Looking back on our preseason standings predictions

Shawn Reis
April 19 2017 10:14AM

Everyone loves to make predictions, but people never seem to like looking back on them. Probably because some of their predictions end up being way off base. Which is why today I'm going to take a look back at our staff's consensus power rankings that we made last October. As you might expect, we got a lot right, but were also seriously wrong.

30. Vancouver Canucks

Heading into the season the Canucks were seen as a team low on both front-end talent and depth. Couple that with an organization that appears to think they're playoff-calibre and you have a recipe for disaster. The Canucks ended up coming 29th in the league so this one was pretty spot on. Good job team!


29. Toronto Maple Leafs

Oops. This one looks hilariously bad, with the Leafs up 2-1 in a series against the odds-on Stanley Cup favorite Washington Capitals. It also highlights just how unprecedented the Leafs' rookie production was this year.


28. Columbus Blue Jackets

I had Columbus making the playoffs and got laughed at by everyone else, so I'm going to take this opportunity to gloat.


27. Arizona Coyotes

They came 28th, so again, pretty good. 2/4 so far guys!


26. Buffalo Sabres

Yep, Buffalo was pretty bad.


25. Ottawa Senators

It's hard to remember why exactly everyone was so low on Ottawa heading into the season, given the team has some pretty talented forwards like Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone, as well as the league's pound-for-pound best defenseman in Erik Karlsson. It must have been a well-founded fear of their scoring depth, as well as concern over the reliance the team would have to have on players like Dion Phaneuf and Cody Ceci. But regardless of being in a weak division and getting great goaltending this year, the Sens are still clearly more talented than people were giving them credit for.


24. Detroit Red Wings

I had Detroit as the third best team in the Atlantic for some reason, so I'll take this opportunity to publicly shame myself.


23. New Jersey Devils

This team reeks of mediocrity.


22. Colorado Avalanche

Credit where credit is due, the Avalanche were far worse than any of us could have imagined. Hats off to them for exceeding our expectations of failure.


21. Edmonton Oilers

Once again going to pat myself on the back. I had these guys 6th in the league and they finished 8th in the standings. Screw the haters!



20. Carolina Hurricanes

With some okay forward depth, a strong defense, and wicked possession numbers, it seems like Carolina's been in borderline playoff territory for ages.


19. Winnipeg Jets

They (should be) on the rise, but they still have some issues to sort out on the back end and in net.


18. Calgary Flames

I'll count this as a solid pick for our staff, even though they made the playoffs, because, well, they barely made the playoffs.


17. Boston Bruins

They clearly exceeded our expectations, but not by much.


16. Montreal Canadiens

With Montreal winning their division, it's easy to forget they were the consensus 8-seed heading into the season. And I still think they're closer to that than a division winner in most seasons. I guess the Atlantic just sucks.


15. New York Rangers

Pretty accurate. The Rangers exceeded our expectations a bit, although they deserve a lot of credit for doing as well as they did with a weak season from Henrik Lundqvist.


14. Minnesota Wild

The Wild are talented and deep, but old and incomplete. It looks like the chickens have come home to roost late in the season.


13. Philadelphia Flyers

Quietly one of our crappier picks, with the Flyers missing the playoffs by a fairly wide margin. Steve Mason, a consensus top 10 goalie heading into the season, is a big reason why (.908 save percentage).


12. Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks were able to make a smoother transition from Bruce Boudreau to Randy Carlyle than we thought, and now they could be poised to go on a deep playoff run.


11. New York Islanders

They were great after firing Jack Capuano, but a second-half surge wasn't quite enough to sneak them into the playoffs.



10. Chicago Blackhawks

In hindsight it's a little surprising we only had them 10th, although it does look like age is quietly starting to get the best of them, even in spite of how good they were in the regular season.


9. Los Angeles Kings

People look at teams like Detroit and San Jose as examples of why age is overrated in sports. But it seems like they never focus on teams like the Kings, who ignored age (and the salary cap) when locking up their core. Now new GM Rob Blake is left with a major mess to clean up.


8. St. Louis Blues

With valuable depth like David Backes, Troy Brouwer, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Brian Elliott gone, the Blues aren't what they once were. And yet they're still pretty good, and are on the verge of making the second round of the playoffs.


7. Florida Panthers

These guys have to be the biggest disappointment from the season. Injuries certainly hurt, but the fact that a deep team led by Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Aaron Ekblad, and Robert Luongo wasn't even close to making the playoffs is a real shame. Still, they're one of the biggest bounce-back candidates heading into next season.


6. Dallas Stars

They have a top 5 foundation in the league, as Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and John Klingberg are all elite players. But they lack some serious depth on the defense, and their goaltending this year was downright atrocious. Hopefully they can fill some holes in the summer.


5. San Jose Sharks

In hindsight this was a little high thanks to a lack of forward depth and some mediocre play from Martin Jones. I think we were all riding the high of how close the Sharks came to finally winning the Cup. And hey, they're still pretty good.


4. Nashville Predators

These guys were another big regular season disappointment, although that might be forgotten if they can close out their series against Chicago.


3. Tampa Bay Lightning

Another pick that was, in hindsight, a trainwreck. Although if Steven Stamkos hadn't missed 3/4 of the season I'd bet my life savings (not a lot) that they'd at least be in the playoffs.


2. Washington Capitals

Clearly we (slightly) underestimated them.


1. Pittsburgh Penguins

Defending Cup champs, star talent at every position, a hell of a lot of depth, and a great coach. What's not to love? I still don't think they win the Cup without Kris Letang, but they could.

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I think we did pretty good. Typically anyone will get 75% of their predictions right in a thing like this. But it's always funny looking back at the picks that were totally wrong. And that's part of what makes sports fun. Even in the fancy stats era, where it's becoming easier and easier to predict things, you'll still always get some things wrong. Plus it's just fun to poke fun at yourself.

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Shawn's a writer for The Leafs Nation and a Web Content Manager for NHL Numbers. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnReis
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