33 bold predictions for the NHL season

With the NHL getting underway tomorrow, I thought it would be fun to list some predictions for the season.

James Neal will lead the league in goals this season.

James Neal will lead the league in goals this season.

But not just normal predictions. They get kind of dull. Here are some of the more bold predictions for the upcoming season.

For some I give my reasons, but for the most part, they are pretty straight forward.

So here you go: 33 bold NHL predictions for the 2012-13 season.

1. James Neal will lead in goals with 33

2. Surprise team of the year: Columbus. They make the playoffs as a sixth seed. A shortened season helps them, and they’ll roll four lines more than other teams, which could help them.

3. Surprise bad team of the year: Oilers. Most are predicting playoffs with a deep run. I think they struggle mightily.

4. Boston Bruins miss the playoffs.

5. Andrei Markov plays every game and leads Habs in points.

6. The Chicago Blackhawks miss the playoffs.

7. One goalie gets more than 10 shutouts this season, but it’s not one of the big three (Quick, Rinne or Lundqvist).

8. The Staal brothers outpoint the Sedins.

9. Pierre Marc-Bouchard will lead the Wild in points.

10. Shea Weber will be the first suspension.

11. Scott Gomez signs with New Jersey, scores 10 goals and finishes top three in points on the team.

12. Wade Redden signs with the Sens, and Ottawa fans are happy until they remember they “chose” Redden over Chara. But Redden only needs four games to get to 1,000, so it would be nice for Sens fans to wait until after that game before booing him.

13. Roberto Luongo stays with Vancouver and becomes the #1 starter.

14. P.K. Subban sits out the whole season in a contract dispute.

15. Jarome Iginla is traded.

16. Rick Dipietro plays at least 24 games, so half the season.

17. Only two Canadian teams make the playoffs: The Jets and the Canucks

18. Florida finishes last overall.

19. There will be at least three refereeing controversies in the first two weeks. They haven’t had preseason games to get their timing back, and none of them played in other leagues (they didn’t want to take away jobs from other refs). It’ll take a little bit of time to get back into game shape.

20. Neither Corey Perry or Ryan Getlzaf is traded, but they also don’t sign new deals with the Ducks.

21. Ryane Clowe leads the Sharks in points.

22. Milan Hejduk goes scoreless for the first 15 games, announces he will retire at the end of the season.

23. One player will have a nine-point night, the first time in NHL history that has happened.

24. The Habs trade Rene Bourque for Chris Stewart.

25. No 2012 draft pick will be a Calder finalist.

26. Erik Karlsson takes a major step back, doesn’t finish in the top 20 in points for defencemen.

27. One thing that bothers me about all these expert sites making predictions is they’re scared to take a chance to deviate from the norm. Really, you’re picking Steven Stamkos to win the Rocket Richard trophy? And Shea Weber to win the Norris? Wow, what a gutsy prediction. Blech. The following are my dark horse predictions for each of the trophies:

Hart: Phil Kessel

28. Art Ross: Marian Gaborik

29. Selke: Tomas Plekanec

30. Norris: Brian Campbell

31. Calder: Ryan Strome

32. Vezina: Antti Niemi

33. Stanley Cup: Buffalo Sabres

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