WWYDW(SE): Bold Predictions for 2020

The NHL season is right around the corner. Do you know what that means? It’s time to get bold. Let’s make some predictions.

As per tradition with last year, this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday SUNDAY EDITION will give everyone the opportunity to make some bold predictions about the Oilers and the NHL as a whole heading into 2019-20. We’ll circle back to this at the end of the season and see how wrong we were.

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1. Do the Oilers make the playoffs?

  • I say no. I think the team will be better than last year but a competitive Western Conference keeps the Oilers on the outside looking in.

2. What will the Oilers’ record be? 

  • 40-38-4. Good for 84 points, but not quite enough to sneak in.

3. Will an Oiler win an award?

  • Missing out on the playoffs results in voters refusing to give Connor McDavid the Hart Trophy.

4. How many points does Connor McDavid score?

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  • McDavid sees no ill effects from his off-season injury and continues his trend of putting up a new career-high each season. This year, he goes off for 48 goals and 122 points.

5. Does Leon Draisaitl score 50 again?

  • I say no, but his regression isn’t major. Draisaitl scores 40 goals and it’s rightly viewed as a very good season.

6. Does Mikko Koskinen or Mike Smith play more games? 

  • Koskinen is given the nod as the starting goalie early in the season but a hot Smith takes over the net by November. Smith is the better of the two all season and plays in 48 games.
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7. Does James Neal have a rebound season?

  • To an extent. Neal doesn’t regain his 30-goal form from the past, but he’s a useful contributor for the Oilers, chipping in with 14 goals.

8. How about Milan Lucic?

  • Lucic scores a goal in his first game as a Flame but then doesn’t score for another two months. He ends the season with seven goals, making fans in Calgary puzzled as to why this trade happened.

9. Which off-season addition is the most successful? 

  • Joakim Nygard ends up as a perfect complement to the top line. Zack Kassian slides down into a bottom-six role and Nygard takes his place alongside McDavid and Draisaitl. He scores 18 goals.

10. Who is the team’s best rookie? 

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  • Tyler Benson rips up and AHL and forces a recall around Christmas time. He slides into the second line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and James Neal and gives the Oilers a formidable top-six.

11. Does Ken Holland make a major trade?

  • The Oilers are out of a playoff spot at the deadline but they’re within punching distance. Holland makes a couple of depth additions but doesn’t stray from the plan with the long-term in mind. Ethan Bear fares well to kick off the season and it results in Matt Benning getting moved to acquire a forward.

12. Does Darnell Nurse sign an extension during the season? 

  • No. Nurse has a decent season in a difficult role with Adam Larsson but doesn’t produce the same numbers he did in 2018-19. Like most other marquee RFAs we’ve seen recently, he takes his contract negotiations into the off-season.
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13. Who wins each division? 

  • Vegas wins the Pacific, Dallas wins the Central, Carolina wins the Metropolitan, and Tampa Bay wins the Atlantic.

14. Which playoff teams from last year miss out? Who makes it in? 

  • The Islanders and Blue Jackets fall out in the East and get replaced by the Panthers and Canadiens. The Jets fall out in the West and the Coyotes make it in.

15. What’s your Stanley Cup Final? 

  • Vegas breezes through the West and end up losing in an epic seven-game final to Tampa Bay.

Finally, make some bold predictions about something that’s going to happen this season, about either the Oilers or the league in general. Here are mine…

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  • The NHL announces very early that players are allowed to take part in the 2022 Winter Olympics.
  • Both Quinn and Jack Hughes are nominated for the Calder Trophy but neither of them wins it. Cale Makar takes it home.
  • Mike Babcock is fired mid-season and the Leafs finally beat Boston with Sheldon Keefe as their head coach.
  • 10 different players score over 100 points. Kucherov, McDavid, Stamkos, Crosby, MacKinnon, Rantanen, Barkov, Marner, Tavares, and Aho. We see a general scoring surge in the league.
  • The Ottawa Senators finish last by 20 points but end up drafting fourth overall. The Oilers, despite having the ninth-best odds, win the draft lottery and select Alexis Lafreniere. The internet melts down.