ATLSP 2017- Day 1: Arizona, Vancouver, Pittsburgh


Welcome to Around the League Season Predictions 2017. We go around the league and predict each team’s season. We have 3 team predictions per article and 1 article on it per day. I randomly pick the teams with a dice sequence. Today’s predictions go to the Arizona Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins. Let’s get started:

ARIZONA COYOTES

2015-16 Record: 35-39-8, 4th in the Pacific

The Arizona Coyotes made strides last year, however they failed to qualify for a playoff spot because of the tough western conference. They were 9 points out of a wildcard spot. The Coyotes, I believe are on the verge of making strides to a playoff berth. They have an exciting young team with Max Domi, Anthony Duclair and Oliver Ekman-Larsson as well as veteran Shane Doan. They added Alex Gologoski in the offseason. Also number 3 overall pick from 2015 Center Dylan Strome should make the NHL. The current Coyotes team reminds me of the Florida Panthers a year or two ago. They both were sunbelt teams who had attendance issues and had problems winning but were both adding young pieces to turn them into a monster. I believe if the Coyotes are to get into the playoffs they should follow the Panthers model. John Chyaka the youngest GM in NHL history and new GM of the Coyotes is an aggressive one. Only problem is that he is willing to add a lot of dead cap space and it seems to have piled up as the offseason goes along. About 17% of their cap comes from dead contracts like Pavel Datsyuk and Chris Progner but it should expire at the end of this year. I am rooting for the Coyotes to get success. Hopefully a new arena can solidify them on the business side and they can focus on winning. They made an important offseason move in getting defenseman Alex Gologoski.  I project they will improve to somewhere between 82-90 points in 2016-17.

Top Players: D Oliver Ekman-Larsson, F Max Domi, D Alex Gologoski

Top 3 Prospects: C Dylan Strome, C Christian Dvorak, C  Clayton Keller

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

2015-16 Record: 31-38-13 6th in the Pacific

One word describes the Vancouver Canucks and their front office and that word is train wreck. Vancouver in my opinion has the worst General Manager in Jim Benning in the league. He traded away potential in Jared McCann to Florida (which as a Panther fan I’m happy about), was punished for tampering and didn’t make any huge splash. They are going to keep relying on the Sedins until the Sedins are in canes and can’t skate anymore. If I was a Vancouver fan I’d start rooting for a different team. I believe Vancouver will be the worst team in the NHL next year by far. The only good thing Benning did was sign Loui Eriksson. Hopefully Vancouver will find competent management soon. Their last GM traded away franchise goalies Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo. Now they have old washed up Ryan Miller and draft bust Jacob Markstrom. Good luck Vancouver because you are going to need it. I project they will finish with under 68 points

Top Players: Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Loui Eriksson

Top 3 Prospects: Olli Juolevi, Brock Boeser,  Thatcher Demko

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

2015-16 Record: 48-26-8 2nd in the Metropolitan Division

Playoff Finish: STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS

The Pittsburgh Penguins struggled at the start of 2015-16. Along came Mike Sullivan and the Pens were fixed and they got red hot and won a Stanley Cup. It wasn’t just Sidney Crosby carrying the team on his back, the Penguins were a group effort in their way to the Stanley Cup. They didn’t do anything major in the offseason. There biggest question is goaltending. I believe keeping Fleury around in case Matt Murray was just a fluke for one more year is good for the Penguins. I think the Pens will get another deep playoff push and they have a legit shot at being Cup Contenders again. I project they will finish with over 108 Points

Top Players: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel

Top 3 Prospects: Matt Murray, Daniel Sprong, Oscar Sundquvist

Tomorrow we will do the San Jose Sharks, New Jersey Devils and  Nashville Predators

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