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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, February 26, 2024

In the Crease: More NHL standings predictions

Edition seven: Ducks, Flames, Oilers and Kings.

FIXED graphic for Zach Gerson's column "In The Crease"

Graphic by Richie Han Kyaw

Headline: In the Crease: More NHL standings predictions

Subheadline: Edition eight: Sharks, Kraken, Canucks and Golden Knights.

Author: Zachary Gerson

The San Jose Sharks lost their first 11 games of the season, which is symbolic of their expectations for the 2023-24 season. The Sharks are clearly in a rebuilding phase, and many consider them to be the least talented team in the NHL. The Sharks’ two most noticeable players are forwards Anthony Duclair and William Eklund, but besides them, the club lacks any players that catch hockey fans’ attention. The defensive core lacks NHL-level experience, and the goaltending situation is not good, as MacKenzie Blackwood currently serves as the team’s starting goaltender. All in all, the Sharks have a lot of work to do throughout their rebuild and will not come in the vicinity of a playoff appearance this season.

Sharks prediction: No playoff berth (No. 8 in Pacific Division, 60 points)

Coming off a great second year in the NHL, the Seattle Kraken are looking to build on last season’s success for this season, their third year in the league. The Kraken have a good, but not great, forward core, headlined by Jordan Eberle, Matty Beniers, Jared McCann and Brandon Tanev. The defensive core, outside of Vince Dunn, is nothing to write home about, and starting goaltender Philipp Grubauer is a bit streaky, but when on top of his game is a very good performer. Last season, especially in the playoffs, we saw how good the Kraken can be when they play to their identity. However, I have the Kraken just missing the playoffs.

Kraken prediction: No playoff berth (No. 5 in Pacific Division, 92 points)

The Vancouver Canucks have had a fabulous start to the season, and I expect that level of performance to continue. The Canucks are led by superstar forward Elias Pettersson and superstar defenseman Quinn Hughes, both of whom have elite scoring and playmaking abilities and are among the best at what they do. In addition, the Canucks have other very good players such as forwards J.T. Miller, Andrei Kuzmenko and Brock Boeser. Of course, we cannot forget about superstar goaltender Thatcher Demko, who has arguably been the best goalie so far this season. After a few difficult years, the Canucks are finally destined for a successful season and ultimately a playoff berth.

Canucks prediction: Playoff berth (No. 3 in Pacific Division, 99 points)

The defending Stanley Cup champions Vegas Golden Knights have arguably the best and most well-balanced roster in the NHL. It starts with the forward group, especially star forwards Jack Eichel, Mark Stone and Ian Barbashev. Role forwards, also good players such as William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault contribute a great deal to Vegas’ success. The defensive core is just average, but they play with great structure and composure, which is a big part of the team’s success. The Golden Knights are a lock for a playoff berth, and it would not be surprising if they make another deep run this spring.

Golden Knights prediction: Playoff berth (No. 1 in Pacific Division, 113 points)