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The Mass Media

Three Bold Predictions For The 2017-18 NHL Season

The+Pittsburgh+Penguins.

The Pittsburgh Penguins.

Hockey season is now upon us. You know what that means: it’s time to start speculating.

After the Pittsburgh Penguins hoisted the Stanley Cup for the second time in as many years, many are wondering if a “three-peat” is outside the realm of possibility. The Penguins are taking a loaded roster into the 2017-18 regular season, but will face strong competition in the form of the Washington Capitals, the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Ottawa Senators. This is not even counting the mass of talent in the Western Conference. There are a lot of variables going into this upcoming season, but here are three bold predictions:

1. The Pittsburgh Penguins Will Not Win the Stanley Cup

Let’s just get this one out of the way right now. The Penguins will not win the Stanley Cup again. Are they extremely talented? Yes. Are they very deep? Yes. Are they set in goal? Yes. They are all of those things, and more. That being said, they won their last two Stanley Cups over an aging Sharks team, and a Predators team that lost one of its top offensive producers in Ryan Johansen. Not to mention, the Preds weren’t even the best team in the West statistically—in fact, they were the worst in the Western Conference Playoffs pool. Nashville knocked off a really good Chicago team, who many believed would win the Cup considering their playoff track record. Granted, I felt the Predators were still going to beat the Penguins during their dominant stretch in the Playoffs, but a hard-fought seven-game series against the Senators helped the Penguins out.

This year, however, there are more playoff-tested teams to be back in it. The Senators have valuable playoff experience, should they meet the Penguins again, and out west, there are a bevy of teams Pittsburgh could face that would crush their three in a row dreams.

2. The Boston Bruins Will Make the Playoffs

That’s right, I said it. The Bruins will make the Playoffs again. With a healthy combination of rookies and veteran contributors, the Bruins should be back in the Playoffs with the same seeding as last year. With Montreal aging and leaning more heavily on Carey Price to keep the score close—rather than blow teams away with speed—they could regress from last year. Buffalo poses a threat, but Tampa Bay could struggle in goal and the Panthers could also be a bust. The Bruins are far from the class of the Atlantic Division, but expect them to be back in the Playoffs and make it past the first round.

3. The Edmonton Oilers Will Win the Stanley Cup

This is probably the boldest prediction here. I think there is really something to the Oilers’ performance last year. After years of rebuilding, as before last year, the Oilers hadn’t made the playoffs since 2006, Edmonton’s core of young players seems to have finally come to fruition. The winning combination consists of reigning MVP Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Milan Lucic, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Patrick Maroon. The offense was potent last year and had skill scoring and grinders that could score in front of the net. The Oilers appear to be a very mature hockey team. Surely, their performance in these past playoffs allowed them to grow even further. With veterans and young talent on the blue line, and a top five goaltender in net, watch the Oilers as they become one of the National Hockey League’s top teams this year. Oh, and don’t be surprised if they’re raising the Stanley Cup in June.