NHL Preview: NESN Experts Make Their Stanley Cup, Award Predictions

At long last, some normalcy is back to the NHL

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The start of the NHL season has arrived, and that can only mean one thing: It’s prediction time.

NESN.com’s crew of hockey aficionados, Lauren Campbell, Mike Cole and Logan Mullen, took a crack at predicting pretty much every award, as well as a Stanley Cup winner.

Bookmark this page and make fun of them once Summer 2022 rolls around.

Hart Trophy
LC: Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
Being one of the best players on one of the NHL’s best teams usually leads to good things. MacKinnon was a finalist last season, and there’s no reason to think he’ll regress this season.

MC: Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
I still think someone like Artemi Panarin is the best choice if you’re looking to bet on this thing and get some value, but Matthews has seemingly hit his prime. With a full season, 50 goals will be in reach, and he’ll get most of the credit for what should be a very good regular season in Toronto, the hub of NHL hockey.

LM: Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
I’m pretty sure I picked Artemi Panarin each of the last two seasons, so it’s time to reinvent the brand (Panarin is still a fantastic player, though). As a result, I’m going with the least bold prediction of my life. McDavid scored at a simply absurd pace last season, and he will have the benefit of the Zach Hyman addition to the top six. If he continues to score like he did last season, it might be impossible not to give him the honor.

Norris Trophy
LC: Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche
It just seems silly to pick against anyone but Makar. The penalty kill and power play is where he excelled while also being a menace on the ice at all times. He’s one of, if not the best defenseman heading into this season, and there’s no reason to think that will change.

MC: Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche
Similar to Matthews, Makar should receive plenty of attention while being one of the best players on arguably the NHL’s top team. What he’s been able to do so early is incredible, especially considering the learning curve for young defensemen. If he takes even the slightest step forward, he’ll at least be a finalist.

LM: Jaccob Slavin, Carolina Hurricanes
The loss of Dougie Hamilton ultimately could help Slavin’s case here. Should Slavin continue to be a tremendous two-way defenseman for Carolina, showing he wasn’t just being sheltered by Hamilton the last few seasons, he will have proved that he’s one of the top blueliners in the NHL.

Selke Trophy
LC: Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
This probably is the safe answer, but it’s hard to leave him out of the conversation. Bergeron has won the award four times and has been looking to become the league’s most winningest Selke Award holder. Another strong season with the Bruins could help him reach that.

MC: Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
Bergeron has been a finalist in each of the last 10 seasons. If he makes it 11, I’ve got a 1-in-3 chance of being right.

LM: Joel Eriksson Ek, Minnesota Wild
After a slow start to his NHL career, Eriksson Ek has improved each season, finishing fourth in Selke voting last year. An unfortunate part of the voting process is that players have to receive the attention of media outside their market, and last season Eriksson Ek turned many heads outside of Minnesota. He’s officially o the national radar. There will be a close eye on him this season, and he’ll live up to the expectations.

Vezina Trophy
LC: Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders
Varlamov’s .929 save percentage led the league among goalies with more than 25 starts in 2021. He also had seven shutouts for the Isles, which was tied with Marc-Andre Fleury for most in the NHL. It’s fair to assume Varlamov will put up similar numbers this season, and with a full 82-game schedule on deck, that only leaves more room to improve and build upon.

MC: Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
Hellebuyck was awesome last season, posting a .916 save percentage and a 2.58 goals against average playing behind a pretty wretched Jets defense. Winnipeg took steps to address that issue this summer, adding Brenden Dillon and Nate Schmidt. If the Jets clean it up a little, it could go a long way in getting Hellebucyk to the next level.

LM: Darcy Kuemper, Colorado Avalanche
Think about how good Kuemper has been the last few seasons, and think about how much better he will be with the Avalanche in front of him instead of the Coyotes. Kuemper has a tall task in front of him replacing Philipp Grubauer, which only furthers his Vezina case if he comes through.

Art Ross Trophy
LC: Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
The season is just days old but this is McDavid’s award to lose. He continues to put up 100-point seasons, including last year during a time when COVID-19 shortened the schedule.

MC: Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
He had a Gretzky-esque 105 points in 56 games last year. Next.

LM: Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
I couldn’t fall all over myself saying he would win the Hart if he keeps up his point production, then not pick him here.

Jack Adams Trophy
LC: Bruce Cassidy, Boston Bruins
Boston’s coach has a different-looking team this season without David Krejci and Tuukka Rask. The Bruins still will be competitive, there’s no doubt about that. But there are a lot of new faces and questions surrounding the team. If the B’s can string together a better-than-expected season, it might be worth the +1000 bet at DraftKings Sportbook.

MC: Gerard Gallant, New York Rangers
Folks, it’s been just three years since Gallant led a first-year expansion team to the Stanley Cup Final. This is probably the most talented roster he’s ever had. He should be able to get the Blueshirts to places David Quinn couldn’t, and it should earn him a second Jack Adams for the trophy case.

LM: Jeremy Colliton, Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks seem primed for a breakout season after the slew of additions made this offseason. Should Colliton help pull the Blackhawks out of the basement, he would be a good candidate for Jack Adams.

Calder Trophy
LC: Trevor Zegras, Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks probably won’t be super competitive this season, but that doesn’t mean that Zegras will be left in the dark. He’ll likely see more ice time which will lead to more opportunities to showcase Zegras’ skill that will take his game to the next level.

MC: Cole Caufield, Montreal Canadiens
The American spark plug ignited a deep playoff run for the Habs, scoring four goals and adding eight assists in 20 playoff games last season on top of 4-1-5 totals in his first 10 games of regular-season experience. A full year will allow him to put his skills on display for an upstart Montreal club.

LM: Spencer Knight, Florida Panthers
He will have to outplay Sergei Bobrovsky to see enough playing time to warrant Calder consideration, but Bobrovsky has historically made that easy for his backups. Knight has the makeup and skillset to be a No. 1 goalie in the NHL, and if he beats out a veteran and helps guide the Panthers through a meat grinder of a division, then he should get the honor.

Stanley Cup
LC: Colorado Avalanche over Tampa Bay Lightning
Despite the Avs losing some key players in the offseason, they’re still a wagon that will be tough to beat. Darcy Kuemper will remain healthy all season, MacKinnon will have a breakout year and Colorado will stop the Lightning’s chances at a three-peat.

MC: New York Islanders over Colorado Avalanche
The Isles’ biggest hurdle will be getting by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference, which they finally find a way to do. In their way stands an Avs team that finally breaks out of its playoff funk. In the end, though, the Avs fall a little short on depth and in net, as the Islanders forecheck flusters Colorado.

LM: Florida Panthers over Vegas Golden Knights
The Panthers grab me because I love a lot of the retooling they did this offseason to build on an already exciting group. Perhaps most importantly, their defense is better, and that’s what has sunk them for years. I think we’ll find Florida to be a real complete team this season, with their offensive attack hemming in Vegas on the biggest stage.

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