There are few postseason tournaments that bring the same kind of excitement and unpredictability of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Often the Cup is taken home by one of the top teams from the regular season, but in the past decade alone a sixth seed, a seventh seed and an eighth seed have all gotten within one win of hoisting Stanley. In 2010, the seventh-seeded Flyers didn't clinch a playoff berth until the final day of the season and wound up two wins shy of their first championship in 35 years.
To be sure, the NHL.com Re-Draft is not reality, but in our brand of preseason make-believe there is some borrowing from the real world in the form of upsets. In EA SPORTS' simulation of the NHL.com Re-Draft, seven different series ended with the lower seed advancing, including four in the first round alone. Each conference features a potential Cinderella run and the Stanley Cup Final pits two recent champions against each other in a series that goes the distance.
In sports, there are all manner of prognosticators who will attempt to pick the winners for the regular season. Some years that can go pretty well; others, well, not so good.
The same goes for NHL.com's first ever league Re-Draft, our late-summer idea of fun on simulated ice. Take a cursory glance at the rosters selected by our 15 staffers, guess at who will and won't fare the best during an NHL season, then measure your predictive madness against the results once games are played.
Shortly after the rush of free agency in early July, the NHL offseason's pace becomes, well, more family skate than all-out playoff shift.
But that doesn't mean we stop thinking about hockey. In fact, the brain can wander pretty deep into the forest of sticks and pucks. One question that comes to mind: What would happen if every team in the NHL had to start from scratch? What if every single player no longer had a team to call home -- but had their current contract -- and the League had to have a draft to fill out their 23-man rosters for the upcoming season?
We figured it would be fun to answer the muse: So in late July, 15 NHL staffers gathered in a conference room at NHL headquarters and redrafted the entire League.
Experts, pundits, analysts and the guy who cuts your hair all believe they can predict what will happen in an upcoming in NHL season with perfect precision. Of course, despite years of information and knowledge about the teams, very few come close to being right about their prognostications.
That makes predicting the outcome of this Fantasy Re-Draft make-believe league simulated on EA '12 anywhere from laughable to ridiculous to downright impossible. That doesn't mean fun can't be had trying.
After going over all 30 rosters, here is how everything will shake out after the simulation is run. Check out NHL.com Aug. 30 and 31 to see if these predictions with EA's results of the simulated season.
You know what? We've played in some pretty special buildings along this playoff run so far. You start in Detroit, you go to Montreal, you come here … I think it's the first team to beat three Original Six teams to get to the Final if I'm not mistaken. That says how tough the road has been. Those are tough places to win.
— Lightning forward Steven Stamkos after Game 7 win vs. Rangers on Friday in New York