2016-2017 LTP Staff Predictions

As we approach another glorified hockey season in which the Penguins will be defending their Stanley Cup title, the staff here at LTP has decided to collaborate on a season predictions article.

In this article, we will be predicting the Penguins’ record, the Metropolitan Division standings, a #PensBoldPredictions, and our playoff predictions (assuming we have them making it). Take a look at all of the team’s takes on the upcoming 2016-17′ season.

Editor: Cody Flavell

  • Penguins (48-25-9, 105 PTS)

The Penguins will head into this season with a similar roster despite the loss of defenseman Ben Lovejoy as well as goalie Jeff Zatkoff. They still await a decision on center Matt Cullen’s playing future and whether he’ll sign in Pittsburgh or elsewhere. Stagnancy can sometimes be a bad thing, though. Keeping the same team together can obviously only help the team’s chemistry, but some times the same old product is what ruins teams and I don’t think that’ll be a factor for the Penguins. The team is just too exciting and fast for such a rapid decline to happen. With a full season of Carl Hagelin, Trevor Daley, and Mike Sullivan likely ahead, I expect a 105-point season from the Pens.

  • Metro Division Prediction

  1. Penguins: (48-25-9, 105 PTS)
  2. Capitals: (45-23-14, 104 PTS)
  3. Islanders: (39-31-12, 90 PTS)
  4. Flyers: (37-35-10, 84 PTS)
  5. Rangers: (35-35-12, 82 PTS)
  6. Blue Jackets: (30-40-12, 72 PTS)
  7. Devils: (29-42-11, 69 PTS)

I think the Penguins will very narrowly win the Metropolitan division over the Capitals who will also be returning to a pretty solid team. The Islanders made a few big moves this offseason shedding Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen but bringing in Andrew Ladd and P. A. Parenteau. If their captain John Tavares can stay healthy, they will be a playoff team this season. The pesky Flyers, as much as I hate to say it, have a talented roster and can win some games if they find stability at the goaltender position. I think it’s possible. Look for them to be a sleeper. As we head to the bottom of the barrel, we will see a regressing Rangers team who may only have another chance or two to get ‘Queen Henrik’ his title before he retires. The Blue Jackets have talent but remain a jumbled mess. They saw a glimmer of hope resigning Seth Jones to such a team friendly contract. The Devils made a splash acquiring Taylor Hall but are still the Devils and will find a way to have a miserable season before they figure it all out.

  • #PensBoldPredictions

– My #PensBoldPrediction is that Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury combine for fifteen shutouts en route to at least winning the ECF.

Staff Writer: Brad Matus

  • Penguins (48-32-8, 104 Points)

– The Penguins left the 2015/2016 guns-a-blazin’, and coming into the 16/17 season I see them doing just that. With only losing small key parts in the 15/16 cup run team (Ben Lovejoy, Jeff Zatkoff) I don’t see any change for this season. Of course, I don’t see us winning all 82 games of the season, as much as I would like to see it happen, it just simply won’t happen. With the goaltender tandem of Marc-Andre Fluery, and Matt Murray I can see us being a top 5 team in the whole league. Goaltending isn’t the only thing that wins you games, you need some power from up front also. I can see the Penguins being at the top of the list in goals this year, with a big season from the ‘HBK’ line, also captain Sidney Crosby, and Evgeni Malkin. If we play our way of Pittsburgh hockey, I see us winning the Eastern Conference with 104 points and making another run for the cup.

  • Metro Division Prediction
  1. Penguins (48-28-6, 104 PTS)
  2. Capitals (47-30-5, 100 PTS)
  3. Islanders (41-33-8, 90 PTS)
  4. Flyers (37-35-10, 84 PTS)
  5. Blue Jackets (35-44-9, 79 PTS)
  6. Rangers (33-37-11, 77 PTS)
  7. Devils (31-37-14, 76 PTS)

– Penguins easily are going to take their division this season. If they go out and do their thing, it is going to be history. The reason I think we overtake the Capitals as President Trophy Champions is because we are going to be the better team in play against them. I see us taking the W in more than half of our games against them, and that is going to be in our favor in the long run. I see the Islanders finishing 3rd because I don’t see them having the goaltending they need to overtake us and Washington. They may get lucky and beat us a couple times but other power house teams will have a field day, in my opinion, on the Islanders goalies holding them to only 90 points. Philadelphia, as much as I would like to put them last in the entire NHL, I see them finishing 4th, with 84 points. They are going to get lucky simple as that. I see the Blue Jackets finishing in the Metro at 5th place. Being the young team they are I don’t see them doing a lot of damage in the standings, but in a few years I can see Columbus somewhere high in the standings being playoff contenders. The New York Rangers are going to have a tank year. I see them being the biggest upset all season. I bet King Henrik gets severely injured and ends up calling it quits after the season. The Devils are going to finish 7th in my book. Adding Taylor Hall was huge for New Jersey this off season and he is going to really help them, I just don’t see him helping him enough. The Devils are going to be one of the worst teams this season, maybe finishing in the bottom 3 of the entire NHL.

  • #PensBoldPredictions

– My Pens Bold Prediction is the Penguins end up trading Marc-Andre Fleury to a non-cup contending team at the trade deadline, just so we can get something for him instead of letting him walk at the end of the season in free agency.

Staff Writer: Josh Boulton

  • Penguins (47-23-12, 106 points)

– The Pens will show no signs of a Cup hangover. Too many weapons. Too much motivation. I think in games where they would usually lose, they’ll find a way to sneak out a few extra single points and be in a legitimate race for the division.

  • Metro Division Prediction
  1. Islanders (49-24-9, 107 PTS)
  2. Penguins (47-23-12, 106 PTS)
  3. Capitals (44-31-7, 95 PTS)
  4. Flyers (42-32-8, 92 PTS)
  5. Devils (39-33-10, 88 PTS)
  6. Rangers (38-36-8, 84 PTS)
  7. Carolina (34-39-9, 77 PTS)
  8. Columbus (32-39-11, 75 PTS)

– The New York Islanders are a team that nobody watches or cares about even though they’ve quietly had two straight 100 point seasons. On March 17 last season I tweeted that the Islanders, not the Rangers, were the ones the Penguins would need to catch to avoid a Wild Card spot. They were in the middle of a four game losing streak at the time but rebounded to go 7-2 down the stretch, only falling into the wild card by one point with a loss in the final game of the season. I also predicted they would beat Florida in round one. I think they’ll win the division sometime soon and 2016-2017 is as good as year as any. The Flyers are on the rise. The Rangers are on the slide. Everyone else is pretty stable.

  • #PensBoldPredictions

My #PensBoldPrediction is that Phil Kessel will score 5 goals in one game.

Staff Writer: Chris Halicke

  • Penguins: 50-24-8 (108 points)

– The Penguins are bringing back almost the same exact team in defense of their title. The only subtraction is Ben Lovejoy on defense, where newly resigned Justin Schultz figures to fit in on the 3rd pairing on defense with Ian Cole. The only remaining pending unrestricted free agent to resign was Matt Cullen, who the Penguins signed to a 1-year/$1 million deal on Wednesday. I truly believe that the team we saw from January through June is the team the Penguins are going to be, and if that’s the case, they’re the favorites out of the East. If they stay healthy, especially on defense, they’ll be a threat every single night. They’re deep on forward and goaltender. The biggest questions yet to be answered this season will be if, and when, they move Fleury or not. Kunitz may possibly be another contract they try to move as well. They’ll have their cold streaks as every team does every year, but Sully has a way of coaching these guys. I believe they’ll remain a resilient bunch. Oh yeah, and pretty fast too.

  • Metro Division Prediction
  1. Penguins: (50-24-8, 108 PTS)
  2. Capitals: (48-23-11, 107 PTS)
  3. Flyers: (41-30-11, 93 PTS)
  4. Islanders: (40-22-10, 90 PTS)
  5. Rangers: (39-38-5, 83 PTS)
  6. Devils: (36-36-10, 82 PTS)
  7. Blue Jackets: (30-41-11, 71 PTS)

– Honestly, this division could easily go to either Pittsburgh or Washington. Both teams are great offensively, have a solid defense, and superb goaltending. I do think, head to head, Pittsburgh is the better team, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Washington won the division. It’ll be a tight race. I can’t stand them, but the Flyers are the Dallas Stars of the East, just not quite as much talent. They have the same problem as Dallas though: they need consistent goaltending. They’re good, but the lack of solid goaltending hurts them. The Islanders will be good again, probably good enough to get in as the 2nd wild card. The Rangers are trending down to me. They had some roster turnover and are getting older. They’ll still be pesky to play against. They still have some fast skaters and Lundqvist can keep them in games. The Devils landed Taylor Hall in the biggest steal in the NHL since the Daley/Scuderi trade, but they play a style of hockey that is not successful in today’s NHL. If they adapt, they could be a tough team. Columbus is bad. They have some talent, but no direction. They’re the Edmonton of the East, without all the #1 picks.

  • #PensBoldPredictions

– Daniel Sprong ends up on the roster at some point and scores 20 goals. He becomes the top-6 winger the Pens have been searching for.

Staff Writer: Brad Franjione

  • Penguins (53-21-8, 114 PTS)

– It is truly incredible that with the recent signing of Matt Cullen to a 1 year/$1 million deal, the Penguins will be returning every player that had legitimate playoff playing time with the exception of Ben Lovejoy, who signed with the New Jersey Devils. Not only do I believe these Penguins can have a great season, but I think they can pull off about 53 wins even after winning the Stanley Cup. First of all, this team has so much speed, and not many teams can keep up with what the Penguins can throw at them. Heck, it’s the reason they won the Stanley Cup this year. Second, remember that Phil Kessel guy? Yeah, not only is he STILL a Stanley Cup champion, but he also found some great chemistry towards the end of the season with Hagelin and Bonino, forming the all so famous HBK line. Plus guys such as Daley and Hagelin were added midseason, and so it should be interesting to see what they can do in a full season with the Penguins after establishing a confidence level. Also, what about Mike Sullivan?! Remember, he came into the season in December and had very little to no time to implement his system, but once he got his ideas across, it clearly clicked with that group. When you consider the Penguins’ speed, the potential of the players added midseason last year, and a full season of Mike Sullivan behind the bench, I truly believe that this team can win 53 games.

  • Metro Division Prediction
  1. Penguins (53-21-8, 114 PTS)
  2. Capitals (48-25-9, 103 PTS)
  3. Blue Jackets (44-30-8, 96 PTS)
  4. Islanders (43-31-8, 94 PTS)
  5. Flyers (40-33-9, 89 PTS)
  6. Rangers (39-35-8, 86 PTS)
  7. Devils (37-37-8, 82 PTS)
  8. Hurricanes (35-41-6, 76 PTS)

– Blue Jackets in 3rd?! Rangers in 6th?! No, I have not quite lost my marbles, let me explain. I think undoubtedly the Metropolitan Division will be a fight between the Capitals and Penguins, as both of these teams are far superior to other teams in the division. I have the Penguins dominating the division, but I still would not be shocked if the Caps edged out the Pens for first. For me, the rest of the division could go any which way. I have the Blue Jackets in 3rd because I believe that they can be a great team. When Bobrovsky is healthy, the Jackets are no joke, and they have some great young prospects that should be playing for them as soon as this year in addition to other young studs like Saad and Seth Jones. I think they can pull it off. I have the Isles in 4th because I think their team is solid, but they will mourn the loss of Okposo and Nielson. They acquired Ladd, but I don’t know how much longer he can be a truly effective player. I have the Flyers right at the brink of playoff contention because it seems like they’re always right there. I have the Rangers taking 6th because I think their team downgraded significantly. Plus, did you all see the Penguins smoke Hank at the end of the playoffs? Don’t get me wrong, the guy is a legend and will be in the hockey HOF, but he might be losing his step just a bit, and I don’t think the Rangers have the offensive prowess to keep up with a slightly above average Lundqvist. The Devils will get better offensive with Taylor Hall, but they lose their no. 1 defensemen in Adam Larsson. I like the Devils signing Lovejoy, but he is not quite in that caliber. The Devils could be one of those teams that sneak in the playoffs, but I have them in 7th for now. Finally, I have the Canes in last, as I believe they are still in a rebuilding stage. That being said, I think they can be good in a few years, and could even pull off as good as 5th in the division.

  • #PensBoldPredictions

– I have 2 bold predictions about this upcoming season: 1) both Sid AND Geno put up 90+ points and are both in the top 5 among point getters in the NHL. 2) The time has come for Derrick Pouliot. He will get his chance, and he begins to prove his worth in a consistent top 6 role. This is his year, mark my words.

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