Dynasty Hockey League

Season 30 Early Predictions

Rather than prepare an in-depth analysis of each team, again I thought it would be beneficial to split the conferences into three categories: Contenders, middlers and rebuilders. With regards to this, let’s analysis the Eastern Conference where, in my humble opinion, 6 playoff spots should be locks this season.

Eastern Conference Contenders:
1. Boston
2. Buffalo
3. Florida
4. Montreal
5. Tampa Bay
6. Toronto

All should be playoff teams but unlike past seasons, at least one team – Tampa Bay – has cap space and youth to trade to make major acquisitions immediately in order to help their roster. As for the rest, the true jockeying among this group will arise at the trade deadline when areas of perceived weakness will be addressed due to the cap bump and whoever guesses successfully while retaining team chemistry will likely emerge as the Eastern Conference champion. As the top lines will tend to offset one another among this group, we believe team depth will be key this season and several of these rosters were constructed with such depth in mind. After a season long test of a shitty middle-tier goalie combined with an all-star roster failed, Toronto strengthened their goaltending and should be poised to be a top team in the Eastern Conference. Although Tampa Bay made a lot of deals to evolve into an Eastern Conference contender, the bold moves in Boston were interesting to watch as stars came and went during this off-season with more regularity than a senior on a heavy fibre diet.

Eastern Conference Middlers:
1. Carolina
2. Ottawa
3. New Jersey

Out of these three, Ottawa is the closest to being a lock for the post-season but until they resolve their cap issues they reside as a middlers. New Jersey were the regular season points leader in the Eastern Conference and could quite well do it again but I’m not betting on a team anchored by Jaroslav Halek in net as being more than a bubble team. One move for a top-flight goaltender and New Jersey could position themselves at the top of the conference again. Carolina made a lot of moves and continues to try to trade garage sale pieces for quality returns. Fortunately, they found a few takers this past off-season. Still they likely lead the league in have players who are overpriced with respect to salary vs ratings (Seguin, Toffoli, Voracek, OEL, Lindholm) and that’s not a winning formula.

Eastern Conference Rebuilders:
1. New York Islanders
2. New York Rangers
3. Philadelphia
4. Philadelphia
5. Washington
6. Winnipeg

Rebuilding is part of the cycle within any league format. For a few of these teams, they have either been rebuilding for too long or miscalculated their contending window as the moved to middling status only to slide back to re-builders. Joining this group this season are Pittsburgh and Washington – both of which had prolonged runs as contenders. This off-season demonstrated that Philadelphia is firming on the hunt for Quinton Byfield but they should head into next off-season with close to $150M and will likely look to add a key piece through free agency to build around very soon.

Western Conference Contenders:
1. Calgary
2. Colorado
3. Dallas
4. Detroit
5. Los Angeles
6. St. Louis

As 6 positions were predicted for the Eastern Conference, I felt it necessary to be ballsy enough to go to that level in the West. As in past pre-season predictions, the branch I climbed out on to make this prediction is more precarious in the West and I fully expect to fall on my ass as there are 5 other teams capable of making the playoffs in the West. Of these six teams, only Dallas has the cap space to add anything of significance without having to subtract from their current roster. St. Louis still lack enough players to ice a roster and have changed their opinion on goaltending by adding Carey Price for 2 seasons. Fortunately, they continue to find other GMs willing to bail them out from their cap problems and even get solid pieces in return. Best trade of the off-season has to go to LA for getting a top-pairing defenseman in Shea Theodore for what likely ends up being another version of Emerson Etem.

Western Conference Middlers:
1. Chicago
2. Nashville
3. San Jose
4. Vancouver
5. Vegas

At this time, I fully expect Vancouver and San Jose to make the post-season; however, given that Vancouver’s top players are 2nd/3rd liners on other Western Conference contenders and San Jose would be better suited to have a Jacques Plante cut-out as their goaltender, both have significant issues to overcome and will be pushed by Chicago, Nashville and Vegas. Chicago and Vegas are helmed by new GMs and most other GMs were of the belief that both of these teams would enter a rebuild. As for Chicago, no one seems to know his direction – including his mentor. However, rumour has it that he didn’t even acknowledge an offer of 5 firsts and/or recent firsts on one of his core pieces but instead grossly overpaid for a mid-pairing dman the same day. I see Alex losing the Epic Failure Award this season. Vegas did a tremendous job building a solid team but could sell-off a lot of assets quickly if the season starts poorly or goes south faster than Sherman and recover a ton of assets towards a rebuild. For as good of a job as Vegas did to shore up their line-up, Nashville appears to have taken the opposite approach and were absent for the bulk of free agency. They need to have the league’s best goalie stand on his head for them to reach the playoffs and still need to find a few defensemen just to ice a roster.

Western Conference Rebuilders:
1. Anaheim
2. Columbus
3. Edmonton
4. Minnesota

Again, no disrespect but Columbus and Edmonton will be mathematically eliminated from the post-season by the 30 game mark but such is the pain of rebuilding. Minnesota are just entering the rebuild phase and still have a few assets to move before bottoming out. As for Anaheim, they are poised to be the next team to make the rapid leap from rebuilder to contender and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this happen as soon as season 31.

Championship Prediction: Colorado over Buffalo in 6 games.

Good luck to all.

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