Here are Sam Carchidi’s predictions for the 2017-18 NHL season:
Record: 41-32-9, 91 points. They will be only slightly better than last season’s disappointing 88-point campaign, but this is a young team on the upswing.
Where they’ll finish in the East: Ninth, barely missing the playoffs.
* Points for Claude Giroux: 66 (21 goals, 45 assists).
* Points for Nolan Patrick: 46 (16 goals, 30 assists).
* Goals for Wayne Simmonds: 30.
* Stats for Michal Neuvirth: 2.46 GAA, .917 save percentage.
* Stats for Brian Elliott: 2.59 GAA. .912 save percentage.
Turnaround team: Dallas. Former Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock is back with the team he led to the 1999 Stanley Cup, and the addition of some key veterans — most notably 6-foot-7 goalie Ben Bishop, right winger Alexander Radulov, and defenseman Marc Methot — should help the Stars improve dramatically from a 79-point season.
Record for Vegas: 21-51-10. Poor Marc-Andre Fleury.
Calder (rookie of year): Charlie McAvoy, Boston defenseman. McAvoy, a first-round draft pick in 2016, made a splash when he played in last year’s playoffs and he will become a Bruins mainstay — and edge New Jersey center Nico Hischier, Arizona speedy left winger Clayton Keller, Islanders center Mathew Barzal, and Flyers center Nolan Patrick. The Flyers have never had a Calder winner in franchise history.
Norris (top defenseman): Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay. He finished third in the voting last season and had 72 points, second among NHL defensemen.
Hart (MVP): Connor McDavid, Edmonton. How does the smooth-skating center top his 30-goal, 100-point season? It will be fun to watch.
Vezina (top goalie): Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus. For the Flyers, who seem to be on an annual search for an elite goalie, “Bob” will always be The One Who Got Away.
Jack Adams (coach of year): Hitchcock. In what figures to be the start of his final coaching tenure, the Stars should make major strides in his first season back in Dallas.
Atlantic: Tampa Bay.
Eastern Conference final: Columbus over Tampa Bay. The Blue Jackets have one of the league’s best goalies and defenses, and left winger Artemi Panarin will bolster an offense that quietly was sixth in the NHL last season. The biggest question: Can Bobrovsky finally carry his regular-season magic into the playoffs?
Western Conference final: Edmonton over Dallas. The McDavid-led Oilers made a 33-point improvement from the previous year (70 points to 103) and it wasn’t a fluke. Oh, and they happen to have one of the league’s most underrated goalies, Cam Talbot.
Stanley Cup finals: Edmonton over Columbus. It’s not a sexy matchup and the TV ratings might be hard-pressed to match a Columbo rerun, but these two hardworking teams will produce an exciting series that will give a Canadian team its first Cup since 1993.
Here are Sam Donnellon’s predictions for the 2017-18 NHL season:
Record: 41-30-11. A bumpy start of the season is followed by a late-season surge as the kids begin to assert the anticipated identity of the Ron Hextall rebuild.
Where they’ll finish in the East: sixth place.
Playoffs: second-round exit.
* Points for Claude Giroux: 71 (24 goals, 47 assists)
* Points for Nolan Patrick: 60 (18 goals, 42 assists).
* Goals for Wayne Simmonds: 31
* Stats for Michal Neuvirth: 2.31 GAA, .918 save percentage.
* Stats for Brian Elliott: 2.42 GAA, .913 save percentage
Turnaround team: Tampa Bay Lightning. Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan missed a combined 129 games last season and they still just missed the playoffs after reaching the Stanley Cup finals the previous year.
Record for Vegas: 24-54-4. It’s not about this year for Vegas: Some of their players will be used to obtain draft picks at the deadline.
Calder (rookie of year): Nolan Patrick. Especially with Travis Zajac lost to New Jersey for a chunk of the season, he has better personnel around him than the Devils’ Nico Hischier does.
Norris (top defenseman): Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay. The Lightning’s resurgence will catapult him over the 2017 winner, San Jose’s Brent Burns.
Hart (MVP): Connor McDavid. Two in a row for the 20-year-old Edmonton star will fuel the debate over whether he has eclipsed Sidney Crosby as the game’s best player.
Vezina (top goalie): Cam Talbot, Edmonton Oilers. An outlier pick amid the world of Sergei Bobrovsky, Carey Price, and Braden Holtby, Talbot gets the nod because he’s with a rising team.
Jack Adams (coach of year): John Stevens, Los Angeles Kings
Atlantic: Tampa Bay
Eastern Conference final: Columbus over Pittsburgh. After Bluejackets eke in as wild card, Bobrovsky is the difference in this simmering rivalry.
Western Conference final: Edmonton over Minnesota. The Oilers use last year’s playoff fizzle to motivate surge to first McDavid-era Cup appearance.
Stanley Cup Finals: Edmonton over Columbus, seven games. At some point in the series, Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella challenges Oilers coach Todd McLellan to a fistfight.