A few weeks ago I posted this topic in the Dobber Hockey forums. I rang off 10 bold predictions (fearless forecasts, if you will) for the upcoming season and asked forum members to do the same. I promised to give a free fantasy team audit to anyone who ended up with more correct predictions than me at the end of the season (provided they were not predicting things like Sidney Crosby breaking 90 points). The predictions ranged from conservative and cautious to extremely unlikely (and in some cases laughable, which was appreciated by all). I have had my list posted for over a week now, but without any justification or reasoning as to why I made those predictions. I’ll now dive into further detail.
10. Vesa Toskala is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy
Why? The Leafs have a deep, mobile, and talented defensive group. Toskala is a great goalie. Last season, he played over a month with a nagging hip injury, and the Leafs weren’t exactly world-beaters in the defensive zone. He also has a competent backup to spell him off now in Jonas Gustavsson.
Why not? The Leafs are going to struggle to score goals in a big way. Gustavsson may steal the starting gig.
9. James Neal outscores Brenden Morrow
Why? Neal is bigger than Morrow, faster, and has the upside to be a similar offensive player.
Why not? Dallas wants to keep Morrow with Mike Ribeiro. Whoever plays with Ribeiro will score 10-20 more points than if they play with Brad Richards or Mike Modano. Jamie Benn may steal a top-six spot out of camp from Neal.
8. Sam Gagner and Patrick O’Sullivan are first and second in scoring for the Oilers
Why? The Oilers have a coach in Pat Quinn who has recently proven to be very successful with young players. Gagner is undersized but very talented offensively (much more so than Shawn Horcoff). O’Sullivan is extremely talented and will be one of the go-to guys on the Edmonton power play.
Why not? Ales Hemsky finally realizes the meaning of the word ‘consistency.’
7. Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry combine for 100 goals
Why? Both are big, fast, and extremely talented. And they will be lining up with Getzlaf, the best forward in the NHL not named Crosby, Ovechkin, or Malkin.
Why not? 50 goals each is a pretty lofty target.
6. Marian Gaborik plays over 75 games and scores over 50 goals
Why? No real reason here.
Why not? He’s Gaborik. Already tweaked the groin on day one of camp. Can I get a mulligan here? How about 75 games over the course of his contract?
5. Atlanta has the best powerplay in the league but fails to make the playoffs because Kari Lehtonen gets hurt
Why? A solid power play unit adds an immovable force down low (Antropov), as well as a bomb from the point (Kubina). Also, you may have heard of this Kovalchuk guy, he sounds pretty good.
Why not? Just depends on how other teams do on the power play. Thrashers have a solid team but consistent goaltending is needed to go anywhere (unless you are Detroit).
4. Toronto wins the Northeast Division
Why? The Leafs are an improved group on defense, lots of question marks with other teams in the division.
Why not? Weak forward group, Boston is still very strong.
3. Dany Heatley scores 60 and wins the Hart (made this one BEFORE the trade).
Why? I made this prediction before he got traded. Spezza and Thornton are both capable of getting him to 60 goals.
Why not? Hart may be tough to win; especially with the crap he pulled this off-season. Hitting the 60-goal mark is within reason, though.
2. Crosby and Ovechkin are shut out of every major award/
Why? Other great players step up.
Why not? Crosby and Ovechkin are the two most popular and (arguably) talented players in the entire league.
1. Detroit misses the postseason
Why? The Wings lost a lot of offense (Hudler, Samuelsson, Hossa), and have replaced them with spare parts (Bertuzzi, Eaves, Williams). Lidstrom is getting up there in years, and Osgood is no spring chicken either.
Why not? It’s Detroit.