- Tampa Bay Lightning (2016-17 Finish – 5th; CF – 51.25%) – Getting Stamkos back can only help, and their shaky defense would be more of a concern in a tougher division.
- Toronto Maple Leafs (2016-17 Finish – 4th; CF – 50.43%) – Their offense is young and dynamic, but their defense is just as questionable as Tampa.
- Boston Bruins (2016-17 Finish – 3rd; CF – 54.71%) – Honestly, they could probably win this division too, but I think Toronto and Tampa will just edge them out.
- Montreal Canadiens (2016-17 Finish – 1st; CF – 52.54%) – If Carey Price stays healthy, they can take the division again, but they will need more than Price to get there.
- Buffalo Sabres (2016-17 Finish – 8th; CF – 47.23%) – Their possession metrics leave a lot to be desired, but I think they finally take a step up this year and contend for a wildcard spot.
- Ottawa Senators (2016-17 Finish – 2nd; CF – 48.57%) – A surprise Conference Finals run was fun if only because Erik Karlsson is the most dynamic player in the league, but their luck runs out this season.
- Florida Panthers (2016-17 Finish – 6th; CF – 50.48%) – I’ve been waiting for years for Florida to finally breakthrough, but I think their moves this summer again mean this won’t be the year.
- Detriot Red Wings (2016-17 Finish – 7th; CF – 48.23%) – This team is so far removed from those dominant teams of the 90’s and 2000’s it’s almost sad…almost.
- Pittsburgh Penguins (2016-17 Finish – 2nd; CF – 50.14%) – The best team in the league the last 2 seasons continues to dominate.
- Washington Capitals (2016-17 Finish – 1st; CF – 51.81%) – This franchise couldn’t care less about regular season results as long as they get past the Penguins in the playoffs.
- Carolina Hurricanes (2016-17 Finish – 7th; CF – 51.28%) – With sneaky possession stats and a talented, young core, Carolina is my pick to make the biggest step forward this season.
- Columbus Blue Jackets (2016-17 Finish – 3rd; CF – 50.30%) – Bobrovsky could push this team towards the top of the division, and their young core should continue to improve.
- New York Rangers (2016-17 Finish – 4th; CF – 47.94%) – Their possession metrics were actually pretty terrible and Lundqvist looked sub-elite for maybe the first time ever.
- Philadelphia Flyers (2016-17 Finish – 6th; CF – 51.09%) – A good possession team that still seems an average goaltender and better defense short of a playoff spot.
- New York Islanders (2016-17 Finish – 5th; CF – 47.79%) – This team is average all around aside from soon to be free agent John Tavares.
- New Jersey Devils (2016-17 Finish – 8th; 47.82%) – It’s great that they don’t want to be a boring trap team, but the transition is going to take awhile.
- Nashville Predators (2016-17 Finish – 4th; CF – 51.37%) – They have the ability to take the division as long as Rinne plays average.
- Chicago Blackhawks (2016-17 Finish – 1st; CF – 50.40%) – Before the preseason started, I was thinking Chicago may be a wildcard team at best, but Schmaltz and DeBrincat show this top-9 could be one of the best in the league, let alone the division.
- St. Louis Blues (2016-17 Finish – 3rd; CF – 50.18%) – Jake Allen seemed to get his shit together at the end of the year, and they will finish comfortably in a playoff spot.
- Dallas Stars (2016-17 Finish – 6th; CF – 50.09%) – Again, this team’s success will depend on a young defense and questionable goaltenders, but I think they improve from last season and get a wildcard spot.
- Winnipeg Jets (2016-17 Finish – 5th; CF – 49.27%) – Winnipeg should get average goaltending as their decent cores helps them jump past Minnesota and into the wildcard hunt.
- Minnesota Wild (2016-17 Finish – 2nd; CF – 49.34%) – An aging core in possibly the toughest division in hockey is not a recipe for success.
- Colorado Avalanche (2016-17 Finish – DNF; CF – 48.53%) – A vintage Kroenke team: terrible and no end in sight.
- Edmonton Oilers (2016-17 Finish – 2nd; CF – 49.99%) – The luckiest team in the draft finally reaps their rewards as McDavid and Draisaitl lead them to the top of the division.
- Calgary Flames (2016-17 Finish – 4th; CF – 50.54%) – A strong defense and respectable forward group can finish in the top 3 as long as Mike Smith is complete garbage, which may be too much to ask.
- San Jose Sharks (2016-17 Finish – 3rd; CF – 51.13%) – I have serious doubts they still have the strength to make a true push for the division, but I like them and hate the Ducks so they get the edge.
- Anaheim Ducks (2016-17 Finish – 1st; CF – 49.67%) – Even though Perry and Getzlaf are basically shells of their former selves, they have enough young talent and a strong goaltender to push to make the playoffs even with Randy Carlyle behind the bench.
- Phoenix Coyotes (2016-17 Finish – 6th; CF – 45.05%) – They made bold moves in the offseason acquiring underrated Antti Raanta, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jason Demers, and Derek Stepan while shedding possibly literal dead weight in Shane Doan and Mike Smith, which should help lead to a step or two forward this year.
- Los Angeles Kings (2016-17 Finish – 5th; CF – 54.99%) – Even with the front office changes this team made in the offseason, it’s hard to see them going anywhere with Anze Kopitar falling of a production cliff and thoroughly average Jonathan Quick in net.
- Vegas Golden Knights (2016-17 Finish – Ahead of Colorado; CF – Did Not Exist) – Full disclosure: I forgot to add them in the first post of this. They are setup as rebuilders but have enough talent to finish above the lowly Canucks.
- Vancouver Canucks (2016-17 Finish – 7th; CF – 47.92%) – It’s almost unbelievable to think this team was a serious contender 7 years ago, but they are now on the same slow, terrible path as the Avalanche and Devils.
Eastern Conference Finals Champion
Washington Capitals – They finally get past Pittsburgh in the playoffs and make the Finals.
Western Conference Finals Champion
Edmonton Oilers – Connor McDavid carries his team to the finals as Milan Lucic and Zack Kassian make it very hard to root for one of the most dynamic offenses in the league.
Stanley Cup Finals Champion
Washington Capitals in 5 games – Washington finally get their cup one season after their supposed last chance and right before they miss the playoffs in 2018-19.