SC's 2021 NHL Predictions
Source: Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images
It’s back! The NHL season is making its return today, and although this NHL campaign will look different than it usually does, that doesn't mean you should look past this season. From the Cup to the Calder, here are my predictions from this upcoming season.
Shall we start with the Hart trophy? The Oilers Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl should be the heavy favorites, though in my opinion there's one guy that will surpass both Oiler players; Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon.
The Nova Scotian has been an elite player in the NHL for the last few seasons. Back to back 90 point seasons, he's helped Colorado become one of the best teams in the West, and with the amount of depth the Avalanche have on their roster, MacKinnon will once again be at the top of the list in scoring and assists.
What makes his case even stronger is he will be playing in the same division against 3 teams who finished last season in the bottom 10 in goals against. Twice MacKinnon has been runner-up for the Hart, but this season he’ll ditch the bridesmaid role and finally become a made man.
The youngest goalie to win the Vezina in the last 25 years is Jim Cary, he was 21 years old. Flyers goalie Carter Hart, aged 22, won’t quite match him age wise, but I do expect the youngster to pick up the coveted award despite Hellebuyck and Vasilevskiy being the favourites.
Hart has won 40 games in 70 career starts. His GAA was 2.42 last season (4th best in the NHL), and posted even better stats in the playoffs. Last season the Flyers ranked 7th in team goals allowed per game, and with momentum coming into this season, the Flyers goalie will look to build upon his promising start.
A lot of analysts have predicted Igor Shestyorkin to win the Calder trophy. Betting sites across the interwebs also have the Rangers goalie as the odds-on favourite to win the Calder. The Rangers moved on from King Henry for a good reason, Shestyorkin went 10-2 a save percentage over 9.30, he also won 7 straight starts during the 2019-20 season.
I mean, in more than half of his 12 starts, the 2014 draft pick gave up 3 goals or less. Not too shabby.
Shestyorkin will have competition for the Calder, especially from his teammate Alexis Lafreniere. Though ultimately, the young Russian netminder looks to be the real deal, and with the playing time he already has under his belt, he may just be a lock.
No Leafs player has won the Rocket Trophy...ever, however I believe that thanks to young Mr. Matthews that tidbit will no longer be a thing. The former first overall pick was second in goals last season, and since coming into the league in 2016 he ranks inside the top 10 in goals scored.
Nobody on the Maple Leafs roster has become more important to their success than the Arizona native, and given five teams within the Canadian division gave up an average of 3 goals or more per game last season, Matthews is in a prime spot to light it up this year.
One thing I know for sure is the Avalanche will be representing the West to contend for the cup. To be brief, a healthy Colorado team should be unstoppable. Vegas and Toronto might have something to say about that, but I just think they are too good and too deep.
On the other side of the coin I think the Philadelphia Flyers will win their way into the finals. Philly has great depth on defence and a stellar young goalie in Carter Hart, and just a ton of untapped potential on their roster.
It will be a good series, but Colorado will win their first cup since 2001 and their third in franchise history, and they’ll do it in six games! Nathan MacKinnon will take home more hardware winning the Conn Smythe winner (becoming just the fourth to do so) . The Avalanche will once again be the king of the hockey universe.