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2021 NHL Season Standings & Awards Predictions

After over 100 days… the NHL’s return is here! The divisions, schedules and health & safety protocols have all been sorted out, and the NHL is set to return tonight! It’s time to take a look around the league, and give you my perspective on how this season will play out!

North Division

This division is intriguing, and very top heavy. The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Calgary Flames are locks for the top two spots in this division, and will be neck and neck as the season goes on. The final two playoff spots will be claimed by two of Edmonton, Vancouver, Montreal and Winnipeg. I give the edge to Montreal and Edmonton to round out the top 4. Ottawa is moving away from their days as a basement team, but I don’t believe they’ll be competing for a playoff spot this season.

    1. Toronto Maple Leafs
    2. Calgary Flames
    3. Montreal Canadiens
    4. Edmonton Oilers
    5. Vancouver Canucks
    6. Winnipeg Jets
    7. Ottawa Senators

 

East Division

This division is arguably the strongest of them all. No matter what happens, a very good team will miss the playoffs. The Boston Bruins have taken quite the hit defensively this offseason, but I still think they’re far too good to be the odd team out. I have them finishing second this season. Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington and Boston will be the four teams in. It wouldn’t surprise me to see any one of them finish first. Buffalo and New Jersey are the obvious bottom dwellers in this hard division. The New York Rangers are becoming a good team, but there’s a slim chance that they finish in the top four of this division.

    1. Philadelphia Flyers
    2. Boston Bruins
    3. Washington Capitals
    4. Pittsburgh Penguins
    5. New York Islanders
    6. New York Rangers
    7. Buffalo Sabres
    8. New Jersey Devils

 

Central Division

The 2019-20 Western and Eastern Conference Champions are set to battle eight times this season, as the division alignments have set them together. The top three of this division are basically set in stone. Tampa Bay, Carolina, and Dallas are almost guaranteed to be the top 3. It gets tight after that, as I expect Columbus, Nashville, and Florida to have a tightly contested race for 4th until the final games of the season. Detroit is Detroit, good luck to them I guess.

 

    1. Tampa Bay Lightning
    2. Carolina Hurricanes
    3. Dallas Stars
    4. Nashville Predators
    5. Columbus Blue Jackets
    6. Florida Panthers
    7. Detroit Red Wings

West Division

Nathan MacKinnon has the potential to rack up an insane amount of points this season, especially since he faces the Horrific Trio of California teams so many times. Colorado will run away with this division easily. Los Angeles, Anaheim, and San Jose will be the clear bottom feeders of the division. The only thing I’m unsure of with this division, is the fourth spot. That will come down to Minnesota or Arizona, essentially a coin flip.

  1. Colorado Avalanche
  2. Vegas Golden Knights
  3. St. Louis Blues
  4. Arizona Coyotes
  5. Minnesota Wild
  6. San Jose Sharks
  7. Anaheim Ducks
  8. Los Angeles Kings

Awards Predictions

Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy

This race will be extremely tight. It will come down to Alex Ovechkin or Auston Matthews. It’s too bad David Pastrnak is missing time or else he’d be my pick. I’m going with The Great 8, Alex Ovechkin.

Art Ross Trophy

Playing against bad competition so many times will allow for this award to be won by Nathan MacKinnon. The lethal Edmonton duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl will always contend for the Art Ross, but with the teams MacKinnon is going up against, I think he’ll take home the Art Ross.

Hart Memorial Trophy

Going off what I said for the Art Ross Trophy, I think Nathan MacKinnon will take the Hart as well.

Vezina Trophy

If Bruins’ goalie Tuukka Rask were to play enough games, I’d say he could have a strong chance of taking this trophy home, but with the best tandem in the league, the starts are probably gonna be too close to a split for him to win it. I think Carter Hart will snag this one.

James Norris Memorial Trophy

This is my one pick that’s out there. It’s a dark horse for sure, but I think Charlie McAvoy will take this. I just have that gut feeling he takes a tremendous leap and solidifies himself as one of the best in the game. His offensive production might not be enough to win it though, as this award is mainly the “Art Ross of defensemen award.”

Frank J. Selke Trophy

Patrice Bergeron, enough said. The new captain in Boston is primed to win his record setting 5th Selke Trophy. The man can do no wrong.

Calder Memorial Trophy

The first overall pick in the 2020 draft, Alexis Lafreniere will win this trophy. The Quebec native will face extremely tough competition in the East Division, but will fare well enough to take the trophy home.

 

Stanley Cup Finals

The potential matchups for this season’s Stanley Cup Final are so exciting and weird. In a perfect world, we would get a Boston vs Montreal matchup. I’m predicting a Bruins-Avalanche Stanley Cup Final. This matchup would be one for the ages with so many story lines. The two top lines, Nazem Kadri vs Jake DeBrusk, Charlie McAvoy vs Cale Makar. I got the Boston Bruins winning it all, in seven games.

 

It feels so good to have hockey back. Let the games begin!

-Bradley Whitesell (@Bradiey98)

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