Predictions made by Frank Fleming on October 3, 2006 at 11:25 pm EST.
2006/07 NHL PREVIEW
ART ROSS: Jarome Iginla Flames
RICHARD: Joe Thornton Sharks
ADAMS: Michel Therrien Penguins
CALDER: Evgeni Malkin Penguins
SELKE: John Madden Devils
VEZINA: Martin Brodeur Devils
NORRIS: Chris Pronger Ducks
HART: Joe Thornton Sharks
SMYTHE: Jonathan Cheechoo Sharks
Philadelphia Flyers 86 points
The window of opportunity is slamming shut in Philadelphia, for nearly a decade the Flyers have a had a Stanley Cup look, but some how every here ever year something goes wrong, usually injuries. Look for Peter Forsberg to spend more time on the sidelines as the Flyers miss the playoffs.
Buffalo Sabres over New Jersey Devils
San Jose Sharks over Anaheim Ducks
STANLEY CUP FINALS:
San Jose Sharks over Buffalo Sabres
Vancouver Canucks 101 points
Roberto Luongo gives the Canucks a goalie which they were sorely lacking, and they do have the talent to win the cup. However, that one intangible known as clutch play is sorely missing, as somehow someway the Canucks will disappoint like they always do.
Tampa Bay Lightning 83 points
Before the lock out the Lightning rose the cup high, after the lockout they learned they were not as good as they were in 2004. Look for the Lightning to continue to fade as they end up falling short of the playoffs, with plenty of rebuilding ahead.
Boston Bruins 94 points
Last year was an epic disaster in Boston, as the Bruins traded Joe Thronton to the Sharks, where he went on to win the Hart Trophy. This year it will be all about defense as the addition of Zdeno Chara will help them get back to the playoffs where they will be a tough team to knock out.
Ottawa Senators 103 points
The Senators best chance to win the cup was last season and the fizzled in the second round, this year they won't be nearly as good as they will have a tough time just getting home ice in the first round. Once the playoffs begin then it will be another year and another choke.
Florida Panthers 64 points
While they had Roberto Luongo the Panthers were stuck in mediocrity. Without Luongo look out below there is not much here and there wont be much fans either as the team that once made the Finals in its 3rd season now is in worse shape then an expansion club.
Atlanta Thrashers 91 points
One of these years the high scoring Thrashers will find enough goaltending to make it into the playoffs. That year will be this year as the dynamic Thrashers offense will continue to light up the scoreboard as Kari Lehtonen is just good enough for the fans of Atlanta to enjoy playoff hockey.
New York Islanders 68 points
Alone is the team on an island with no fans, playing in the empty Nassau Mausoleum, Islander fans could look up and stare at 4 Stanley Cup Banners and remember the good times, as they look down at Rick DiPietro and wonder how long 15 years is going to feel.
Montreal Canadiens 85 points
Last year the Canadiens put together a solid season and slipped into the playoffs after a slow start. This year they won't be as lucky, Cristobal Huet will not come close to the level of play he had last season as the Habs end up on the outside looking in.
Pittsburgh Penguins 88 points
Evgeni Malkin may be hurt now, but he will be back and when he come back the Penguins will have one of the most dynamic duo's since Mario-Jagr in the 90s. Look for Marc Andre-Fleury to make a major step forward in his development as the Penguins will get better through out the season and make the playoffs wit a late season surge.
Washington Capitals 77 points
Lonely is the man who is on an island, with not much talent around him, Alexander Ovechkin will be the only reason to watch this dreadful team. Without Ovechkin who may already be the most exciting player in the NHL the Caps would be 20 points worse, and that's hard to imagine as it stands now they are among the bottom barrel of the NHL.
Toronto Maple Leafs 81 points
Before the lock out the Maple Leafs were a perennial Cup Contender. Now they are clearly in rebuild mold as much of the talent was aging to begin with, now are past their prime in the new faster NHL. Look for the Leafs to slump again as they land in last place.
Buffalo Sabres 110 points
Hideous uniforms but terrific play will be the story of the Sabres who got within 1 game of the Stanley Cup Finals last year. This year they don't fall short as they will be on hockey's center stage, allowing all of the World to see the NHL's biggest eyesore-The Buffaslug.
Carolina Hurricanes 102 points
Last year the Hurricanes stormed out of nowhere to win the Stanley Cup. This year they will learn life at the top is as rough as the Atlantic during a Category 4. Look for the Hurricanes to be tossed and turned, but still be good enough t win the Southeast, before falling early in the playoffs.
New Jersey Devils 103 points
As long as the Devils have Martin Brodeur, the greatest goalie of all time they will be a threat to get into the playoffs and to get hot and win it all. Look for them to coast most of the season, falling short of the first place, but making allot of noises out of the 5th spot in the playoffs.
New York Rangers 105 points
Last year the Rangers were back in the playoffs although it was just a cameo appearance as they hammered by the Devils in 4 straight. A year wiser, the Rangers young talent won't go into a late season swoon this year, as the addition of Brendan Shannahan will have them as a threat to make the Finals.
Anaheim Ducks 113 Points
Chris Pronger is on board and the Ducks are the favorites in the NHL. These Ducks won't be lame ducks as they live up to the hype and post the best record in the NHL. In the playoffs they will be a force too, as the easily reach the Western Finals.
Nashville Predators 108 points
The Predators will be rockin' Nashville, as the Red Wings no longer hold the top spot in the Central look for plenty of excitement as the Predators join elite status in the NHL by battling all season for the President's Trophy. However, in the playoffs don't be surprised if there's a letdown.
Calgary Flames 106 points
With Mikka Kipprusoff and Jarome Iginla the Flames will be the team to beat in the Northwest Division look for Iginila to rejoin the top scorers race after a disappointing 05/06 season as the Flames are the best hope to end Canada's 13-year Cup less drought.
San Jose Sharks 111 points
Joe Thornton for a whole season and Jonathan Chechoo give the Sharks the best line in hockey, as their rivalry with the Ducks could develop into the best in the Western Conference, as the two teams will emerge at the head of the class with the winner of their playoff battle winning the Stanley Cup.
Edmonton Oilers 84 points
Within 1 win of the cup last year the Oilers were the eighth seed from hell as they stunned the Red Wings, Sharks and Ducks before nearly coming all the way back from down 3-1 in the Finals. However the loss of Chris Pronger will prove too much to overcome as they fall short of the playoffs.
Detroit Red Wings 96 points
Steve Yzerman is retired, Brendan Shannhna is in New York, and Dominick Hasek should be retired as well. Nicklas Lnidstrom is still the best defense man in hockey but the beginning of the end of the Wings has arrived look for them to be fighting all season just for the playoffs as they are no longer an elite team.
Columbus Blue Jackets 87 points
One year there is going to be enough talent here that the Blue Jackets make it into the playoffs. However, it won't be this year as Rick Nash continues to have nobody around him. A word of warning though is not to take them to lightly as they will be a strong pesky team all year.
OUT OF THE PLAYOFFS
Chicago Blackhawks 61 points
Chicago Hopeless, this team is bad beyond bad not even the Superfans can believe they are good, heck even DA Bears can lace up skates and win against this horrendous team. The Blackhawks can't even beat the AHL Wolves in a best-of-7 series. It's been 45 years since they won the cup and there's not much hope for the next 45 years either.
Minnesota Wild 90 points
After years of penny pinching the Wild have opened the vault bringing in players like Mark Parrish, Keith Carney, and Kim Johnnson all of whom will help guide the Wild back into the playoffs where they will be a pesky team for anyone who crosses their path.
Phoenix Coyotes 82 points
Not even if Wayne Gretzky strapped on the skates himself can he pull this dead horse into the playoffs, with the Sharks and the Ducks the Pacific is going to be tough swimming for a team from the desert as they continue a blah existence with no real star on the horizon to change that.
Los Angeles Kings 87 points
The return of Rob Blake will be the biggest attraction in LA, who will spend the season in the Ducks shadow. However, with new Coach Marc Crawford don't be shocked if they find a way to slip into the playoffs and face the Ducks in the first round.
Colorado Avalanche 78 points
AVALANCHE!!!!! The only rumble surrounding Colorado is the Avalanche falling down the side of the Western Conference Standings, gone are the days when they had the deepest talent poll now whose left is over the hill, that the Avs will fall to the bottom of in the Northwest.
Dallas Stars 80 points
Warning Dallas has Eric Lindros, and the more he plays the more the Stars will fall, Goalie Marty Turco is good in the regular season only, and Mike Modano has lost his captaincy, all spells doom for the Stars who underachieve to an epic level and finish in last place.
St. Louis Blues 67 points
After last year there is no place to go but up for the Blues. Unfortunately with allot of good teams ahead of them they won't go up that far. Look for them to leave last place but not go much further, as a new era begins with John Davidson at the helm, and don't bet against him turning the Blues around within a few years.
Coaches Who Will be Fired
Gerard Gallant Columbus Blue Jackets
Glen Hanlon Washington Capitals
Ken Hitchcok Philadelphia Flyers
Mike Kitchen St. Louis Blues
Jacques Martin Florida Panthers
Bryan Murray Ottawa Senators
Joel Quenneville Colorado Avalanche
Dave Tippett Dallas Stars
Trent Yawney Chicago Blackhawks