If you exclude the international start of the season, than the official opening day for the National Hockey League is tomorrow. The Vegas Golden Knights will start their season on the road against the Los Angeles Kings at 7:00 pm. But before the puck drops, here are some of my crazy 2022-23 predictions.
I like to make my picks super specific so that when we look back on them they’ll be even funnier. Or in the rare event that I am right, it makes me look like a genius. Let’s just jump right in.
Vegas Golden Knights
Eichel Hits 100
Building off a stellar preseason, Jack Eichel will play a full 82-game season for the Vegas Golden Knights in 2022-23 and re-establish himself as a big-name player in the NHL. He’ll surpass thirty goals and have somewhere in the range of 50-60 assists for at least a 100-point campaign.
Last season Matthew Tkachuk, Steven Stamkos, Auston Matthews, Kirill Kaprizov, Leon Draisaitl, Jonathan Huberdeau, Johnny Gaudreau, and Connor McDavid all reached the 100-point plateau.
Mark Stone Rebounds, Gets Selke Nomination
On another positive note, and speaking of players that are coming off of injury-ridden seasons, Mark Stone will bounce back. He played in just 37 games last season but still managed 30 points. With his back surgery taken care of, Stone, like Eichel, will re-establish himself as a big-name player in the NHL.
He’ll lose out to Sidney Crosby for the Selke Trophy but will be nominated for the third time in his career.
Cassidy Wins the Jack Adams
A person on the Golden Knights who will take home some hardware at the NHL Awards will be new head coach Bruce Cassidy. Spoiler alert for my final Golden Knight’s pick, but the VGK will make the 2023 playoffs with Cassidy getting the best out of his players.
The Golden Knights will finish third in the Pacific Division behind the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers. Cassidy will win his first Jack Adams award as the league’s best head coach.
Injuries will Continue, But Depth Will Step Up
A big factor in Cassidy winning the Jack Adams will be the Golden Knight’s injury problems in 2022-23. It won’t be as bad as it was in 2021-22 with Max Pacioretty and Robin Lehner no longer a factor, but guys like Laurent Brossoit, Will Carrier, and Alec Martinez will continue to deal with injury trouble.
These banged-up players will pave the way for youth in the Golden Knight’s system, with Cassidy bringing in guys like Paul Cotter, Jake Leschyshyn, Pavel Dorofeyev, and Kaedan Korczak for significant ice time.
Goaltending Will Struggle
The quartet of Logan Thompson, Adin Hill, Laurent Brossoit, and Michael Hutchinson will get the Golden Knights into the playoffs. But it won’t be without some hardships, as all goalies will struggle with inconsistency. Cassidy will ride the hot goalie into the playoffs, and the scoring led by Eichel and a solid-D corps will bail out the Golden Knight’s less-than-stellar goaltending without Robin Lehner.
Brett Howden Scores 15+ goals
With Max Pacioretty, Evgenii Dadonov, and Mattias Janmark all gone, the Golden Knights will need a new scoring winger, and they will find one in Brett Howden. Still just 24 years old, Howden will emerge as a speedy sparkplug-type player for the Golden Knights and remain in the top six.
He has never had a double-digit goal total in the NHL, but it will change in 22-23 as Howden will score at least 15 goals. Howden will finish with more goals than the next player on our list.
Phil Kessel Finds a Home
I think it is safe to say that Phil Kessel will break the all-time consecutive games played a record with the Golden Knights, as he needs just nine more games to do so.
What I’m predicting here is that Kessel will re-sign with the Golden Knights in the offseason and likely retire as a Golden Knight. His style of play at this stage in his career will fit in perfectly with the VGK.
I project Howden to score more goals than him, yes, but I think Kessel will once again show how he is much more than a guy that can put the puck in the net. I have him with over 50 assists.
VGK Make The Playoffs, Lose in Round 1
The Vegas Golden Knights will make the playoffs as the third team in the Western Conference and play the Wild Card Los Angeles Kings. They will lose the series in six games, with the Golden Knight’s inexperienced goaltending and lack of scoring depth hurting their chances.
The play of Kevin Fiala, Anze Kopitar, and Jonathan Quick once again getting hot in the playoffs will be too much for the Golden Knights.
Overall NHL Predictions
Alright, now a rapid-fire round of NHL predictions for the 2022-23 season.
The Senators Trade for Chychrun
The Ottawa Senators will trade for Jakob Chychrun at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline. Shane Pinto will be the big name going back to the Coyotes. The Senators will out-bid the St. Louis Blues for Chychrun.
Patrick Kane Goes Home
Not finding any contenders suitable to take on his massive cap hit, the Chicago Blackhawks will trade Patrick Kane to the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres will still miss the playoffs but will re-sign Kane.
Jonathan Toews will be traded to the Colorado Avalanche at the deadline to help solidify their center depth after the loss of Nazem Kadri. The Avalanche will lose in the Western Conference Finals.
Another First-Round Loss in Toronto
Matt Murray will rebound with the Toronto Maple Leafs and put up a solid season. The Leafs will finish second in the Atlantic Division, behind only the Florida Panthers. But they will once again lose in the first round of the playoffs, this time to the Tampa Bay Lightning again. Kyle Dubas will be fired shortly after.
The Ducks Win the Draft Lottery
They missed out on Sidney Crosby in 2005, but this time the Anaheim Ducks will win the Draft Lottery and get potential superstar Connor Bedard. He’ll fit in perfectly with the Duck’s young core of Mason McTavish, Trevor Zegras, and Jaimie Drysdale. The Ducks will all of the sudden become a threat.
The Oilers Win the 2023 Stanley Cup
The Edmonton Oilers will win the 2023 Stanley Cup. Connor McDavid will go beast mode in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and win the Conn Smythe.