New York Rangers hockey is back! That also means it is time for our regular season predictions.
With the 2016-17 season starting, it’s safe to say hockey is back for good. On the other hand, before you know it, the postseason and playoff talk will be upon us. The time of the year where during your favorite teams game, you scoreboard watch to see how the team under you in either the division, conference, or even wild card race are doing.
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There is no secret that every division has its fair share of teams that will dominate, teams that will be pests and hang around, and teams that disappeared into the bottom of the league’s standings. It happens every season.
For example, the Metropolitan Division without question could be one of the hardest divisions in the league. You have the President Trophy winners, the Washington Capitals playing in the division, and of course, you have the Stanley Cup Champions in the Pittsburgh Penguins who will also be looking to get back to where they were..
Now every fan will say that their division is the hardest in the league. The fact of the matter is that in the 2016 playoffs, 5 of the 8 teams to come out of the Eastern Conference were from the Metropolitan Division. Because of this, these are the team I believe that will finish in the top 5 spots in the Metropolitan Division.
5. New Jersey Devils
The Devils made one of the biggest moves in the offseason; trading Adam Larsson to the Edmonton Oilers for Taylor Hall. As a result of this, Adam Henrique and Hall will be playing together again for the first time since their Windsor Spitfires days.
The Devils missed out on the postseason over the last few years. However, if there is a team to make a postseason run out of last years mid April golfers, this would be the one.
In addition to the Hall trade, the Devils also acquired PA Parenteau from waivers adding to the team’s depth. Also, let’s not forget about the Devant Smith-Pelly deal from last year. In the end, you have Corey Schneider in net, backed up by Keith Kinkaid, and you have a team that looks to be a Wild Card threat.
4. New York Islanders
The Islanders come into the 2016-17 season as a possible favorite to make a deep playoff run after winning their first playoff series in over two decades. What makes them even scarier this year is the playoff experience they added in Jason Chimera.
The Islanders look to bounce off of last year’s success in a season where they swept their rivals the New York Rangers for the first time in franchise history. Secondly, let’s not forget that the Islanders also have one of the best players in the NHL with John Tavares. However, don’t forget about their defensive aspect of the game, with Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy.
Lastly, their goaltending. Jaroslav Halak missed games last season due to injury, but Thomas Greiss, who played 41 games for the team (38-23-11) came up big when needed.
3. New York Rangers
The New York Rangers were a team that everyone questioned at the end of last season. However, during the offseason, we saw the franchise make some moves to make the team both younger and faster once again, like the trade to acquire Mika Zibanejad, along with signing college prospect Jimmy Vesey.
Lastly, the Rangers are hoping for another 30+ wins season from Henrik Lundqvist, yet will need to rely on Antti Raanta a little more this season.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins
Sometimes after a team wins the Cup, a major portion of the team is broken up due to financial situations. This is the complete opposite of what happened this offseason for the Penguins. A team no one expected in the playoffs last season, the Penguins found their stride when Mike Sullivan came around to coach. From here they won the whole thing.
At last, the only question the fans want to know, who will be the starting goalie? Do the Penguins go back to Marc-Andre Fleury? Or do they go with the young gun in Matt Murray when he gets back from injury?
1. Washington Capitals
It is hard not to put the Capitals in the number one spot, being that the team dominated the whole league last season and their only big loss was Jason Chimera. The question remains the same with this team; How will they perform in the postseason?
Alexander Ovechkin was the best player in the league last season, so I am expecting him to continue right where he left off. On the other hand, the fact remains that he has yet to get past the second round of the playoffs. Does the trend continue? Not if Braden Holtby is in net.
Finally, I strongly believe that the Capitals will be one of the leagues’ top teams, especially if all their stars stay healthy throughout the season.