THN experts predict 2014-15 NHL season

The Hockey News
Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews (Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

Every summer, THN’s editorial staff gathers together to make our collective picks for our annual Yearbook and Poolbook editions. But that doesn’t mean we all agree. We don’t. In some cases, our writers and editors disagree drastically with each other on how they see the coming NHL season playing out. To give you an idea, here are our staff members’ individual picks for the winners of each division, conference playoff finalists, and Stanley Cup champion:

THN_Expert_Picks_2014-15
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2014-15 NHL predictions: Standings, awards and Stanley Cup picks

The Hockey News
chicagoblackhawks

Weeks ago, the THN team gathered to debate and argue over the 2014-15 NHL standings as we went through the league team by team. We shared our final predictions in the annual Yearbook and ran individual breakdowns of each team over the past month. In our Season Preview magazine, we took it a step further and picked our winners for the major individual awards.

Here, on one easy page, are THN’s official predictions for the 2014-15 NHL season. Read more

THN’s top 200 fantasy players for 2014-15

Matt Larkin
Johnny Gaudreau's impressive pre-season has him shooting up the fantasy draft rankings, including THN's. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

Last chance to cram. The 2014-15 NHL season starts Wednesday, and a bunch of fantasy leagues still have drafting to do. I’m here to provide some 11th-hour help.

Most of what you need to know is in our crackerjack THN Ultimate Fantasy Guide, which is on newsstands now. You’ll even find a sorted list of the top 300 projected scorers.

One thing that list doesn’t cover, however, is any league not based entirely on points. What about the head-to-head formats in which you accumulate goaltending stats and penalty minutes on top of your offensive numbers? How do you know when to draft a goalie or defenseman over a forward?

I present to you a new ranking set. This list is based on a standard Yahoo head-to-head format with the following categories: goals, assists, plus-minus, penalty minutes, power play points, shots on goal, wins, goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts.

Personally, I like scrapping penalty minutes for hits and adding saves to the goalie category, but I’ll stick with the standard configuration to ensure these rankings have a wider reach. Let’s get it on!

OCT. 6 UPDATE: The pre-season winds down, and we’ve learned a few things, from injuries to projected line combinations to buzzy rookies. With those factors in mind, here are my final rankings for 2014-15 drafts.

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Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Drouin consensus fantasy hockey picks of expert panel

The Hockey News
Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby (Getty Images)

Fantasy hockey aficionados always have tons of questions about the NHL. So do people who work in the industry. That includes former players who, in their post-career days, became media analysts. THN canvassed a half-dozen of them in the off-season to answer 20 questions on a variety of fantasy-related topics.

1. What do you prefer: a straight points fantasy league or a head-to-head fantasy league with different stat categories?

Jeff O’Neill, analyst, TSN: Different stat categories. So many ways a player can show his importance.

Jamie McLennan, analyst, TSN: Straight points league.

Matthew Barnaby, TV/Radio analyst: Points. I like playing players as a whole, not a different team each week.

Mike Johnson, analyst, Sportsnet: Straight points. Easier to manage and follow.

P.J. Stock, analyst, Sportsnet: Straight forward points. The fewer math calculations I have to do…

Kevin Weekes, analyst, NHL Network: Head-to-head. It gives the players a more realistic feel.

2. What’s the earliest fantasy round you’d draft a goalie in?

O’Neill: Fourth round. I want to load up on studs.

McLennan: First round. Goalies always draft other goalies.

Barnaby: I never take a goalie early. Always look at about my seventh pick.

Johnson: Eighth round. You can find value in the depth around the league.

Stock: Late rounds. They are all so good.

Weekes: No limits. If he’s an impact player, why wouldn’t you pick him early?

3. Who wins the 2014-15 Art Ross Trophy?

O’Neill: Sid. He’s the one player in the league that beat everyone by 20 or more points.

McLennan: Crosby. I see him looking for redemption for his playoff failure.

Barnaby: Crosby. Won by almost 20 points last year and has more to prove.

Johnson: Sidney Crosby.

Stock: Crosby. Did it on injury-plagued team & should have no problem repeating.

Weekes: Steven Stamkos. Read more

Power ranking: The top 25 teams in college hockey

Ryan Kennedy
Can Minnesota win it all? (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

On Friday, I revealed my top 50 players to watch for in the NCAA this season. To complete the puzzle, I have now ranked the top 25 teams. More than any other circuit, college hockey has a strange duality. You have schools with rosters filled with NHL prospects, usually in their late teens or early 20s, and then there are other squads made up of 23 players who are 23 years old and have come together for one amazing season.

Some of the following teams had multiple entries on my top 50 players list, while others had none at all (and frankly didn’t come close). But they all have a shot at the national championship, so let’s give them their due.

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THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: Pittsburgh Penguins

The Hockey News
Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

2013-14 record: 51-24-7

Acquisitions: Steve Downie, Taylor Chorney, Christian Ehrhoff, Blake Comeau, Thomas Greiss, Patric Hornqvist, Nick Spaling

Departures: Lee Stempniak, Brian Gibbons, Chuck Kobasew, Harry Zolnierczyk, Matt Niskanen, Chris Conner, Brooks Orpik, Joe Vitale, Jussi Jokinen, Tanner Glass, Deryk Engelland, James Neal

Top five fantasy options: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, Kris Letang, Patric Hornqvist

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: Once again the Penguins are blessed with two of the best players in the world up front in centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. In any given year, both are a threat for the Hart and Art Ross Trophies and provide matchup nightmares for opponents. Read more

THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: Boston Bruins

The Hockey News
The Boston Bruins celebrate. (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

2013-14 record: 54-19-9

Acquisitions: None

Departures: Chad Johnson, Shawn Thornton, Andrej Meszaros, Jarome Iginla

Top five fantasy players: David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic, Reilly Smith

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: When you were the NHL’s best team last season and are bringing back every cornerstone of that team, you have every confidence you’re going to enjoy similar success when the next season begins. Read more

Top 10 Hart Trophy candidates for 2014-15

Matt Larkin
Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are again leading candidates to win the Hart. (Getty Images)

The Hart Trophy debate is my favorite of the Great Hockey Debates, largely because nobody knows what the award truly means.

By definition, the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association votes for “the player judged to be most valuable to his team.” It’s debatable whether that happens. Last year, it’s safe to say the Penguins would’ve gone nowhere without Sidney Crosby. But was any player more valuable to his team the year before than John Tavares, who almost singlehandedly took the Islanders to the playoffs? He finished third in the vote, with the Hart going to the defensively deficient but offensively potent Alex Ovechkin.

More often that not, the Hart skews toward prolific point totals, so keep in mind that my top 10 Hart candidates for 2014-15 factor in that common bias. Sorry, Patrice Bergeron and Anze Kopitar.

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