It's Friday, so let's have some fun. Here are 10 Random Predictions for the 2009/2010 season:
1. Dany Heatley will play this season in Ottawa. The Rangers, Sharks, Oilers, and Wild have been mentioned as teams trying to acquire Dany, but only the Oilers put together a feasible offer, and Heatley doesn’t want to play there. However, he’s already been paid $4 million to play for Ottawa this season, his trade value will drop if he sits, and he might find himself outside of the Olympic team if questions about his attitude continue to be raised. So Dany is stuck, and needs to play.
2. Alexander Ovechkin will win the Hart, Art Ross, Rocket Richard, Heisman and Cy Young trophies. During his acceptance speech, he will use the word, “dude,” several times. Fans will rejoice, as Alexander, more than any other player in the league, realizes this is just a game, and games are suppose to be fun. Unfortunately, the Caps won’t be winning the cup this season, so the Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup won’t have Alex’s name on them yet.
3. The Detroit Red Wings will win the Stanley Cup. Don’t ask me why or how. You’d think the Red Wings are on the downwards spiral, but they have this way of always being a great team. The Penguins, with all their youth and superstars, did not deserve to win last season. No offense Pens fans, but last year’s cup was a one-off, because the team seriously lacks depth. They could just as easily miss the playoffs this season as win another cup.
4. The most improved team in the NHL this season will be the Los Angeles Kings, who are building a future cup winner. Can any team match the Kings in respect to having so much young defensive talent? Drew Doughty is the best thing since the invention of the Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich, and Anze Kopitar continues to be the most underrated player in the league. He is scary-good. The only question mark in LA is goaltending.
5. The Islanders will be drafting first again in 2010. The future is looking up on Long Island, but there are just too many holes in the boat to plug up in one year.
6. John Tavares will win the Calder, and lead all rookies in scoring. The Islanders need someone to play on the top line, so the young Mr. Tavares will get a chance to lead right from the beginning. John is also a little motivated, as there were many questions raised about him last season. He will play like he has something to prove. 30 goals and 35 assists this season for Tavares.
7. The Toronto Maple Leafs will not make the playoffs, and that will disappoint many of their fans. However, the fans who have some knowledge know that the rebuild in TO will take a few years. Burke has successfully completely Phase One of the rebuild – He’s put together a great defensive unit, and went out and signed The Monster to be their goalie of the future. The forward lines will be abysmal this year, but Phase Two, likely beginning at the 2010 NHL draft, will see Brian Burke finding big, skilled forwards to play with his big, skilled defense. In two or three seasons, the Toronto area will be renamed The House of Pain, and the Leafs will be a winning team.
8. Mats Sundin will hum and haw for months before announcing something. I can think of about 30 teams that would be willing to take Mats, so the issue here isn’t whether or not there is room for him in the NHL. Mats acted completely self absorbed last season, making a number of teams wait, and wait, and wait on his decision. When he finally decided on a team, he showed up with less than half of a season left, and looked like a player who missed training camp. In the playoffs he was decent, but was not the solution the ‘Nucks had in mind. The Sundin Experiment in Vancouver was mostly a failure, but did Mats learn anything from the experience? Or is he content to just mail it in again this year after spending half the season nursing his mattress full of money?
9. The NHL hates Jim Balsillie so much that they are going to buy the Coyotes. Gary Bettman and his three remaining friends will rejoice, but everyone who loves the NHL and has an accounting background will wince in pain. Aren’t salaries going down next year? Isn’t the league in a bit of financial turmoil? Instead of taking on a team that hemorrhages money, shouldn’t the league instead look at a billionaire who has a plan that will not lose money, even if he’s acting like a jerk? Seriously folks, enough pain already. Just let the baby have his bottle, and charge him Eleventy Billion Dollars for the privilege.
10. Finally, an Oilers prediction: The Oilers will surprise a few people by finishing 8th in the West, and making the playoffs. How is this possible? Check Quinn’s coaching history. He always seems to improve a team by 10 to 20 points, and the Oilers will be no exception. The Oil do have a great mobile defense unit, and decent goaltending. Penner might be the rebound player of the year this year, as Quinn will use him more than MacT did. Horcoff, Gagner, O’Sullivan, Hemsky and Cogliano are all players that could see their offensive output increase. 8th is not exactly the cup winning position, but it’s a start.