NHL Season Preview 2017/2018 - Western Conference

For the second part of NHL Season Preview 2017/2018, we take a look at the Western conference projections for the regular season. You can find the Eastern conference predictions here.

This is how the west is likely to look like after the regular season is finished:

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE

PLAYOFF

DIV.WIN

WINS

LINE

DIFF.

 

PTS

LINE

DIFF.

1.

Dallas Stars

96.37%

44.70%

51

43.5

7.5

 

110

97

13

2.

Anaheim Ducks

90.46%

23.91%

48

46

2

 

105

106

-1

3.

San Jose Sharks

82.99%

21.79%

46

43.5

2.5

 

102

96

6

4.

Edmonton Oilers

81.96%

21.92%

47

47.5

-0.5

 

102

104

-2

5.

Chicago Blackhawks

80.13%

13.47%

45

44.5

0.5

 

99

100.5

-1.5

6.

St. Louis Blues

77.66%

11.31%

44

44.5

-0.5

 

98

95

3

7.

Nashville Predators

76.07%

10.40%

44

44

0

 

98

97.5

0.5

8.

Winnipeg Jets

76.29%

10.58%

44

41.5

2.5

 

97

91.5

5.5

9.

Minnesota Wild

74.68%

9.53%

44

46.5

-2.5

 

97

96.5

0.5

10.

Calgary Flames

71.97%

16.69%

43

42.5

0.5

 

96

95

1

11.

Los Angeles Kings

64.33%

13.33%

41

40.5

0.5

 

92

89.5

2.5

12.

Vancouver Canucks

12.85%

1.23%

33

30.5

2.5

 

76

73

3

13.

Arizona Coyotes

11.87%

1.01%

32

33

-1

 

75

75

0

14.

Colorado Avalanche

2.13%

0.01%

28

29.5

-1.5

 

67

70.5

-3.5

15.

Vegas Golden Knights

0.24%

0.00%

25

26.5

-1.5

 

60

68

-8


One of the biggest disappointments last season, Dallas Stars are returning to the top this time around. They’ve acquired strong players to key positions, such as Ben Bishop in goal, Alexander Radulov in the offense and Marc Methot to strengthen the D. Especially the defense was suspect last season, but already the arrival of Ken Hitchcock as the head coach is likely to improve the defensive record.

Anaheim was one of the powerhouses last season and only fell in the conference finals against Nashville. They’re continuing where they left off and while there’s been some off-season injury problems for Ryan Kesler, Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm, they are still a strong and deep team.

San Jose struggled last season in the playoffs, but they had some remarkable injury problems. Stanley Cup finalists two seasons ago have a lot of experience mixed with upcoming talent. Joe Thornton is not getting any younger, but more can be expected from the supporting troops with healthy Joe Pavelski and Thomas Hertl leading the pack.

Edmonton Oilers, led by scoring leader Connor McDavid leapt into the playoffs already last season and ran circles around San Jose Sharks in the first round. Ducks proved too tough to handle in the 2nd round, but Oilers proved that they’re ready for big things. This season sees the young core one year more experienced and they should make playoffs with ease.

Ever so close and competitive western conference will once again provide excitement up to the final rounds of regular season. According to simulations, there are six teams hovering around the final playoff-spots inside three points.

Down the line we have the regular western conference powerhouses, Chicago, St. Louis and last years’ finalists Nashville. Chicago is led by the quintet of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford – and will take the playoff-berth without much trouble. St. Louis suffers from several injuries to begin the season, so they might have a rough start. Experienced team will however fight their way into the post-season.

Nashville boasts arguably the best defense in the NHL, despite losing Ryan Ellis to injury. Additions of Alexei Emelin, Nick Bonino and Scott Hartnell provide experience and grit, but there are some questions on offensive game-breakers.

Battle on the playoff-line is tough between last regular season’s no.2 Minnesota Wild and up-and-comers Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames. Wild’s roster is deep, but somewhat lacks the top-notch talent in scoring department. Mikael Granlund has the talent, but supporting players are more of the two-way specialists than scoring machines. While Eric Staal, Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise are elite players, their bread and butter is not exactly scoring.

Winnipeg Jets suffered last season from shaky defense and inconsistency – which is quite normal for young and inexperienced team. Paul Maurice’s squad is ready to take a step further and are a surprise addition to playoff-race in Accuscore simulations. Youngsters are more ready for the rigours of NHL hockey and players such as Patrik Laine, Nikolaj Ehlers and Josh Morrissey will thrive.

At the bottom of the table and pretty much outside of playoff-chances are struggling Colorado Avalanche, rebuilding Vancouver Canucks and newcomers Vegas. Arizona shows promise, but their lack of leading players leave them out of the playoff-race for the time being. Future is bright at the desert though.

Accuscore’s Western Conference Selections

Dallas Stars, over 97 points

After difficult last season Stars is very much undervalued here. They have one of the best top-lines and defense able to produce points. Ken Hitchcock will steer his ship to top of Western conference and breaking of 100 points is more than likely

Winnipeg Jets, over 91.5 points

Jets went on to finish with 87 points last season and they’re likely to be a lot better this season. With talented team filled with young guns, Paul Maurice has all the tools to challenge for the playoffs, which requires more than 92 points

San Jose Sharks, over 96 points

Sharks are underrated by many because of… lack of Patrick Marleau? They gathered 99 points last season and there’s no reason why they wouldn’t be able to repeat this year. It will be a close call, but taking more than 96 points is more likely than not

Minnesota Wild, under 46.5 wins

Wild was on fire in last regular season and took 49 wins. Bruce Boudreau’s honeymoon is over now and another disappointing playoff-run might show in less emphasis on the regular season. In simulations Wild might be a bit underrated, but taking less than 47 wins could still be enough for the playoffs.            

Colorado Avalanche, under 70.5 points

Avalanche was hands down the worst team of the league last season and not much has changed since. The defense is mediocre at best and despite talented forwards, Colorado is too easy to shut down. They took a measly 48 points last season so it seems like a stretch for them to be able to garner more than 70 this time around either. Even with Vegas to beat.