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10 Bold NHL Predictions for 2024, including the Vezina Trophy staying in Boston

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Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

With 2023 officially coming to an end, it’s a perfect time to make some bold NHL predictions for 2024.

It was a wild and crazy year for the NHL in 2023, with Connor McDavid becoming the first player in decades to score 150 points while the Vegas Golden Knights captured their first Stanley Cup championship.

Related: Neck Guards Now Mandatory In International Hockey

Meanwhile, we witnessed the debut of Connor Bedard, and the Boston Bruins compiled the best regular season in league history. As we patiently wait for Alex Ovechkin to get going and chase down Wayne Gretzky’s goal record, there are still plenty of things to get excited about in the new year. So, with that in mind, here are 10 NHL predictions for the league in 2024.

Edmonton Oilers miss playoffs, and Connor McDavid doesn’t win the Art Ross Trophy

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At 26 years old, McDavid is in his prime, but the Edmonton Oilers are not a playoff-caliber team and will waste another season of the game’s best player’s career. Despite the poor start, including McDavid only netting 16 points in the first 16 games, he’s got a long way to go to catching Nikita Kucherov and Nathan MacKinnon for the NHL scoring title. At the same time, the Oilers scramble to get back into the wild-card race.

Related: Senators Fire Head Coach D.J. Smith

Vegas Golden Knights will advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for a second consecutive season

There’s no denying that the Vegas Golden Knights are one of the greatest expansion teams in professional sports history, and this unprecedented run will continue when the franchise defends its Stanley Cup championship by advancing to its third Finals appearance since 2018. Even though they are favorites to repeat, it is almost impossible in today’s NHL, with only the Pittsburgh Penguins achieving the feat this century.

Eastern Conference Final will be an ‘Original Six’ matchup

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After compiling the best statistical season of all time, the Bruins bombed out of the playoffs in the first round last year. But with less pressure this season, they remain in a fight with the New York Rangers for the best record in the Eastern Conference. Ultimately, if the stars align, these two Original Six franchises will meet in the Eastern Conference Final, marking the first playoff series between the clubs since 2012-13.

Boston Bruins retain the Vezina Trophy with a historic win

Last year, Linus Ullmark won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goalie while sharing the Willam M. Jennings Trophy with Jeremy Swayman. Right now, Swayman is one of the best statistical netminders in the league, and the Bruins could become just the third team in NHL history to win the Vezina Trophy in back-to-back years, but with two different goalies.

Colorado Avalanche celebrate another Art Ross Trophy winner

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In their illustration history, which includes three Stanley Cup championships, the Colorado Avalanche have only one player (Peter Forsberg) win the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer. However, that will change at the end of 2023-24 when MacKinnon finishes the regular season with more points than any skater. As one of the game’s premier players, he’s never considered one of the best, but that discussion will change after this year.

It is going to be a wild NHL Trade Deadline

Many playoff bubble teams in the NHL need additional scoring or an upgrade between the pipes. As the league lifts the roster freeze after the holiday break, the rumors will pick up with teams like the Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, and Oilers in the discussions surrounding their goaltender situations. Ultimately, many players will be on the move in March, and many deals will involve netminders.

Arizona Coyotes qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2019

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At the end of 2023, the Arizona Coyotes still play in a college arena and remain without a future home despite the best efforts of ownership to secure a deal for a new facility. However, the on-ice product has improved dramatically, with the team holding a wild card position heading into 2024. Even though it is still early, the Coyotes are a young team with some veterans helping lead a turnaround ahead of schedule, eventually laying the foundation for a successful future in the desert.

More NHL head coaches will be fired

Since the summer, there have been five NHL head coaching changes, with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Oilers, Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues, and Ottawa Senators finding new voices to lead their clubs. Considering how much the Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes have struggled to stay in the playoff race, both head coaches are on the hot seat. They could be unemployed sooner rather than later, depending on how their teams perform for the remainder of the season.

A Canadian team will advance to the final four

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There are three NHL teams in the top half of the league, with the Vancouver Canucks contending for the Presidents’ Trophy and the Winnipeg Jets challenging for the Central Division title. Despite facing more formidable opponents in the West, the Canucks and Jets employ contending lineups that will allow one of them to advance to the Western Conference Final.

NHL predictions: Draft Lottery winner will bring more bad press for the league

The Chicago Blackhawks won the most recent draft lottery, securing the rights to select first in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, grabbing generational talent Connor Bedard. Unfortunately, the franchise was recently in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, including sexual assault lawsuits, but got rewarded with a star to rebuild with. The Blackhawks are the second-worst team in the league and have already had headline-grabbing troubles this year, overshadowing Bedard’s early successes.

However, they are not alone at the bottom, with the San Jose Sharks having one of the worst seasons of the league history and could end up with the best eligible prospect after such a terrible season. Meanwhile, the Columbus Blue Jackets are also in the running for the top draft pick and had some coaching issues last summer, which led to more bad headlines for the league. Although it won’t be a pretty finish to the season for any of these clubs, whoever wins the NHL Draft Lottery will again have some skeletons in their closet thrust into the national spotlight.

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