Playoff Predictions 2017 – Round 2

NHL Playoffs 2017: Round 1 Predictions

Let’s take a stab at predicting round 2 of the 2017 NHL Playoffs, but first let’s recap my Round 1 predictions.

Eastern Conference

(1) Washington Capitals vs (WC2) Toronto Maple Leafs

My Pick: Caps in 5; Actual: Caps in 6

(2) Ottawa Senators vs (3) Boston Bruins

My Pick:  Bruins in 6; Actual: Sens in 6

(1) Montreal Canadiens vs (WC1) New York Rangers

My Pick: Canadiens in 6; Actual: Rangers in 6

(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs (3) Columbus Blue Jackets

My Pick: Pens in 5; Actual: Pens in 5

Western Conference

(1) Chicago Blackhawks vs (WC2) Nashville Predators

My Pick: Predators in 7; Actual: Preds in 4

(2) Minnesota Wild vs (3) St. Louis Blues

My Pick: Wild in 7; Actual: Blues in 5

(1) Anaheim Ducks vs (WC1) Calgary Flames

My Pick:  Ducks in 6; Actual: Ducks in 4

(2) Edmonton Oilers vs (3) San Jose Sharks

My Pick: Sharks in 6 games; Actual: Oiler s in 6
Not too bad considering the amount of upsets there ending up being.  Here is what we have going on in Round 2:

Eastern Conference

Ottawa Senators vs New York Rangers

I was surprised that the Senators were able to get by the Bruins in round 1. Erik Karlsson has been outstanding, by far the best player in the playoffs for the Sens. But not too far behind him is Bobby Ryan, who has come up with huge goals for the Sens. The problem? King Hank has been great, back to his old form for the Rangers. They were able to fight off the Habs in round 1, but they’re in for a more offensive team in this round. That being said, Hank likely knows he doesn’t have many more chances to get to the Cup final, and I expect him to continue to get better as this series goes on. I really like their chances of knocking off Ottawa.

My Pick: Rangers in 5

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Washington Capitals

The Caps were pushed hard in the first round, whereas the Pens had a fairly easy time dismissing the Jackets. The Pens are similar to the Leafs in terms of speed, and are likely better defensively. They won’t threaten the Caps as much with scoring depth, as it will come mostly from the top two lines on Pittsburgh. That being said, we’ve seen this many times before. The Pens always seem to come out on top. I would really love to see Ovi win a Cup, but I’m going to go with history here and pick the Penguins. Even without Letang, they have to be considered the favourites in the East. Whoever comes out of this series will likely have a much easier Conference final as they’re both superior to the Rangers and Sens.

My Pick: Pens in 7

Western Conference

St. Louis Blues vs Nashville Predators

I picked the Preds to come out on top in round 1, but didn’t expect them to handle Chicago so easily. The difference maker in this series could be Jake Allen. He carried the Blues through round 1, as they got badly outplayed in a couple games. Nashville boasts one of the strongest bluelines in all of hockey, but they lack depth scoring up front. The Blues will need a big series out of Allen again, as well as magic from Vladimir Tarasenko. The Predators need to just continue their play from the first round and they should be just fine. They’re my pick to win it all at this point.

My Pick:  Nashville in 6

Edmonton Oilers vs Anaheim Ducks

I was surprised the Oilers got past San Jose. Cam Talbot had a great series, but it didn’t help the Sharks that they were playing hurt. Anaheim is a big strong team, and you have to believe Ryan Kesler will be all over McDavid. If there’s one person who can throw McDavid off of his game it could be Kesler. The Oilers are going to have to hope he can get away from Kesler as much as possible, because if not, they have no hope in this series.

My Pick: Ducks in 6

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2017 NHL Playoffs Predictions – Round 1

Cup 2017

Let’s take a stab at predicting round 1 of the 2017 NHL Playoffs

Eastern Conference

(1) Washington Capitals vs (WC2) Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto snuck into the playoffs in the second last game of the season and are set to take on Goliath. Can they play the role of David? I don’t think so. Washington is battle tested and hungry. Many have picked them to win the Cup in the past few seasons and they always seem to falter on the big stage. Will this be their year? They have possible the strongest team they’ve had yet. They will be too much to handle for the Leafs d-core, which is the weakest of all 16 playoff teams. I believe Toronto will steal at least one game, especially if they have a healthy Frederik Andersen. Auston Matthews and co will do their best to play the role of spoilers, and stranger things have happened. If Andersen gets hot, Toronto has a powerful offense, which has made up for their weak d-core most of the season.

Series Result: Capitals in 5 games

(2) Ottawa Senators vs (3) Boston Bruins

Boston comes into the playoffs playing extremely good hockey. Ottawa limps into the playoffs. Is that enough to decide the series? No, but Ottawa will be in serious trouble with the red-hot Bruins. The big/mean Bruins will be handful for the Senators, who have been dealing with multiple injuries on their backend over the past couple of weeks. The big matchup to watch will be Patrice Bergeron and Erik Karlsson. Only 3 other defensemen log more minutes than Karlsson, and surely Bergeron can’t play upwards of 26 minutes each game. If Karlsson is healthy, he could be the deciding factor in this series. I still think the Bruins will be too much for Ottawa to handle.

Series Result:  Bruins in 6 games

(1) Montreal Canadiens vs (WC1) New York Rangers

This was a tough one for me to pick ending so early, as the Rangers have been a powerhouse on the road this year. That being said, Montreal has been the better team all year. Carey Price has been playing well, and looks to carry the team again. Radulov has provided some extra offense for the Habs, and even with the Rangers high-powered offense they have to be considered heavy favourites. King Hank has been struggling lately to say the least. In his 6 starts since coming back from injury, he’s gone 1-3-2 with a combined SV% of just 0.886. They’ll need Lundqvist to be a lot better than that if they hope to win this series.

Series Result: Canadiens in 6

(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs (3) Columbus Blue Jackets

There aren’t many players who get under Sidney Crosby’s skin more than Brandon Dubinsky, and you better believe he’ll be a thorn in Crosby’s side all series. The Jackets surprised everyone this season, they were a bubble team for a lot of people, and ended up 4th in the entire league in points. They draw the unfortunate luck of playing the defending champs in the first round. Crosby looks to have taken his game to another level this year, which looks like disaster for Columbus. I feel their luck will run out early in the first round.

Series Result: Penguins in 5

Western Conference

(1) Chicago Blackhawks vs (WC2) Nashville Predators

A lot of people are picking the Hawks to win the Cup, or at the very least come out of the West. They draw a tough matchup in the Nashville Predators in round 1. This is one series that could change the entire results of the playoffs. Chicago has that winning pedigree, and stars like Kane and Toews who live for these big game moments. Nashville doesn’t have nearly the star power up front, but they sure do on D. PK Subban, Roman Josi , and company will look to shut down the Hawks top 2 lines, and hope to get continued goal scoring from Filip Forsberg. Can they upset Chicago? Absolutely.

Series Result: Predators in 7

(2) Minnesota Wild vs (3) St. Louis Blues

I’ve picked the Blues in each of the past 2 seasons to win the Cup, and have come up empty. I truly believe this team has what it takes to make a run. They have a tough test in the first round in the Minnesota Wild. Many view the Wild as a defensive team, however only the Penguins scored more goals than the Wild in the regular season. Couple that with the likes of Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, and friends on D, and Devan Dubnyk in net? This is a Stanley Cup team if there is one. They are built with both veterans and youngsters. They are built deep. The Blues have a great team themselves, led by one of the best pure goal scorers in Vladimir Tarasenko, and they will give the Wild a tough fight – I just don’t think it will be enough.

Series Result: Wild in 7

(1) Anaheim Ducks vs (WC1) Calgary Flames

Another interesting matchup, with the younger Flames taking on the seasoned Ducks. Both have great goaltending, which neither can really take the advantage from. The Flames have struggled at times this year, while Anaheim has remained consistent, despite injuries to John Gibson. They’re battle-tested in the playoffs, whereas the majority of the Flames core are not as experienced. They matchup well in terms of offense, but the Ducks have one of the deepest d-cores in the league today. They will have their hands full with Johnny Hockey, but I like their chances of shutting down the Flames big line.

Series Result:  Ducks in 6

(2) Edmonton Oilers vs (3) San Jose Sharks

Connor McDavid is arguably the best (second in my opinion) player in the world today. That being said, he hasn’t yet experienced playoff hockey at this level. His first matchup will likely be dealing with the brute that is Brent Burns. He’ll have his moments, but Burns has shut-down the best of them. He is a beast, and will impose his will as he pleases. The Sharks are hungry to avenge their Stanley Cup loss last season, and the team is too experienced to get bounced in round 1. The Oilers have some toughness of their own in Milan Lucic and Patrick Maroon to name a couple, but they aren’t deep enough to fully challenge the Sharks. This will be a good experience for the young Oilers, but the Sharks are the favourite here in my eyes.

Series Result: Sharks in 6 games

Drafting Skill: Tampa Bay Lightning

Recent Draft History – Evaluating the first 3 rounds of the last 5 Drafts for each team. I’ve left out 2016, as it’s way too early to tell on 95% of the picks. Instead, this will be examining drafts from 2011 to 2015.

Tampa Bay Lightning

2011 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Vladislav Namestnikov (C) 27th overall – Namestnikov is a curious case. He’s improved his overall play each season since coming into the NHL, but he’s never quite found his offensive game. He hasn’t surpassed 35 points yet in his young career, and that’s while playing on an offensive powerhouse of a team. Overall, he’s a good player for the Lightning. You’re never expecting home-runs late in the first round, so the fact that he’s consistently played well for the Lightning, I’m sure they’re fine with it.

Round 2 – Nikita Kucherov (RW) 58th overall – What a steal. In the past few seasons, Kucherov has quickly become one of the most dominant scorers in the game. Over the past three seasons (including 68 games this year), Kucherov has 96 goals in 227 games. He’s been on fire this year, nearing 40 goals with a half-dozen games left. He’s been everything the Lightning dreamed of getting, especially in the 2nd round! Huge steal here for Tampa.

Round 3 – Pick was traded to St. Louis for Eric Brewer. Not a bad trade for Tampa, as Brewer played 4+ seasons for Tampa.

It must be noted, Tampa selected Ondrej Palat in the 7th round of this draft. Palat has played 300 NHL games, and scored 210 points. He’s a top-6 forward on a stacked team. Absolute STEAL of a pick. This one even more so than the Kucherov pick. Tampa also picked defenceman Nikita Nesterov in the 5th round (128 NHL games played). Amazing draft for Tampa.

2012 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Slater Koekkoek (D) 10th overall – Not a great pick for Tampa, he’s only suited up for 41 NHL games (0 goals, 5 assists). There are some who still believe Koekkoek will develop into an everyday NHLer, he’s already 23 years old and hasn’t found consistent work for the big club in Tampa. To make matters worse, Filip Forsberg was selected right after him, not to mention other defencemen who have developed better such as Cody Ceci, Olli Maatta, etc.

Round 1 – Andrei Vasilevskiy (G) 19th overall – Tampa acquired this pick in exchange for Kyle Quincey. While Quincey has played well throughout his career since this trade, Vasilevskiy is the goalie of the future in Tampa. The Lightning traded away Ben Bishop right before the deadline this year, solidifying that the new is now Vasi’s. Goalies are hard to come by, and Vasi has shown potential to be among the elite. Next season will be huge for the youngster.

Round 2 – Dylan Blujus (D) 40th overall – Blujus still has yet to play at the NHL level, and at 23, it’s hard to fathom he ever will. Tampa has great depth on defense, and Blujus may not be able to find his way in. It’s always tough to find NHL players in the second round, but this looks like a miss by Tampa.

Round 2 – Brian Hart (RW) 53rd overall – Tampa acquired this pick from Philadelphia by trading Pavel Kubina. Hart is currently playing in the ECHL, and only has 7 points in 29 games. Not a great pick, not a great second round for Tampa Bay.

Round 3 – Tanner Richard (LW) 71st overall – Richard has played all of 3 games in the NHL since being drafted. Tampa is a deep, deep team. There won’t be many spots opening up any time soon, and it doesn’t appear that Richard will be knocking on the door regardless. As a 23 year old, he’s currently produced 28 points in 40 games in the AHL.

2013 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Jonathan Drouin (LW) 3rd overall – Drouin is one of the best young players in the NHL today. He possesses high-end talent with high-end speed. After all of his hold-out last year, he came in for Tampa and was one of their best players in their playoff run (14 points in 17 games). He’s put up 50 points in 66 games this year, and only looks to improve from there.

Round 2 – Adam Erne (LW) 33rd overall – Erne is never going to be a point producer in the NHL, but he does bring a physical element, while remaining reliable in his own end. He’s currently on the NHL roster, and hasn’t looked out of place. He can fill a role on the bottom-6 for Tampa, so it’s not a complete waste of a second round pick. Next season will determine how well this pick really looks.

Round 3 – Pick was traded in a package that brought in Anders Lindback (G). Lindback never established himself as an NHL goaltender, but moving a 3rd round pick isn’t overly costly when they had a couple season where Lindback served as backup in return.

2014 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Anthony DeAngelo (D) 19th overall – DeAngelo was traded to Arizona for a 2nd round pick in the 2016 draft. He’s seeing his first action in the NHL since being drafted, however the hope was that he would end up there sooner. He possesses high-end offensive ability, and is still only 21 years old. He could fit in very well with the Arizona rebuild, but Tampa looks bad for only getting a 2nd round pick after taking DeAngelo 19th overall just 2 years earlier.

Round 2 – Dominik Masin (D) 35th overall – Tampa traded Joshau Ho-Sang to the Islanders for 2 second round picks. Masin is playing his first full year professional this year in the AHL, and plays the game with an edge. He could develop into a bottom pairing guy in the future, but he’s a couple years away. Trading away Ho-Sang is tough for fans to swallow, as he projects as a top 6 forward.

Round 3 – Johnathan MacLeod (D) 57th overall – Another defensemen for Tampa, another one that’s at least 2-3 years away. He just finished up his 3rd year for Boston University, and didn’t stand out by any means. Hard to judge this one yet, but again, trading Ho-Sang doesn’t help…

Round 3 – Their original pick was traded to Vancouver for the rights to Jason Garrison which has worked out well for Tampa. He’s been a consistent player for Tampa each season since coming over.

2015 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Pick was traded with Radko Gudas to Philadelphia for Braydon Coburn. This looks like an awful trade for Tampa, as Gudas is just as good (if not better) than Braydon Coburn now, and they still gave up a 1st round pick. Tampa also traded the pick they received from the Rangers in the St. Louis trade to the Islanders, which was used to draft Anthony Beauvillier (great young prospect), however they did receive Mitchell Stephens (pick in round 2) and Anthony Cirelli (pick in round 3) in return – who both played for Team Canada in the World Jrs this past year.

Round 2 – Mitchell Stephens (C) 33rd overall – His offence has come along nicely in the last couple of seasons. Many describe Stephens as a great leader, on and off the ice. He plays the game well defensively, and has great playmaking ability. He’s like a few years away from playing NHL hockey, so look for his offence to continue to grow.

Round 2 – Matthew Spencer (D) 44th overall – Spencer has shown very good offensive numbers in his final year in the OHL. He finished the regular season with 29 points in 60 games. He’ll likely start next season in the AHL, and likely won’t make an impact in his first couple of seasons as he transitions to pro hockey.

Round 3 – Dennis Yan (LW) 64th overall – Yan is again tearing up the QMJHL, putting up 75 points (46 goals) in 64 games this year. He’s a big left winger, with a heavy shot. He’s a good find for the Lightning in the second round. No need to rush him along with the talent they possess up front, so Yan will get the time to continue to grow his game next year in the AHL.

Round 3 – Anthony Cirelli (C) 72nd overall – Cirelli put up 7 points in 7 games for Team Canada at this year’s World Juniors. He’s a tall winger, and hasn’t yet filled out. He put up great numbers in the OHL this year, especially for a 3rd round pick, with 64 points in 51 games. He has the potential to be a good playmaker at the NHL level, it will be up to him to put in the work the next couple of seasons.

All-in-all, the Lightning have had amazing drafts. Not only have they usually gotten it right when picking near the top, they’ve also had tremendous late round picks. They are the blueprint for what every team can only HOPE to get when they make their late round selections.

 

Credit to: hockeydb.com & http://www.prosportstransactions.com/hockey/DraftTrades/Years/index.htm