Accuscore's NHL Season Preview 2016/17

By Tomi Rantanen

A New NHL Season Drawing Near

The NHL season 2016/2017 is already upon us, with World Cup done and training camps dusted. It’s been a short summer for the best of the best, with last season’s finals lasting until June and the World Cup matches already starting in early September. Again, after 82 regular season games we know for sure which teams will make it to the post season, but why wait.

With Accuscore simulations we can predict the outcome of the regular season before it has even started. Based on statistical data and complex mathematical formulas, the supercomputer simulates each game for approx. 10 000 times and spits out the most likely result.

Here is how the simulations predict the final standings:

WESTERN CONFERENCE

 

EASTERN CONFERENCE

DIVISION

TEAM

PTS_F

LINE

 

DIVISION

TEAM

PTS_F

LINE

Central

Dallas Stars

110

98.5

 

Metropolitan

Pittsburgh Penguins

111

106.5

Central

Chicago Blackhawks

106

101.5

 

Metropolitan

Washington Capitals

108

106.5

Pacific

San Jose Sharks

99

100.5

 

Atlantic

Tampa Bay Lightning

101

105.5

Pacific

Edmonton Oilers

94

87.5

 

Atlantic

Detroit Red Wings

99

89.5

Central

Nashville Predators

93

99.5

 

Metropolitan

New York Rangers

96

95.5

Central

Minnesota Wild

92

93.5

 

Metropolitan

Philadelphia Flyers

92

92.5

Pacific

Calgary Flames

90

89.5

 

Atlantic

Florida Panthers

91

96.5

Pacific

Anaheim Ducks

89

95.5

 

Atlantic

Montreal Canadiens

89

95.5

Central

Colorado Avalanche

87

88.5

 

Atlantic

Boston Bruins

89

93.5

Pacific

Vancouver Canucks

85

78.5

 

Atlantic

Toronto Maple Leafs

88

81.5

Central

Winnipeg Jets

85

88.5

 

Metropolitan

New York Islanders

87

95.5

Central

St. Louis Blues

83

101.5

 

Atlantic

Ottawa Senators

84

84.5

Pacific

Los Angeles Kings

83

97.5

 

Metropolitan

New Jersey Devils

80

85.5

Pacific

Arizona Coyotes

65

79.5

 

Metropolitan

Columbus Blue Jackets

78

84.5

         

Metropolitan

Carolina Hurricanes

78

81.5

         

Atlantic

Buffalo Sabres

74

86.5

 

As usual, the season forecast includes plenty of surprises and controversy. The biggest upsets can be found in the Western Conference, with last season’s playoff-teams St. Louis Blues and especially Los Angeles Kings succumbing to outsiders this season. Edmonton on the other hand has finally made the right moves during the summer and is making the playoffs for the first time since the visit at the finals in 2006.

St. Louis let go of their captain David Backes and league leader in save percentage Brian Elliott, while Nail Yakupov and David Perron have joined the team’s offensive ranks. Goal-scoring might still be an issue for the Blues and the secondary scoring – as well as Jake Allen as no.1 goalie –  needs to step up in order to prove the simulations wrong.

Los Angeles Kings have grinded through the regular season routinely without really impressing for some time now. It was not a big surprise that they were ousted last season in the first round of playoffs. The simulations indicate the downward spiral to continue.

Young guns in Edmonton are finally likely to realize their potential, with Connor McDavid leading the troops. Defensive acquisitions have balanced the top-heavy lineup and there were some positives already last season, until McDavid got injured. Milan Lucic adds much needed grit and experience into the top six and while Nail Yakupov became a lost asset, there’s plenty of competition for those top lines.

In the East it is mostly business as usual, but not quite. New York Islanders is predicted to miss the playoffs, albeit only by the skin of their teeth. Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers seem to hold on to their legacy, especially the former being somewhat of a surprise. Old habits die hard, apparently.

The Islanders played some top notch ice hockey last season, but yet are excluded from the playoffs in the simulations. Losing Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo and Matt Martin among others seem to have paid its toll and the replacements such as Jason Chimera and Andrew Ladd can’t fill the shoes. It all comes down to more competitive Eastern Conference, which is closer than ever especially around the mid-table.

Which makes it even more impressive if Detroit Red Wings make the playoffs once again as predicted. They’ve lost Pavel Datsyuk, the Swedish trio of Zetterberg, Kronwall and Franzen are all suffering from injuries (and are, well, old) and there’ve not been remarkable acquisitions off season. But Red Wings have always been better than the names on the lineup would suggest, and such seems to be the case this year. Dylan Larkin and Tomas Tatar continue their rise, while Danny DeKeyser, Alexei Marchenko and Xavier Ouellet step up to the challenge and build a wall around Peter Mrazek’s net.

Season Futures – Picks

Edmonton Oilers – Over 87.5

High expectations once again at the Oiler camp, but this time it all makes sense – the biggest flaws have been fixed and playoffs are a clear and realistic goal for the young but hungry team. If McDavid stays healthy and goaltenders will not fail completely, here’s your dark horse for the season.

New Jersey Devils – Under 85.5

The Devils offense looks weak even with the acquisition of Taylor Hall, which then left a gaping, Adam Larsson-size of a hole in the defense. Devils are decent in all aspects of the game, but this year the East is tougher to play against and there will not be a lot of winning in New Jersey. Expect a lot of low scoring defeats.

Toronto Maple Leafs – Over 81.5

The rebuilding Leafs are not yet ready for playoff-hockey, but are on the schedule. Auston Matthews can make an instant impact, among other youngsters William Nylander and Mitchell Marner. Mike Babcock knows how to squeeze the best out of his team and Toronto are likely to upset plenty of favorites this season.

St. Louis Blues & Los Angeles Kings – Under 101.5 and 97.5

Both teams are generally expected to make the playoffs – but both are left out by the simulations. Be it the lack of production from all the four lines or the defensive mentality of the teams, but Accuscore simulations predict both of them to struggle during the regular season. This might well be the case, since the Kings seem stagnant at the moment without any real desperation and the Blues have had shorter than usual summer and a couple of negative changes in the lineup.