It’s go-time Thursday for the Rangers and Islanders, but not too late for my annual predictions. With injuries and trades, this forecast could be ready to the trash can by April, so take it with a grain of ice melt. It’s a snapshot of where I think the chips will fall on the eve of opening night.
4. Rangers (wild card)
5. Islanders (wild card)
On paper, Washington has the deepest club, from goaltending to defense to Alex Ovechkin. The Flyers, Rangers and Islanders will battle for the third, fourth and fifth place and make the playoffs.
1. Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay is loaded, back to front, and start the season with Steven Stamkos (injured late last year) and Jonathan Drouin (holdout/minors part of last year). They should win the East.
4. St. Louis (wild card)
This may be the toughest, most competitive division, 1 though 6. Nashville and Chicago seem like they’ll battle for the top spot in the West. Dallas may be a little overrated and Winnipeg’s a sleeper, possibly ousting St. Louis.
1. Los Angeles
2. San Jose
4. Calgary (wild card)
The top four should make the playoffs. Edmonton is getting closer. Not the year for Arizona and Vancouver.