We were busy working on our season preview issue when the dreaded email appeared in my inbox.
From: Sam McCaig. Subject: THN predictions – please take a minute and prognosticate.
My eyes rolled and heart sank. It was that time of year again, when our ultra laid-back senior editor (at least that’s the façade he puts on for the world) plots to embarrass 40 hockey writers.
OK, it’s not all Sam’s doing. As his editor, I do have a say in the matter. And the fact is, fans love predictions. They devour them, wanting either affirmation of their beliefs or blood for contradiction of them.
When I’m a reader, I’m fascinated with them, too. It’s making them that is a sticky business because the odds of actually being correct are stacked firmly against you.
But in the name of doing the right thing and displaying true leadership, I participated in the exercise. Here’s what I came up with. You can tell me how wrong I am, and why, in the comments section.
Stanley Cup: Washington. Granted, Semyon Varlamov has to prove he can handle No. 1 duties over a full season; and granted, this team needs to be more responsible defensively; but don’t forget they came within a whisker of knocking off the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the 2009 playoffs. Besides, if Sid got his Cup last year, shouldn’t this be Ovie’s turn?
Hart Trophy: Sidney Crosby. The Kid appeared to mature into ‘The Man’ during the Pens Cup run and there’s no reason to believe his growth as a leader won’t continue on into 2009-10.
Vezina Trophy: Roberto Luongo. He’s gotta win it one of these years, doesn’t he?
Norris Trophy: Zdeno Chara. He has finally ascended the throne. Do you want to tell him he has to get off?
Calder Trophy: Ville Leino. He turns 26 in early October, making him barely eligible for the rookie award, but it also makes him more ready. Coach Mike Babcock said last year Leino was the best player he’d ever cut and with Marian Hossa, Jiri Hudler and Mikael Samuelsson having departed, Leino should get some quality ice time with quality teammates.
Rocket Richard Trophy: Alex Ovechkin. It’s a natural hat trick of goal titles for hockey’s best scorer.
Art Ross Trophy: Alex Ovechkin. Why not?
Comeback Player: Brenden Morrow. Having appeared in just 18 games last season, the captain will be the linchpin of any Stars turnaround.
Jason Kay is the editor in chief of The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Fridays.
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