Writer: Blake Wood
The NHL is unique in the way that any given team in any given division could win it all year to year. It’s an extremely competitive professional sports league. For that reason it makes predicting anything far from a sure thing. But this is gonna be our attempt at doing so. Let’s go one by one and predict the 2017-18 divisional winners in the NHL.
While the Washington Capitals have been the best team in their division and the league over the last couple regular seasons, it is hard to bet against the Pittsburgh Penguins winning the Metropolitan in 2017-18. Coming off of back to back Stanley Cup wins, one might say they will have a champions hangover and slow down this season. On the contrary, Matt Murray in goal has already proven that he is a forced to be messed with in this league and i expect him to have his best season yet as the official number 1 guy in net. On the back end the Penguins have the a core featuring Kris Letang along with solid players around them like Olli Maatta and Justin Schultz. On the front end, you can’t really go wrong with the firepower of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel leading a very deep and talented forward group. Look for Pittsburgh to beat out the Caps for the number one spot in the Metropolitan this season.
This division is a bit harder to predict but we’ll keep it short and sweet and say that the Toronto Maple Leafs will win the Atlantic division in 2017-18. That’s right.. The Leafs. It’s no secret that Toronto has had its struggles over the last few years. But last season they re-emerged as a playoff contender behind the young leader Auston Matthews, along with players like James Van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, and new addition veteran Patrick Marleau. They aren’t as deep on defense as one would like to be but with Anderson in goal to backstop them, the Leafs will take the next step this season and win the division and eventually go for a deep playoff run.
The Central division is the biggest toss up, and the hardest to predict out of all of them hands down. There are 3 teams in the Central that could really be considered to be Stanley Cup contenders in my opinion. Those teams being the Chicago Blackhawks, the Dallas Stars, and the Nashville Predators, making predicting a division winner very hard considering there are two other very good teams in the St. Louis Blues and the Minnesota Wild. That being said, we’re gonna go with Dallas Stars. They have not only kept but added pieces up front making the offense that much more lethal with names like Alexander Radulov. On the back end pieces have been added like Marc Methot on top of solids players like Stephen Johns, and Dan Hamhuis. The defense of the Dallas Stars will be stronger this year than it has been in a long time, and lastly in goal, Ben Bishop. He will finally give Dallas the goaltending they’ve been lacking over the last few years. Could end up going a few other ways, but look for Dallas to make a big push this season to reclaim the title of division champs.
Last years race for the pacific was extremely close, with Edmonton finishing just two points behind the first place Anaheim Ducks. Look for them to break the barrier this season and finish in that number 1 spot. Connor McDavid broke out and had an amazing year leading his team back to the playoffs. Led by him along with core players like Nugent-Hopkins and Cam Talbot again this year, expect the Oilers to not only win the Pacific Division, but to have a potentially deep playoff run.
There’s your 2017-18 division winner predictions. Get ready for hockey y’all!!