NHL Season Preview: The Predictions

Welcome to the NHL FanHouse 2008-09 season preview. While other sites are previewing "30 teams in 30 days," we decided to take advantage of the extra time off before the start of the season to bring you all 30 previews over the next three weeks. We're counting down in reverse order of finish from last season in each conference every weekday from now until October 3. Look for an Eastern Conference preview every morning and a Western Conference preview every afternoon. Click here to read them all.

It always seems like such a waste of time and energy, because they always end up being so wrong.

But that doesn't stop us from trying!

It's time to see how the NHL FanHouse panel voted on the upcoming season. I put the call out to my colleagues to submit predictions on the final regular-season standings, list their top eight for each conference, and give their picks on the major NHL award winners.

I also asked them to answer a very important question about the upcoming season.

The results of our little survey are after the jump.

First off, thanks to Eric McErlain, James Mirtle, Kevin Schultz, Earl Sleek, and J.P. Press for their kind participation.

We'll begin with the six divisions. Five points were given for a first-place vote, four for second, and so on. If a team got first-place votes, that number is in parentheses.

EASTERN CONFERENCE
Atlantic Division

1. Pittsburgh (2) - 25 points
2. Philadelphia (2) - 24
3. New Jersey (2) - 21
4. N.Y. Rangers - 14
5. N.Y. Islanders - 6

Northeast Division
1. Montreal (5) - 29 points
2. Buffalo (1) - 20
3. Ottawa - 18
4. Boston - 17
5. Toronto - 6

Southeast Division
1. Washington (6) - 30 points
2. Carolina - 21
3. Florida - 18
4. Tampa Bay - 15
5. Atlanta - 6

WESTERN CONFERENCE
Central Division

1. Detroit (6) - 30 points
2. Chicago - 22
3. Nashville - 17
4. Columbus - 12
5. St. Louis - 9

Northwest Division
1. Calgary (3) - 23 points
1 (tie). Minnesota (1) - 23
3. Edmonton (1) - 21
4. Colorado (1) - 15
5. Vancouver - 8

Pacific Division
1. San Jose (4) - 27 points
2. Dallas (2) - 24
3. Anaheim - 21
4. Phoenix - 12
5. Los Angeles - 6

As you can see, there are a couple of interesting notes here. The Northwest Division saw the least consensus of the divisions. Detroit and Washington are apparently safe bets for division titles. We also don't have a clue who will win the Atlantic. For all we know, it'll be the Rangers.

I also asked the crew to list a 1-8 for each conference. Based on a similar point system, here are the teams we think will make the playoffs. Remember, division winners are seeded 1-3, and we follow that formula here, even where it doesn't make mathematical sense.

EASTERN CONFERENCE
1. Montreal (3 votes for top seed) - 42 points
2. Washington - 40
3. Pittsburgh (1) - 31
4. New Jersey (1) - 30
5. Philadelphia (1) - 25
6. Buffalo - 17
7. Boston - 10
8. Ottawa - 8

Others receiving votes: N.Y. Rangers 7, Florida 4, Carolina 1, Tampa Bay 1

WESTERN CONFERENCE
1. Detroit (4 votes for top seed) - 46 points
2. San Jose - 39
3. Calgary - 20
4. Dallas - 31
5. Anaheim - 25
6. Minnesota - 17
6 (tie). Edmonton - 17
8. Chicago - 13

Others receiving votes: Colorado 7, Nashville 1

Now, we move on to the important matchups. Who does FanHouse see in the conference finals?

In the Eastern Conference, the consensus is a final between Washington and Montreal. Each team was picked to get at least this far by three of the six panelists. Buffalo, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh received two votes each.

Out West, it's not a consensus. Detroit, Dallas, and San Jose each got three votes to appear in the conference finals. Based on an arbitrarily chosen tiebreaker of "Who was picked to make the Stanley Cup Finals by more voters?", Detroit and San Jose advance. Anaheim received two votes, and Edmonton got one.

The Stanley Cup Finals will feature Detroit (three votes) against either Montreal or Philadelphia (two each). San Jose (two) and Dallas (one) also got votes as the Western Conference winner, while Buffalo and Washington each got a vote to win the East.

The individual awards are next.

Hart Trophy: Alexander Ovechkin 4 votes, Sidney Crosby 1, Evgeni Malkin 1, Mike Richards 1
Norris Trophy: Niklas Lidstrom 4 votes, Dion Phaneuf 1, Chris Pronger 1
Vezina Trophy: Evgeni Nabokov and Martin Brodeur 2 votes each, J.S. Giguere 1, Carey Price 1
Calder Trophy: Steven Stamkos 4 votes, Shawn Matthias 1, T.J. Oshie 1
Adams Award: Claude Julien 2 votes, Peter DeBoer 1, Guy Carbonneau 1, Todd McLellan 1, Craig MacTavish 1

Finally, the most important question of all:

Assuming a salary of $3.5 million, how much money will defenseman Jeff Finger cost the Toronto Maple Leafs for every point he scores this season?

$140,000 got two votes. One each for $318,000, $200,000, $125,000, and $116,666.66.

Good luck, Jeff.

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