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Friedman’s Five – 10/2/15

As hockey season approaches, it's time to make some bold predictions. With that, let's get going with the first Friedman's Five of the 2015-16 campaign. Here's what's on my mind:

NHL: SEP 30 Preseason - Capitals at Hurricanes



 They were already well-rounded and well-coached, as they demonstrated last season, but now they've bolstered the roster by adding T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams. I think the Caps have what it takes to not only dethrone the Rangers in the Metro Division, but to win the Stanley Cup. It's the best supporting cast Alex Ovechkin's ever had, and it might just be the best one he ever gets in Washington. 


While the Caps are trending upwards, the B's are heading in the opposite direction. They've shed themselves of some key players, including Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and didn't do much to replace either one. But now that the dust has settled, you look at the Bruins' roster and, at least to me, it's still capable of getting them to the playoffs.

They've got Tuuka Rask in net. They've got Patrice Bergeron, David Krecji, Loui Eriksson, David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Matt Beleskey up front, as well as Ryan Spooner and Brett Connolly -- both of whom have a chance to be solid producers. They've got Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug and Dennis Seidenberg on defense, with the respectably solid Adam McQuaid complimenting those three. Maybe Joe Morrow breaks through and does some good.

There's enough here to propel Boston into the first round of the playoffs. Beyond that? Probably not, but I think they can certainly make the cut. 


Now, before you cry blasphemy, hear me out. I know that many have already pegged them as the team to watch in the East this season, largely due to their strong finish last year. There's plenty to like about the Jackets, but there's also a lot of cause for concern. 

The only three sure-fire point-producing forwards on the team are Ryan Johansen, Scott Hartnell and Brandon Saad. Now, maybe Alex Wennberg works himself into that mix, maybe Nick Foligno mirrors his 73-point performance from last season (unlikely, in this writer's opinion). Maybe Brandon Dubinksy finds his way back to the 50-point mark, and I think it'll be a few years before Kerby Rychel or Boone Jenner become solid producers. 

Columbus's defense is filled with question marks. Jack Johnson -- who took quite a few steps back last season -- leads the way, and if he can stay healthy, Ryan Murray should be the other anchor on that blueline. Other than that, you're looking at the dependable Fedor Tyutin and hoping David Savard improves upon his very solid 2014-15 season. Kevin Connauton is talented, but still fairly unproven. Things could really go either way defensively for this team.

Of course, you have Sergei Bobrovsky between the pipes, which could negate most defensive issues that arise.

I'm just not sold on them. They're alright, they've undoubtedly got some guys who can play, but in a very tight Metro Division, I'm not sure they're beating out the Islanders or Penguins. They're certainly not passing the Rangers or Capitals.


You want a team to watch? Keep your eyes on the Calgary Flames, who are out to prove that last season wasn't a fluke. They've got the right cast to do it, too. Their defense might be the best in the West, now that Dougie Hamilton's in the mix. Their offense will only get better, as both Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau continue to mature and as Sam Bennett joins the fray for his first full NHL season. Jonas Hiller between the pipes is the only concern here, but I've always seen him as a competitor. He'll be fine, especially with that brick wall Calgary's built on the blueline in front of him.


It seems like a rare feat these days, but I think you'll see scoring numbers pick up this year, and I think the switch to 3-on-3 OT could have something to do with that. It also depends on player health, because if Sidney Crosby can stay out of the infirmary, he's picking up 100. If Connor McDavid is as good as everyone thinks he is, he could get 100 (it's not crazy; Crosby did it and McDavid's been compared to him). If Jonathan Drouin breaks out in Tampa, Steven Stamkos could reach 100 points. John Tavares keeps trending upwards -- maybe he finds a way. I think the NHL's power outage is coming to an end in 2015-16.