The Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings are, in the opinion of the deep thinkers at The Hockey News, the class of the NHL. Chicago is our pick to win the Cup, while the defending champs have, by far, the best chance of preventing that from happening.
It’s a virtual two-horse race with the co-favorites, having remarkably similar pedigrees.
But what if…we’re wrong? Unlikely, we realize, but not impossible. If both clubs get eliminated from contention, which dark horse is best positioned to come from the outside and bask in the winner’s circle?
According to our soothsayers, it’s Anaheim, by a duck bill. While Tampa and Boston received considerable attention as our tier-two favorite, we believe the Ducks’ skill, size, speed and goaltending – combined with lessons learned in 2014 – could carry them to ultimate glory.
That’s one of the super-duper bonus predictions we included in our NHL Season Preview edition (available now on newsstands, coincidentally, and here). The issue also has all the mainstream prognostications, if you like that kind of thing.
Elsewhere, THN’s crystal ball declares:
First coach fired: Randy Carlyle, Toronto. The old school bench boss and a new world front office is an odd coupling. If the Leafs don’t start well, we see Carlyle walking the plank into a sea of fancy stats.
First coach hired: Dan Bylsma. Despite a bumpy ending in Pittsburgh, he’s a proven winner whose reputation is still solid. We just hope he likes analytics.
Team we might be wrong about (in a good way):Detroit. We have the Wings out of the playoffs for the first time in 23 years. Considering they made it last season despite an epic run of injuries, we’re aware this one could come back to bite us.
Team we might be wrong about (in a bad way): Predictions are no fun if they’re, well, predictable. So we put faith in Florida’s chemistry experiment and have them sneaking into the Eastern Conference post-season. We wouldn’t be shocked, however, to see it all blow up.
Connor McDavid sweepstakes winner:Calgary. This is dependent, naturally, on the Flames winning the newly weighted draft lottery, but we expect them to have the best chance to do so. While they may have a bright future, their kiddie corps has a whole lotta learning to do. The Sabres are a close second. Or 29th.