2018 NHL Draft Prospect Rankings (April Edition)

With the season nearing its end, we continue to get a clearer and clearer look at what the draft order may be before the lottery takes place at the end of the month.

The No. 1 prize is obviously Rasmus Dahlin, but here is a look at how plenty of others stack up.

 

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1. Rasmus Dahlin, D, Frolunda (Sweden)

The unquestioned No. 1. A generational talent on the back end. Not only has he been compared to Nicklas Lidstrom, Victor Hedman and Erik Karlsson at this age…he’s supposedly even better.

 

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2. Andrei Svechnikov, RW, Barrie (OHL)

An incredible skater who can be a game-changer on offense. Seems to be a step ahead of his opponents in the OHL, blowing by defenders in the neutral zone and creating tons of scoring opportunities.

 

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3. Filip Zadina, RW, Halifax (QMJHL)

The type of pure goal-scoring winger that all teams crave. Zadina is the definition of a sniper and he has taken his game to new heights this season. He has continued to lead his team this playoff year.

 

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4. Adam Boqvist, D, Brynas (Sweden)

At 5-foot-11, Boqvist is a bit small for a defenseman. However, size in today’s hockey game is not quite all it’s cracked up to be. Boqvist makes up for it with his ability in both the offensive and defensive zones.

 

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5. Quinn Hughes, D, University of Michigan (NCAA)

An incredibly mature and cerebral defenseman, Hughes has all sorts of raw talent (especially in the skating department) and knows when to step up and drop back.

 

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6. Oliver Wahlstrom, RW, USA NTDP

Remember this kid? That’s Oliver Wahlstrom. He’s still got sick hands and can shoot darts. A prototypical goal-scoring winger similar to the aforementioned Zadina, and he has gotten hotter and hotter as the season has gone on.

 

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7. Evan Bouchard, D, London (OHL)

Bouchard’s strength is on offense, but his defensive game may need a little maturing. He possesses an absolute cannon of a slap shot from the blue line and has 87 points (25 goals) in 67 OHL games this year.

 

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8. Brady Tkachuk, RW, Boston University (NCAA)

His father, Keith, was a great NHL player and his older brother, Matthew, is beginning to carve out quite a career for himself. Brady has hockey in his blood and is a big, physical winger with a scoring touch. I’ve got him a little lower than most, but this is purely a testament to those above him.

 

 

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9. Noah Dobson, D, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)

Dobson has shot up the ranks this year after seeing a dramatic improvement in his game. He’s averaging more than a point per game thanks to a wicked wrist shot and the ability to elevate the play of everyone around him.

 

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10. Joe Veleno, C, Drummondville (QMJHL)

Veleno has failed, by some standards, to live up to expectations due to being granted rare exceptional status in the CHL. He’s not a top-three pick like he was thought to be three years ago, but he is still a terrific playmaker chock full of raw talent. He is a strong skater who can stickhandle his way out of a phone booth.

 

 

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11. Joel Farabee, LW , USA NTDP

It’s easy to see how much hockey sense Farabee has whether he has the puck or not. He makes crisp, accurate passes to his teammates and creates havoc in front of the net.

 

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12. Barrett Hayton, C, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

One of the top centers in this year’s draft. Hayton plays a 200-foot game and excels at leading rushes up the ice. It’s possible that his stats are inflated from playing with a ridiculously talented Greyhounds team – but it’s also possible he’s a major reason behind their success.

 

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13. Ty Smith, D, Spokane (WHL)

Smith is another example of a player considered “undersized” by defenseman standards, but he is also an example of how skating ability trumps size in today’s game. His skill more than makes up for his size, and he can run a power play well. Ended the season on a bit of a cold streak, but has picked up his play in the playoffs.

 

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14. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, Assat (Finland)

His skating is a bit of a drawback, but Kotkaniemi plays an incredibly unselfish game and has keen playmaking abilities. He truly thrives setting up scoring chances on the power play.

 

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15. Ryan McLeod, C, Mississauga (OHL)

An offensive dynamo whose brother, Michael, was a first-round pick of the New Jersey Devils in 2016. Great playmaking abilities and senses as well as a well above-average wrister.

 

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16. Isac Lundestrom, C, Lulea (Sweden)

He’s not flashy, but Lundestrom gets the job done. He’s a smart player in the offensive zone, has experience playing against professionals, and can add a touch of physicality to his game. He also has the advantage of being a center in a draft that is uncharacteristically low in that department.

 

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17. Ryan Merkley, D, Guelph (OHL)

There are some holes in Merkley’s defensive game and a minus-29 rating doesn’t look great, but his offensive prowess makes him an eye-opening prospect.

 

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18. Rasmus Kupari, C, Karpat (Finland)

The other Rasmus in this year’s draft. Kupari may be a bit of a project because of his strength and frame, but the upside is through the roof. A team who can afford to see his development through could hit the jackpot.

 

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19. Bode Wilde, D, USA NTDP

Skates well for his size and has a quick, accurate wrist shot that can hit corners from long distances. Wilde is a two-way defenseman who can make things happen in the offensive zone and stop opposing forwards.

 

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20. Akil Thomas, C, Niagara (OHL)

Terrific skater with a pass-first mentality. Thomas has racked up nearly an assist per game this season due to his playmaking skills, and his hands give him the ability to finish plays nicely as well.

 

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21. Jared McIsaac, D, Halifax (QMJHL)

Solid two-way player with a decent shot. McIsaac is a throwback who plays with a bit of grit and nastiness, making him a tough defender to go up against.

 

 

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22. K’Andre Miller, D, USA NTDP

An outstanding skater on the blue line, Miller uses his feet to make all sorts of positive contributions in the defensive zone, offensive zone and neutral zone.

 

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23. Vitali Kravtsov, LW, Traktor (KHL)

Skating is his biggest strength, and Kravtsov has had some success playing against professionals and some NHL talent in the KHL.

 

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24. Dominik Bokk, LW, Vaxjo (Sweden)

A German winger who decided to take his talents to the SHL and play against professionals this season. It has paid off, as Bokk is rising up draft boards thanks to his goal-scoring and stickhandling ability. A definite high-ceiling player.

 

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25. Jett Woo, D, Moose Jaw (WHL)

One of the safest picks in this year’s draft in terms of projectability. Woo isn’t going to put up huge offensive numbers, but he can be a shutdown blue liner that can step in and contribute in any given situation.

 

 

 

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26. Grigori Denisenko, LW, Yaroslavl Jr. (Russia)

Another guy knocked because of his size, which is a bit warranted because he can get knocked around pretty easily. Still, Denisenko is an exceptional skater and is dynamic in the offensive zone.

 

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27. Johnny Tychonik, D, Penticton (BCHL)

Will be a player to watch next year at North Dakota as he makes the leap to college hockey. Decent in his own zone, Tychonik can quarterback a power play well and jump into the play to add some offense.

 

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28. Mattias Samuelsson, D, USA NTDP

Big 6-foot-4 defenseman who plays a gritty game and has a bit of a scoring touch. Brings some definite sandpaper to any blue line.

 

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29. Martin Kaut, RW, Paradubice (Czech Republic)

Another smart, alert playmaker who plays a mature game and makes smooth passes. Looked great with Martin Necas and Filip Zadina at the World Juniors and is excelling against pros this season.

 

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30. Rasmus Sandin, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

A smart all-around d-man who knows just when to turn on the offensive switch and jump into a play. Has been a stellar power play quarterback in the Soo this season.

 

 

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31. Jacob Olofsson, C, Timra (Sweden)

Steady with the puck, smart in the offensive zone and possesses a lightning-quick release. Just a consistent player across the board.

 

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32. Alexander Alexeyev, D, Red Deer (WHL)

A big 6’3 Russian defenseman who can move the puck and make nice breakout passes. Also a strong skater who can be relied upon in his own zone.

 

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33. Benoit-Olivier Groulx, C, Halifax (QMJHL)

The Halifax Mooseheads keep churning out NHL prospects, and Groulx is just another in a long, long line. He has a strong backcheck for a forward and consistently drives the net when his team has the puck.

 

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34. Serron Noel, LW, Oshawa (OHL)

A 6’5 power forward who can skate well and score goals is always enticing. Noel has some fine-tuning to do, but the talent is certainly there and he has the tools to be an impact player with time.

 

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35. Philipp Kurashev, C, Quebec (QMJHL)

Offensive-minded Swiss center who drives the net hard and makes good, deceptive passes. Averaged just over a point per game for the Quebec Remparts this season thanks to a ridiculous February.

 

 

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36. Allan McShane, C, Oshawa (OHL)

Reliable in the faceoff dot, McShane has some serious helium due to an offensive tear he has been on since mid-January.

 

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37. Adam Samuelsson, D, USA NTDP

Nothing too flashy about the other Samuelsson on the USA U-18 team’s blue line, but Adam is a steady rearguard who gets the job done.

 

 

 

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38. Adam Ginning, D, Linkoping (Sweden)

Loves to move the puck and can generate a lot of offense from the blue line. Also has some experience against pros in the SHL even though he has not turned any heads yet.

 

 

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39. Filip Hallander, C, Timra (Sweden)

An incredibly aware offensive talent with a nose for the net. Good skater, good hands, great hockey sense in the offensive zone.

 

 

 

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40. Calen Addison, D, Lethbridge (WHL)

Acute offensive awareness when it comes to moving the puck and shooting it. There are some concerns about his stature and shakiness in his own zone, but the offensive upside is too good to ignore. Similar to Ryan Merkley without question marks about his character.

 

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41. Blake McLaughlin, C, Chicago (USHL)

Not nearly as many USHL prospects early in the draft compared to last year, but McLaughlin deserves to be at least this high. He is a goal-scoring machine with a lethal wrist shot.

 

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42. Jesse Ylonen, RW, Espoo United (Finland)

A creative goal-scorer with slick hands and an NHL bloodline. His father, Juha, played five NHL seasons.

 

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43. Alexander Khovanov, C, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)

Khovanov is a small Russian forward with a sleek set of hands. He has picked up his game in the past month and a half, finding his name on the scoresheet nearly every game since the end of January.

 

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44. Albin Eriksson, LW, Skelleftea (Sweden)

A hulking 6-foot-4 Swedish power forward. Forechecks hard, makes things happen in the offensive zone and has a quick release on his wrister.

 

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45. Sampo Ranta, LW, Sioux City (USHL)

This will be the second year in a row Sioux City has a high draft pick who is a Finn with a wicked shot. Eeli Tolvanen fell to late in the first round last year, and the Nashville Predators sure seem to have gotten a bargain. Ranta is more about his wrist shot while Tolvanen boasts a lethal clapper, but he is a pure goal scorer that should see his shot translate well at the next level.

 

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46. Dmitri Zavgorodniy, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL)

Somewhat of a polarizing prospect. Saw his stock soar after an incredible Ivan Hlinka tournament, but has been inconsistent with his numbers in Rimouski. He has the skills set to be another steal of an undersized forward if development goes right.

 

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47. Ty Dellandrea, C, Flint (OH)

Offensive threat both as a scorer and a playmaker. Has managed to average nearly a point per game for a Flint Firebirds team that finds itself in the basement of the OHL. It should be interesting to see what Dellandrea can do with more of a supporting cast.

 

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48. Jack McBain, C, Toronto Junior Canadiens (OJHL)

A power forward who stands at 6’3 and could still add a bit more weight and strength. Has carved out a nice season in the OJHL, but there are concerns due to a lack of competition compared to other prospects in more prestigious leagues.

 

 

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49. Milos Roman, C, Vancouver (WHL)

Could drop because of his size, but Roman is a talented forward who can set up plays and score goals with an accurate wrist shot. Injury issues, however, have already arisen several times in his young career.

 

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50. Nicolas Beaudin, D, Drummondville (QMJHL)

Is putting up forward-like numbers in the QMJHL this season and has seen his defensive game improve dramatically. He had a weirdly cold February, but picked his game right back up in March and in the playoffs.

 

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51. Jakub Lauko, C, Chomutov (Czech Republic)

Lots of Czech forwards making their way through the ranks. Lauko plays with a ton of emotion and loves to score goals – something he has a talent for. Certainly no concerns as far as effort is concerned.

 

 

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52. Filip Johansson, D, Leksands (Sweden)

Offensive-minded, right-handed Swedish defenseman with an accurate shot. Has put up impressive offensive numbers for a rearguard at several levels.

 

 

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53. Jonatan Berggren, C, Skelleftea (Sweden)

Creates some nice chemistry with the aforementioned Albin Eriksson. Not the biggest player, but a strong skater with good hands and a knack for offense.

 

 

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54. Nando Eggenberger, LW, Davos (Switzerland)

Swiss winger who can play both sides. Goes hard to the net and has a knack for taking his game up a notch in big games.

 

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55. Jacob Bernard-Docker, D, Okotoks (AJHL)

Offensive defenseman who has an accurate shot and is aggressive on scoring plays. Can quarterback a power play. Concerns due to the skill level he is up against, but last year’s No. 4 selection, Cale Makar, came from the same league. Clearly not as talented as Makar, but could generate some scoring from the blue line at the next level.

 

 

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56. David Gustafsson, C, HV71 (Sweden)

Swedish goal scorer who stations himself in front of the net. Loves going to the backhand and is very good at it, which is always a plus.

 

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57. Jonathan Gruden, C, USA NTDP

Took his game to a completely new level late in the year (19 points in his final 10 games) and opened plenty of eyes. High-helium player who could make a case for a top-50 pick.

 

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58. Sean Durzi, D, Owen Sound (OHL)

Putting up video game numbers for a defenseman – nine more points this season than games played. Could shoot up draft boards based on just numbers alone. The concern is that he is a year older than most players in this year’s draft.

 

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59. Vladislav Kotkov, LW, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)

Excels on the power play and stands at 6-foot-4. Sees the ice well and has experienced a slight uptick in his game as of late.

 

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60. Olivier Rodrigue, G, Drummondville (QMJHL)

In a draft year that is incredibly thin on goaltending, Rodrigue is probably the best one and will be the first to come off the board.

 

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61. Jachym Kondelik, C, Muskegon (USHL)

6-foot-6 forward who has dropped in the rankings a bit since injuries have hindered him this season, but there is some definite projection and upside. Will be playing college hockey at UConn next year.

 

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62. Kody Clark, RW, Ottawa (OHL)

Drafting sons of former NHLers has been a trend in recent years, and it has certainly worked out in plenty of cases. The son of Wendel Clark will be another name to add to the list, and he has put together a good season in Ottawa to add to his case.

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2018 NHL Draft: Top 62 Prospects (February Edition)

It’s trade season in the NHL, but here at the Rick List, we are looking ahead to June. While the No. 1 selection is all but confirmed for this year’s draft, the rest of the order is anyone’s guess.

With 31 teams now, there will be 62 players picked in the first two rounds of the draft. For our February edition, let’s look at who those top 62 are as of now.

 

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1. Rasmus Dahlin, D, Frolunda (Sweden)

The unquestioned No. 1. A generational talent on the back end. Not only has he been compared to Nicklas Lidstrom, Victor Hedman and Erik Karlsson at this age…he’s supposedly even better.

 

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2. Andrei Svechnikov, RW, Barrie (OHL)

An incredible skater who can be a game-changer on offense. Seems to be a step ahead of his opponents in the OHL, blowing by defenders in the neutral zone and creating tons of scoring opportunities.

 

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3. Filip Zadina, RW, Halifax (QMJHL)

The type of pure goal-scoring winger that all teams crave. Zadina is the definition of a sniper and he has taken his game to new heights this season.

 

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4. Adam Boqvist, D, Brynas (Sweden)

At 5-foot-11, Boqvist is a bit small for a defenseman. However, size in today’s hockey game is not quite all it’s cracked up to be. Boqvist makes up for it with his ability in both the offensive and defensive zones.

 

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5. Quinn Hughes, D, University of Michigan (NCAA)

An incredibly mature and cerebral defenseman, Hughes has all sorts of raw talent (especially in the skating department) and knows when to step up and drop back.

 

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6. Oliver Wahlstrom, RW, USA NTDP

Remember this kid? That’s Oliver Wahlstrom. He’s still got sick hands and can shoot darts. A prototypical goal-scoring winger similar to the aforementioned Zadina.

 

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7. Evan Bouchard, D, London (OHL)

Steady in his own zone, but Bouchard’s strength is on offense. He possesses an absolute cannon of a slap shot from the blue line and has 67 points (18 goals) in 53 OHL games this year.

 

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8. Brady Tkachuk, RW, Boston University (NCAA)

His father, Keith, was a great NHL player and his older brother, Matthew, is beginning to carve out quite a career for himself. Brady has hockey in his blood and is a big, physical winger with a scoring touch. I’ve got him a little lower than most, but this is purely a testament to those above him.

 

 

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9. Barrett Hayton, C, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

The top center in this year’s draft. Hayton plays a 200-foot game and excels at leading rushes up the ice.

 

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10. Noah Dobson, D, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)

Dobson has shot up the ranks this year after seeing a dramatic improvement in his game. He’s averaging more than a point per game thanks to a wicked wrist shot and the ability to elevate the play of everyone around him.

 

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11. Joe Veleno, C, Drummondville (QMJHL)

Veleno has failed, by some standards, to live up to expectations due to being granted rare exceptional status in the CHL. He’s not a top-three pick like he was thought to be three years ago, but he is still a terrific playmaker chock full of raw talent. He is a strong skater who can stickhandle his way out of a phone booth.

 

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12. Ryan Merkley, D, Guelph (OHL)

There are some holes in Merkley’s defensive game and a minus-19 rating doesn’t look great, but his offensive prowess makes him an eye-opening prospect.

 

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13. Joel Farabee, LW , USA NTDP

It’s easy to see how much hockey sense Farabee has whether he has the puck or not. He makes crisp, accurate passes to his teammates and creates havoc in front of the net.

 

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14. Ty Smith, D, Spokane (WHL)

Smith is another example of a player considered “undersized” by defenseman standards, but he is also an example of how skating ability trumps size in today’s game. His skill more than makes up for his size, and he can run a power play well.

 

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15. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, Assat (Finland)

His skating is a bit of a drawback, but Kotkaniemi plays an incredibly unselfish game and has keen playmaking abilities. He truly thrives setting up scoring chances on the power play.

 

Ryan McLeod of the Mississauga Steelheads. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

16. Ryan McLeod, C, Mississauga (OHL)

An offensive dynamo whose brother, Michael, was a first-round pick of the New Jersey Devils in 2016. Great playmaking abilities and senses as well as a well above-average wrister.

 

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17. Isac Lundestrom, C, Lulea (Sweden)

He’s not flashy, but Lundestrom gets the job done. He’s a smart player in the offensive zone, has experience playing against professionals, and can add a touch of physicality to his game. He also has the advantage of being a center in a draft that is uncharacteristically low in that department.

 

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18. Rasmus Kupari, C, Karpat (Finland)

The other Rasmus in this year’s draft. Kupari may be a bit of a project because of his strength and frame, but the upside is through the roof. A team who can afford to see his development through could hit the jackpot.

 

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19. Jared McIsaac, D, Halifax (QMJHL)

Solid two-way player with a decent shot. McIsaac is a throwback who plays with a bit of grit and nastiness, making him a tough defender to go up against.

 

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20. Jett Woo, D, Moose Jaw (WHL)

One of the safest picks in this year’s draft in terms of projectability. Woo isn’t going to put up huge offensive numbers, but he can be a shutdown blue liner that can step in and contribute in any given situation.

 

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21. Bode Wilde, D, USA NTDP

Skates well for his size and has a quick, accurate wrist shot that can hit corners from long distances. Wilde is a two-way defenseman who can make things happen in the offensive zone and stop opposing forwards.

 

 

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22. Akil Thomas, C, Niagara (OHL)

Terrific skater with a pass-first mentality. Thomas has racked up nearly an assist per game this season due to his playmaking skills, and his hands give him the ability to finish plays nicely as well.

 

 

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23. Martin Kaut, RW, Paradubice (Czech Republic)

Another smart, alert playmaker who plays a mature game and makes smooth passes. Looked great with Martin Necas and Filip Zadina at the World Juniors and is excelling against pros this season.

 

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24. K’Andre Miller, D, USA NTDP

An outstanding skater on the blue line, Miller uses his feet to make all sorts of positive contributions in the defensive zone, offensive zone and neutral zone.

 

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25. Jacob Olofsson, C, Timra (Sweden)

Steady with the puck, smart in the offensive zone and possesses a lightning-quick release. Just a consistent player across the board.

 

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26. Grigori Denisenko, LW, Yaroslavl Jr. (Russia)

Another guy knocked because of his size, which is a bit warranted because he can get knocked around pretty easily. Still, Denisenko is an exceptional skater and is dynamic in the offensive zone.

 

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27. Mattias Samuelsson, D, USA NTDP

Big 6-foot-4 defenseman who plays a gritty game and has a bit of a scoring touch. Brings some definite sandpaper to any blue line.

 

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28. Rasmus Sandin, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

A smart all-around d-man who knows just when to turn on the offensive switch and jump into a play. Has been a stellar power play quarterback in the Soo this season.

 

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29. Benoit-Olivier Groulx, C, Halifax (QMJHL)

The Halifax Mooseheads keep churning out NHL prospects, and Groulx is just another in a long, long line. He has a strong backcheck for a forward and consistently drives the net when his team has the puck.

 

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30. Serron Noel, LW, Oshawa (OHL)

A 6’5 power forward who can skate well and score goals is always enticing. Noel has some fine-tuning to do, but the talent is certainly there and he has the tools to be an impact player with time.

 

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31. Alexander Alexeyev, D, Red Deer (WHL)

A big 6’3 Russian defenseman who can move the puck and make nice breakout passes. Also a strong skater who can be relied upon in his own zone.

 

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32. Calen Addison, D, Lethbridge (WHL)

Acute offensive awareness when it comes to moving the puck and shooting it. There are some concerns about his stature and shakiness in his own zone, but the offensive upside is too good to ignore. Similar to Ryan Merkley without question marks about his character.

 

 

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33. Philipp Kurashev, C, Quebec (QMJHL)

Offensive-minded Swiss center who drives the net hard and makes good, deceptive passes. Averaging just over a point per game for the Quebec Remparts this season.

 

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34. Dominik Bokk, LW, Vaxjo (Sweden)

A German winger who decided to take his talents to the SHL and play against professionals this season. It has paid off, as Bokk is rising up draft boards thanks to his goal-scoring ability. A definite high-ceiling player.

 

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35. Blake McLaughlin, C, Chicago (USHL)

Not nearly as many USHL prospects early in the draft compared to last year, but McLaughlin deserves to be at least this high. He is a goal-scoring machine with a lethal wrist shot.

 

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36. Adam Ginning, D, Linkoping (Sweden)

Loves to move the puck and can generate a lot of offense from the blue line. Also has some experience against pros in the SHL even though he has not turned any heads yet.

 

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37. Allan McShane, C, Oshawa (OHL)

Reliable in the faceoff dot, McShane’s stock could see itself rise as he has picked up his play in a big way lately.

 

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38. Filip Hallander, C, Timra (Sweden)

An incredibly aware offensive talent with a nose for the net. Good skater, good hands, great hockey sense in the offensive zone.

 

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39. Adam Samuelsson, D, USA NTDP

Nothing too flashy about the other Samuelsson on the USA U-18 team’s blue line, but Adam is a steady rearguard who gets the job done.

 

 

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40. Johnny Tychonik, D, Penticton (BCHL)

Will be a player to watch next year at North Dakota as he makes the leap to college hockey. Decent in his own zone, Tychonik can quarterback a power play well and jump into the play to add some offense.

 

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41. Jesse Ylonen, RW, Espoo United (Finland)

A creative goal-scorer with slick hands and an NHL bloodline. His father, Juha, played five NHL seasons.

 

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42. Alexander Khovanov, C, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)

Khovanov is a small Russian forward with a sleek set of hands. He has picked up his game in the past month and a half, finding his name on the scoresheet at least once in each of Moncton’s past 10 games.

 

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43. Albin Eriksson, LW, Skelleftea (Sweden)

A hulking 6-foot-4 Swedish power forward. Forechecks hard, makes things happen in the offensive zone and has a quick release on his wrister.

 

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44. Dmitri Zavgorodniy, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL)

Somewhat of a polarizing prospect. Saw his stock soar after an incredible Ivan Hlinka tournament, but has been inconsistent with his numbers in Rimouski. He has the skills set to be another steal of an undersized forward if development goes right.

 

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45. Ty Dellandrea, C, Flint (OH)

Offensive threat both as a scorer and a playmaker. Has managed to average nearly a point per game for a Flint Firebirds team that finds itself in the basement of the OHL. It should be interesting to see what Dellandrea can do with more of a supporting cast.

 

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46. Jack McBain, C, Toronto Junior Canadiens (OJHL)

A power forward who stands at 6’3 and could still add a bit more weight and strength. Has carved out a nice season in the OJHL, but there are concerns due to a lack of competition compared to other prospects in more prestigious leagues.

 

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47. Vitali Kravtsov, LW, Traktor (KHL)

Skating is his biggest strength, and Kravtsov has had some success playing against professionals and some NHL talent in the KHL.

 

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48. Milos Roman, C, Vancouver (WHL)

Could drop because of his size, but Roman is a talented forward who can set up plays and score goals with an accurate wrist shot. Has been improving since getting healthy in his WHL rookie season.

 

 

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49. Jakub Lauko, C, Chomutov (Czech Republic)

Lots of Czech forwards making their way through the ranks. Lauko plays with a ton of emotion and loves to score goals – something he has a talent for. Certainly no concerns as far as effort is concerned.

 

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50. Sampo Ranta, LW, Sioux City (USHL)

This will be the second year in a row Sioux City has a high draft pick who is a Finn with a wicked shot. Eeli Tolvanen fell to late in the first round last year, and the Nashville Predators sure seem to have gotten a bargain. Ranta is more about his wrist shot while Tolvanen boasts a lethal clapper, but he is a pure goal scorer that should see his shot translate well at the next level.

 

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51. Filip Johansson, D, Leksands (Sweden)

Offensive-minded, right-handed Swedish defenseman with an accurate shot. Has put up impressive offensive numbers for a rearguard at several levels.

 

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52. Jacob Bernard-Docker, D, Okotoks (AJHL)

Offensive defenseman who has an accurate shot and is aggressive on scoring plays. Can quarterback a power play. Concerns due to the skill level he is up against, but last year’s No. 4 selection, Cale Makar, came from the same league. Clearly not as talented as Makar, but could generate some scoring from the blue line at the next level.

 

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53. Jonatan Berggren, C, Skelleftea (Sweden)

Creates some nice chemistry with the aforementioned Albin Eriksson. Not the biggest player, but a strong skater with good hands and a knack for offense.

 

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54. Nicolas Beaudin, D, Drummondville (QMJHL)

Is putting up forward-like numbers in the QMJHL this season and has seen his defensive game improve dramatically. Should continue to rise as the season progresses.

 

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55. Nando Eggenberger, LW, Davos (Switzerland)

Swiss winger who can play both sides. Goes hard to the net and has a knack for taking his game up a notch in big games.

 

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56. Kody Clark, RW, Ottawa (OHL)

Drafting sons of former NHLers has been a trend in recent years, and it has certainly worked out in plenty of cases. The son of Wendel Clark will be another name to add to the list, and he has put together a good season in Ottawa to add to his case.

 

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57. David Gustafsson, C, HV71 (Sweden)

Swedish goal scorer who stations himself in front of the net. Loves going to the backhand and is very good at it, which is always a plus.

 

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58. Sean Durzi, D, Owen Sound (OHL)

Putting up video game numbers for a defenseman – 10 more points this season than games played. Could shoot up draft boards based on just numbers alone. The concern is that he is a year older than most players in this year’s draft.

 

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59. Vladislav Kotkov, LW, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)

Excels on the power play and stands at 6-foot-4. Sees the ice well and has experienced a slight uptick in his game as of late.

 

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60. Olivier Rodrigue, G, Drummondville (QMJHL)

In a draft year that is incredibly thin on goaltending, Rodrigue is probably the best one and will be the first to come off the board.

 

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61. Kevin Bahl, D, Ottawa (OHL)

Definitely has some work to do and could take some time to develop, but it’s tough to ignore a physical defenseman who stands at 6-foot-6.

 

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62. Jachym Kondelik, C, Muskegon (USHL)

6-foot-6 forward who has dropped in the rankings a bit since injuries have hindered him this season, but there is some definite projection and upside. Will be playing college hockey at UConn next year.

My 2018 NHL All Star Rosters

The NHL All Star rosters were released today and, as expected, there were some questionable selections and questionable admissions.

As part of what has become a yearly tradition, here is how I would construct the rosters. Remember, I am following the rules required by the league: six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies per team with each at least one representative for each of the 31 teams.

 

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Atlantic Division

Forwards

Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins

Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres

Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers

Mark Stone, Ottawa Senators

Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning

Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning

 

Defensemen

Jordie Benn, Montreal Canadiens

Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning

Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs

 

Goalies

Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning

 

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Metropolitan Division

Forwards

John Tavares, New York Islanders

Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers

Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins

Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

 

Defensemen

Noah Hanifin, Carolina Hurricanes

Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets

Will Butcher, New Jersey Devils

 

Goalies

Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets

Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

 

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Central Division

Forwards

Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks

Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche

Eric Staal, Minnesota Wild

Brayden Schenn, St. Louis Blues

Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues

Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets

 

Defensemen

John Klingberg, Dallas Stars

P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators

Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues

 

Goalies

Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators

Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets

*Injured Corey Crawford would have made this roster

 

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Pacific Division

Forwards

Clayton Keller, Arizona Coyotes

Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames

Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings

Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks

Jonathan Marchessault, Vegas Golden Knights

 

Defensemen

Josh Manson, Anaheim Ducks

Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings

Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks

 

Goalies

Mike Smith, Calgary Flames

Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

Top 10 Sports Stories of 2017

Remember, sports articles and lists on this page are dedicated to SPORTS: what happens ON the field, ON the court, and ON the ice. Some of what you’re expecting won’t be on here for that reason, including events where the hype greatly outweighed the result (i.e. Mayweather-McGregor).
 
10. Cleveland Browns going 0-16
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(okay, it’s not official yet, but it’s happening right now)
9. NBA Finals threematch
 
2017 NBA Finals - Game One
This one had the potential to be #1, but the series was hugely one-sided and disappointing as Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors demolished LeBron James’s Cleveland Cavaliers.
 
8. Nashville Predators 2017 Postseason
 
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The 8-seed in the Western Conference swept the Stanley Cup favorite Chicago Blackhawks out of the first round and went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, showing off their tremendous fan base to the sports world along the way.
 
7. Pittsburgh Penguins win back-to-back Cups
 
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First team since the 1998 Detroit Red Wings to repeat – the longest drought without a back-to-back champ in the four major sports.
And they did it without having Kris Letang, one of the NHL’s best defensemen, for the entire postseason.
 
6. Home run wars, Stanton traded to New York
 
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2017 or 1998? Pretty much every home run record was broken this summer in terms of total quantity hit. This continued into the postseason.
Yankees rookie Aaron Judge and Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton led the charge, and the saga culminated with a December trade that sent Stanton to the Bronx to be Judge’s teammate. 2018 should be fun.
 
5. Cleveland Indians win streak
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In 2002, the Oakland Athletics won 20 consecutive games, resulting in the creation of both a book and a movie adaptation of their season. This year, the Indians won 22 in a row.
Unfortunately, the 2017 Indians met the same fate as the 2002 Athletics: a first-round playoff exit.
4. Vegas Golden Knights
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Originally, this is a story that would not have made it onto this page, as the Golden Knights were not expected to do much on the ice this season. They are Vegas’s first Big 4 team and the first expansion team in the Big 4 leagues since the Houston Texans in 2002, but, again, putting them here for that reason would not be consistent with this list.
Then, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history happened in Las Vegas, just a week before the Golden Knights began their inaugural season, and the city rallied around the team.
The Golden Knights won their first three games, including their emotional home opener, yet were still expected to come back down to earth.
But the winning never stopped. As the calendar turns to 2018, the Vegas Golden Knights are in sole possession of the best record in the Western Conference.
3. College Football Championship
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A rematch of 2016’s title game saw DeShaun Watson and the Clemson Tigers exact revenge on Alabama with a dramatic comeback victory in the final seconds. An instant classic.
2. World Series
World Series - Houston Astros v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Seven
The Dodgers owned baseball’s best record after the greatest 50-game stretch in the game’s history – 43-7. The Astros lifted a city ravaged by Hurricane Harvey and were no stranger to dramatic wins throughout the month of October.
Game 2 was called the “greatest World Series game of all time” by many…but that only lasted for a handful of days as Game 5 somehow managed to be even better.
The series culminated in a Game 7 victory for the Astros, giving the club its first-ever championship in its 55-year history, after Sports Illustrated branded them “2017 World Series Champs” during their 92-loss 2014 season.
1. Patriots Super Bowl Comeback
NFL: Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons were in position for the upset, holding a 28-3 lead over the New England Patriots in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI in February. 28-3!
Incredibly, the devil magic of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick reared its ugly head once again and the Patriots came all the way back to defeat the Falcons in the first-ever Super Bowl game to go to overtime.

The 100 Greatest NHL Uniforms of All Time

As part of its 100th Anniversary celebration, the National Hockey League is having fans vote on the 100 greatest uniforms of all time at greatestnhluniforms.com.

I decided to have some fun and make my own list. Obviously nobody will completely agree (or even come close) since everyone’s opinions are totally different, but here’s what I’ve got.

Disclaimer: home/road sets are both included if they are similar enough (i.e. I won’t have both the Blackhawks’ red and white jerseys each occupying a spot). Also, minor changes will not be accounted for, and I will pick what is in my opinion the refined version (i.e. Boston’s Adidas uniforms over the Reebok ones). Lastly, I will include unique third jerseys separate from their complementary home/road sets.

Enjoy!

 

100. Atlanta Thrashers (1999-2006)

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Atlanta’s second NHL team didn’t have a great history of uniforms, but their original road threads were their best.

 

99. Pittsburgh Penguins (2000-2007)

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Vegas Gold never really fit Pittsburgh, but it was a unique color in the NHL and was combined with a neat design before Reebok took over.

 

98. Cleveland Barons (1976-1978)

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A bit generic, but the white sweater was pretty nice. Also bonus points for the Ohio sleeve numbers the Barons used in their first of two NHL seasons.

 

97. Nashville Predators (1998-2007)

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The uniforms have never quite been as good as the original logo, but Nashville’s use of silver in its first years was a nice touch.

 

96. New York Americans (1930-1935)

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A bit eccentric, yes, but overall a pretty colorful and patriotic look.

 

95. Montreal Wanderers (1917-1918)

Wanderers

A clean design, plus red and white almost always make a nice combo.

 

94. Colorado Rockies (1976-1982)

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A solid logo that combined Colorado’s state flag with its most famous feature was the highlight of the Rockies’ colorful look.

 

93. New York Islanders (1995-1998)

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Hated by many, but it goes without saying that this unique look certainly captured the nautical theme the Islanders were going for – as well as the attention of uniform nerds for decades.

 

92. Calgary Flames (1998-2006)

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Speaking of alternate sweaters that got more hate than they deserved…this really wasn’t a bad look for the Jarome Iginla-era Flames. NHL 2003 anyone?

 

91. Ottawa Senators (1997-2007)

Senators v Maple Leafs

An asymmetrical look that worked – somewhat of a rarity when it comes to hockey sweaters.

 

90. St. Louis Eagles (1934-1935)

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An under-appreciated red-and-white crest really pops due to the minimal blue accents on the white sweater.

 

89. Boston Bruins (1934-1936)

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Pretty great striping pattern, but a generic letter for a crest docks this one down a few spots.

 

88. Ottawa Senators (2011-2017)

Florida Panthers v Ottawa Senators

(See #89 – Boston Bruins 1934-1936)

 

87. Ottawa Senators (2007-Present)

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Contrasting colors and minimal accents put the emphasis on the crest. Re-doing the name/number font and changing the striping just a bit in 2017 put the icing on the cake – this is Ottawa’s best look of all time.

 

86. 2000-2001 NHL All Stars

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Of course we’re including All Star Games! The uniforms used in 2000 and 2001 had really unique styles, but that’s what All Star Games are for. The colors looked great and these were pretty cool for a once-a-year event.

 

85. Detroit Cougars/Red Wings (1926-1927, 2009)

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Nearly identical to the Montreal Wanderers, but with a bit more pizzazz and a much better logo.

 

84. Chicago Black Hawks (1926-1927)

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Lots of stripes, but it’s a pretty coo look. Unfortunately, the logo is tough to decipher.

 

85. St. Louis Blues (2007-2014)

Matt Duchene, Matt Hunwick, David Backes

If the apron string Reebok template worked for anyone, it was the Blues. Intentional or not, it looks like a reference to the St. Louis Arch and frames the logo nicely.

 

84. Carolina Hurricanes (2017-Present)

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Definitely the best primary look the ‘Canes have had in years. The return of the warning flags, although they are tough to make out, was much needed.

 

83. Vegas Golden Knights (2017-Present)

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The NHL’s newest team has debuted in some unique but solid uniforms, featuring a logo that makes creative use of negative space.

 

82. San Jose Sharks (2017-Present)

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Not a ton going on here, but it’s okay because teal is such a unique and rare color. Updating the shoulder patches this year was a good decision.

 

81. Florida Panthers (2011-2016)

USP NHL: FLORIDA PANTHERS AT BUFFALO SABRES S HKN USA NY

Not a ton going on here either, but this is a really clean, bright look that makes the primary and secondary logos pop.

 

80. Dallas Stars (1995-1999)

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Maybe a little bit boring, but this is a nice look overall. Black and dark green is an extremely rare combo, and it worked really nice with Dallas’s original striping pattern.

 

79. Detroit Cougars/Red Wings (1927-1928, 1992)

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Again, red and white look great together. It is evident again in this example, where the striping is eccentric but short of obnoxious.

 

78. Pittsburgh Penguins (1967-1968)

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A wintry look perfect for a team that played in a stadium known as “The Igloo”.

 

77. Phoenix Coyotes (1996-2003)

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A look that screams both ’90s and Arizona. Major points in the uniqueness department.

 

76. Minnesota Wild (2003-2007)

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Very Christmasy, but that’s not a bad thing. Red and green are great colors that should be used together in sports more often.

 

75. Anaheim Ducks (2015-2017)

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The return of the original Mighty Duck logo (albeit recolored) was long overdue, but the highlight of this sweater may be just about everything else. The orange looks great, as do the stripes and accents.

 

74. 1992 NHL All Stars

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Weird picture. Cool sweaters.

 

73. Nashville Predators (2009-2011)

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Easily the most traditionalist look in Nashville’s history even with the sleek, shiny logo. Switching to gold was necessary in order to add some variety to the league’s color palette, but if the Predators wanted to be selfish, they should have gone to these as their primary duds.

 

72. Vancouver Canucks (1970-72, 2010-2011)

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The “stick in rink” crest has always been boring, but the rest of this uniform is terrific, especially the “V” carved into the sleeve stripes.

 

71. 1989-1991, 1993 NHL All Stars

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Easily the league’s best look for the All Star Game. Same colors as the NHL shield, classic template.

 

70. Chicago Blackhawks (2017)

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One of Chicago’s eighteen million outdoor looks. This one takes an old logo and combines it with some uniform elements the team used in the ’50s and ’60s.

 

69. Winnipeg Jets (2011-Present)

Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele

The NHL’s return to Winnipeg in 2011 brought us some fine-looking uniforms. The logo is the highlight, adding a fighter jet and a north-pointing compass to the RCAF roundel.

 

68. Los Angeles Kings (1988-1998)

Wayne Gretzky of the Los Angeles Kings

This uniform will always bring back memories of The Great One when he played in Hollywood. Black and silver can look boring (just look at today’s Kings), but it was done right in this case. Even if the logo looks like it’s part of a Chevrolet advertising campaign.

 

67. Philadelphia Flyers (2012, 2014-2016)

2012+Bridgestone+NHL+Winter+Classic+Practice+rjKrrzLuWbtl

The threads that the Flyers broke out for the 2012 Winter Classic were so nice that they became the team’s alternates for a couple of seasons. The added black on Flyers orange is a nice touch.

 

66. New York Rangers (1996-2007)

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Some aspects of these sweaters were a bit boring, but there’s no denying how incredible that logo was. Fingers crossed that it makes a return when alternates come back next season.

 

65. New Jersey Devils (2017-Present)

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New Jersey’s new jerseys (no pun intended) received a fair share of backlash from the fans this offseason, and they may not be as great as the previous threads, but they’re still nice. The Devils boast one of the league’s best logos, and the minimalist design of the rest of the uniform makes it stand out even more.

 

64. Calgary Flames (1980-1994, 2009-2013, 2016-2017)

2011+Heritage+Classic+Alumni+Game+0RDRDhCEyPjx

A classic look that the Flames brought to Calgary from Atlanta in 1980. The Flaming C has always been a nice logo, but something about looks tacky when it is white on a red uniform.

 

63. Atlanta Flames (1973-1980)

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Same uniform, but the white A looks much better than the white C.

 

62. Toronto St. Pats (1922-1925)

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Such a nice shade of green. Great move by the Maple Leafs to bring it back for a one-off in 2017.

 

61. Pittsburgh Penguins (2011-2013)

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In a time when teams were obsessed with two-tone blue uniforms with circular logos, this was by far the best of the bunch. Perfect for an outdoor game and promoted to Pittsburgh’s alternate. It takes some elements from the team’s original looks and throws them in a blender to create a brilliant uniform.

 

60. Calgary Flames (2017-Present)

Calgary Flames v Vancouver Canucks

Vertical striping is almost always a no-no, but it works for the Flames because the stripes literally look like…flames. The Adidas redesign in 2017 benefitted Calgary greatly, as it cleaned up the unnecessary piping and simplified what was an annoying name/number font.

 

59. Arizona Coyotes (2015-Present)

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Not much to complain about here, just a solid all-around look with a color scheme that is entirely Arizona’s.

 

58. Columbus Blue Jackets (2017-Present)

John Tortorella

Like Calgary, Columbus’s font underwent a major upgrade thanks to Adidas, as did its socks. Two great logos adorn this uniform, which gets extra points because of how nicely the navy shoulder stripe contrasts with the red pants.

 

57. Montreal Canadiens (2016)

2016+Bridgestone+NHL+Winter+Classic+Montreal+7veBG8DSo9Al

Les Habitants broke out some sharp faux-backs for the 2016 Winter Classic in Foxborough, MA, roughly combining their early-1920’s logos with their mid-’40s jerseys.

 

56. Winnipeg Jets (1979-1990)

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Winnipeg’s original look was a decent one, highlighted by how the red accents really popped on a primarily blue-and-white sweater.

 

55. Chicago Blackhawks (2009-2011)

Blackhawks-2009-Classic-Reginek

Those triangles on the pants are terrible, but the rest of this faux-back was terrific. A combination of Chicago’s jersey from the 1930’s and logo from the 1940’s.

 

54. Columbus Blue Jackets (2000-2007)

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Is it a bit cartoony? Sure. But with all of the blue and red looks in the league, a splash of neon green was refreshing – and it works surprisingly well with blue and red.

 

53. Carolina Hurricanes (2008-2017)

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Still trying to figure out why Carolina isn’t using the warning flag logo as its primary mark. Lots of teams have used black alternates not only in hockey, but in all sports; however, this is one of the best across the board.

 

52. Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes (2007-2015)

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Calgary Flames

This look has never really gotten any praise, but it deserves some. Imagine if it were used by a storied franchise – the words “classic”, “clean”, maybe even “iconic” would be tossed around. It happens with Montreal’s current white duds, which are certainly no better than these from a completely aesthetic point of view.

 

51. New York Rangers (1997-Present)

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Classic? Check. Clean? Check. Iconic? Check.

 

50. St. Louis Blues (1968-1984)

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It’s a bit busy, but royal blue and gold combined with any iteration of the blue note logo is a definite winner.

 

49. Pittsburgh Penguins (1968-1973, 2008-2011)

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Powder blue can be a polarizing color, but it looks excellent here. The Penguins definitely nailed the cold and snowy theme in 1968, and brought it back for a few years after breaking it out in the 2008 Winter Classic.

 

48. California Golden Seals (1970-1974)

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First of all, Golden Seals is an awesome name. Anyways, everyone loves when green and yellow/gold are used together in sports, and for good reason. Why is it so rare?

 

47. Carolina Hurricanes (1997-2007)

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Carolina’s best look since moving from Hartford. Things got too busy in 2007 when Reebok added a shoulder yoke and then really bland when the team underwent a redesign in 2013. Shameful.

 

46. Washington Capitals (1995-2000)

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Definitely not a patriotic look that one would expect out of a team from D.C., but this was still nice on the eyes. Blue, black and bronze work really well together, and the eagle logo was fantastic.

 

45. New Jersey Devils (1982-1992)

175376375

Great layout, great logo, unique color scheme.

 

44. Minnesota Wild (2000-2007)

116935248

Such a creative logo, but this was the only time it was truly paired with a good enough sweater. Reebok thinned out the accent colors, the shoulder patch eventually underwent a major downgrade and then the look was scrapped for good.

 

43. Toronto Maple Leafs (1970-1992)

borje_salming

You’re going to be seeing a lot of Toronto in the top 50.

 

42. Tampa Bay Lightning (1992-2007)

EP-140609745

Black and blue was an absolutely perfect color scheme for a hockey team. Why did the Bolts ever waver from this design?

 

41. Colorado Avalanche (1995-2007)

1802469

This one checks all the boxes – unique but good-looking color scheme AND template, creative logo, even geographic relevance as the stripes resemble the Rocky Mountains. Thank goodness the Avs went back to a similar design this season.

 

40. Dallas Stars (2013-Present)

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Dallas Stars

Getting rid of gold and brightening the green in Dallas’s color palette may have seemed like a head-scratcher at first, but the Stars’ new look is fantastic.

 

39. Pittsburgh Penguins (1986-1992, 2016-Present)

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The Penguins have won the Stanley Cup in four consecutive seasons while sporting this look (okay the white sweaters weren’t resurrected until the 16-17 season, but still). Maybe the Hockey Gods are trying to tell us something.

 

38. St. Louis Blues (2014-Present)

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Although St. Louis still looked okay in its Reebok uniforms, a upgrade was definitely needed. This fits the bill.

 

37. Detroit Red Wings (1948-1972)

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Similar to what Detroit wears now, but with some changes to the logo. A classic look.

 

36. San Jose Sharks (1991-1998)

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Such a great use of teal. One of the most ’90s uniforms out there, but it could probably still survive today and be well-received by fans.

 

35. Toronto Maple Leafs (1927-1934, 2014)

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Again, more Toronto. Great move to bring back the team’s first-ever blue-and-white uniform as the Maple Leafs for the 2014 Winter Classic.

 

34. Buffalo Sabres (2000-2006)

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Red, silver and black looked excellent on Buffalo’s old alternate. The 3D-type logo was also a masterpiece. This is one of the most under-appreciated sweaters not only in the NHL, but in all of sports.

 

33. Washington Capitals (1974-1995, 2011-2015)

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Such a brilliant patriotic look that looked terrific whether it was paired with red or blue pants. Major missed opportunity for the Capitals during the Adidas redesign – why didn’t they just go back to this full time?

 

32. Boston Bruins (1967-1974)

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The uniform that will always be associated with Bobby Orr. Easily the best version of the spoked B, and a rarity for the Bruins in that the gold socks actually looked like they matched the black jersey.

 

31. Dallas Stars (1999-2007)

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Such a cool look. Green isn’t used enough in sports, and the Stars put it with a striking template that only they could use. Why not try this with the current logo and colors?

 

30. San Jose Sharks (1998-2007)

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San Jose did a great job of using piping on this uniform to give it a shark-like appearance. A work of art indeed.

 

29. Pittsburgh Penguins (1992-2002)

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The robo-pen logo is cool. Sorry. It’s also framed perfectly on this jersey, which uses perfect amounts of gold and black in a unique template. Unfortunately, the Penguins could never come up with a dark jersey anywhere near as good as the light one during this era.

 

 

28. Florida Panthers (1993-2007)

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A vibrant, tropical look perfect for South Florida along with a beautifully-detailed logo. Why did the Panthers ever change a stitch of this?

 

27. Edmonton Oilers (1981-1994, 2008-2017)

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The teams that wore this jersey were the epitome of greatness (well, the first time around). The uniforms? Well, they were also great.

 

26. Montreal Canadiens (1944-1947, 2004)

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Everyone loves Montreal’s red home jersey, so why is this inverse not what the Habs use on the road? Absolutely baffling.

 

25. Vancouver Canucks (1992-1997)

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The Canucks have used pretty much every color in the book at one time or another. They should stuck with what they wore in the mid-’90s. Black and gold with red accents was a great color scheme, and the minimalist striping draws your attention to the logo, which is an absolute beauty.

 

24. Winnipeg Jets (1990-1996)

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Another beautiful logo here, complemented by a near-perfect execution of Winnipeg’s original blue-white-red color scheme.

 

23. Boston Bruins (2017-Present)

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Another team that benefits from Adidas. The socks finally match the rest of the uniform and the name/number font is actually legible now. Certainly one of the best looks in the league today…now if only we could use the Orr-era spoked B…

 

22. New York Islanders (1978-1995)

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The Islanders need to go back to this striping pattern ASAP. Everything just seems to fit into place better than it does on what they wear now.

 

21. New Jersey Devils (1992-2017)

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The reason Devils fans were outraged about the redesign this summer wasn’t because the new uniform was bad – just that this one was so good. No wonder it stayed around for 25 years (and should have for many, many more).

 

20. Toronto Maple Leafs (2017)

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For the NHL’s Centennial Classic, Toronto pretty much broke out arch-rival Montreal’s template but put it in Leafs colors – and it worked. The hint of silver puts it over the top.

 

 

19. Philadelphia Flyers (1967-1981, 2008-Present)

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There’s a reason the Flyers went back to their original look – it works. Talk about staying power – Philadelphia’s logo has never changed since its inception in 1967.

 

18. St. Louis Blues (1995-1998)

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People hated this sweater because there was too much red for a team named the Blues…but the team is named after blues music, not the color blue. These uniforms capture the spirit of music much better than any other, and the colors and design create a striking look.

 

17. Edmonton Oilers (2017-Present)

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The Oilers have always had a terrific logo (save for that weird mid-2000s alternate design), but it’s the use of orange as a primary color and the way it looks with navy that makes Edmonton’s current set its best ever.

 

16. Buffalo Sabres (1996-2006)

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There were plenty of gripes about Buffalo’s 1996 rebrand because of the sweaters they replaced, but the only real issue is that the logo is a bison (not a buffalo) and the team is named after a type of sword, not an animal. Still, the red accents along with black and silver looked absolutely spectacular.

 

15. Minnesota North Stars (1978-1988)

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Another example of how nice green and gold/yellow look together.

 

14. Los Angeles Kings (2002-2007)

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The purple/silver/black era is one that is often overlooked in Kings history, but there’s no denying how gorgeous these sweaters were – especially the white version with the crown.

 

13. Chicago Black Hawks/Blackhawks (1999-Present)

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It’s tough to find a uniform in sports that everyone likes. This is one of them. No wonder it has undergone only minor changes since its first version was introduced in 1955.

 

 

12. Quebec Nordiques (1980-1995)

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There are so many aspects of this uniform that make it absolutely beautiful. The rich blue, the striking contrast of the bright red crest, the fleur de lis adorning the waist and shoulders, and so on.

 

11. St. Louis Blues (1987-1994)

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Hull & Oates and the peak of the black-and-blue Norris Division immediately come to mind. A true gem of a logo and a uniform, made even greater due to the small red accents. Attention to detail certainly does matter.

 

10. Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (1993-2006)

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A true favorite of just about any hockey fan born between the years of 1980 and 2000 due to the movie series that inspired the team’s formation. Eggplant and jade plus the famous (or infamous) duck mask logo created what may be the NHL’s newest look that can be dubbed “iconic”.

 

9. Boston Bruins (2016-2017)

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No spoked B? No problem. This is the best look the big, bad Bruins have ever worn. Loosely based off of the team’s original sweaters from 1924 (although those were brown), the 2016 Winter Classic/2017 alternate uniform looks ridiculously tough and exemplifies old time hockey.

 

 

8. Toronto Maple Leafs (2016-Present)

NHL: Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs

The uniforms Toronto debuted for its 100th anniversary in 2016 are simply stunning. They use the same amazing blue-and-white color scheme the Leafs have used nearly since their inception, but the emphasis is on the crest, which was a huge upgrade from what they wore before. In fact, it may be the best logo in hockey today.

 

7. Chicago Blackhawks (2015)

2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic

Chicago’s white sweaters have always been a little better than the red ones because the logo’s colors pop more. The version the Hawks used for the 2015 Winter Classic, however, is the absolute pinnacle. The re-colorization of the shoulder patches and their movement to the sleeves was a great idea inspired by earlier uniforms, and the elimination of a red border around the numbers makes this jersey look even cleaner than normal.

 

6. Los Angeles Kings (1967-1980, 2010-2014)

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Forum blue (purple) and gold. Tough, maybe impossible, to find a better color combo. Such a regal look is absolutely perfect for a team called the Kings.

 

5. Montreal Canadiens (1984-Present)

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Perhaps only the New York Yankees’ famous pinstripes may have more history behind them than Montreal’s classic set. An absolute masterpiece.

 

4. Hartford Whalers (1979-1990)

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Such a perfect shade of green along with perhaps the most brilliant logo in sports history. The perfect use of negative space.

 

3. Detroit Red Wings (1984-Present)

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Out of all the uses of the red-and-white color scheme that always looks so great, this is far-and-away the best. Slap on maybe the greatest logo in the history of sports, and you’ve got quite a fine uniform.

 

2. Buffalo Sabres (1983-1996)

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Royal blue and gold is an outstanding color scheme in any sport, especially hockey (think Slap Shot), and nobody has executed it to the degree the Buffalo Sabres did back when they played at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium.

 

1. Toronto Maple Leafs (1958-1967, 2000-2007, 2008-2011)

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The colors, the stripes, the socks, the jagged leaf, and the way they all come together…down to every last detail, this is the greatest uniform any NHL team has ever worn.

Matching Each NFL Team With A College Football Team

Why do we cheer for the teams we cheer for? As far as professional sports go, the answer is almost always geography.

Ask any dedicated sports fan, and chances are that their favorite teams are the ones that are closest to home, especially when it comes to professional sports.

When it comes to college sports, the answers are normally similar; however, some fans feel more of a personal connection to their college teams due to the fact that they may have attended said university themselves.

So if we were to ignore geographic loyalties and had no college team to root for, who would we support? Which criteria would matter?

These questions got me thinking of a fun list idea – match every NFL team to a college team. There are some striking parallels that may not come to mind at first, but they are quite interesting to think about.

This list does not follow a specific formula – some teams will be assigned partnerships based on fans, past success, recent success, reputation, etc.

Basically, what makes each pairing of teams alike will be fairly unique.

Also, obviously not every team will have as good of a match as some others. That’s just how things go.

So without further adieu, let’s get to it.

 

Arizona Cardinals: California Golden Bears

Despite moving around the country, the Cardinals have been around for a long, long time. Still, they don’t have quite the historic repertoire as some of their NFL counterparts, just like Cal and its geographic rivals.

 

Atlanta Falcons: Clemson Tigers

Atlanta Falcons v Los Angeles Rams

Both of these southern teams have emerged in recent years, mostly thanks to explosive offenses and dynamic playmakers. They also boast unique game day experiences, especially since the Falcons have moved to a new state-of-the-art stadium.

 

Baltimore Ravens: Auburn Tigers

They may not get the press that their rivals do, but both the Ravens and Auburn have dedicated fanbases that have been able to enjoy steady and consistent success.

 

Buffalo Bills: West Virginia Mountaineers

Rabid fans, but they know the product on the field may not produce a champion every year. Still, both fanbases certainly make the most of their experiences on game day, and both teams seem to be on a bit of an upswing.

 

Carolina Panthers: Houston Cougars

One of the tougher pairings to come up with. Both teams have made noise in their respective leagues in recent years, but seem to falter when they have to play on a big stage.

 

Chicago Bears: Nebraska Cornhuskers

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Gritty, midwestern football tradition with dedicated fans. The Huskers have experienced a bit more success than the Bears throughout the course of history, but the other parallels are too good to ignore.

 

Cincinnati Bengals: Tennessee Volunteers

Both teams are incredibly good at letting their fans down after overblown preseason expectations. And they’re both orange. So there’s that.

 

Cleveland Browns: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Football has been a part of both Cleveland and Rutgers University as long as anywhere. So has losing.

 

Dallas Cowboys: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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Cult-like fanbases spread throughout the country make these two clubs hated by pretty much anyone who isn’t a die-hard. Another parallel: lots of success in the past but failure to meet expectations despite some positive seasons in the past 10-15 years.

 

Denver Broncos: Wisconsin Badgers

Cold weather, defense-oriented perennial contenders. Football tradition is strong in both the Mile High City and Camp Randall.

 

Detroit Lions: Mississippi State Bulldogs

Atlanta Falcons v Detroit Lions

The fans are loyal and always seem to believe, but other than a marquee player or two in recent years, you’ve got to go back to find any success. Way back. Way, way back.

 

Green Bay Packers: USC Trojans

Iconic uniforms, iconic stadiums, iconic players, iconic traditions. Both of these programs have defined what we love about both the NFL and college football since their inception.

 

Houston Texans: UCF Knights

Relatively speaking, both are fairly new to this whole football thing, but have enjoyed some moderate success as of late. Which one will take that next step first?

 

Indianapolis Colts: Florida Gators

Winning football traditions, iconic players and dedicated fans are some parallels between these two teams. However, the height of most of their success came about a decade ago. The 2010s have not been quite as kind as the mid-to-late ’00s were.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars: South Florida Bulls

Like the Texans-UCF pairing, these are some of the new kids on the block in the football world. Although after years and years of futility, both have started to open some eyes in the past year.

 

Kansas City Chiefs: Florida State Seminoles

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Decent amounts of success make these teams partially similar, but it is the raucous fans and Native American nicknames that create the true parallels. They even use the same chant!

 

Los Angeles Chargers: Colorado Buffaloes

Just like Colorado’s move from the Big 12 to the Pac-12, the Chargers’ move from San Diego to Los Angeles may not have been the greatest idea. Oh well, it’s not like either team has been a major contender for anything in the past decade anyway.

 

Los Angeles Rams: Washington Huskies

Another tough one. A lack of national exposure even in their best years cause most of the football world to forget about…those years.

 

Miami Dolphins: Miami Hurricanes

This may seem like the lazy route to go, but the similarities are there. Both teams had some great seasons in the past, and even though they’re both decent right now, fans just don’t seem to show up like they should. Almost like they’re the same people, or something.

 

Minnesota Vikings: TCU Horned Frogs

Purple, dedicated fans, overshadowed success, purple, underrated locations, and purple. That’s all I’ve got.

 

New England Patriots: Alabama Crimson Tide

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Pretty obvious one here. People are sick of you winning (and have been for quite a while). They also don’t like the bandwagon fans, potential cheating, and your coach.

 

New Orleans Saints: Penn State Nittany Lions

Rocked by scandals in the early 2010s, but both seem to have rebounded. New Orleans and State College are both fun and unique places to visit for different reasons, and the bonds between the teams and their fans are strong.

 

New York Giants: UCLA Bruins

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Storied franchises that share their stadiums with other teams (or events), have a few obnoxious fans here and there, and occasionally fail to live up to expectations.

 

New York Jets: Michigan State Spartans

Green and white is the obvious parallel here, but it goes quite a bit deeper. Both are looked at as the “Little Brother” in their markets and carry a chip on their shoulders because of it. Michigan State has been more successful than the Jets lately, but both play with a gritty nastiness spurred by their interpreted lack of respect.

 

Oakland Raiders: Texas Longhorns

Wild fans who seem to base their lives around the success of their teams. Unfortunately for these die-hards, recent results have not been as good as they were in the glory days (although the Raiders are on the rise).

 

Philadelphia Eagles: Oregon Ducks

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins

This would have made more sense if I had written this when Chip Kelly was calling the shots in Philly, but there are still similarities. Both teams have rowdy fans but are no strangers to heartbreak. That title will come some day. Maybe.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers: Ohio State Buckeyes

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Fun fact: when people ask “why can’t I have nice things?”, they are usually doing it with the Steelers or Buckeyes in mind. These aren’t the only teams to have cult-like followings or years upon years of success, but they’re pretty much the only ones that always have both. Yes, I know, Steelers fans may be a bit more respectful than their college football counterparts, but like I said, not every match is 100% perfect.

 

San Francisco 49ers: Michigan Wolverines

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The Jim Harbaugh connection is honestly the least important parallel between the Niners and Big Blue. Dedicated fans (who may or may not come off as a bit pompous) from incredibly liberal locations absolutely LOVE talking about how great the team was in the past…….

 

Seattle Seahawks: Texas A&M Aggies

This one begins and ends with the fans. Both teams use the phrase “12th Man” to describe their loudest supporters, who never fail to show up and make noise on game day.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Utah Utes

I don’t really have a great explanation for this one. Both stadiums are located in pretty scenic areas (for different reasons), but honestly, the Buccaneers haven’t made many headlines other than their 0-14 inaugural season and their 2003 Super Bowl win. They’re just kind of…there. Never really great, never really an embarrassment.

 

Tennessee Titans: Boise State Broncos

Relatively new to the scene (although the Titans had a long history as the Houston Oilers before relocating), but both teams are remembered for some sort of miracle play during a huge game.

 

Washington Redskins: Georgia Bulldogs

The fans love their teams and their rich histories, but seem to go through the same type of heartbreak whenever it looks like they’re about to make that next step.

NHL Season Predictions 2017-18

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Hockey is finally back! In 2016-17, we saw our first back-to-back Stanley Cup Champion in nearly two decades. Can the Pittsburgh Penguins make it three in a row? Will a Canadian team end the nation’s 25-year Stanley Cup drought? Which team will be this year’s version of the 2017 Nashville Predators and capture everyone’s excitement? Find out here!

 

Atlantic Division

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1. Tampa Bay Lightning

Injury problems derailed Tampa Bay’s 2016-17 season. The Lightning began the year as one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup and ended up missing out on the playoffs entirely.

If the Bolts stay healthy this season, they are primed for a bounce-back year. There is impact talent all around the roster, from a young and exciting forward core to a defensive group led by superstar Victor Hedman. Even goaltending is a strength as Andrei Vasilevsky looks to make the leap into one of the NHL’s elite keepers.

 

2. Montreal Canadiens

Scoring will again be an issue for Montreal, but the addition of Jonathan Drouin up front should help even though the Habs had to say goodbye to Alexander Radulov this offseason.

Carey Price is always fantastic in net and should be able to back up his team even if the forwards can’t put too many pucks in the net.

To help will be a slightly more skilled group of defensemen as Karl Alzner and David Schlemko will fill in for departed veterans Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin. Mark Streit, although on the tail end of his career, is an offensive defenseman who can generate some spark from the blue line.

 

3. Toronto Maple Leafs

We will definitely see improvement from Toronto this year, but it may be a more gradual process than some expect.

As well as Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander did last season, expecting one of them (at least) to have a sophomore slump is only realistic.

At the same time, all three are still stars, the rest of the top nine may be as good as any forward group in hockey, Patrick Marleau brings in some experience and Frederik Andersen is a solid goaltender.

Behind Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly, however, Toronto’s defense certainly raises some red flags.

 

4. Boston Bruins

Sure, Boston had a ridiculously quiet offseason for a bubble team, but there is certainly reason to believe the Bruins can improve this year.

Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron have shown no signs of slowing down and the team came to life midway through last season when Bruce Cassidy was hired as head coach.

Also, the Bruins have decided to fill their gaps from within rather than spending on free agents. Anders Bjork, Frank Vatrano, Noel Acciari, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Jake DeBrusk and obviously David Pastrnak are all young homegrown talents with lots of potential that could make huge impacts for the Bruins this season.

 

5. Ottawa Senators

The Senators were an overtime goal away from going to the Stanley Cup Final last season, so why are they so disliked by prognosticators this season?

Well, first of all, they still barely made the playoffs last year. With Tampa Bay, Toronto, Boston and Buffalo all likely to do better this season, the Senators should regress by default.

Also, as unbelievable as Erik Karlsson is, he will sorely miss defense partner Marc Methot.

Mike Hoffman, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Bobby Ryan, Mark Stone, Derick Brassard and Kyle Turris are all respectable forwards, but the rest of the team lacks scoring depth.

On paper, the Senators overachieved last year. It will be interesting to see if the trend continues in 2017-18 or if there is a regression to the mean. The latter seems more likely.

 

6. Buffalo Sabres

We now enter the third tier of the Atlantic Division. Of the three potential bottom-feeders, Buffalo certainly has the most upside.

Jack Eichel will enter this season healthy, unlike last year, and the rest of the young forward group should help the Sabres improve on their division-worst 201 goals last season.

If Rasmus Ristolainen can take the next step up and Marco Scandella finds his niche in his new city, the Sabres could be a surprise playoff team. But they must stay extremely healthy in order to have a shot.

 

7. Detroit Red Wings

Detroit has depth at forward, but very little high-end talent. The defense has neither.

It looked like the Red Wings were primed to get some top-end scorers in Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar, but all three have plateaued (or maybe even regressed) since Jeff Blashill took over as head coach in 2015. If players like Anthony Mantha or Andreas Athanasiou (if he re-signs) start to do the same, look for Detroit to begin searching for a new bench boss.

Jimmy Howard can be a productive goaltender, but he has had issues staying healthy. If he hits IR again for a lengthy time, the Red Wings could see another season like last year, where Petr Mrazek struggled mightily in Howard’s absence.

 

8. Florida Panthers

The Panthers didn’t score a whole lot last season, but lost an absolute boatload of goal-scorers this offseason with the departures of Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault, Jaromir Jagr and Jussi Jokinen.

Even though the defensive corps is respectable when healthy, the depth on the wings may be the worst in all of hockey. Combine that with some questions in goal with Roberto Luongo’s age and you’ve got a last-place team.

 

Metropolitan Division

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1. Columbus Blue Jackets

A 16-game win streak and a 108-point season last year showed us Columbus can hang in there with the big boys.

Expect the Blue Jackets to take it a step further this season.

While a No. 1 center is yet to emerge, the entire group of forwards is deep and ridiculously skilled, especially with the addition of Artemi Panarin and the insertion of Oliver Bjorkstrand, Sonny Milano and Pierre-Luc Dubois into the everyday lineup.

As good as the forwards are, Columbus’s defensemen may be even better, led by two more emerging youngsters in Zach Werenski and Seth Jones.

Still, though, the top strength for the Blue Jackets may be between the pipes. Sergei Bobrovsky is an elite NHL goaltender, and Joonas Korpisalo is a well above-average option for a backup.

 

2. Pittsburgh Penguins

A Stanley Cup hangover after two short summers and the loss of a handful of important players will cause the Penguins to sputter a bit around November and December, but this is still an elite hockey team that will come to play when it needs to.

Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup last season without Kris Letang in the playoffs. It doesn’t matter which depth forwards up front are gone, Jim Rutherford and Mike Sullivan will find someone to fill in, like they have without issue for two straight seasons.

 

3. New York Rangers

Losing Derek Stepan leaves a bit of a hole at center, sure. But this is an opportunity for Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller to really step it up.

Also, first-round picks Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil have impressed in camp and both may make the team.

As tough as losing Stepan may be, however, the Rangers arguably improved this offseason because of changes made on the blue line. Out are Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein, in are Kevin Shattenkirk and high-ceiling Anthony DeAngelo. Talk about an upgrade.

 

4. Washington Capitals

Still a contender, but the Capitals are definitely a tier below the Penguins and Blue Jackets after a tumultuous offseason.

Gone are Marcus Johansson, Karl Alzner, Kevin Shattenkirk, Nate Schmidt, Justin Williams and Daniel Winnik. In to replace them? Question marks.

Braden Holtby is one of the top goalies in the NHL, but he will have to do much more work with a severely depleted blue line.

In the end, it’s still tough to imagine a team led by Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, TJ Oshie and John Carlson along with Holtby missing the playoffs.

 

5. Carolina Hurricanes

Everyone is drooling over the Hurricanes this season due to their ridiculous group of defensemen.

While the excitement over Carolina’s blueliners is certainly warranted, they may need to wait one more year to end the NHL’s longest standing playoff drought. There are a lot of questions about depth at the forward position, and it remains to be seen if Scott Darling can be a reliable starting goalie.

 

6. Philadelphia Flyers

The center depth is fantastic if Nolan Patrick makes an impact anything like he is capable of and the young group of defensemen is coming along nicely, but these are the Flyers and goaltending is a question.

Brian Elliott was less-than stellar last season in Calgary behind a pretty great set of rearguards. And goaltenders seem to always struggle a bit more in Philadelphia.

Also, as good as Philadelphia’s centers are, there is a lack of experience and talent on the wing behind Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek. Travis Konecny and Jordan Weal will have to make big strides if the Flyers want to make the playoffs.

 

7. New Jersey Devils

A plethora of new additions and young talent coming up through the pipeline should create a vastly improved offensive attack this season for New Jersey.

The reason the Devils won’t be in the playoff conversation, though is their defense. When Damon Severson and Andy Greene are your top two defensemen, don’t expect to get too far.

 

8. New York Islanders

Sure, it’s a possibility that this team plays the way it did in 2016 and makes the playoffs.

But pretty much every area of the roster just seems a cut below league average, especially with Travis Hamonic leaving the defense corps.

In order for the Islanders to make a splash this season, they will need to rely heavily on new blood like Joshua Ho-Sang, Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier.

 

Central Division

Devan Dubnyk, Samuel Blais, Vladimir Sobotka

1. Minnesota Wild

The Wild had easily the best goal differential in the Western Conference last season thanks to a balanced offensive attack, good defense and a great goaltender in Devan Dubnyk.

While expecting Eric Staal to repeat his success of last season, the Wild could still repeat theirs as a team.

Minnesota was dispatched in just five games in last year’s first round against St. Louis, but those who watched the series know that the Wild dominated the Blues but ran into a hot goaltender.

That will all even out in the regular season this year and Minnesota will easily qualify for the playoffs again. Plus, regular season guru Bruce Boudreau returns behind the bench.

 

 

2. St. Louis Blues

St. Louis flourished once Mike Yeo became its head coach last season. Jake Allen took his game to an elite level and led the Blues on a warpath that could only be stopped by a Nashville club that seemed destined to win the West.

If Allen stays true to form behind a terrific group of defensemen, the Blues could be serious contenders for the Stanley Cup.

The questions come up front, especially with Robby Fabbri out for the entire season. St. Louis’s top six is solid, but players like Ivan Barbashev, Magnus Paajarvi and Dmitrij Jaskin will need to contribute more.

 

3. Chicago Blackhawks

After getting embarrassed in the first round of last year’s playoffs, Chicago had an offseason to forget. Marian Hossa, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Artemi Panarin, Brian Campbell and Marcus Kruger are just a few of the many names that won’t be returning from last year’s division-winning squad.

But still, these are the Blackhawks. Bringing back Brandon Saad could help Jonathan Toews rebound after underperforming last season and Patrick Kane should still be a Hart Trophy candidate even without Panarin on his side.

Also, expect Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman to not only become household names in Chicago, but around the league. And keep an eye on Alex DeBrincat and Tanner Kero.

 

 

4. Nashville Predators

Last year’s Cinderella sweetheart won’t be able to fly under the radar this season. And with Ryan Ellis out for several months, captain Mike Fisher enjoying retirement and top-line winger James Neal playing in Las Vegas, repeating last year’s success could be a difficult task for Nashville.

Still, it was clear all season that this team had not displayed its full potential all season long. That fact was proven true in the playoffs, as the Predators soared all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.

An exciting core and depth at all positions should make that level of success attainable again this season.

 

 

5. Dallas Stars

Dallas can use injuries as an excuse for the unexpected 30-point drop-off from 2016 to 2017, but there were plenty of other issues to blame as well.

Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin were healthy all year, but the Stars had serious trouble preventing goals.

GM Jim Nill addressed that weakness in a big way this offseason, adding defenseman Marc Methot to play next to John Klingberg and a true No. 1 goaltender in Ben Bishop.

Dallas will be in the playoff mix this season, but it may be tough for the Stars to win the division (like many expect) with so much competition.

 

6. Winnipeg Jets

Lots to be excited about as far as Winnipeg’s skilled forwards go, but the defense is still a major question mark.

Also, there will be goalie controversy all season long in Winnipeg, which is something that rarely yields success in an organization.

As much as Winnipeg may score, the Jets will give up quite a few goals as well.

 

7. Colorado Avalanche

Probably the safest bet you can make is picking Colorado to finish last in the Central. Maybe hockey’s worst team, the Avalanche play in a division with six teams who could all potentially make deep playoff runs.

Not an ideal situation.

 

Pacific Division

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1. Edmonton Oilers

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are the clear stars of this team, but the rest of the squad is overlooked.

Edmonton isn’t too weak on the back end, as Oscar Klefbom is quietly becoming one of hockey’s better defensemen. Darnell Nurse and Adam Larsson are no pushovers, either. In net, Cam Talbot showed us just how good he could be after having a Vezina-caliber season in 2016-17.

Kailer Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi, the team’s two most recent first-round picks, could both see significant time with the big club this season and cause fits for opposing defenses.

 

2. Anaheim Ducks

News that Ryan Kesler and Sami Vatanen could miss huge chunks of the season is a huge blow to Anaheim, and it could cause the Ducks to relinquish the Pacific Division crown for the first time since 2012.

When this club gets healthy, though, it can be scary good. Anaheim is loaded with role-playing forwards, a solid keeper in John Gibson and a lineup of defensemen that is on par with teams like Nashville and Carolina.

 

3. Calgary Flames

Everything about this team makes it look like a dark horse Stanley Cup contender.

A great mix of youth and experience up front that should have no problems scoring goals, one of the league’s best top-four defense units…

And then Mike Smith’s name pops up as starting goalie.

The goaltending situation alone docks Calgary’s odds down quite a few ticks. If someone emerges as a reliable starter, though, look out.

 

4. San Jose Sharks

San Jose is in a tier of its own in the Pacific Division. Edmonton, Anaheim and Calgary certainly seem more skilled while the remaining teams will likely be nowhere near the playoff mix.

The Sharks are right on the bubble. They still have some solid players from their 2016 run to the Stanley Cup Final, but how much will they miss Patrick Marleau’s leadership?

Also, San Jose did not make any flashy moves whatsoever this offseason after being a bubble team last year. With an aging core, the Sharks will lean heavily on young players like Timo Meier, Melker Karlsson and Joonas Donskoi.

 

5. Arizona Coyotes

If Carolina is such a sexy preseason pick, why isn’t Arizona getting any love from prognosticators?

The Coyotes boast a plethora of high-upside defensemen and a decent goalie in Antti Raanta who will finally get a well-deserved shot at being a starter. He should be an upgrade from Mike Smith.

Up front, the Coyotes are young but extremely skilled. Dylan Strome, Christian Dvorak, Brendan Perlini, Max Domi, Clayton Keller and several more high recent draft picks will all get plenty of chances to show off why they were so highly regarded as amateurs. Also, adding Derek Stepan gives Arizona a veteran No. 1 center with a scoring touch.

The potential is there, but it may take some more experience before the Coyotes take the next step. Still, this is an intriguing candidate for surprise team of the year.

 

6. Los Angeles Kings

Since Alec Martinez scored the Stanley Cup-clinching overtime goal in 2014, the Kings have won just a single playoff game.

They missed in 2015, were dominated by San Jose in 2016 and missed yet again last year.

With the Pacific improving, Los Angeles has not done much to keep up. The front office has been shuffled up and head coach Darryl Sutter was canned, but that won’t be enough to put the Kings back in the playoffs.

 

7. Vancouver Canucks

The rebuild is definitely on for Vancouver, who could potentially finish even worse than an expansion team.

Bo Horvat is making a name for himself despite not having much of a cast around him, and the Canucks have begun to build what could be a formidable blue line in the future, but this club is just too weak all around to compete for a playoff spot this season.

 

8. Vegas Golden Knights

The Golden Knights have a lot of pieces to like (James Neal, Jason Garrison, Colin Miller, Nate Schmidt, Shea Theodore, Cody Eakin, Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Marc-Andre Fleury among others), but the fact is that they’re an expansion team and will likely finish in the basement.

By putting an emphasis on youth in the expansion process and making some stellar draft choices this past spring, however, Vegas’s front office has set this team up for quite a future.

 

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

A1 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. W1 Washington Capitals

Weird seeing the Capitals as a wild card, but here we are. The Capitals embrace the underdog role by splitting the first four games, but Tampa Bay proves too deep and too strong.

Lightning in 6

A2 Montreal Canadiens vs. A3 Toronto Maple Leafs

Finally, we get a Toronto-Montreal series. As raucous as the home crowds may be, the Leafs win the first two games in Montreal…and the Canadiens return the favor in Games 3 and 4. With an advantage in net, on defense and in the physicality department, Montreal seems poised to take the series. Instead, Toronto’s young guns pull through and give the Leafs their first series win since 2004 as Frederik Andersen slams the door shut on the Habs.

Maple Leafs in 6

M1 Columbus Blue Jackets vs. W2 Boston Bruins

Lots of young talent on display in this series. Boston has much better veterans up front with Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand, but the Jackets have the superior keeper in Sergei Bobrovsky. In the end, Columbus just has too much firepower from all around for Boston to keep up.

Blue Jackets in 5

M2 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. M3 New York Rangers

The Penguins begin their quest for a three-peat against a familiar foe. New York proves to be quite the worthy challenger, taking the champs to the brink in the very first round. As they have done so many times with their backs against the wall, however, the Penguins prevail.

Penguins in 7

 

Western Conference Quarterfinals

C1 Minnesota Wild vs. W1 Nashville Predators

Nashville once again finds itself in a wild card spot facing the winner of the Central. With playoff-challenged Bruce Boudreau coaching the Wild, this “upset” seems too good to be true for the Predators. It is. Pekka Rinne falters and Minnesota moves on.

Wild in 7

C2 St. Louis Blues vs. C3 Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago looks to redeem itself after last season’s first-round disappointment, but the Blackhawks will face a tough opponent in arch-rival St. Louis (no pun intended). The scoring woes return for the Hawks, mirroring last season’s series with Nashville.

Blues in 6

P1 Edmonton Oilers vs. W2 Dallas Stars

An old rivalry is rekindled as the Oilers and Stars meet in the playoffs for the first time since 2003. Both teams are remarkably similar, each boasting a dynamic scoring duo and a solid goaltender. This series will contain many close, high-scoring games, but the Oilers take it thanks to home-ice advantage.

Oilers in 7

P2 Anaheim Ducks vs. P3 Calgary Flames

This continues to boil into a brutal rivalry as these two meet for the third time in four years. But until the Flames find an answer in net, the Ducks will continue to have the edge.

Ducks in 5

 

Eastern Conference Semifinals

A1 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. A3 Toronto Maple Leafs

Mike Babcock meets Jon Cooper again after Babcock’s Red Wings dropped an emotional seven-game battle to the Lightning in 2015. This will be a high-powered round of hockey as both teams pride themselves on offense. Victor Hedman keeps Auston Matthews in check, but Toronto’s other weapons are too much for the Bolts to handle. Leafs for the upset!

Maple Leafs in 6

M1 Columbus Blue Jackets vs. M2 Pittsburgh Penguins

Is the third time the charm for Columbus against Pittsburgh? The Jackets earn the right to home-ice advantage against their bitter rivals from the next state over, but the Penguins will be considered favorites for all intents and purposes. Columbus puts up a better fight than last year’s five-game bludgeoning, but the more experienced Penguins come away with the victory one more time.

Penguins in 6

 

Western Conference Semifinals

C1 Minnesota Wild vs. C2 St. Louis Blues

A rematch from last year’s first round, which the Blues won in five games despite Minnesota averaging 40 shots per game. Thank Jake Allen for that. This year, neither the shot differentials nor the series result will be lopsided. This is going to be a good, old-fashioned, black-and-blue Norris Division-type series. A year later, though, the Blues are still better built for playoff success.

Blues in 6

P1 Edmonton Oilers vs. P2 Anaheim Ducks

Another rematch of last year’s second round series, which Edmonton seemingly let slip away time after time. This time, as the favorite, the Oilers face some added pressure. Some of Anaheim’s core is aging, but a new crew of young forwards are on the way up to go along with great defense and goaltending. The Ducks complete the Alberta sweep again.

Ducks in 6

 

Eastern Conference Final

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M2 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. A3 Toronto Maple Leafs

This is probably exactly what the NHL wants. Ratings will be through the roof, but the series won’t be as exciting as billed. Toronto is built quite a bit like the Penguins, but it’s going to take a lopsided loss to knock the Leafs back to earth before they can take a run at the Cup. While the Leafs are fun to watch, they are no match for a much more experienced Pittsburgh team.

Penguins in 5

 

Western Conference Final

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P2 Anaheim Ducks vs. C2 St. Louis Blues

These teams are built fairly similarly as well, focused on defensive hockey and wearing down the opponent physically. The Blues may have an extremely slight goaltending edge, but they are weaker than the Ducks in every other department. Anaheim returns to the Final for the first time since 2007.

Ducks in 6

 

2018 Stanley Cup Final

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Four wins separate the Pittsburgh Penguins from the NHL’s first Stanley Cup three-peat since the Islanders won four straight Cups from 1980-83. Standing in their way this time is an Anaheim Ducks team that is quite different from the Penguins’ previous two opponents.

As where San Jose in 2016 and Nashville in 2017 were Cinderella stories in one way or another, the Ducks have been an established contender for years, excelling in doing the little things right like killing penalties and winning faceoffs.

The Penguins, on the other hand, just know how to win. Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust have become two more names that repeatedly come through in big situations, and by the time we get to June 2018, you better believe a few more names will emerge.

These two avian clubs will fight tooth-and-nail through the first four games, and the Penguins will pull one game away from a third-straight Cup by taking Game 5 at home.

And then…they will run out of gas.

Matt Murray won’t have the luxury of getting extra rest via a goalie platoon with Marc-Andre Fleury this year, and after three straight years of playing hockey into mid-June, it finally catches up to the Penguins.

John Gibson turns in two spectacular performances in Games 6 and 7, much like Fleury did against Detroit in 2009, while Anaheim’s offense breaks Murray.

Ducks in 7

 

Awards Nominees and Winners

Hart Trophy

Sidney Crosby
Auston Matthews
Connor McDavid

Winner: McDavid

 

Vezina Trophy

Jake Allen
Sergei Bobrovsky
Carey Price

Winner: Allen

 

Norris Trophy

Victor Hedman
Erik Karlsson
Duncan Keith

Winner: Hedman

 

Jack Adams Award

Bruce Boudreau
Joel Quenneville
John Tortorella

Winner: Quenneville