On the eve of the 2010-2011 season I have compiled my 10 BOLD predictions for this year. These 10 reflect what my gut tells me will happen this season. And my gut is only wrong 40% of the time – so there has to be some truth to them – right?
1.The Detroit Red Wings will win the Stanley Cup – This may not be that BOLD per se, as they are a perennial contender. These guys are being overlooked a bit because of age, but they are finally healthy this season and there is not better group of battle tested playoff warriors in the league.
2.Phil Kessel will score 48 goals – Not 50 (that would be crazy). But as he moves into his mid 20s, finally healthy, I think he is primed for that breakout season. The team is better (albeit marginally) than last year and there is no reason to think he won’t post career highs.
3.Jason Spezza will tally 93 points – He seems to be the forgetton superstar in the NHL. Yes he has had a rough go the last season and a bit but the injury woes are gone and he should regain his touch from a few seasons ago.
4.Martin Brodeur will win 45 games – Yes it’s a high number, but I truly believe in the Devils this season. Marty knows that the end is nearing and he’ll be just a little extra motivated this season (fantasy note: in a one year pool Marty should still be the first one off the board)
5.Steven Stamkos will NOT score 40 goals – This kid is legit. A star player with a great career ahead of him. It’s just that last year he scored so many of his goals from the exact same spot on the powerplay. I have to think that teams will key on him, and his goal totals will drop to the high 30s – for this season anyway.
6.Marian Hossa will get 100 points – I know I know, this prediction may forever taint my position as a self proclaimed “hockey expert”. But remember this, the last few years Hossa has battled injuries and had been asked to play a significant role in the defensive zone. This year, with a depleted Hawks team, he will once again be at the offensive forefront. Kane and Toews are only getting better, expect Hossa to have a career year.
7.John Tavares will be a bust – Everyone is so high on this kid. He has some nice hands and a decent shot, but I just can’t get by his skating. It sometimes looks as though he is skating in quicksand. I don’t see how he can ever evolve into an elite scorer if defensive players are able to catch up to him so easily.
8.The Washington Capitals will lose in the first round (again) – Ok, maybe not bold given their playoff issues in the past. But this team needs to learn how to play “playoff grind it out” hockey. And I just don’t know if guys like Semin and Mike Green are (or ever will be) capable of doing it.
9.Chris Pronger will win the Norris – No one understands how good this guy is. If he is on your team you are an instant contender. No player in the history of the league has had his combination of size, skill, and vision. He will be motivated after nearly winning it all last year, and the league will take notice.
10.The Toronto Maple Leafs will make the playoffs – HURRAY! Hey, is there a BOLDER prediction on this list? Call it blind optimism if you want, but something tells me this rag tag bunch of 3rd liners, rugged defensemen, and platoon goalies have something special in store for us.