NHL

2021-22 NHL Preview: Division standings, Stanley Cup winner, more

NHL preview predictions Stanley Cup Islanders Avalanche
The Islanders and Avalanche are two of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup.
Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

We could be on the precipice of a legitimate NHL dynasty should the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Stanley Cup this season — which would be their third-in-a-row. They’d be the first team to win three straight titles in the sport since the New York Islanders won four consecutive Stanley Cups between 1980-1983.

Those very same Islanders are the team that the Lightning has hurdled over in the semifinal stage in each of the last two seasons, the first in six games within the COVID bubble in Edmonton before they shut down New York in Game 7 in Tampa Bay just four months ago.

While Tampa Bay has lost some pieces to their championship puzzle — most notably their entire third line — the Islanders reorganized its ranks in preparation of an even stronger push toward an Eastern Conference title; which would be their first since 1984.

Speaking of long Stanley Cup droughts, the Colorado Avalanche, who haven’t won a Cup in 20 years, remains the perceived big gun of the Western Conference with as well-rounded a roster as one can find in the NHL. An explosive offense is led by one of the game’s superstars in Nathan MacKinnon while a stout defense that’s backstopped by a Vezina favorite in Darcy Kuemper also possesses offensive flair to create a relentless attack. 

On paper, at least, the gap between the top two teams in the West — Colorado and the Vegas Golden Knights — seems stark. But that’s why we play the games, because the Avalanche only extended their drought of not seeing the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2001-02 last year.

Regardless, we tried to forecast how the 2021-22 NHL season, which begins Tuesday night, will play out including divisional standings, postseason play, the Cup winner, and major player awards.

The top three teams in each division are guaranteed a playoff spot (*) while the next two teams in the conference with the most points are awarded wild-card berths (**).

2021-22 NHL Stanley Cup Predictions

Atlantic Division

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning*
  2. Florida Panthers*
  3. Toronto Maple Leafs*
  4. Boston Bruins**
  5. Montreal Canadiens
  6. Ottawa Senators
  7. Detroit Red Wings
  8. Buffalo Sabres

Metropolitan Division

  1. New York Islanders*
  2. Washington Capitals*
  3. Carolina Hurricanes*
  4. Pittsburgh Penguins**
  5. New York Rangers
  6. Philadelphia Flyers
  7. New Jersey Devils
  8. Columbus Blue Jackets

Eastern Conference Playoffs, 1st Round

  • Lightning def. Penguins
  • Islanders def. Bruins
  • Panthers def. Maple Leafs
  • Hurricanes def. Capitals

Eastern Conference 2nd Round

  • Islanders def. Hurricanes
  • Lightning def. Panthers

Eastern Conference Final

  • Islanders def. Lightning

 

Central Division

  1. Colorado Avalanche*
  2. Minnesota Wild*
  3. Winnipeg Jets*
  4. Dallas Stars**
  5. St. Louis Blues**
  6. Chicago Blackhawks
  7. Nashville Predators
  8. Arizona Coyotes

Pacific Division

  1. Vegas Golden Knights*
  2. Edmonton Oilers*
  3. Vancouver Canucks*
  4. Calgary Flames
  5. Los Angeles Kings
  6. Seattle Kraken
  7. San Jose Sharks
  8. Anaheim Ducks

Western Conference Playoffs, 1st Round

  • Avalanche def. Blues
  • Golden Knights def. Stars
  • Wild def. Jets
  • Oilers def. Canucks

Western Conference 2nd Round

  • Avalanche def. Wild
  • Golden Knights def. Oilers

Western Conference Final

  • Avalanche def. Golden Knights

 

Stanley Cup Final

  • Avalanche def. Islanders

 

2021-22 NHL Player Award Predictions

Hart Trophy (NHL MVP)

Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

 

Vezina Trophy (Best Goalie)

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning

 

Art Ross Trophy (Most Points Recorded)

Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers

 

Rocket Richard Trophy (Most Goals Scored)

Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs

 

Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman)

Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche

 

Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year)

Trevor Zegras, Anaheim Ducks

 

Selke Trophy (Top defensive forward)

Mark Stone, Vegas Golden Knights

 

Lady Byng (Sportsmanship and Skill)

Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers

 

William M. Jennings Trophy (Fewest Goals Allowed)

Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin, New York Islanders

 

Conn Smythe Award (Playoff MVP)

Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche

 

Jack Adams Award (Coach of the Year)

Barry Trotz, New York Islanders

This article first appeared on AMNY.com

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