It's that time of year again. After a successful first season on Edge Work, the crew is back at it for another year on the ice.
Last year's predictions left plenty to be desired, and while there were some bright spots, not a single one of us had the Vegas Golden Knights or Florida Panthers reaching the Stanley Cup Final. We've added a fifth member to our prediction panel this year to increase our odds of nailing something… anything.
Is this the year Connor McDavid's individual success translates to success for the Edmonton Oilers? Which of last season's playoff teams do we expect to miss the postseason this year? Who will surprise us all? Who won't? Will Zack be a complete homer and pick the Leafs to win the Cup and Auston Matthews to win the Rocket? Will So Money's redeem himself after picking a Penguins-Blues Stanley Cup Final last season? Will noted Blackhawks fan Alex B. Smith back Connor Bedard in the Calder market? Will Rob get anything right? Will I - Alex Moretto - miss a single pick? Will any of us get the Cup winner right?
All these answers and more as Edge Work’s so-called experts give our predictions for the upcoming season, so you have receipts to show us just how wrong we were come June.
There was plenty of consensus among our predictions, despite five different Stanley Cup Champions. All five of us believe the Toronto Maple Leafs will win the Atlantic for the first time in franchise history, while four of five have the Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars, and Edmonton Oilers topping their respective divisions. The Leafs, Hurricanes, Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils, and New York Rangers were all consensus playoff picks in the East, while the Stars, Oilers, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Vegas Golden Knights, and Calgary Flames were all consensus playoff picks in the West. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Minnesota Wild were close to a consensus (four picks each), with Alex B. Smith on an island in leaving them out of the playoffs. Other teams with playoff support were the Florida Panthers (3), Pittsburgh Penguins (3), Seattle Kraken (3), Ottawa Senators (2), Buffalo Sabres (2), New York Islanders (1), Nashville Predators (1), Vancouver Canucks (1), and Winnipeg Jets (1).
Stanley Cup predictions
If history has taught us anything, it’s that pinning your hopes on the Hurricanes or Leafs in the playoffs is a bad idea. So, naturally, all five of us had one of those teams as the East’s representative in the Stanley Cup Final, with So Money (Carolina) and Zack (Toronto) picking them to finally get over the hump and win it all. Four of five have the Presidents’ Trophy favorite Hurricanes in the East final. Meanwhile, in the West, the Oilers were the biggest constant. Four of five have them reaching the West final, but just two have them winning it, while only I believe in the Oilers delivering when it matters. The Stars, who received plenty of support on Edge Work last season and delivered with big series wins over the Wild and Kraken before falling just short of the Cup final, are a popular choice again amongst our so-called experts, with three picks to reach the Conference Final, two to advance to the Stanley Cup Final, and one to win it all.
Surprises, flops, and worst team
The surprise teams varied considerably across the five of us. Rob picked the Sharks as his surprise, noting “in that they won’t be an absolute dumpster.” High bar, Rob. So Money likes the Canucks to defy expectations and sneak in as a wild card, but that looks to be about the extent of it. Zack’s surprise team are the Islanders, who he believes… will finish in the exact same spot they did last season. Way to go out on a limb, Zachary! I like the Predators to surprise and not only make the playoffs but finish top three in the Central and shock the Stars in round one. Not to be outdone, Alex B. Smith went a step further with his surprise, picking the Kraken to win the Pacific Division en route to becoming the second expansion team in as many years to win the Stanley Cup. Atlanta’s next, right Alex?
Connor McDavid has the opportunity to become the first player to repeat as Hart Trophy winner since Alex Ovechkin in 2008-09, and four of us believe he will do just that, while three of us expect him to also repeat as the league’s leading goal scorer, with Tage Thompson and Auston Matthews also being picked.
The Stars love from above was replicated in the award section, with Jake Oettinger being a popular Vezina pick and Miro Heiskanen receiving some love for the Norris. Juuse Saros – who finished fourth, third, and sixth in Vezina voting the last three seasons – and Ilya Sorokin – second last season behind winner Linus Ullmark – were the other Vezina picks. 2022 Norris winner and current favorite Cale Makar was the most popular selection to be voted as the league’s best defenseman, with 2021 winner Adam Fox and 2018 first overall pick Rasmus Dahlin also receiving some love.
Connor Bedard, an overwhelming Calder Trophy favorite, is not everyone’s choice to win the award with Logan Cooley receiving two picks, perhaps swaying voters with his preseason heroics. I personally am heavily invested in Bedard Calder stock, so I appreciate them not making this a unanimous choice and thus irrevocably jinxing him.
After nailing Jim Montgomery at 25-1 last year to win the Jack Adams – humble brag – I’m doubling down on my Predators take this season and backing Andrew Brunette (30-1) to win this year in his first season in Nashville. Sabres coach Don Granato (15-1) is a popular name to back in this market ahead of the season, with Zack and Alex believing that popularity is warranted. So Money likes Rod Brind’Amour (10-1) to win his second Jack Adams – though with expectations awfully high in Carolina what will the Hurricanes have to do for him to actually claim the honor? First-year coach Ryan Huska (35-1) has a clear path to winning if he can right the ship in Calgary and lead the Flames back to the playoffs. Rob believes that will be the case.
HAVE YOUR SAY! Tweet us @EdgeWorkHQ with your predictions, to tell us how wrong we are, or to berate us for insulting your favorite team.
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