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NHL predictions 2022-23: Final standings, awards, playoff projections, Stanley Cup pick

Sporting News 10/7/2022 Bryan Murphy
© Provided by Sporting News

It's finally here. The 2022-23 NHL season is upon us, as 32 teams begin their quest for the Stanley Cup. 

It was quite the offseason in the NHL. Teams like the Senators and Red Wings made some strong acquisitions to their squads as they look to exit their respective rebuilds. The Blackhawks look to be jumping all aboard the Connor Bedard tank train. And of course, the perennial Cup contenders like the Oilers, Avalanche, Lightning and Hurricanes all made some tweaks to their personnel. 

There remains a ton of questions as we head into the regular season that have yet to be answered, but time will soon tell. Will the Avalanche repeat as Cup champions? Can Auston Matthews win a third consecutive Rocket Richard? Is anyone stopping Connor McDavid's bid for another Art Ross?

The Sporting News dives into its predictions for the upcoming NHL season, including award selections and a Stanley Cup Final pick. 

MORE: Key dates, divisions and more for 2022-23 hockey season

SN's NHL award predictions for 2022-23

Award Winner
Hart Cale Makar, Avalanche
Vezina Juuse Saros, Predators
Art Ross Connor McDavid, Oilers
Rocket Richard Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs
Norris Cale Makar, Avalanche
Calder Matty Beniers, Kraken
Selke Aleksander Barkov, Panthers
Jack Adams Gerard Gallant, Rangers

MORE: The NHL's 25 highest-paid players in 2022-23

SN's NHL standings predictions for 2022-23

Eastern Conference

Despite the waves that teams like the Senators and Red Wings made this offseason, it's not enough in a tough Atlantic Division. In fact, the only real difference between last year and the prediction for this upcoming season is that the Islanders make the playoffs while the Capitals miss out. The Maple Leafs not only win the Atlantic but also grab the Presidents' Trophy for the best record in the regular season. 

 
Atlantic Division Metropolitan Division Wild cards
A1. Toronto Maple Leafs* M1. New York Rangers W1. New York Islanders 
A2. Tampa Bay Lightning M2. Carolina Hurricanes W2. Boston Bruins
A3. Florida Panthers  M3. Pittsburgh Penguins

Atlantic Division: 5. Ottawa Senators; 6. Detroit Red Wings; 7. Buffalo Sabres; 8. Montreal Canadiens

Metropolitan Division: 5. Washington Capitals; 6. Columbus Blue Jackets; 7. New Jersey Devils; 8. Philadelphia Flyers

*Presidents' Trophy winner

Western Conference

Welcome back, Vegas! Like the Eastern Conference, not many changes in the playoff picture out in the West from last season. After a down year, the Golden Knights get back to the postseason and the Stars are the one team missing the cut after making the playoffs in 2022. The Avalanche repeat as Central Division champs, the Oilers take over as the top dogs in the Pacific and the Predators take a leap forward after re-signing Filip Forsberg and adding Ryan McDonagh and Nino Niederreiter this summer. 

 
Central Division Pacific Division Wild cards
C1. Colorado Avalanche P1. Edmonton Oilers W1. Minnesota Wild
C2. Nashville Predators P2. Calgary Flames W2. Los Angeles Kings
C3. St. Louis Blues P3. Vegas Golden Knights

Central Division: 5. Winnipeg Jets; 6. Dallas Stars; 7. Arizona Coyotes; 8. Chicago Blackhawks

Pacific Division: 5. Vancouver Canucks; 6. Anaheim Ducks; 7. San Jose Sharks; 8. Seattle Kraken

MORE: Ranking the NHL's top 20 centers for the 2022-23 season

SN's NHL Stanley Cup playoffs predictions

It's way too early to predict a Stanley Cup winner. So naturally, here at The Sporting News, we are predicting the entire postseason. 

Here is how we see the Stanley Cup playoffs playing out including our pick to win it all.

Eastern Conference

First round

Matchup Winner
Maple Leafs (A1) vs. Bruins (W2) Maple Leafs
Lightning (A2) vs. Panthers (A3) Panthers
Rangers (M1) vs. Islanders (W1) Islanders
Hurricanes (M2) vs. Penguins (M3) Hurricanes

Second round

Matchup Winner
Maple Leafs (A1) vs. Panthers (A3) Maple Leafs
Hurricanes (M2) vs. Islanders (W1) Hurricanes

Conference final

Matchup Winner
Maple Leafs (A1) vs. Hurricanes (M2) Hurricanes

Western Conference

First round

Matchup Winner
Oilers (P1) vs. Wild (W2) Oilers
Flames (P2) vs. Golden Knights (P3) Flames
Avalanche (C1) vs. Kings (W1) Avalanche
Predators (C2) vs. Blues (C3) Predators

Second round

Matchup Winner
Oilers (P1) vs. Flames (P2) Flames
Avalanche (C1) vs. Predators (C2) Avalanche

Conference final

Matchup Winner
Avalanche (C1) vs. Flames (P2) Flames

Stanley Cup Final

We are a long way away from the Stanley Cup Final, but the Flames and Hurricanes were two of the best defensive teams in hockey last season and each got better this offseason. Carolina made two of the best trades in the offseason, acquiring Brent Burns and Max Pacioretty to help on the offensive side of things. The Flames, while losing Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk, landed Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar in the Tkachuk trade and then signed Nazem Kadri.

MORE: Ranking the NHL's top 10 goalies for the 2022-23 season

Of course, the biggest factors for each team are the goaltenders, as Frederik Andersen and Jacob Markstrom will be key for their respective clubs to get deep into the postseason. 

Matchup Winner
Flames vs. Hurricanes Hurricanes

Conn Smythe: Frederik Andersen, Hurricanes

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