For any number of seasons now, the Metropolitan and Central have been the better and deeper of the NHL’s four divisions.
That has meant teams from the Atlantic and Pacific have been choosing higher in the entry draft in the last several decades.
Is that balance of energy on the verge of changing this year? In accordance with my yearly preseason predictions, the answer is yes — at least to some level.
A few of these predictions — from the divisional standings into the playoff picture to the draft lottery odds — are, admittedly, competitive in nature.
Maybe that’s the Vegas result or the fact that parity is alive and well in the NHL, with lots of playoff turnover and standings shuffling from one season to another.
William Karlsson Golden Knights 2018
(THW file picture )
William Karlsson along with the Vegas Golden Knights surpassed all expectations last season whilst fully ruining everyone’s predictions. The slate is wiped clean and we’re starting from scratch .
With the exception of a couple of groups, it’s safe to assume 25-plus owners and general managers are entering this year with the expectation of making the playoffs or thinking in that potential.
Heck, that number might be as high as 31. Again, Vegas demonstrated whatever is possible by advancing to the Stanley Cup Final as an expansion franchise.
Granted, that has been a remarkable run of Leicester-level improbability, but it will be hard to dispute any forecasts from this day forward.
For the record, my preseason predictions from last year had the Golden Misfits bringing up the rear in the Pacific, not only missing the playoffs however finishing dead last with the highest likelihood of winning the Rasmus Dahlin lottery.
Boy, was I wrong about these Golden Knights, but so was everybody else that published their predictions before last season. I can’t remember a single printed prediction of Vegas producing the playoffs in its inaugural campaign.
Come to think of it, my mind can also be drawing blanks on any printed predictions from past collapse in favour of Colorado or New Jersey creating the playoffs? Feel free to enlighten me, but they have been few and far between to be certain. Most had all three of those clubs in the lottery mix according to my memory. Yes, such as yours truly.
(Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Taylor Hall and the New Jersey Devils amazed the hockey world by creating the playoffs last season. Hall was so dominant in the second half that he went on to win the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player.
Counting Vegas, there were seven teams in 2018 from 2017. That is nearly half 7 of 16!
That comprised Winnipeg, Colorado, Vegas and Los Angeles from the West, substituting Chicago, St. Louis, Edmonton and Calgary. From the East, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia and New Jersey bumped out Ottawa, Montreal and the New York Rangers.
Crazy, what a difference a year makes today.
Surethat has been a crazy year and might have been more turnover than usual, but I feel it is going to become the new norm thanks to this aforementioned league-wide parity.
In reality, I am feeling somewhat conservative in calling”only” six distinct teams in 2019 from 2018. Set the over/under at five and I am totally taking the over.
Tempting as it is to reveal that listing right here and right now, I’ll hold off on the spoilers and cause you to read on. But apologies in advance to the 15 fan bases of groups that didn’t make my playoff picture, particularly the six that fell out from last year since they will be the most enraged.
Without further ado, here are my 2018-19 preseason predictions (with the variation in my offseason predictions in parenthesis)
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