1) The Rangers D-corp will be top in the league for production.
New York has one of the best group of defenders in the league. A quick look shows: Shattenkirk, McDonagh, DeAngelo, Skeji, Smith, Holden and Staal all vying for playing time. Almost all of those names come with offensive upside. That's a lot of options to help chip in. This was one of the quickest teams on the breakout last year and will only look to be better with their additions.
2) Columbus will make the playoffs again.
Nope not a fluke. Columbus is built to win and the addition of Panarin only makes them better equipped to run with the big guns in the east. They are going continue to build off last season and hover around the top in the east.
3)Tavares will resign with the Islanders.
It can't really go any other way. Too much invested into him with the team built around him. He signs. The only question will be for how much he decides he wants.
4)Niklas Backstrom will have another great season.
734 GP 188 G 540 A 728 PTS +113 He has been consistently productive during his time in the league but barely a word is ever mentioned about him. He will post another PPG season this year and everyone will still only talk about Ovechkin.
5) Washington will still be good.
The loss of Schmidt, Williams, Shattenkirk and Alzner highlighted their off-season but everyone acts like this team is on the verge of collapse. They're still good. Still very good. They just have no cap space.
6) Philadelphia will continue to restructure.
They drafted Nolan and traded Schenn. They make another trade not because they can't be good with the team they have but because they are an ownership group who are particularly active after disappointing seasons.
7)Carolina will make the playoffs.
Carolina had 15 OT losses last year. 15... They finished 7 points out and have another year of experience to polish their game with. The return of Williams is something else that will go a long way in making up the deficit. They showed glimpses of brilliance last year and will take the next step this year in being consistent. They will finish 7th-8th this year. But they will make it.
8)Taylor Hall will top 70 points.
He will take advantage of an upgraded Jersey offense and top 70 pts for the first time in three seasons.
9)Pittsburgh pushes for the three-peat.
They haven't gotten any worse and show no signs of slowing down. Concussions may be a concern for fans with Crosby but they haven't stopped him yet. A third consecutive Stanley Cup is not out of the question.