So it’s way too early to predict what will happen in the 2021-2022 NHL Season. Anyone who would make a prediction on the divisional standings at this time would be insane…So of course Kevin and I looked at all that and said…”Sure. Why not?” I love traditions and I think this could be fun tradition to make these very early picks the day after the first day of UFA season. It will also be interesting to see what we think of these predictions come September/October. One more note: We made these picks without discussing these with each other at all…
“Kevin and Ek’s Ridiculously Early Post UFA Day Season Predictions: The Metro Division”
Kevin Allen’s Picks:
Chuck Fletcher has added Ryan Ellis, Keith Yandle and Rasmus Ristolainen to his defense and acquired Cam Atkinson to his offense. As long as Carter Hart plays to his potential, this Philadelphia team will be a force.
New York Islanders
They have the goaltending, defense, coaching and soon they will have the offense. The expectation is Lou Lamoriello is close to a couple of deals that will give the team more firepower.
With Ovechkin getting older, we want to write off the Capitals. But their roster is still highly competitive. They could use another quality defenseman. But you know GM Brian MacLellan will add one during the season. That’s what he seems to do every season.
They are going to miss Dougie Hamilton’s offensive ability. The change in goaltending should be an improvement, but their goaltending was good last season. Their defense will be strong defensively. As long as Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen are healthy, their offense will be dangerous
New York Rangers
GM Chris Drury fulfilled ownership’s desire that this team will be harder to play against. Tom Wilson shouldn't be happy that Ryan Reaves will be on the ice when the Capitals play the Rangers this season. Didn’t like the Pavel Buchnevich trade. But this team is still trending upward, and they are going to challenge for a playoff spot.
New Jersey Devils
Tom Fitzgerald did an excellent job of improving this team, but the offense isn’t yet strong enough. Give Jack Hughes another year and he will carry this team into the playoffs. But not this season.
Believe the Penguins have a move or two still to make, and could change their outlook. But as of today, the team seems stale. Where will the improvement come from? How does their goaltending stack up against the other Metropolitan goalies?
Columbus Blue Jackets
Even though the Blue Jackets did a good job recovering from the Seth Jones saga, this division seems too challenging to allow them to make up ground. Eklund’s Picks
I am going on instinct here, because as of now Lou is playing a game that we have seen before. Until his lineup is complete and where he wants it, he doesn’t show any of his cards. It can’t be a coincidence that we’ve heard no rumors about Palmieri Cizikas, or Pelach…They will be back and not as an Anders Lee replacements …but in addition. Lou isn’t letting any of these guys talk because he is up to something…That could be Tarasenko…which I have mixed feelings about. However, they also have the best goalie tandem in the NHL and one of the best coaches. They are the standard.
There are few teams that would have benefitted more from practices than the Rangers. So many young talented players…I love this teams talent and their top 6. Panarin, healthy Z, and Kakko, followed up Strome (who I believe in) Kravtsov and I believe Lafreniere jumps up pushing Kreider to line three. Adding Goodrow and Blais helps give them needed balance. They had too many of the same player and needed some sandpaper and a new system…While I liked Quinn, I love Gallant and believe he will turn the speed up and utilize this talent like never before…Also, in goal Shesterin, Georgiev..
After a completely disastrous season that left the fanbase and players apathetic I was impressed and surprised by the agressiveness and focus of Fletcher. This team showed moments over the past two seasons that hinted towards some serious scoring depth and with the goaltending potential of Carter Hart all looked promising…except the defense was in shambles. Getting Ellis, Risto, and Yandle, will give maybe half a year until Cam York is ready. The defense went from a weakness to very possibly a strength. Konecny, Farabee, and Morgan Frost joining with Couturier, Giroux, JvR, Atkinson…If the flyers coaching can put this all together the sky is the limit
The Pens could finish in 2nd or 7th. They still have the raw top end talent that will carry them on many nights.. I am also putting them in this spot based greatly on my confidence in the Hextall/Burke combo and my belief that’s they are not done tweaking. I also do believe their goaltending is better than it appeared in the playoffs…
The Devils could be in the playoff bubble if they continue to develop. I love what Fitzgerald has done in bringing up his young talent and the top pairing of Ty Smith and Dougie Hamilton is among the be in the NHL. I am a huge Blackwood fan and Bernier gives them the support they needed last year… They could grab Tarasenko…
The 4-7 spots in the Division are incredibly hard to predict. The Canes re-vamped their D by adding Cole and Bear. The addition of Andersen in goalie will help them in the regular season and also their top line is as good as any…I like the speed they play at, and their first place finish in last year’s central was impressive. But will it work in this division?
The last two shortened seasons worked pretty well for the aging Capitals. But we saw the playoffs painted a different picture. And I am not convinced their age doesn’t catch up with them in a division that keeps getting younger and faster all the time..
Columbus Blue Jackets
They will be the best last place team of any division and they could surprise teams…even battle for a playoff spot. They have lost a lot, but I do believe Voracek will have a re-birth… a new coach also makes this a hard spot to put them in…