NHL Standings Predictions: Preseason Edition

For any variety of seasons now, the Metropolitan and Central have been the deeper and better of the NHL’s four branches.
That has meant teams in the Atlantic and Pacific have been choosing higher in the entry draft in recent decades.
Is that balance of power on the verge of shifting this year? According to my annual preseason predictions, the solution is yes — at least to some level.
Some of these predictions — from the divisional standings to the playoff picture to the draft lottery odds — are, admittedly, competitive in nature.
Perhaps that’s the Vegas effect or the fact that parity is alive and well in the NHL, with lots of playoff turnover and standings shuffling from 1 season to the next.
William Karlsson Golden Knights 2018
(THW file photo)
William Karlsson along with also the Vegas Golden Knights exceeded all expectations last time while fully destroying everybody’s predictions. The slate is wiped clean and we’re starting from scratch again.
With the exception of a handful of teams, it’s safe to presume 25-plus owners and general managers are entering this season with the expectation of making the playoffs or thinking in that potential.
Heck, that number might be as high as 31. Again, Vegas proved anything is possible by advancing to the Stanley Cup Final as an expansion franchise.
Granted, that has been a remarkable run of Leicester-level improbability, but it’ll be difficult to dispute any predictions from this day forward.
For the record, my preseason predictions from last season had the Golden Misfits bringing up the rear in the Pacific, not just missing the playoffs but finishing dead last with the highest odds of winning the Rasmus Dahlin lottery.
Boy, was I ever wrong about these Golden Knights, but so was everyone else who published their predictions before last season. I can’t recall a single published forecast of Vegas making the playoffs in its inaugural campaign.
Come to think about it, my head is also drawing blanks on any printed predictions from past collapse in favour of Colorado or New Jersey creating the playoffs? Feel free to inform me, but they have been few and far between to be sure. Most had all three of those clubs in the lottery mix based on my memory. Yes, such as yours truly.
Taylor Hall
(Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Taylor Hall and the New Jersey Devils amazed the baseball world by creating the playoffs last season. Hall was so dominant in the second half that he proceeded to win the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player.
Counting Vegas, there have been seven distinct teams in 2018 in 2017. That is almost half 7 of 16!
That comprised Winnipeg, Colorado, Vegas and Los Angeles from the West, replacing Chicago, St. Louis, Edmonton and Calgary. In the East, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia and New Jersey bumped out Ottawa, Montreal and the New York Rangers.
A year makes.
Sure, that has been a crazy year and may have been more turnover than normal, but I believe it’s going to become the new standard thanks to this aforementioned league-wide parity.
In fact, I’m feeling a tad conservative in calling”just” six different playoff teams in 2019 out of 2018. Set the over/under in five and I am totally taking the over.
Tempting as it is to show that listing right here and right now, I’ll hold off on the spoilers and cause you to continue reading. However, apologies ahead of the 15 fan bases of groups that didn’t make my playoff film, particularly the six that dropped from last year since they will be the most enraged.
Without further ado, here are my 2018-19 preseason predictions (with the variation in my offseason predictions in parenthesis)

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