Slowly but surely, we are making our way towards opening night for the 2022-23 campaign. Obviously, we all like to make predictions for these sorts of things, but I’ve decided to take it one step further with some flaming hot predictions heading into this season.
1. Evander Kane records 90+ points in the regular season
Listen, I know we all love to hate on Evander Kane. He’s been in a ton of controversies since joining the league and really isn’t a pleasant person.
That being said, he is a tremendous hockey player, and we saw a ton of that this year with the Oilers. In the regular season, he had 39 points in 43 games played, and in the postseason, he had 17 in 15. Now imagine him alongside Connor McDavid, and on the power play for a full season.
Obviously, this a bold take for somebody who has trouble staying out of off-ice issues, but he was on pace for 74 points in a full 82-game season, and that’s with being accustomed to a new system and new players after sitting out for half a season. If you adjust his playoff numbers to an 82-game season, he was on pace for 93 points.
Look out for EK91 this year.
2. Matt Murray records a .920+ SV% in Toronto
Another one that people aren’t going to like, as for some reason Matt Murray has become hated by hockey fans leaguewide.
Everyone who has followed my page for a while now knows how Matt Murray is my favourite player, but this isn’t a joke opinion, it’s actually what I see happening.
I know Murray hasn’t had a .919 SV% since 2018-19 with Pittsburgh, but I also don’t think he was placed in the best opportunities. In 2019-20, he was horrendous to start the season, slowly started trending upwards, but was then stopped by COVID cancelling the league, and by the time they were back, Pittsburgh had already decided that Tristan Jarry was their guy.
After that, he spent two seasons behind one of the worst assembled defensive cores I have ever seen in Ottawa, and was plagued by injuries, all while never really having the trust of head coach DJ Smith.
Now, he is on his childhood team, a team that should realistically contend for a Stanley Cup, and he has no excuses. If he struggles again, he’s done as a starting goaltender in the NHL, but I truly think if he stays healthy, there’s no reason why Murray shouldn’t flourish in the 6ix.
3. Drew Doughty is back in the Norris Trophy race
The Los Angeles Kings are back in the spotlight, and in my opinion, Drew Doughty will be too.
Doughty is still the number-one defenseman for Los Angeles, and only played minimal games due to injuries last season. Assuming he can stay healthy, he’ll be averaging 25+ minutes a night for a young Kings team that is expected to take a step forward offensively.
Doughty was on pace for 65 points in a full season last year, which would’ve marked a career-high.
Could we see a resurgence for Doughty’s career?
4. Alexis Lafreniere explodes for 65+ points
I’ve been an Alexis Lafreniere truther since the beginning, and I won’t stop now.
It’s been unfortunate for Lafreniere due to the fact that he was drafted to a playoff team, not a rebuilder. Therefore, he has gotten less of an opportunity than other top-overall picks would get. However, he’s set to see a big increase in minutes this season following an amazing postseason performance, and I’m expecting him to erupt offensively.
Hopefully, consistent power play minutes and a permanent top-six role will be enough for us to see the Lafreniere we’ve been waiting to see since he was drafted in 2020, and in my opinion, it will be.
5. Patrik Laine scores 50+ goals
Patrik Laine has always had the potential to be one of the league’s best goal scorers, he just has lacked the work ethic, and at times, the linemates.
Now he has no excuses, as the Blue Jackets picked up arguably the best playmaker in the NHL, Laine will have all the tools necessary to have a significant offensive season and show who he truly is as a player.
I’m expecting the Blue Jackets power play to be lethal, and think that’s where a majority of his scoring will come from. I consider 50+ goals a hopeful prediction, but anything less than 40 goals would be a failure for Laine in my eyes.