Lace up those skates, kids, it’s time for hockey season.
The 2017-18 NHL season starts up on Wednesday night with four games, including the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins beginning their title defense with a banner raising before taking on the St. Louis Blues.
Thursday night signals the start for the New York Rangers as they’re at home to face the Colorado Avalanche while the cross-town rival Islanders get their season started in Columbus on Friday against the Blue Jackets.
On that same night, the league officially welcomes its newest team, the Vegas Golden Knights as they visit the Dallas Stars for their first-ever regular season game.
All the while, hockey fans will be sure to keep an eye out for its largest stars like Edmonton Oilers youngster Connor McDavid, who recorded a 100-point season as a 20-year-old on his way to league MVP honors.
Still four months away from his 21st birthday, the Canadian center is expected to continue his ascent in becoming the face of the NHL.
It will surely be another entertaining season, though there might be a few calls for some more parity in the league. In the past nine years, we’ve only seen four-different Stanley Cup winners (Blackhawks, Kings, Bruins, Penguins).
Here is how I think the season will pan out. Those in italics denote playoff teams:
Pacific Division Standings
1. Edmonton Oilers– 107 points
2. Anaheim Ducks– 102 points
3. Calgary Flames– 95 points
4. San Jose Sharks- 93 points
5. Los Angeles Kings- 82 points
6. Arizona Coyotes- 81 points
7. Vancouver Canucks- 60 points
8. Vegas Golden Knights- 51 points
Central Division Standings
1. Nashville Predators– 103 points
2. St. Louis Blues– 99 points
3. Dallas Stars– 98 points
4. Minnesota Wild– 97 points
5. Chicago Blackhawks– 95 points
6. Winnipeg Jets- 90 points
7. Colorado Avalanche- 55 points
Atlantic Division Standings
1. Toronto Maple Leafs– 101 points
2. Tampa Bay Lightning– 100 points
3. Boston Bruins– 97 points
4. Montreal Canadiens- 95 points
5. Ottawa Senators- 89 points
6. Buffalo Sabres- 86 points
7. Florida Panthers- 81 points
8. Detroit Red Wings- 70 points
Metropolitan Division Standings
1. Pittsburgh Penguins– 113 points
2. Columbus Blue Jackets– 104 points
3. Washington Capitals– 101 points
4. New York Rangers– 98 points
5. New York Islanders– 96 points
6. Carolina Hurricanes- 90 points
7. Philadelphia Flyers- 89 points
8. New Jersey Devils- 74 points
Western Conference Final
Edmonton Oilers over Anaheim Ducks
Eastern Conference Final
Tampa Bay Lightning over Pittsburgh Penguins
Stanley Cup Final
Edmonton Oilers over Tampa Bay Lightning
Individual Award Predictions
Hart Trophy (MVP): Connor McDavid
Art Ross Trophy (Most Points): Connor McDavid
Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman): Erik Karlsson
Vezina Trophy (Best Goalie): Carey Price
Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year): Josh Ho-Sang