Predictions made by Frank Fleming on October 1, 2005 at 10:45 pm EST.
2005/06 NHL PREVIEW
ART ROSS: Jarome Iginla Flames
RICHARD: Rick Nash Blue Jackets
ADAMS: Barry Trotz Predators
CALDER: Sidney Crosby Penguins
SELKE: John Madden Devils
VEZINA: Martin Brodeur Devils
NORRIS: Scott Niedermayer Mighty Ducks
HART: Jarome Iginla Flames
SMYTHE: Peter Forsberg Flyers
Philadelphia Flyers 110 points
Start with a team that made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, that did not lose any key players in the lockout aftermath, add Peter Forsberg, and a core group of prospects that won the AHL last year and what you have is the recipe for success, and the team to beat for the Stanley Cup.
Philadelphia Flyers over New Jersey Devils
Vancouver Canucks over Edmonton Oilers
STANLEY CUP FINALS:
Philadelphia Flyers over Vancocuver Canucks
Vancouver Canucks 107 points
Before the lockout the Canucks were a cup contender they had finished in first place and were poised for a strong cup run, before the Todd Bertuzzi incident. Now that Bertuzzi is back, and the Cancuks are intact and a year older, and wiser, they are ready to go far.
Tampa Bay Lightning 98 points
The defending champs remain strong, with Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavailer, leading the way, but with the loss of goalie Nikoali Khabibulin the Lightning are not as strong. However they are still the best team of the Southeast, and that should help them win allot of games.
Boston Bruins 96 points
A young exciting team that looked poised for greatness before the lockout emerges with most of their team intact. With the addition of Brian Leetch now that should equal some playoff success as well as the Bruins should be playing deep into the month of May.
Ottawa Senators 92 points
Potential is a dangerous work it means expectations without proven success and that best sums up the Senators. If Dominick Hasek returns to form, if Danny Heatley bounces back, if they stay healthy. Many ifs, but no guarantees, which will in the end lead to playoff disappointment.
Florida Panthers 90 points
Roberto Luongo has backstopped this team in goal well but has gone unfulfilled as the Panthers have not come close to the playoffs in several years, but now with the addition of players like Joe Niuwendyk the Panthers are ready to take a step forward, and could give challenge to their Sunshine State Rivals for the division.
Atlanta Thrashers 88 points
After steady improvement over the last few years before the lockout the Thrashers are ready to cross the barrier into the postseason, as strong young team has added some veteran leadership to give them over the hump, as Marc Savard and Ilya Kovalchuk each have strong years.
New York Islanders 84 points
The Islanders are only as good as their best player Alexei Yahsin, if he is strong the Islanders can go far if he struggles they could fall fast. The new rules should give him more space to roam free and should help the Islanders reach the playoffs but come playoff time Yashin will vanish again.
Montreal Canadiens 81 points
The Canadiens have some good young talent, but they don't have the experience to get very far with it, Defense could be a problem for the team after losing Patrice Briesbois, which could spell doom from Goalie Jose Theodore who at times looks like the great Hab goalies of the past and at other like Swiss Cheese.
Pittsburgh Penguins 80 points
When last we saw them they were the worst team in the NHL, and now there is a renewed excitement in Pittsburgh with rookie sensation Sidney Crosby, as the Penguins are back. Not so fast Crosby is just 18 and the road from bottom to top is long. They will be good, but will need an extra break to slip into the playoffs.
Washington Capitals 78 points
The Capitals have some promise and if things fall just right they could slip into the playoffs, as they have all but bean to recover from the horrendous deal to bring in a Jaromir Jagr. However with several other teams in the East all looking stronger the playoffs are probably a year away.
Toronto Maple Leafs 76 points
The lockout and new salary cap will hit those older teams with the highest payroll the most, and that means bad news for Toronto. Several key players are gone, as is the flexibility to improve during the season; in addition they have added Eric Lindros who is more of a minus then anything else.
Buffalo Sabres 60 points
After being bailed out bankruptcy just a few years ago the Sabres are lucky just to still be able to play let alone worry about fielding a strong team. The Sabres are turning the corner and are starting to put together a solid foundation fir the future, but that's still a few years off.
Carolina Hurricanes 52 points
There is many questions surrounding the Hurricanes. Among them does anybody know they still exist? Does anybody care? Do they even have any fans? The Hurricanes will have plenty of time to ponder the questions as they play in an empty arena, as this Hurricane resembles a light drizzle.
New Jersey Devils 94 points
The loss of Scott Niedermayer and the Retirement of Scott Stevens will hurt the defense, but without the trap they were hurt already. The key will be Martin Brodeur who wont be affected by the new goalie rules since he already used smaller pads and dominated international play, as the Devils remain strong.
New York Rangers 44 points
1997 was the last time the playoffs came to Broadway, since then the Rangers have spent foolishly in attempts to fool the fans with fading washed up stars. They have scouted poorly and not developed any good young players, and now they are asking for patience, if this were a Broadway play it would close after just 1 night.
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim 101 points
After a stunning run to the Stanley Cup Finals the Ducks came up lame as they failed to make the playoffs in 2004. Now they are back and they are strong, as Scott Neidermayer has come to join his brother giving the Ducks a dynamic duo that could make for hockey at the Pond late into May.
Nashville Predators 94 points
Before the lockout the Predators were an up and coming team making the playoffs for the first time ever. Much of their young stars are still in place and now they have Paul Karyia to lead them. The addition of Kariya is just what the Predators needed to become a legitimate Cup contender.
Calgary Flames 100 points
The Flames were red hot when last we saw them coming with in one game of the Stanley Cup, a year later they are just as good, and could go just as far. Look for them to battle the Canucks all year for Northwest superiority, and the inside track for the Western Playoffs.
San Jose Sharks 98 points
The Sharks are hungry for revenge after falling in the Western Conference Finals, with much of their team still intact after the long lockout. Look for the Sharks to be just as strong as they fight all season with the Mighty Ducks for the top spot in the Pacific Division.
Edmonton Oilers 92 points
Before the lockout the Oilers were struggling just to get by as the salary structure made it hard for them to compete. Now they are back in the game, as they were able to add perennial all stars like Chris Pronger. Look for the Oilers to be a key player in the West Race all year.
Detroit Red Wings 88 points
The Red Wings are old and no longer the force they were before the lock out, fortunately they were able to keep much of their team enact. However the days of long cup runs are over as they are just good enough to win their division and not much else.
Columbus Blue Jackets 86 points
The Blue Jackets were a young team before the lockout waiting to break through into the playoffs, with Rick Nash one of the leagues best young players. Now after a year off they are fully ready to contend as Nash could lead the NHL in goals while leading the Jackets to the postseason.
OUT OF THE PLAYOFFS
Chicago Blackhawks 82 points
When last we saw the Blackhawks they had hit rock bottom finishing near the bottom of the NHL, while being outdrawn by the AHL's Chicago Wolves. Now with the addition of Nikolai Khabibulin and Adrian Aucoin hope is back, but not the playoffs in the tough west.
Minnesota Wild 80 points
Marian Gaboirk is the sole source of excitement on this otherwise dreck team, as the new rules could see him fly to new heights. However, he does not have much help and in the tough Northwest Division they will get lost in the shuffle early, and miss the playoffs.
Phoenix Coyotes 78 points
The Coyotes have Curtis Joseph, Brett Hull and Petr Nedved, great news if this was 1995, but this ins 2005 and they are now just beyond their primes, and on a Coyotes team whose main attraction is their Coach Wayne Gretzky, they are the Rangers of the desert bring in just a collection of names, without a chance.
Los Angeles Kings 76 points
The Kings are on the rise, but they are far from being a contender. Jeremy Roenick the big off-season acquisition is a shell of his former self and a bitter malcontent that the Flyers could not wait to get rid of, by the end of the season the Kings will learn they too will be better without him, when he is out for injury.
Colorado Avalanche 74 points
When last we saw the Avalanche they were among the NHL's elite, but the lockout has taken away much of their thunder. Gone are start like Paul Karyia and Peter Forsberg as the new salary cap has taken a big chunk off the mountain slope, and taken the Avs out of the playoffs.
Dallas Stars 68 points
The Stars were looking old and over the hill before the lockout, now they are a year older and rusty as well the Stars once were among the NHL's elite in the West, but now the focus for Dallas must be on rebuilding as the Stars are falling to the bottom of the West.
St. Louis Blues 62 points
Before the lockout the Blues had made the playoffs 26 straight years, without any reward as they never even made the finals, now there fans will just have the Blues as the team is stripped and for sale, gone are Al MacInnins and Chris Pronger, while Keith Tkachuk spent the entire lockout eating as he showed up at training camp fat.
Coaches Who Will be Fired
Mike Kitchen St. Louis Blues
Jacques Lemaire Minnesota Wild
Andy Murray Los Angeles Kings
Pat Quinn Toronto Maple Leafs
Tom Renney & Glen Sather New York Rangers
Lindy Ruff Buffalo Sabres
Dave Tippett Dallas Stars