Nation Network Projected Finishes, 2011-12

We’ve gone from one end of the Nation Network to the other, polling writers from Canucks Army on the West Coast to Leafs Nation in the East (readers of the latter site, please feel free to substitute "Universal Center" for "East" in your minds) and everywhere in between.

What we’ve come back with are the Nations’ projected NHL standings for 2011-12.

Western Conference

San Jose Sharks

  • Projected Finish: 1st
  • Last Season’s Finish: 2nd
  • Range of Predictions: 1st-4th
  • Fully two-thirds of the writers polled projected the Sharks to finish atop the Western Conference after they finished as the runner-up to Vancouver in both the playoffs and regular season one year ago.  Three of the remaining five had the Sharks winning their division, while Robin Brownlee and Jeff Angus preferred Los Angeles but still felt the Sharks would start the playoffs with home ice advantage.

Vancouver Canucks

  • Projected Finish: 2nd
  • Last Season’s Finish: 1st
  • Range of Predictions: 1st-3rd
  • Of the five writers who didn’t choose San Jose to win the West, four chose Vancouver to repeat the achievement.  Additionally, the Canucks enjoy a distinction San Jose does not: every writer polled felt that the club would win the Northwest Division once more.

Chicago Blackhawks

  • Projected Finish: 3rd
  • Last Season’s Finish: 8th
  • Range of Predictions: 2nd-6th
  • The favourites to win the Central Division, Chicago is also a unanimous choice among our writers to improve upon their finish last season – after narrowly squeaking into the playoffs in 2010-11, no writer has them ranked lower than sixth in the West in 2011-12.

Los Angeles Kings

  • Projected Finish: 4th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 7th
  • Range of Predictions: 2nd-5th
  • Another unanimous choice to improve on last season’s finish, the Los Angeles Kings are expected by our writers to contend for the Pacific Division crown, and failing that to finish no worse than fifth in the West.

Detroit Red Wings

  • Projected Finish: 5th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 3rd
  • Range of Predictions: 1st-5th
  • Detroit joins San Jose and Vancouver as one of just three clubs that at least one writer expects to win the West (Jeff Angus of Canucks Army favours the Red Wings).  Despite that, the overall expectation is that the Wings will be a victim of increased age, the departure of Brian Raflaski, and the resurgence of the Blackhawks, losing the division crown and sliding to the middle of the Western Conference’s playoff pack.

St. Louis Blues

  • Projected Finish: 6th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 11th
  • Range of Predictions: 5th-10th
  • Along with Chicago, St. Louis shares the title of ‘most improved club’ in our writer’s projections, jumping from 11th in the West last season to sixth place and a playoff spot, if all goes according to the consensus view.  Just a single writer has them outside the playoff picture.

Nashville Predators

  • Projected Finish: 7th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 5th
  • Range of Predictions: 6th-10th
  • Nashville is the first team we’ve looked at that everybody polled feels will fall back from their performance last season (it’s because we’re all HUGE fans of J-P Dumont).  Even so, the Predators are once more expected to compete in the post-season, with the consensus view being that they’ll pick up one of the final spots in the West.

Anaheim Ducks

  • Projected Finish: 8th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 4th
  • Range of Predictions: 6th-11th
  • If our writers are correct, the final spot in the West will belong to the Anaheim Ducks, last season’s fourth seed (and the playoff dark horse of many).  As with the last two clubs, there’s a range of opinion on the Ducks, with some putting them just back of the top teams in the West, and others placing them well back of the pack.

Calgary Flames

  • Projected Finish: 9th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 10th
  • Range of Predictions: 6th-15th

Columbus Blue Jackets

  • Projected Finish: 10th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 13th
  • Range of Predictions: 8th-13th

Minnesota Wild

  • Projected Finish: 11th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 12th
  • Range of Predictions: 9th-14th

Dallas Stars

  • Projected Finish: 12th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 9th
  • Range of Predictions: 7th-15th

Phoenix Coyotes

  • Projected Finish: 13th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 6th
  • Range of Predictions: 9th-15th

Edmonton Oilers

  • Projected Finish: 14th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 15th
  • Range of Predictions: 11th-15th

Colorado Avalanche

  • Projected Finish: 15th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 14th
  • Range of Predictions: 11th-15th

Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Angus DET LAK VAN SJS STL CHI NSH CBJ ANA MIN COL DAL CGY EDM PHX
Belanger SJS VAN CHI DET LAK ANA STL CBJ NSH CGY DAL MIN EDM PHX COL
Brownlee VAN CHI LAK SJS DET ANA NSH STL MIN CGY DAL CBJ COL EDM PHX
Butler SJS CHI VAN LAK DET CGY ANA NSH CBJ STL PHX MIN EDM COL DAL
Charron VAN SJS CHI LAK DET STL NSH ANA CGY CBJ DAL COL PHX MIN EDM
Cleave SJS CHI VAN LAK DET NSH STL CGY ANA CBJ MIN DAL PHX EDM COL
Davie VAN SJS DET LAK CHI NSH DAL STL CBJ CGY ANA MIN EDM PHX COL
Drance SJS VAN CHI LAK DET STL NSH ANA CBJ CGY EDM MIN PHX DAL COL
Gregor SJS VAN CHI LAK DET STL ANA CGY CBJ NSH MIN EDM DAL COL PHX
Greer SJS VAN DET LAK CHI NSH STL ANA CGY CBJ PHX MIN EDM COL DAL
Johnston SJS VAN CHI LAK DET STL NSH ANA PHX MIN DAL COL CBJ EDM CGY
Mitchell VAN DET SJS CHI LAK NSH STL ANA DAL CGY MIN CBJ EDM PHX COL
Willis SJS VAN CHI LAK DET NSH STL CGY CBJ DAL ANA PHX MIN COL EDM
Wilson SJS VAN CHI DET LAK STL NSH CGY ANA CBJ PHX MIN DAL EDM COL
Wright SJS CHI VAN LAK DET ANA NSH STL MIN CBJ EDM CGY DAL COL PHX

Eastern Conference

Washington Capitals

  • Projected Finish: 1st
  • Last Season’s Finish: 1st
  • Range of Predictions: 1st-5th
  • Fourteen of 15 writers polled expect the Washington Capitals to finish either first or second in the Eastern Conference.  Only Patrick Johnston of Canucks Army differs, placing the Capitals fifth for the upcoming season.

Boston Bruins

  • Projected Finish: 2nd
  • Last Season’s Finish: 3rd
  • Range of Predictions: 1st-5th
  • Coming off a Stanley Cup victory, no hangover is predicted for the Boston Bruins.  Thirteen of 15 writers have the Bruins as the Northeast Division champions in 2011-12, with Cam Davie of Canucks Army and Allan Mitchell (Lowetide) of Oilers Nation expecting them to win the conference outright.  Jason Gregor and Jeff Angus are the dissenters, pegging Boston for fourth and fifth, respectively.

Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Projected Finish: 3rd
  • Last Season’s Finish: 4th
  • Range of Predictions: 1st-7th
  • The top choice for conference champion for three writers (including yours truly), the Penguins find themselves the consensus selection to win the Atlantic Division.  That said, there is some range here – three other writers have the Penguins starting the 2011-12 postseason on the road.

Philadelphia Flyers

  • Projected Finish: 4th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 2nd
  • Range of Predictions: 2nd -9th
  • A busy offseason couldn’t stop (or perhaps it even helped) the Flyers drop from second in the East last season to fourth in our projections for this coming year.  Still, 20% of respondents had the Flyers reprising in their role as the East’s runner-up.

Buffalo Sabres

  • Projected Finish: 5th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 7th
  • Range of Predictions: 3rd-9th
  • If the Stanley Cup-champion Bruins are to be dislodged as divisional champs, the Sabres are the favourite to do it.  Both Jason Gregor and Jeff Angus have Buffalo winning the Northeast, while five others (once again, including myself) peg the franchise to finish in the top-four in the East.

New York Rangers

  • Projected Finish: 6th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 8th
  • Range of Predictions: 2nd-13th
  • No other team got the range of response that the high-profile Rangers did, which is perhaps fitting given the way the club’s moves polarize observers.  From Brad Richards this season to previous free agent prizes like Chris Drury, Scott Gomez and Wade Redden, the Rangers always make a splash. 

Tampa Bay Lightning

  • Projected Finish: 7th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 5th
  • Range of Predictions: 1st-8th
  • Every writer has the Lightning in the playoffs for 2011-12, but only one expects them to walk away as the Southeast Division champs.  Overall, they are regarded as a competitive team that shouldn’t move too far from last year’s 5th-place performance.

Montreal Canadiens

  • Projected Finish: 8th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 6th
  • Range of Predictions: 6th-10th
  • Rounding out the Eastern Conference playoff picture are the Montreal Canadiens, a club whose chances are liked at least a bit by pretty much every writer but not liked a lot by any of them.

New Jersey Devils

  • Projected Finish: 9th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 11th
  • Range of Predictions:5th-14th

Carolina Hurricanes

  • Projected Finish: 10th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 9th
  • Range of Predictions:6th-14th

New York Islanders

  • Projected Finish: 11th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 14th
  • Range of Predictions: 9th-14th

Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Projected Finish: 12th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 10th
  • Range of Predictions: 8th-13th

Winnipeg Jets

  • Projected Finish: 13th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 12th
  • Range of Predictions: 9th-15th

Florida Panthers

  • Projected Finish: 14th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 15th
  • Range of Predictions: 11th-15th

Ottawa Senators

  • Projected Finish: 15th
  • Last Season’s Finish: 13th
  • Range of Predictions: 11th-15th

Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Angus PIT WSH BUF PHI BOS NYR TBL MTL NYI CAR TOR NJD FLA OTT WPG
Belanger WSH BOS PIT BUF TBL NYR PHI NJD CAR MTL TOR WPG NYI OTT FLA
Brownlee WSH PHI BOS PIT BUF TBL NYR MTL TOR CAR NJD NYI WPG OTT FLA
Butler WSH PHI BOS PIT TBL NYR MTL NJD BUF WPG CAR NYI TOR FLA OTT
Charron WSH PIT BOS TBL PHI NYR MTL BUF TOR NJD CAR FLA NYI WPG OTT
Cleave PIT WSH BOS NYR BUF TBL PHI MTL NJD NYI WPG CAR TOR FLA OTT
Davie BOS WSH PIT TBL NYR PHI BUF MTL WPG CAR TOR NYI FLA NJD OTT
Drance WSH NYR BOS BUF PIT TBL MTL TOR PHI CAR FLA NJD NYI WPG OTT
Gregor WSH PHI BUF BOS TBL NJD PIT TOR NYR MTL NYI FLA WPG CAR OTT
Greer WSH BOS PIT TBL PHI BUF NYR MTL TOR CAR WPG NYI NJD FLA OTT
Johnston TBL PIT BOS BUF WSH PHI MTL NYR TOR NYI WPG CAR NJD FLA OTT
Mitchell BOS WSH PIT PHI BUF MTL NYR TBL CAR NJD NYI TOR FLA WPG OTT
Willis PIT WSH BOS BUF NYR PHI MTL TBL NJD TOR CAR FLA NYI WPG OTT
Wilson WSH PIT BOS BUF NJD MTL PHI TBL NYR CAR TOR FLA WPG NYI OTT
Wright WSH BOS PIT TBL PHI CAR MTL BUF NJD TOR OTT NYI NYR FLA WPG

Your Call

If you’d like to track your own conference picks against the writers of the Nation Network, enter your selections in the comments section below.  Anything entered before 5:00 PM MDT on Saturday will be accepted, and we will be tracking the results throughout the season and of course at the end of the year.

This also serves as a good opportunity to remind anyone who still wants to enter the Nation’s hockey pool to get their picks in on that post – the contest closes at 5:00 PM MDT today, so hurry!

  • RexLibris

    I forgot to put Dallas into my western conference prediction. I figure it the west would look like this:

    VAN-SJS-CHI-LAK-DET-ANA-STL-NSH-CBJ-MIN-DAL-EDM-CGY-COL-PHX

    See the previous post for the East prediction.

    Sorry JW

  • RexLibris

    Buf – Wash – Pit – Phi – TB – NYR – Bos – NJD – Mon – Tor – Car – NYI – Win – Flo – Ott

    Van – SJ – Det – LA – Ana – Chi – St.L – Dal – Nash – Cbj – Edm – Col – Cgy – Phx – Min