Predictions made by Frank Fleming on October 3, 2007 at 11:40 pm EST.
2006/07 NHL PREVIEW
ART ROSS: Sidney Crosby Penguins
RICHARD: Joe Thornton Sharks
ADAMS: Joel Quenneville Avalanche
CALDER: Jonathan Toews Blackhawks
SELKE: John Madden Devils
VEZINA: Martin Brodeur Devils
NORRIS: Niklas Lidstrom Red Wings
HART: Sidney Crosby Penguins
SMYTHE: Chris Drury Rangers
Philadelphia Flyers 88 points
Some think the Flyers will go from 56 points to the playoffs as a busy off-season have Flyers fans buzzing again. However, Rome was not built in a day and a hockey team just can't be assembled in the off-season. Look for them to be a much better team but fall just short of the playoffs.
New York Rangers over Pittsburgh Penguins
Detroit Red Wings over San Jose Sharks
STANLEY CUP FINALS:
New York Rangers over Detroit Red Wings
Vancouver Canucks 102 points
Last year Goalie Roberto Luongo helped carry the Canucks to a division title with 47 wins and an outstanding .921 save %. Look for more magic from Luongo this year as the competitive Northwest could have the most intriguing battles for position.
Tampa Bay Lightning 100 points
The Lightning have plenty of talent on their roster as they should once again be one of the top teams in the South. While that may not translate into much come playoff time it should challenge the Hurricanes all season for the division title.
Boston Bruins 80 points
The Bruins were a mess last year from the start of the season as they at time looked like they hardly cared on the ice while finishing last. A new Coach in Claude Julien was brought in for tighter discipline, while Goalie Manny Fernandez was signed to help the situations in the nets; it should make the Bruins slightly better, but won't make them good.
Ottawa Senators 106 points
Coming off their trip to the Stanley Cup Finals last year the Senators might have a case of Finals Hangover early, but in a division that will be considerably weaker it should not cost them too much, as the Senators should easily win the division title.
Florida Panthers 87 points
The Panthers have also take strides to improve themselves in the off-season adding Goalie Tomas Vokun and Richard Zhtinik, but they too have a long climb to make the playoffs. With many good teams in the East the Panthers should be better, but in the end they will fall a few games short of their goal of making the playoffs.
Atlanta Thrashers 94 points
The Thrashers will go only as far Goalie Kari Lehtonen takes them when he plays the Thrashers are one of the best young teams in the league when he is out the Thrashers have trouble playing keep up. Look for them to at least slip into the playoffs again as they could potentially face the Senators and Danny Heatley in the first round.
New York Islanders 58 points
One Score and 5 years ago the Islanders were everything hockey winning their fourth straight cup, they even captured the New York market. Now the Islanders are a mere afterthought a terrible front office who can't keep any players, their trade for Ryan Smyth helped them slip into the playoffs but at what cost as the Isles traded the future have no Smyth and are likely the worst team in the NHL.
Montreal Canadiens 74 points
The 24-Time Stanley Cup Champions have never meant so little to the NHL, in a year with many solid Free Agents available the Canadiens seemed invisible in the off-season, and with a team with not much front line talent that could drop them quickly to the bottom rung of the Eastern Ladder, look for the Habs to be out of it early as they finish in Last Place.
Pittsburgh Penguins 108 points
They may be young, and they may be the most talented team in the NHL, but to win the Stanley Cup the Penguins must have some growing pains and must learn how to win in the postseason, they will accomplish many of those lessons this year as they make it to the Conference Finals.
Washington Capitals 84 points
Alexander Ovechkin last year must have felt like the loneliest man in the NHL, as one of the most talented young players was stuck on a bad roster in Washington. While nobody will confuse the Capitals with a cup contender things should be slightly better, as the Capitals now have a few veterans to help the Russian star, but it won't be nearly enough.
Toronto Maple Leafs 90 points
After just missing the playoff last years the Maple Leafs should be able to find their may back in the playoffs this year led by new Goalie Vesa Toskala, while Jason Blake who scored 40 goals last year should give Mats Sundin a much needed help on the offensive side.
Buffalo Sabres 86 points
Last year Buffalo though their team was poised to win the Stanley Cup winning the President's Trophy. However, heartbreak in the Eastern Conference Finals was just the start of the Sabres woes as they lost Chris Drury, Daniel Brier, and Dainius Zubrus. Without those three players the Sabres would have went nowhere last year.
Carolina Hurricanes 103 points
After missing the playoffs last year the Hurricanes should at the very least bounce back to regain the top spot in the Southeast Division, with Goalie Cam Ward rebounding from a disappointing season, to give fans in Carolina hope for another run at the Stanley Cup.
New Jersey Devils 98 points
The loss of Brian Rafalski and Scott Gomez will hurt, but the Devils are used to replacing key players, while they may not be a top of the line contender any more their Goalie Martin Brodeur still makes them dangerous, if they are not buried by playing their first nine games on the road the Devils should once again be one of the best teams in the East.
New York Rangers 110 points
In years past the Rangers have added big name fee agents and fallen on their face, but this time around things are different instead of counting on Chris Drury and Scott Gomez to build the team they complete the team as players like Jaromir Jagr, Brendan Shannahan and G Henrik Lundquist already made them a strong contender.
Anaheim Ducks 98 Points
In Hollywood many times great stories are followed up by bad sequels for the defending Stanley Cup Champion this season is Spiderman 3 a sequal that leaves you unfulfilled as they will be hard pressed to rise to far without Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne who have yet to retire, or yet to indicate they will play this year.
Nashville Predators 80 points
Some of the best Country Songs ever written have been about loneliness, love lost and life on the road, this year the Predators can sing about all three. "All Alone in an Empty Arena" "All My Stars are Shining Elsewhere" and the unforgettable "Dreaming of Playing in Hamilton".
Calgary Flames 100 points
Mike Keenan could be heaven or hell for a team, either turning a mid-level team into a contender or breaking a contender apart. For at least the first year the news should be good for the Flames, as Jarome Iginla, Dion Phaneuf and Miikka Kipprusoff are the type of players Keenan usually thrives with.
San Jose Sharks 111 points
The Sharks have all the pieces to win the Stanley Cup and have proven the ability to win in the regular season, but some how that dose not translate in the playoffs as they have fizzled in the second round each of the last two years. Look for the Sharks again to have a great regular season, but unless they can win the cup San Jose fans will finish the season disappointed again.
Edmonton Oilers 72 points
Just two years ago the Oilers were one win from the Stanley Cup as they made an improbable run as an 8th Seed. However the harsh reality is the Oilers even under the new economic structure still have trouble competing. Look for them to quickly get buried in the strong Northwest Division.
Detroit Red Wings 109 points
Time goes on and players get older and players retire, but the Red Wings like a blue chip stock remain one of the top contenders for the Stanley Cup, the additions of Brian Rafalski and Dallas Drake could even put them over the top this year as the Wings should make their strongest statement come playoff time once again.
Columbus Blue Jackets 76 points
The Blue Jackets are going to finish in last place. I can say more here, but what can I say the Jackets are always in last place it seems they never challenged for a playoff spot and other then Rick Nash have nobody on the roster that will make that change this year.
OUT OF THE PLAYOFFS
Chicago Blackhawks 86 points
There may soon be Chicago hope again in the NHL as all signs are pointing that the Blackhawks have turned the corner. While the playoffs don't seem likely this year, Rookie Jonathan Toews should help bring excitement back to the United Center as he makes a run for the Calder and the Blackhawks battle until the end of the season.
Minnesota Wild 92 points
The Wild are the fourth of a strong group of contenders in the Northwest Division, while they may not have the marquee players of the Canucks, Flames, and Avalanche they are none the less solid and should be able to sneak into the playoffs and perhaps throw a scare into one of the teams in front of them.
Phoenix Coyotes 64 points
In the world of Professional Wrestling, the Wrestler who is there just to lose is known as a Jobber, that is why it is appropriate the Coyotes play in Jobbing Arena, because they will be there just to lose on most nights as the Great One's Coaching Career continues to be a disaster.
Los Angeles Kings 88 points
The Kings may be a year away from making a return to the playoffs, as Rookie Goalie Jonathan Bernier will likely see allot of ice time. He is the real deal and will be one of the top net minders in a short period of time, but in 2008 he won't be able to get the Kings over hump as they fall a few games short of the playoffs.
Colorado Avalanche 104 points
Even though they missed the playoffs for the first time since moving to Colorado last year as rookies Wojtek Wolski and Paul Stastny played key roles in the team. Look for them to jump back to the top of the Northwest Division with the addition of Ryan Smyth playing a key role.
Dallas Stars 94 points
The Stars do know how to win in the regular season, and should slip into the playoffs, but in a tough conference don't look for them rise to high as they will have to scramble in the final weeks to slip into the playoffs where Marty Turco can fail again miserably this time without being a favorite.
St. Louis Blues 90 points
Two years ago when the NHL emerged from the Lockout the Blues were a mess, looking for new owners selling off their top players, and struggling to keep their fan base. Well the road back in St. Louis is beginning to take shape as they are back in the market for stars after signing Paul Kariya, and should be able to make a run at the playoffs.
Coaches Who Will be Fired
Wayne Gretzky Phoenix Coyotes
Glen Hanlon Washington Capitals
Craig MacTavish Edmonton Oilers
Dave Tippett Dallas Stars
Barry Trotz Nashville Predators