OK people, here it is. Our 2016-17 conference predictions have arrived! The following is our list of teams in the eastern conference as we see them. We will supply notes next to each team.
This arduous process relies upon a decent amount (too much) of guesswork. In order for our model to work, we need to make an immense amount of assumptions regarding rosters, first year players, special team dynamics, injuries and how the season will transpire overall over 82 games. This is the reason we prefer the Advanced Bracton metric as a retrospective tool; if a player shows a propensity or probability of mistake minimization from one year to the next, he is probably a better fit for a club than one who is error prone. You will see that the teams that were not implored to change their defensive corps are ranked the highest.
Disclaimers aside, here are our projections for the east – note – it is entirely possible that six teams in the metropolitan division will finish higher than the the third highest in the Atlantic this year. You read that right. The Atlantic Division teams have problems, mostly on defense.
PIT – +40.61 – no real changes to the team that won the Cup – no huge improvements in the division. No changes on defense.
WAS – +21.36 – roster fine tuned, no changes on defense.
PHI – +8.34 – roster looks deep with only three players below NHL caliber
TB + 6.73 – basically the same team – no changes on defense – healthy Tyler Johnson.
NYI – +5.04 – solid team – no real holes
BUF – (-7.58) – whaaaaaaa? The Sabres sixth? Yes – this team is good….on paper. However, the success of this team depends on youth. We acknowledge that this could be a Spearman’s rho killer the way CGY was last year. However, when looking at their division, this team should do well against OTT, TOR, BOS, FLA etc. Update – Jack Eichel is out indefinitely with an ankle injury. We are taking the estimate for BUF down to -7.58 from -6.05 assuming Eichel only misses 14 games.
MTL – (-9.38) – we are putting a lot of stock in Radulov….and the return of Carey Price to single -handedly bail out back end mistakes….which should be somewhat fewer now that PK is in NSH.
CAR – (-11.53) – The Canes could be a sneaky little club. If nothing else they are a tough out. If they do not do as well as we predict, it will be because of overtime losses.
NJD – – (11.67) – their ranking is based solely on the continued torrid play of Kyle Palmieri. Short of his incredible generation of net penalty margin last year, the Devils are improved but probably not quite playoff ready. But they did get Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson, so there’s that.
NYR – (-16.38) – the NYR would be higher if we had any faith that their special teams would be less God-awful than last year. Since we are publishing this prior to the team submitting final rosters, we reserve the right to put the NYR as high as seventh depending on whether they keep or dump McIlrath. Yes, DMC rates so poorly on our scale that he by himself could keep the Rangers from making the playoffs. Throw Josh Jooris into the mix and you have…well, 10th place.
DET – (-17.01) this is probably the year that DET finally misses the playoffs. The loss of Datsyuk really hurts. But at least they re-signed Helm! Oh, and watch Athanasiou.
BOS – (-36.88) – the rebuild is on, and the Bruins are a good example of a team for which many of the new players have limited information. However, one player for whom we had detailed positive information for is Loui Eriksson…..aaaaaannnnnddd he’s gone. The back end has so many questions, this ranking for Boston seems about right to us.
FLA – (-38.22) what a difference a few months make. The Panthers decided to overhaul a successful team and therefore possibly undergo the horrors associated with transition. There are a lot of new faces…..probably too many. However, the possibility that the system is so powerful in FLA that virtually any NHL ready players can fit into it does exist.
TOR – (-53.24) – there are simply too many guys playing for whom we can’t project reliable numbers. Despite what we think should happen with their recent swath of top end draft picks, there are a LOT of guys we can’t model here. So let’s err on the side of caution……its worked in the past…..every year….for like a lot of years.
OTT – (-57.86) – I know, I know. Can it really be that bad? Well last year it was. The D corps is about the worst in the NHL, and special teams and opposition shot generation were…..incredible. Sure there is potential for improvement, but with these D men, we don’t see it. That is not to say this could be a rank buster for us. It easily could be and we do not feel great about placing OTT so low. They could move significantly higher if they are less bad than the other defensively deficient teams in their division on any given night.
CBJ – (-65.10) – No way Boone Jenner scores 30 goals again.Too many guys at the bottom end that can and will doom this team. However, if management is able to come to terms with this, rid themselves of dead weight around mid season and find reasonable organic replacements (who frankly could not be worse), CBJ may not be as horrific as they appear to be at the outset.
Up next – Western Conference.