Greetings my intellectual inferiors! I have crawled from beneath the heaps of academic distinction awards and 9th place track and field ribbons to brandish a print copy of my prognostications at the end of a bony and pale, sunlight deprived wrist in a clenched fist raised high in triumph.
What process brought me to these conclusions you ask?
Mostly just educated guesses based off the hard work of smarter people than I.
I’ve decided to post my predicitons for how each of the 7 Canadian teams will do in this 2013-14 season. Let’s get started. *Cracks each knuckle on each hand with each hand’s respective thumb* *Picks Doritos out of teeth*
Probably the team that I am least acquainted with (full disclosure), but the Canadiens are an interesting team to watch this year. They had unsustainably high percentages last year, finishing with a PDO of 1010, so they’re bound to come back down to earth a bit; however, I’m guessing that this regression will be a bit offset by the maturation of some of their young forwards (Gallagher, Galchenyuk, Paccioretty are all likely to improve with age) as well as their young defensemen (Subban), as well as a full healthy season from Markov should bode well for them.
I think it’s realistic to assume the Canadiens are a playoff contender, somewhere between 7 – 9 in the East.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
The Leafs are the biggest market in hockey, on the biggest stage, and after last season’s playoff appearance, have very high expectations placed on them. I think this is going to make for a very entertaining season, because my belief is that the Leafs will not do very well. Toronto made the post-season last year after 48 games of luck-driven percentages. It’s easy to scoff at “luck” as a cop-out, but I think it’s remarkable how many lucky bounces decide hockey games. These manifestations of luck show themselves in ridiculously high percentages and the Leafs’ were off the charts, while they’re possession metrics (Fenwick Close was 2nd worst in the league) showed they were getting routinely outplayed. What’s interesting is the dichotomy of opinions between the mainstream media and fanbase and the small faction of analytics bloggers who think the team will soar and bomb, respectively. Most fans/media in the mainstream saw the playoff berth as a sign of things to come, but I think there will be mass shock when the Leafs fail to make the playoffs. Sorry Toronto fans. That’s how I feel.
Toronto will finish somewhere between 10 – 12 in the East.
Aside from the Oilers, the Senators might be the team that I’m most excited to follow this year. The Sens had a heck of a Fenwick Close % last year at 52.2%, good for 10th in the league, and that was missing Karlsson for a chunk of the year as well as Milan Michalek for half the season. With another year of maturation for their young guys, as well as increased roles for players like 6th overall pick in the 2011 draft Mika Zibanejad (and maybe a very exciting prosepect of J.G. Pageau?) I think they’re set to continue their upward trajectory. Swapping out an Alfredsson for a Ryan might be a lateral move in the present and a positive move longer term for the team, and with great depth in goal (Robin Lehner is high, high quality as an up and coming netminder), Paul MacLean (who I believe is a very, very smart coach) behind the bench, they’re going to be cup contenders very soon.
I think it’s realistic to peg the Sens as a top 4 team in the East this year.
Winnipeg might have taken one step forward and one step back this summer, adding Devin Setoguchi but losing Alex Burmistrov. They also chose not to re-sign strong top-4 defenseman Ron Hainsey without replacing him. At this point it looks like his replacement might be highly touted prospect Jacob Trouba, which is straight up silly. The Jets had a 16th placed FenClose% at 49.5 (so not great, but not bad) and a PDO of 995, so they were right around leage average with maybe a bit of improvement possible with a bit better puck luck, but with an unaddressed loss to their blueline and a bit of scoring depth added (Frolik, Setogouchi) I can see them sort of floating in the same space, league average or a bit below.
I think the Jets will finish somewhere from 9 – 12 in the West.
The Oilers’ top six is playoff calibre, and the bottom six is kind of hoping for best case scenario. The D has playoff depth, but no playoff top-end skill. However, with at least one forward embarking upon elite status (Hall) and maybe a second getting closer (RNH, Yakupov?), as well as the addition of David Perron, I think the offense will cover up a lot of the weaknesses in the other areas of the roster. Dubnyk, if as solid as last season or even (conceivably) a bit better, is a strong option in net and Labarbera over Khabibulin should account for maybe 1 or 2 more wins than they would have earned last year. Should MacTavish make any strong additions early in the season or at the playoff deadline, I think the team could make some noise going into April.
If things fall favourably for the Oilers, I can see them making the playoffs, likely falling somewhere betwee 7 – 10th in the West.
The Flames have a strong roster full of budding talent and quality veterans that are not overprices, nor are they on immovable contrachahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah.
I think the Flames will finish dead last.
Vancouver is on the decline — basically their success will depend on how soon/steep the Sedin/Luongo age decline is. They have high end offense and goaltending, but a lack of depth up front, not much depth on defense, and an unknown as backup. There are a lot of things that could go wrong — Tortorella doesn’t mesh with the team, Luongo goes down with an injury, Kesler doesn’t bounce back as well as hoped — and if they do things could be a little startling for the Canucks this season. However, I think they should still be one of the top 3 teams in the Pacific.
Vancouver should fall somewhere between 4 – 6 in the West.
Let me know what you think!