Tuesday, September 25, 2007

NHL 07-08 Season Prediction Panel

Welcome to what I be the first of what I hope will be many NHL season prediction panels. I have convinced some of the hockey blogosphere's best and brightest (and the gang from thepensblog) to put their credibility at stake and forecast the upcoming NHL season. Hopefully some of us will actually be right with some of our picks.

The Players:
Loser Chris and Snoopyjode - your friendly neighborhood TOFTT writing staff.
ThePensblog - Derek and Adam from ThePensblog.com. They do more than just write Big Batch News you know!
Jes Golbez - writer of Hockey Rants, and Sidney Crosby Show and AOL NHL Fanhouse contributor.
Mike Chen - writer of Mike Chen's Hockey Blog, FoxSports.com, and Battle of California contributor. Sharks season ticket holder, and ex-Blackhawks fans. I apologize to any team's fans that I offend with my predictions, except if you're a Maple Leafs fan -- your management is so predictably short-sighted that it doesn't even warrant mentioning them in this. (ed. note: take that Canada!)
Steve Ovadia - Puck Update writer.

1) Who will win the Atlantic Division?
Loser Chris - Pittsburgh. I don't want to be too biased here, but the only other team I can see that could take the division would be the Rangers and I don't think they have the blue line depth to pull it off.
- The Pens of course!!! Well, I suppose the Devils could edge them out for the division, but I'm keeping the faith and sticking with the Pens!
ThePensblog - Gary Roberts.
Jes Golbez - New York Rangers.
Mike Chen - I don't buy into the changes that the Rangers and Flyers made, especially Philly. Getting Jason Smith is not going to help an already immobile blue line and I'm almost certain that Daniel Briere's points will drop. The Rangers are still an interesting mix, but I don't think getting both Drury and Gomez was necessary, and the money would have been better spent getting some defensive depth. That's not to say the Rangers aren't dangerous, I just don't think they're as good as the roster is on paper. I'm giving the Atlantic to Sid and the Penguins.
Steve Ovadia - Pittsburgh. They almost won it last year, and they're only getting better.

2) Who will win the Northeast Division?
Loser Chris - Ottawa. This team is too talented not to win this division. Buffalo is too depleted and the rest of the division is in disarray. I just don't see another team in the Northeat able to challenge the Senators.
- The Senators will probably go the distance here.
ThePensblog - Ottawa.
Jes Golbez - Ottawa Senators.
Mike Chen - I don't see any of these teams coming close to Ottawa. Buffalo will still be good, but you don't lose two first liners (ed. note: and your co-captains) and not feel it somewhere.
Steve Ovadia - Ottawa. Not that it matters.

3) Who will win the Southeast Division?
Loser Chris - Carolina. Only a year removed from winning it all, I expect the 'Canes to bounce back in a big way this year. I look for Eric Staal to put this team on his back and take them far.
- Tampa Bay, St.Louis + Lecavalier + Richards = money in the bank.
ThePensblog - Tampa Bay.
Jes Golbez - Atlanta Thrashees.
Mike Chen - This is always a crapshoot, but I think the Florida Panthers' time has come. You've got Vokoun in net, I think Weiss and Horton will have true breakout years, and Jokinen and Bouwmeester will put up great points. However, I think Carolina will bounce back, Tampa Bay will be a tiny bit better, Washington should improve, and Atlanta should be around the same. I think the Southeast will be much more competitive than people give it credit for, and that should make for some great hockey.
Steve Ovadia - Carolina. Last season's dip was more of a Cup hangover than anything else.

4) Who will win the Central Division?
Loser Chris - Detroit. I hate picking the Red Wings to win anything, ever, but this division is terrible. It may be the worst division in NHL history. The Wings could have the division title clinched by New Years.
- Detroit. Don't they always win this?
ThePensblog - Detroit.
Jes Golbez - Detroit Red Wings.
Mike Chen - Every year I predict Detroit to fall, so this year I'll pick them to win. Hopefully that'll curse them into self-implosion.
Steve Ovadia - Detroit. They should really just rest the Central down. The rest of the Central is like when they bring in new characters on Lost, purely for the purpose of getting killed.

5) Who will win the Northwest Division?
Loser Chris - Calgary. This will be that first season where Mike Keenan is able to come in and do great things before he inevitably wears out his welcome in Calgary. Vancouver has Roberto Luongo and not much else, and since I'm not Canadian I don't subscribe to the Ryan Smyth is an elite player theory so that rules out Colorado to me. Minnesota probably has the best chance of pushing Calgary, if Backstrom plays like he did last season and they can stay healthy.
- Vancouver. Luongo is like the Berlin Wall.
ThePensblog - Vancouver.
Jes Golbez - Vancouver Canucks.
Mike Chen - I think Colorado's back on the mend. You look at the revolving door of excellent young talent, combine that with Joe Sakic and Milan Hejduk, add in Ryan Smyth and a rather underrated defense, and you've got a good mix. If Peter Budaj can be as consistent as he was in the second half of last season, I think the Avs offer just a little bit more as a collective team than their Northwest competitors.
Steve Ovadia - Colorado. Ryan Smyth will be huge for them.

6) Who will win the Pacific Division?
Loser Chris - San Jose. Anaheim is the best team in this division, but I think they will suffer enough of a Stanley Cup hangover to allow the Sharks to win the division. They also have a lot of uncertainty regarding their roster (i.e. Selanne and Niedermeyer). Of course the Sharks will promptly choke in the playoffs so it won't really matter that much.
- Anaheim, the defending champs.
ThePensblog - San Jose.
Jes Golbez - San Jose Sharks.
Mike Chen - If Scott Niedermeyer returns, Anaheim. If he doesn't, San Jose by a hair.
Steve Ovadia - Anaheim. Even without Scott Niedermeyer (if he actually retires), this is a strong, dangerous team.

7) Who will meet in the Stanley Cup Finals? Who wins?
Loser Chris - Anaheim and Carolina will make it to the Finals in a meeting of the last two Cup winners. Anaheim takes it in 6.
- Pens vs. Canucks. Pens win (hopefully)!
ThePensblog - Sharks vs. Rangers. Rangers win.
Jes Golbez - Ottawa vs. San Jose. Sharks win.
Mike Chen - I always hate predicting these sorts of things because you never predict trades, injuries, etc. On paper, I think the league has more parity than ever before, and it's really hard to separate the top 10 teams in the league. So I'll make a pick but I wouldn't put any money down on it: San Jose vs. Pittsburgh with Captain Sid lifting his first Cup. Really, I'm just making this pick to appeal to both the fashionable (Crosby) and the homer (San Jose). (ed. note: but we're still holding you to it Mike!)
Steve Ovadia - Rangers vs. Anaheim. Rangers win.

8) Who will win the Art Ross Trophy?
Loser Chris - Sidney Crosby. Don't expect that answer to change for at least 10 years.
- S-I-D-N-E-Y! Who else?
ThePensblog - Sid.
Jes Golbez - Sidney Crosby.
Mike Chen - Crosby will finish with 145-150 points this season.
Steve Ovadia - Ovechkin. I have a feeling he is going to thrive with Michael Nylander.

9) Who will win the Maurice Richard Trophy?
Loser Chris - Jerome Iginla. I think playing under Keenan will agree with the Calgary captain.
- I'd like to say Sid, but he's more of an assist man, so I'm going with Heatley or Lecavalier. Or, if Ovechkin gets it right this year he could have a real chance to snag this one. (ed. note: way to take a firm stance on that one Snoop!)
ThePensblog - Alexander Ovechkin.
Jes Golbez - Alexander Ovechkin.
Mike Chen - Ovechkin will top the league with Michael Nylander feeding him for 62 goals.
Steve Ovadia - I have no idea.

10) Who will win the Vezina Trophy?
Loser Chris - Luongo. I think too many people in the media and around the NHL are completely in love with this guy and will gladly give him the Vezina unless someone completely blows him away. Which I don't think will happen.
- Luongo. He was robbed last season.
ThePensblog - Luongo.
Jes Golbez - Roberto Luongo.
Mike Chen - Roberto Luongo will win it and cry when he accepts is because he is so very tired from stopping a gazillion pucks with no goal support.
Steve Ovadia - Luongo.

11) Who will win the Norris Trophy?
Loser Chris - Dion Phaneuf. This may be a bit of a reach, but Phaneuf had something of a quiet second season and still put up 50 points. This guy is the total package and I think he's more than capable of earning himself some hardware this year. Plus I'm way too biased to pick Lidstrom.
- Lidstrom. Again - he's really good.
ThePensblog - Pronger, if Lidstrom doesn't die.
Jes Golbez - Niklas Lidstrom.
Mike Chen - Scott Niedermeyer will win if he returns. Otherwise I'm going to go with the underdog and pick Dan Boyle, just because he's a personal favorite of mine.
Steve Ovadia - Lidstrom. He'll win this after he retires, people just love to check that box with his name in it.

12) Which high profile offseason acquisition will have the most success with their new team?
Loser Chris - Chris Drury. I love Drury, let's get that clear from the start, but that's not why I'm picking him. Drury will be playing with more offensively talented players in a wide open system. As long as he can stay healthy I think Drury is going to thrive in New York.
- Chris Drury. The Rangers are already a great team, and Drury's a great player. Hopefully they aren't so good that the Pens can't bury them!!!
ThePensblog - Drury and Gomez with the Rangers.
Jes Golbez - Scott Gomez. Playing on Jagr's line with an offensive minded coach = uber points.
Mike Chen - I think Chris Drury will perform up to expectations the most. More importantly, he'll give the Rangers a little more of the grit and determination that Brendan Shanahan instilled in them last season.
Steve Ovadia - Mike Keenan in Calgary. He's going to bring discipline, accountability, and grit back to the Saddledome.

13) Which high profile offseason acquisition will be the most disappointing with their new team?
Loser Chris - Daniel Briere. While I have high hopes for Briere's former teammate Drury, I don't think things are going to work out as well for Drury in Philly. This may just be wishful thinking on my part, but I just don't think he's going to have the kind of success he had in Buffalo. Briere is a good player, but he's not a franchise player and he's not a "Flyers" type of player either. I think he'll be hearing it from the Flyers faithful by the end of the year.
- Daniel Briere. He's not good enough to carry a team.
ThePensblog - Daniel Briere in Philadelphia is overrated.
Jes Golbez - Mike Keenan (coach), Dustin Penner (how can you live up to that contract?)
Mike Chen - I think Scott Gomez will bomb in his first season on Broadway.
Steve Ovadia - Daniel Briere. I'm not sure how much impact a guy who's like 5'2" can bring to any team unrelated to horse racing.

14) Which team do you think is poised to have a huge breakout/turnaround season (i.e. show the biggest improvement from last season)?
Loser Chris - Carolina is going to have a big turnaround this year in my opinion. Hopefully missing the playoffs last season will inspire them. Keep an eye on St.Louis too, they aren't that great, but they play in the Central.
- While these seem like two different questions to me, I think the Flyers will have the biggest improvement over last season, but that doesn't mean they'll have a breakout season by any stretch of the imagination.
ThePensblog - Chicago Blackhawks. Fear Martin Havlat.
Jes Golbez - Philadelphia Flyers. I don't think they'll make the playoffs, but they should do a lot better, points-wise.
Mike Chen - Florida. Their young talent really is underrated because of where they're located, but they're on the cusp. Add in a steal of Vokoun and you've got the potential, if everything goes right, for not only a great regular season but a solid playoff run.
Steve Ovadia - St. Louis will make the playoffs. The NHL is all about parity so I don't think there will be anything more dramatic than that.

15) Which team will show the greatest decline from last season?
Loser Chris - Nashville. This one is almost too obvious, but between the exodus of talent during the offseason and the ownership situation it's going to be a long season for Predators fans. All twelve of them.
- Buffalo. Tee hee !! (My boss is a Sabres fan so we've got an office rivalry here.) They lost a number of players in free agency and they'll need time to build the team back up.
ThePensblog - Devils.
Jes Golbez - Dallas Stars or Nashville Predators.
Mike Chen - It seems like the Devils keep having their core picked away at and they somehow manage to cheat death. I think even with Marty keeping them in the majority of games, losing Rafalski and Gomez will really expose the depth of the team, despite a bounce back for Gionta and improvement for Parise.
Steve Ovadia - Nashville. I also predict they'll only suit up 11 players a night. (ed. note: that's a good way to save on salaries, Steve may be suited for front office work with the Preds!)

16) Who of the following pending UFA's is most likely to be traded during the upcoming season; Miikka Kiprusoff, Markus Naslund, Dany Heatley, Wade Redden, or Marian Hossa?
Loser Chris - Wade Redden. Ottawa is going to be faced with trying to resign Heatley and Jason Spezza (a pending RFA) and I think that spells the end for Redden in Ottawa. They have too much money invested in other defensemen (Phillips and Volchenkov) to keep him, Spezza, and Heatley. That new deal for Mike Fischer doesn't help Redden's cause too much either.
- No way the Sens trade Heatley or the Canucks trade Naslund. I don't really know and I'm usually wrong when I try to make predictions (so these questions will probably all come back to haunt me in April), but I guess I'll go with Marleau. (ed. note: Marleau was a choice before the Sharks resigned him, right after Snoop answered these questions. So in a way she was right, she is wrong.)
ThePensblog - Naslund if the Canucks struggle, or Kiprusoff since Keenan is the coach up there now.
Jes Golbez - I'll take none of the above. Naslund as a no-trade, the Sens will be battling hard for the Cup, and the Flames will want to keep Kipper around, so I don't see any of these guys being traded DURING the season.
Mike Chen - I'll go out on a limb and say that the Flames will have a messy year under Mike Keenan and impending UFA Kiprusoff is traded for a huge package. I think the Flames' season under Keenan will either be a giant success or a spectacular disaster -- no inbetweens.
Steve Ovadia - Atlanta is out of love with Hossa. If they can find someone to take him he's out of there. For extra credit, I wouldn't be shocked if he ends up in Boston. (ed. note: Hossa for Chara maybe?)

So there you have it. Now all we have to do is wait around until the season ends so we can see how wrong we all were after Phoenix sweeps Florida in the Finals in June. Now drop the puck!


alex said...

If you're going to be making predictions you should compare yourselves with a prediction market. TradeSports offers a prediction market on the Stanley Cup winner, as well as conference winners. Prediction markets are known to out-predict experts ... so, see how you measuer up!

TradeSports hockey prediction markets are at: https://www.tradesports.com/aav2/trading/tradingHTML.jsp?evID=73778&eventSelect=73778&updateList=true&showExpired=false#

You can also use Betfair (which has the same contracts as TradeSports), which is also a prediction market (or "person to person betting exchange").

Maybe that will liven up the competition ...?

Anonymous said...

Loser Chris ... hmmm ... no name has better described someone.

Why don't you guys take a refreshing stand and get off the dogpile that is on Nashville. We won't score as many goals or have as many points as last year; but, this team will be in the mix for a playoff spot.

BTW ... there are more than "12 fans." It's getting a bit old guys. We deserve to keep our team as much as any other. Our attendance is not last in the league by the way ... in fact there are several teams that drew less than the Preds last season.

The reason we have the target (from Balsillie, et. al.) is the "weak" lease. There are weaker teams in this league but we were the only team with an "out" in our lease.

Get over yourselves,

D. Warren
Murfreesboro, TN

Anonymous said...

so, ~30 games into the season, how does it feel to be wrong about briere? sure, briere might not have 95 points or whatever. however, i bet none of you took into consideration how he helps mike richards and everyone else he plays with. jason smith & danny briere weren't the only offseason moves for the flyers.

maybe before a bunch of couch bloggers get together and make homer predictions, they might want to consider all aspects of a prediction instead of seeing what city is closest on a map.

with love,
someone that actually knows about hockey.

Anonymous said...

I love how none of gave a darn about Montreal!

Hardcore Philly Phan said...

All of you were wrong about philly and Briere. Philly made the playoffs 6th place and Briere isn't a Flyers type of player but Richards stepped up and Crosby got hurt like a pussy. so get the facts straight