Coyte: Holding Myself Accountable For My NHL Pre-Season Predictions

The time of reckoning has arrived. After making 21 pretty outrageous predictions back in January, it’s time to see just how badly they’ve aged. A few turned out well, others just didn’t fall my way and some (most?) look especially stupid.

Let’s see how I did! *closes eyes*

1. Artemi Panarin will win the MVP

Despite how much fun I think Panarin is, Connor McDavid should be the unanimous MVP this season. Panarin’s stats are solid, 58 points in 42 games. It looks like we’re truly entering the McDavid era if we weren’t already. It would take some truly shocking seasons from his contemporaries to pry the Hart from McDavid’s grasp.

2. No players will hit 75 points

I feel like McDavid took this prediction personally. The Oilers captain had 72 assists alone this year.

Oilers teammate Leon Draisaitl also racked up 84 points. Asides from those two freaks though, this prediction held up; the next closest scoring leader was Brad Marchand with 69 points (nice).

3. Fleury will regain the starting job in Vegas

Just going to leave this here…

4. The Flyers will win the East Division

I’m just going to pretend I never wrote this one. As soon as Sidney Crosby scored that one-handed goal against the Flyers in the first game of the season, I should have known this one was going to bite me in the ass. From there, nothing went right.

5. Tim Stützle will score more points than Quinton Byfield

Technically, I was correct. But the heads-to-head comparison between these two isn’t really fair considering Byfield spent the majority of the season in the AHL. Stützle finished the year with 29 points in 53 games, one off the 30 I predicted he would have in his rookie season.

I will say that I thought the Senators rookie would be more in the mix for the Calder than he was, but you can’t win them all. I’ll count this as a dub for myself.

6. Jack Hughes will lead the 2019 Draft Picks in points

This felt like a hot take at the time, but as the season began, it became clear that Hughes was primed to lead the 2019 class easily. With 31 points in 56 games, Hughes finished ahead of second place Nils Hoglander of the Canucks (26 points)

If Kirby Dach had been healthy all season long, this might’ve been a different story.

7. Joe Thornton will finish the season on the fourth line

To my surprise, Joe Thornton actually performed admirably for the Leafs with 20 points in 44 games. He also finished the last quarter of the year with Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews as linemates, something I predicted would not happen. Power to him.

8. Leafs will lose to the Bruins in the playoffs

This one is still up for grabs! The only way these two teams play each other is if they meet in the Cup final. Leaf fans better pray this prediction was not heard by the Hockey Gods.

9. Ovechkin will sign an extension with the Capitals

Hasn’t happened yet, but I remain confident a deal will get done.

10. The Minnesota Wild will finish dead last

In my defence, how could I have known that the Wild would go from being the most irrelevant team in hockey to must-watch Cup contenders? Kirill Kaprivoz sent a shot of electricity through this roster, Joel Eriksson-Ek emerged as a premier defensive stalwart, Marcus Foligno became a shutdown center, and we witnessed the renaissance of Cam Talbot.

Now we have a Wild team in the playoffs against Vegas, and many analysts are actually conflicted about the outcome! If you said that sentence a year ago, you would’ve been laughed all the way to Duluth.

11. No coaches will get fired during the regular season

I thought the shortened season might’ve delayed the firing of a lot of coaches, but it seems like it had the opposite effect. Owners and GMs seemed more eager to change the pace of their teams. Gone but not forgotten are Montreal’s Claude Julien, Calgary’s Geoff Ward and New York’s David Quinn.

Arizona’s Rick Tocchet and Columbus’ John Torterella won’t be returning to their teams next season, but I don’t count those as firings as much as parting ways.

12. Denis Gurianov will lead the Central Divison in goals scored.

I just like Gurianov okay.

13. Seattle will poach a major hockey exec or coach

This has yet to happen, but with the days until the expansion draft counting down, the Kraken are starting to make moves. They just signed their first player, and it very well could be that a coach or exec follows suit. It seems baffling to me that they haven’t hired Gerard Gallant or Bruce Boudreau yet.

14. Dougie Hamilton will win the Norris trophy

Another strong season from Hamilton, but this year’s Norris will likely be heading to New York’s Adam Fox.

15. Taylor Hall will outscore Jack Eichel

See, I do make smart choices sometimes.

Don’t think too much about the fact that Eichel was injured half the season and that Hall got traded to the Bruins. Final count, Hall with 33 points, Eichel with 18.

16. Josh Anderson will score more points than Max Domi

Anderson was the objectively better player between the two this season, but both he and Domi finished the year with 24 points. I’ll give myself a half point on this one.

17. Chicago will make the playoffs.

This looked like a solid pick for a while as Kevin Lankinen dominated opponents. But reality eventually set in for the Blackhawks, and they find themselves outside the playoff picture, albeit, by a smaller margin than most would gave wagered at the start of the year.

18. The Ducks will trade Ryan Getzlaf

Cowards.

19. San Jose doesn’t get better

Probably the easiest prediction I made out of the 21. I had very little faith in anything going right for the Sharks this season, and my lack of faith was rewarded. This is a team that’s straddled to an aging core with massive contracts. Only Evander Kane, Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl have any real value yet. Forget Buffalo and Colombus, if there was a roster reset button if they could, San Jose would be first in line to smack it.

20. No less than 5 game get cancelled due to COVID-19

Credit where credit’s due, the NHL actually managed to pull off their 56-game season fairly smoothly. Forcing the Canucks to cram in their games after they were forced to shut down for nearly a month due to an internal COVID outbreak didn’t look great, but not one game ended up being cancelled.

21. No team will be punished for going over the cap

Ask the Florida Panthers how they’re liking this prediction now that they have to face a Lightning team that’s going to recoup Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos off LTIR without any cap repercussions. They’re literally $17 million-ish over the cap! Insanity.

Final Tally – 6.5 / 21

Hopefully this isn’t an indication of what’s to come for my playoff bracket…

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