The offseason is a time for improvement. It’s when players, coaches, and the ever-omniscient hockey ops department break out the game-tape and have a painstakingly honest look at what went right—and wrong.
Here at On The Forecheck, your friendly writing staff is not immune to such “tape don’t lie” moments. Before the season started, more than a full calendar year ago, our crew put together their preseason predictions for the 2019-2020 NHL season. The topics ranged from our Cup picks, the major awards, and how we thought the Preds would shape up.
Let’s put on our retro-specs and see how it all played out.
Division Standings/Stanley Cup Matchup
Final NHL Regular Season Division Champions
Atlantic: Boston Bruins (1/10 Correct)
Metro: Washington Capitals (6/10 Correct)
Central: St. Louis Blues (1/10 Correct)
Pacific: Vegas Golden Knights (7/10 Correct)
Stanley Cup Matchup: Lightning over Stars
Overall, it looks like Eric gets our crown for divisional picks, correctly predicting three of the four division champs AND the Lightning as Stanley Cup champs. He was also the only one of us to pick the Blues to win the Central (which I completely forgot actually happened.)
Also, some kudos to Shaun here. We gave him some grief last October for being the only guy NOT to pick the Lightning to win the Atlantic. But lo and behold, his pick—the Bruins—actually finished eight points ahead of Tampa Bay in the final division standings.
Speaking of those Lightning, three OTF members (Eric, Bryan, and yours truly) had them correctly penned as the Stanley Cup champs. However, no one called Dallas as the runners-up. In fact, only one person, Rachel, gave them any love at all in the preseason predictions, predicting they’d win the Central. Give her props for at least predicting the potential.
Art Ross: Leon Draisaitl (0/10 Predicted)
Rocket Richard: Alexander Ovechkin AND David Pastrnak (4/10 Predicted Ovi)
Calder: Cale Makar (3/10 Predicted)
Selke: Sean Couturier (0/10 Predicted)
Norris: Roman Josi (5/10 Predicted)
Vezina: Connor Hellebuyck (1/10 Predicted)
Hart: Leon Draisaitl (0/10 Predicted)
Alright, to be fair, not many people inside or outside OTF predicted Draisaitl’s Hart-worthy season, even after his 50-goal, 105-point season in 2019. Many believed Connor McDavid (who got five of the ten votes in our preseason poll) was the spark plug of that Oilers’ offense, and it wasn’t until McDavid got hurt that Draisatl got to flex his abilities.
On the other hand, we had five staffers (Laura, Rachel, Tucker, Hayley, and Bryan) aboard the #Josi4Norris hype train long before the rest of the NHL hitched themselves to that bandwagon. We also had a decent number of hits on Cale Makar’s Calder win and Ovi’s share of the Rocket Richard trophy.
Perhaps the best “sneaky good” prediction of the awards season was Bobby’s call of
Walmart Adam Driver Connor Hellebuyck winning the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goalie. There weren’t many around the NHL media circles predicting this level of season from the Jets’ goalie.
The OTF crew also put together their predictions for the Nashville Predators’ season. We started with some general thoughts: How would the team do? Would they make the playoffs? All that jazz. Those are a bit too long to post them all, but you can revisit those picks here.
We had a surprising number of people predict the Preds would win the Stanley Cup. (In case you missed it, the Predators did not win the Stanley Cup.) The rest of the crew was a bit closer with their picks. The general consensus was that Nashville would make the playoffs (let’s just go ahead and concede that play-in round was at least some sort of postseason) with the Preds ultimately falling short in the first two rounds. Sarah’s prediction pretty much summed up what happened:
The Preds will definitely make the playoffs, but it’ll end up being a disappointing season for the talent they have on the roster. Though they’ll put up great numbers, they’ll end up falling to third in the conference in a close race with Dallas and exit the playoffs in the second round.
We also put our best guesses towards who would be the Preds’ statistical leaders.
Goals: Forsberg (21)
Assists: Josi (49)
Points: Josi (65)
Ignoring the totals (because “global pandemic” wasn’t on anyone’s prediction list when we did these a full calendar year ago), seven of eleven staffers correctly picked Filip Forsberg as the team’s leading goal-scorer. But no one—not even the five people who called Josi’s Norris Trophy win—had him as the team leader in either assists or points.
It’s also interesting to see how many of us predicted high-scoring season from the Preds’ key forwards. Laura, Ann, Eric, Hayley, and I all thought Forsberg would cross the 40-goal plateau; Sarah and Rachel thought the same about Arvidsson. Bryan, meanwhile, had predicted a 78-point season from Johansen. We’ll probably have to wait another year or two for any of those scenarios to come true.
Hot Takes... Good and Bad
And now for the most fun part of the predictions, and the section that’s going to have Freezing Cold Takes scouring our feed. Our crew made some bold predictions about the 2019-2020 season. Again, we’re not going to post them all because that would be a freakishly long article, but you can check them out here.
We actually had some dead-on predictions from our crew!
- Laura correctly called San Jose being “surprisingly bad.”
- Tucker saw the Rangers’ surprising late-season run, saying “The Rangers’ rebuild is way ahead of schedule, and they’ll fight their way back into the postseason.”
- Bobby was on the CBJ hype train long before their impressive postseason showing, reminding us the Blue Jackets “return 15 players from their core that earned 108 points three seasons ago before Artemi Panarin was on the team.”
And of course... we had a few hot takes that DIDN’T pan out.
- There’s Eric’s assessment of the eventual Western Conference Champs: “Dallas will be the overhyped, off-season champions once again.”
And...sigh...I’ll own up to mine.
- “I think Detroit has the tools to be a surprise team this year, especially if their key guys play as well as they did towards the end of last season.”