All-Star Break Review & Predictions


The Tampa Bay Lightning are the NHL's best team just over halfway through the season. (John Woods/Associated Press)

By Chris Hennessy

The All-Star Break is upon us in the NHL and, considering I was not writing for the Ram at the beginning of the season, I figured I’d get on the record with my trophy and playoff predictions for the rest of the season. Here’s who I think will win the major trophies, each division and the conference championships come season’s end.

HART: Nikita Kucherov – Tampa Bay Lightning – The best player on a great team, and arguably one of the top five players in the world right now. Kucherov should have won the Hart over Taylor Hall last year, but he will get his justice this year following another remarkable season.

VEZNIA: Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets – This one could go a lot of different ways, but Hellebuyck has proven over the last two seasons that he is one of the top goaltenders in the league and will get that recognition. Andrei Vasilevskiy and Pekka Rinne have put up good season, as usual, but Hellebuyck will walk away with the hardware.

CALDER: Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks – It’s not even close. Number one pick Rasmus Dahlin will get some votes but Pettersson will win if he stays healthy. Pettersson and Brock Boeser, who finished second in the Calder race last year, provide a good base for the Canucks’ rebuild moving forward.

NORRIS: Erik Karlson, San Jose Sharks – He has been the league’s top defenseman for the last four to five years and only has two Norris’ to show for it. Justice will be served big time this year.

JACK ADAMS: Barry Trotz, New York Islanders – Nothing can describe how different the Islanders look compared to last year. This year, the accountability and discipline that Trotz has implemented have worked wonders and have the Isles in first place.

Division Winners
Metropolitan: Washington Capitals – The defending champs will figure it out coming out of the All-Star Break. They went into the break on a seven-game losing streak which will not last much longer, just like the first place New York Islanders.

Atlantic: Tampa Bay Lightning – It won’t be very close either. Toronto is a good team, but Tampa has played at just a different level this season. They will also win the President’s Trophy for most standings points in the regular season.

Central: Winnipeg Jets – In case you couldn’t tell from my trophy picks, I like the Jets a lot. Hellebuyck and Laine will get hot, and the stellar supporting cast will carry them to the top of the Western Conference at the end of the regular season.

Pacific: Calgary Flames – They won’t stay as hot as they are now, but the Flames will win the division over the Sharks, which no one predicted at the beginning of the season. They are a fun team to watch and will be for years to come.

Western Conference Final: Winnipeg over San Jose in six games
Eastern Conference Final: Tampa Bay over Pittsburgh in seven games
Stanley Cup: Winnipeg over Tampa in 6 games