2015 is quickly coming to the end. The NHL is quickly nearing the halfway point of the season and so far we are off to a great start. Usually at this time of the year people are forecasting what 2016 may behold. The Hockey Fanatic is no exception and would like to take this time to make a few predictions that we foresee coming in the NHL. NHL.com made some predictions prior to the start of the season just as we did for the Western Conference, Eastern Conference and some fun hockey predictions, but our predictions for 2016 go beyond this regular season and include playoffs and off-season topics.
16 NHL Predictions for 2016
Here is a look at some of our predictions for the NHL in 2016.
- The Edmonton Oilers will again miss the playoffs in 2015-2016. While the Oilers have finally shown some signs of life, they still lack consistency. This team has had some bad luck with injuries, bad calls and poor decisions, so you have to think that they will break their streak at some point in the near future.
- Steve Stamkos will become a free agent and leave the Tampa Bay Lightning – while the rumors links Stamkos to the Toronto Maple Leafs, we are not so sure. We do however see Stamkos parting ways with the team that drafted him. It is no secret that Stamkos is not satisfied with being moved to the Wing and that his ice time has been lowered. The guy is a superstar and needs to be surrounded with a couple of other elite playmakers so that he can regain his 50-60 goal stature. (Is that even possible with the low scoring game that we have today?)
- The NHL will modify (or maybe even eliminate the coaches challenge – this has already been discussed at the NHL Board of Governor’s meetings. Some coaches have abused this rule greatly while others are now starting to. It slows the game down and in some cases the challenge has overturned good goals. Look for major changes with the coaches’s challenge.
- Jamie Benn and not Patrick Kane will win the Art Ross trophy – Benn had the most points in the NHL last season and is poised to do so again. Hard to believe that he is only starting to get the credit he is due as the NHL’s most elite power forward. Dallas is on a roll and Benn is not showing any signs of slowing down. Barring injury Jamie Benn should again contend and will win the NHL’s scoring crown.
- The Chicago Blackhawks will NOT win the Stanley Cup in 2016 – this is a bold prediction because we actually like the Blackhawks. Based on how the season is playing out we think that a team like the Dallas Stars, Washington Capitals, Montreal Canadiens or New York Rangers may have what it takes to win it all. But hey don’t get mad at us if Chicago pulls it off again, after all they still have one of the best teams in the NHL.
- Carey Price will win the Conn Smythe – this man has won it all over the past year. One thing missing from his resume is a Stanley Cup Championship and a Conn Smythe trophy. Could this be the year? Well if he comes back 100% healthy from his injury, we say yes.
- Connor McDavid will return in January and challenge for the Calder trophy – when Connor McDavid went down in early November with a broken clavicle, Oilers’ fans rolled their eyes and screamed that there was a curse of the Oilers having never had a player ever win rookie of the year. This year was supposed to be different and it just might. I wasn’t sure what to think of Connor (and full disclosure I am an Oilers fan), but after watching him play a dozen games in the NHL, this kid has the goods. And he IS competitive. We predict that he will be back playing within the first two weeks of January (which is weeks ahead of his scheduled return) and when all is said and done will challenge for the rookie scoring lead. Connor McDavis is the next big thing in the NHL.
- Sidney Crosby will be approached by management to see if he would consider a trade – something is not right with Sid the Kid, perhaps his time is up in Pittsburgh. We have a feeling (and this is not substantiated with anything concrete) that Sidney or the Pens might feel that a change of scenery might be in order. Sidney Crosby wanted to be a Penguin for life and he’s got the contract that would allow him to be a Penguin for his career, but never say never. In 2012, Crosby and the Penguins signed a 12-year contract extension worth $104.4 million. The contract, which went into effect starting with the 2013-14 season and will last until Crosby is 37 years old, comes with an average annual value of $8.7 million. If Wayne Gretzky can be traded anyone can be traded. This is a bold prediction, but we just can’t see the Pens being Cup contenders anytime soon. Might it make sense for the Pens to field some offers?
- The NHL will decide if the Quebec Nordiques will return to the NHL – The NHL’s 10-member executive committee, which features some of the most powerful owners in the league, will meet again to sift through the financial documents and ultimately make a recommendation at some unspecified date in 2016 as to the fate of the Quebec Nordiques. The cost of the expansion fee, estimated to be at $500 million US which equated to approximately $680 Million Canadian may make it a little tougher for the Quebecor folks to obtain an expansion team and Gary Bettman has never been one to like to move NHL franchises. We should know the fate of Nordiques in 2016.
- Auston Matthews will go number one in the NHL Entry Draft in June – this kid missed the 2015 Draft by a couple of days and would have been right up there with McDavid and Eichel and may expect Matthews to be the number one coveted pick in the 2016 NHL draft. Matthews is currently playing in Switzerland. Even this mock draft thinks that Matthews will be the number one pick.
- 6 NHL coaches will be replaced during the calendar year of 2016 – we won;t be as bold to say which coaches, but we think that as many as 6 NHL coaches will be replaced for the calendar year of 2016.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs will unveil a special jersey commemorating their 100th anniversary – ok this is a gimme and we think that the jersey will be a dramatic change from what everyone is accustomed to. A green St. Pats replica perhaps?
- The Vancover Canucks will miss the 2015-2016 playoffs – this team lack and identity and has not been playing great hockey this season. Unless a major trade happens this team will become an also ran again.
- Taylor Hall will be a first team all-star – the guy should have been an all-star a few years back, but a voting glitch nixed that. A lot of writers who vote do not get to see enough of Hall who is quietely having an MVP type season for the Oilers. Hall deserves some consideration for first team All-Star and MVP.
- Doug Wilson will be relieved of his GM duties in San Jose – not sure why this hasn’t happened yet, but depending the success of the Sharks this year, Wilson may be on short leash.
- Zdeno Chara will be traded – there are a number of teams that would be interested, but the big man has a no movement clause. The Bruins could probably get a decent return but then again the big defensemen is not getting any younger. Could Peter Chiarelli and the Edmonton Oilers be an attractive fit for Chara? We think so, but as mentioned there are a number of teams that would be interested in acquiring the Beast from the East.
2016 is going to be a special year and look for some great things to happen in the NHL. Have any of your own predictions? Tweet us some of your predictions and we may include them in a future post.