Roberts 2014-15 NHL Predictions

NHL trade rumors

As the 2014-15 season creeps near us it’s time to take a look at the teams around the league and predict where they may finish.

The teams in bold lettering are the teams I predict will make the playoffs. Each team is ranked within the their respected Division.

I have also selected a “Dark Horse” Team from each division. These are teams that I feel have the potential to make a strong push and who knows? Maybe they are capable to bump someone out who seems destined for the playoffs.

** Denotes Dark horse team

Season Standings predictions

Pacific Division

1. Anaheim
Adding Kesler may have put this team over the top

2. Los Angeles 
Very few moves made, but this is still the reigning Cup Champions here.

3. San Jose 
A team in transition. No longer is this Thornton or Marleau’s team. Can Pavelski and company take the torch and lead affectively?

4. Arizona
Sam Gagner is the only notable acquisition. And while the core of this team is still intact, more changes may need made before they become a real threat in this very top heavy division.

5. Calgary
No big changes with this team as they continue to build with Youth. Jonas Hiller brings a presence in the net not seen in some time.

6. Vancouver **
Ch ch ch changes. New Coach, New players, New direction. This team, while still strong with the Sedin Twins and new net minder Ryan Miller, may find it a little difficult to keep up with the other improved teams in the Division. With that said this is my “Dark Horse” team that could make a strong post season push.

7. Edmonton
I don’t quite understand how a team with so many top 5 draft picks continues to struggle as it has. Unfortunately I don’t see anything to make me believe it will change in 2014.

Central Division

1. Chicago
Even with the Cap issues they have, this team is just too good to not top this division. With that said St. Louis and Minnesota will be on their heels all year.

2. St. Louis
A disappointing first round exit last playoffs has left an un savory taste in the mouths of many. Hitchcock has been the rock of this team, but another early exit may be the end for him. All-in-all this team is still as strong as it’s ever been, especially with the addition of Paul Stastny, and they will surely give Chi-town a run for its money.

3. Minnesota
Team U.S….Errr The Wild seem to improve year after year. The addition of Vanek will absolutely help give them a bump in the regular season but come playoff time they may need to rely on others.

4. Dallas
The addition of former Senator Jason Spezza will help a squad that already boasts the likes of Jaimie Benn, Shawn Horcoff and Erik Cole. The defense seems a little shaky but with two very capable goalies this team is ready to make some noise. They just need to be mindful of Colorado

5. Colorado**
It’s going to go down to the wire with Colorado and Dallas. Both are very talented and capable teams that will make the post season push very exciting for the fans. The addition of Jarome Iginla was an interesting move, but the loss of Stastny will hurt.

6. Nashville
New head Coach Peter Laviollete will have a lot of work to do with a squad that hasn’t done much lately. Losing a strong leader like Patric Hornqvist for short tempered James Neal may help slightly on the score sheet, but the over-all outcome may be unpleasant.

7. Winnipeg
A team with many questions still and with All-Star players who are wrapped up in trade rumors it unlike the distractions will help this team get over the hump. Is there really anything on this team that makes you think they can compete with the other teams in their division?

Atlantic Division

1. Boston
No big changes, keeping the core of this team together means they are still team to beat in the East.

 2. Montreal
Strong defensively with a very capable goalie, the offense may struggle from time to time but much like last year this is a team you don’t want to fall behind in a game.

 3. Tampa Bay
Adding Evgeni Nabokov as Ben Bishops back-up was a smart move solidifying the goalie position and supporting the defense. The offense led by Steven Stamkos will once again be a daunting task for any team that faces it.

4. Detroit
An aging yet still very talented team, the Red Wings will struggle in a division with power houses like Montreal and Boston.

5. Toronto
Sometimes no major changes help teams, unfortunately there are many questions and holes that still need answered and filled.

6. Florida**
Can Luongo help a team that is still trying to find itself? Maybe, which is why this is my ”Dark Horse” team. With the right motivation this team could leap frog and challenge a team like Detroit for the final playoff spot in the division.

7. Ottawa
Losing two veteran leaders in two years will not only hamper this teams development but it has taken much skill away from them.

8. Buffalo
The ownership group is still trying to figure things out, and its because of this the team and fan base will suffer for it.

Metropolitan Division

1. New York Rangers
The reigning Eastern Conference Champions will continue their success. While they have lost a few key pieces the leadership and coaching will keep this ship on track.

2. Pittsburgh
A new GM, new coach, new plan and new outlook will be a breath of fresh air on this squad. Add to it the acquisitions of Downie, Hornqvist, Comeau, Erhoff and Greiss things will look different in the Burgh for sure. But with the likes of Malkin and Crosby still leading the charge they are still a team not to be taken lightly.

3. Columbus
Building off of last years success, Columbus will make strides in becoming more of a threat in the division. Look for them to hit their stride early in the year, but stay consistent enough to make the post season in the second half.

4. New York Islanders
I really, really like this team which is why I have them making the playoffs. With a healthy Tavares and strong goaltending this could be a good year for this team. But when it comes to the bottom 5 in this division…anything could happen.

5. Philadelphia
Changes began last year with a new GM and new Coach. Unfortunately cap issues and the inability to move unneeded aged players have handcuffed the team into not being able to make the proper changes needed to make improvements. With that said they are still a very capable team, especially when Captain Claude Giroux is healthy.

6. Washington**
Finally after continuous failed seasons Washington’s ownership got smart and changed the biggest issues, the GM. Unfortunately poor decision making during free agency may have hurt the team more than improved it. But even after all of that I Cant shake the feeling that this team has the potential to make some noise, which makes them my “Dark Horse” team in the Metro Division.

7. Carolina
Whether management wants to believe it or not, this team is in need of a “re-tooling” or maybe even a rebuild. The Staals haven’t panned out like they intended and Cam Ward is closer to the end of his career than the start. Either way I don’t expect this team to be too much of a threat, especially if Eric Staal once again goes down due to injury

8. New Jersey
Long time Devil Martin Brodeur is no longer the back bone of this team. By not re-signing him that puts Cory Schnieder in the spot light for the first time in his career. No longer does he have Luongo or Brodeurs shadow over him… With that said what does this team have besides a strong starting goalie that makes them a real threat?

Stanley Cup Finals

Anaheim over Montreal
The Ducks were such a strong team last season that I can’t imagine them not taking a HUGE step forward by adding Kesler to the mix. I realize he isn’t the greatest player out there, but for what this team needed, he fits in perfectly. As for the Habs, just like the Ducks last year the Canadiens fell just short of really making it a GREAT season. Losing Gionta hurts, but IT will be something they overcome or address early on.

Overall, the Ducks are more sound in everyway and will be dominate all season. I think the Habs will benefit from playing in, what I believe is a weaker division.

What do you think, who are your picks this year?

Thanks for reading

Robert Slavinsky

 

Robert Slavinsky

Pittsburgh Penguins writer for hockeytracker.net. Since my childhood I have followed hockey, from the years of The Great One up to The Next One I have followed the fastest sport on ice. Growing up in Pittsburgh PA, I have had the privilege to witness some of Hockey's Greats. Since the days of Le Magnifique no other team in Pittsburgh has mattered to me but the Penguins.

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