Predicting the NHL, from bottom feeders to Stanley Cup contenders

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Warning: This post contains spoilers for the entire 2022-23 season. Don’t read any further if you want to be surprised.

That didn’t sound convincing, but I’m trying to manifest here, so stay with me. This is my annual attempt to sort the NHL into four divisions, based on how I’m expecting them to do this year. We’ll have the contenders, the middle-of-the-pack, and the basement dwellers. And as always, we’ll also have the division made up of teams I can’t figure out. Let’s just say that’s the toughest one to narrow down.

The only hard and fast rule is that each division must have eight teams, just like the real thing. Does that mean that some teams will get forced into divisions I don’t think they actually belong in? Yes. Should I change it to be more accurate? Probably. Do I keep this rule just so I’ll have plausible deniability for the inevitable bad predictions? This press conference is over.

Four divisions, eight teams each, no particular order beyond that. Let’s start from the bottom and work our way up.

The Bottom-Feeder Division

This absolute worst place a team can find itself. (Read’s Pronman 2023 draft preview.) Or not!

Chicago Blackhawks

Last season: 28-42-12, 68 points, -76 goals differential, missed playoffs

Their offseason in six words: Let’s trade everyone. You’re next, Patrick.

Why they’re here: Because they very clearly want to be. Kyle Davidson has a plan, and he’s not exactly being subtle about it. Given what’s waiting at the end of the draft lottery rainbow, it might be the right plan, even if

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