THE BANDWAGON PERSPECTIVE
With the 2019 NHL season quickly approaching, it’s time for me to make some predictions for the 2019 season. These aren’t going to be your typical predictions. These are BOLD predictions for the season. Something that sounds crazy and unlikely, but could potentially make some sense. Just think about it. Here are my top five bold predictions for the 2019 NHL season:
5. Vegas Golden Knights will miss the Playoffs
After the hype of the Golden Knights’ inaugural season has come and gone, Vegas is going to find that will experience some regression in their second season in the NHL. Who really thought that Vegas was going to make the playoffs last year, let alone a deep playoff run. Yes, they have found a way to improve their forwards, but that doesn’t make up for a less-than-impressive defensive corps led by defensive sensation, Derek Engelland (not forgetting young guns like Colin Miller, 25, and Shea Theodore, 23).
Another big question for the season is the performance of forward, William Karlsson (25). Karlsson managed to have a 2018 campaign that caught everyone by surprise by scoring over 40 goals and putting up 78 points in a full 82-game season. Can Karlsson do this again? Or was this just another case of the Vegas Golden Knights hype heading into their first season?
Then there’s Marc-Andre Fleury. The Flower finished the 2018 season ranked 4thin Save% (.927) among all tendies with at least 30 starts. His .927 mark was 14 points more than his career average of .913 and the highest of his career. If the Flower can keep up these numbers, then maybe the Golden Knights can flirt with the post-season again. But I’m not counting on it.
4. Arizona Coyotes will make the Playoffs
Clayton Keller, Christian Dvorak, Alex Galchenyuk, Brandon Perlini, Jakob Chychrun. Those are just FIVE of the many young superstars that the Arizona Coyotes have to lead them to the playoffs in 2019.
The Coyotes ended the 2018 campaign on a high note, with 17 wins in their last 32 games. The Yotes have proven that they can certainly be (at least) a .500 team in a season, provided they stay healthy.
Another year means another year of development for those young stars. Watch out, Western Conference, the Coyotes are getting ready for their first playoff berth since 2012.
3. Nathan MacKinnon will win the Art Ross Trophy
The Art Ross Trophy is awarded to the player who records the most points in the NHL season. Last year Connor McDavid showed some improved goal scoring and added that to his passing/playmaking ability to lead the league with 108 points and winning the Art Ross for the second season in a row.
This year, however, McJesus will be overtaken as the League’s #1 point-getter by the one and only, Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche. MacKinnon finished the 2018 season with 97 points in only 74 games. With another season under his belt, the (soon-to-be) 23-year-old continues to improve his game. Had MacKinnon played all 82 games last year, he was on pace for 107 points, including 27 points in his final 20 games played.
Watch out McDavid, there’s a NEW MacJesus in town.
2. The Washington Capitals win the President’s Trophy
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Caps have finally done it! Ovi has finally won his Stanley Cup and drank his way through the off-season! This prediction is certainly bold. The Caps are going to ride their championship high all the way to the top of the NHL standings with Ovi leading the way in goals, hitting 50 for the eighth time in his career. Look for Kuznetsov to help Ovi hit this mark with a league leading 70 assists in the 2019 campaign as well.
1. The Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup
The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired Free Agent forward, John Tavares long term and is one of the things the Leafs need for a Stanley Cup Championship. The Leafs are coming off their best season in Franchise historyin 2018 and will look to hit that mark again in 2019. With the big 3 young guns Matthews, Marner and Nylander another year older and playing for big contracts, we can expect to see a huge uptick in their performance.
At the trade deadline, the Leafs will look to acquire a top defenseman to fill in the gaps that the offseason left on the blue line to surely make the Toronto Maple Leafs Stanley Cup Champions for the first time in over 50 years.