So in actuality they lost 2 top 6 forwards, one top 4 D man and one great PK forward (actually two if you Michalek in it too). Nabakov looks like he has lost his focus and they did nothing to get him a good backup. Captain Blake will be 40 in the middle of the season, Boyle is not as responsible in the D zone and it will be too much for young Vlasic( who according to Cult of Hockey was the best player for them last season). I may not be very surprised if 09-10 San Jose Sharks are the 07-08 Tampa Bay Lightening.
2. Gaborik wins the Maurice Richards Trophy:
Forget Ovechkin, forget Kovalchuk, forget Heatley. This is the year when Marian Gaborik finally playes 82 games. In th last 4 seasons he has scored goals at .59 Goals/Game translating to a 49 goal season in Minessota Wild uniform. Now he is in the Big Apple, under a more offensive coach and system HE IS GOING TO HIT 60 GOALS!!!!!
3. Maple Leafs will make the playoffs:
Brian Burke has done an exceptional job with the leafs. There I said it. As much as I hate that egotestical ********* ****** *********, I have to say, he did all the smart things this summer. Of course he revamped the Defense, but the smartest move was not trading Tomas Kaberle. Trading and signing of Phil Kessel too was a good gamble to make. Of course he has over-paid both Kessel and Grabovski, but there is no reason to doubt that they take the next step in their development. When Kessel returns from surgery, he should contribute in a big way.
4. Brent Seabrook is one of the top 3 candidates for Norris trophy:
In his first 4 nhl seasons, the learning curve for the 14th overall pick taken in of the best draft years in a decade has been a steep rise. Last season him and Duncan Keith formed the formidable 1st pairing for the Blackhawks. While Keith got most of the accolades for the regular season, playoffs were the coming out party for now 24 yr old defense-man. He dominated the opposing forwards with confidence, and his aggressive physical play. He is no slouch with the puck either. Look for him to continue his domination this regular season and book a spot on the Canada Olympic team. In my opinion, he is better than Phenauf and should get as much hype if not more.
5. Oilers will win the division:
Yeah. We rock. No seriously it is possible. This is the year when our Defense plays to its potential This is the year when Gagner and Cogliano break out. This is the year when Hemsky scores 30 goals. This is the year when Khabibulin plays 65 games. This is the year when WE DOMINATE OUR DIVISION. Since the change in coaching, I have been having a hunch that Oilers might just win it and I am going to stick with it. Teams such as Detroit and NJ got away with bad PK and I too think it wont be a huge problem for us either this season. Of course 2 months from now if we are somewhere near the bottom, you all will point back at this post and make fun of me. BUT HEY.....THESE ARE CRAZY PREDICTIONS FOR A REASON!!!!!!!