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Stanley Cup predictions for 2021-22 NHL season

Avalanche, Golden Knights, Islanders favorites among NHL.com staff preseason picks

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

The Colorado Avalanche have not gotten past the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs since the 2001-02 season, but they will win the Stanley Cup this season, according to a panel of NHL.com writers and editors. 

Nine of the 16 NHL.com staffers who made their predictions for the 2021-22 NHL season believe the Avalanche win their first championship since the 2000-01 season, and eight of them say center Nathan MacKinnon will be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy voted as most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The other Colorado Conn Smythe pick went to forward Gabriel Landeskog.

The Vegas Golden Knights, who defeated the Avalanche in the second round of the playoffs last season, were picked by three staff members to win the Cup, and the New York Islanders, who have been defeated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the semifinal round for two straight seasons, were picked by two staffers.

The Lightning, who are trying to win the Cup for the third straight season, and the Toronto Maple Leafs, who haven't won the Cup since 1967, each were picked by one staff member to win the Cup.

Vegas forward Mark Stone received three votes for the Conn Smythe. Others receiving votes were goalie Ilya Sorokin and forward Mathew Barzal of the Islanders, forward Nikita Kucherov of the Lightning and forward Auston Matthews of the Maple Leafs.

The 2021-22 NHL season will feature 32 teams, with the Seattle Kraken playing their inaugural season. The NHL, which realigned last season because of travel complications brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, will go back to its previous four-division, two-conference format -- Metropolitan, Atlantic in the Eastern Conference, Central and Pacific in the Western Conference. The Kraken will play in the Pacific, and the Arizona Coyotes will move from the Pacific to the Central.

The top three teams in each division and two wild cards in each conference will qualify for the playoffs. 

With the season set to begin Tuesday, here are the picks of the NHL.com writers and editors:

 

Amalie Benjamin, staff writer

Atlantic Division

1: Toronto Maple Leafs | 2: Tampa Bay Lightning | 3: Boston Bruins

Metropolitan Division

1: New York Islanders | 2: Carolina Hurricanes | 3: Washington Capitals

Eastern Conference wild cards

1: Florida Panthers | 2: Philadelphia Flyers

Central Division

1: Colorado Avalanche | 2: Dallas Stars | 3: Winnipeg Jets

Pacific Division

1: Vegas Golden Knights | 2: Calgary Flames | 3: Edmonton Oilers

Western Conference wild cards

1: Minnesota Wild | 2: St. Louis Blues

Conference champions

East: Toronto Maple Leafs

West: Vegas Golden Knights

Stanley Cup champion: Vegas Golden Knights

Conn Smythe Trophy winner: Mark Stone, Vegas Golden Knights 

Video: Vegas Golden Knights 2021-22 Season Preview

 

Tim Campbell, staff writer

Atlantic Division

1: Tampa Bay Lightning | 2: Florida Panthers | 3: Boston Bruins

Metropolitan Division

1: Carolina Hurricanes | 2: New York Islanders | 3: Washington Capitals

Eastern Conference wild cards

1: Philadelphia Flyers | 2: Toronto Maple Leafs

Central Division

1: Colorado Avalanche | 2: Winnipeg Jets | 3: St. Louis Blues

Pacific Division

1: Vegas Golden Knights | 2: Edmonton Oilers | 3: Los Angeles Kings

Western Conference wild cards

1: Dallas Stars | 2: Minnesota Wild

Conference champions

East: Carolina Hurricanes

West: Colorado Avalanche

Stanley Cup champion: Colorado Avalanche

Conn Smythe Trophy winner: Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche 

 

Brian Compton, deputy managing editor

Atlantic Division

1: Florida Panthers | 2: Tampa Bay Lightning | 3: Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan Division

1: New York Islanders | 2: Carolina Hurricanes | 3: Washington Capitals

Eastern Conference wild cards

1: Boston Bruins | 2: Pittsburgh Penguins

Central Division

1: Colorado Avalanche | 2: Winnipeg Jets | 3: Minnesota Wild

Pacific Division

1: Vegas Golden Knights | 2: Edmonton Oilers | 3: Calgary Flames

Western Conference wild cards

1: St. Louis Blues | 2: Vancouver Canucks

Conference champions

East: New York Islanders

West: Winnipeg Jets

Stanley Cup champion: New York Islanders

Conn Smythe Trophy winner: Ilya Sorokin, New York Islanders 

 

Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist

Atlantic Division

1: Florida Panthers | 2: Tampa Bay Lightning | 3: Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan Division

1: New York Islanders | 2: Carolina Hurricanes | 3: Washington Capitals

Eastern Conference wild cards

1: Pittsburgh Penguins | 2: Boston Bruins

Central Division

1: Colorado Avalanche | 2: Minnesota Wild | 3: Dallas Stars

Pacific Division

1: Vegas Golden Knights | 2: Edmonton Oilers | 3: Vancouver Canucks

Western Conference wild cards

1: Chicago Blackhawks | 2: St. Louis Blues

Conference champions

East: New York Islanders

West: Colorado Avalanche

Stanley Cup champion: Colorado Avalanche

Conn Smythe Trophy winner: Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche

 

William Douglas, staff writer

Atlantic Division

1: Tampa Bay Lightning | 2: Boston Bruins | 3: Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan Division

1: New York Islanders | 2: Washington Capitals | 3: Philadelphia Flyers

Eastern Conference wild cards

1: Florida Panthers | 2: Carolina Hurricanes

Central Division

1: Colorado Avalanche | 2: St. Louis Blues | 3: Dallas Stars

Pacific Division

1: Vegas Golden Knights | 2: Edmonton Oilers | 3: Vancouver Canucks

Western Conference wild cards

1: Winnipeg Jets | 2: Chicago Blackhawks

Conference champions

East: Tampa Bay Lightning

West: Colorado Avalanche

Stanley Cup champion: Colorado Avalanche

Conn Smythe Trophy winner: Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche 

 

Tom Gulitti, staff writer

Atlantic Division

1: Tampa Bay Lightning | 2: Florida Panthers | 3: Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan Division

1: Carolina Hurricanes | 2: New York Islanders | 3: Washington Capitals

Eastern Conference wild cards

1: Boston Bruins | 2: Pittsburgh Penguins

Central Division

1: Colorado Avalanche | 2: Minnesota Wild | 3: Winnipeg Jets

Pacific Division

1: Vegas Golden Knights | 2: Edmonton Oilers | 3: Vancouver Canucks

Western Conference wild cards

1: St. Louis Blues | 2: Chicago Blackhawks

Conference champions

East: New York Islanders

West: Colorado Avalanche

Stanley Cup champion: Colorado Avalanche

Conn Smythe Trophy winner: Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche

 

Pete Jensen, senior fantasy editor 

Atlantic Division

1: Florida Panthers | 2: Tampa Bay Lightning | 3: Boston Bruins

Metropolitan Division

1: New York Islanders | 2: Washington Capitals | 3: Carolina Hurricanes

Eastern Conference wild cards

1: New York Rangers | 2: Toronto Maple Leafs

Central Division

1: Colorado Avalanche | 2: Minnesota Wild | 3: Winnipeg Jets

Pacific Division

1: Vegas Golden Knights | 2: Edmonton Oilers | 3: Vancouver Canucks

Western Conference wild cards

1: Dallas Stars | 2: Los Angeles Kings

Conference champions

East: Tampa Bay Lightning

West: Colorado Avalanche

Stanley Cup champion: Colorado Avalanche

Conn Smythe Trophy winner: Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche

 

Adam Kimelman, deputy managing editor

Atlantic Division

1: Tampa Bay Lightning | 2: Florida Panthers | 3: Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan Division

1: New York Islanders | 2: Carolina Hurricanes | 3: Philadelphia Flyers

Eastern Conference wild cards

1: Washington Capitals | 2: Boston Bruins

Central Division

1: Colorado Avalanche | 2: Winnipeg Jets | 3: St. Louis Blues

Pacific Division

1: Vegas Golden Knights | 2: Vancouver Canucks | 3: Edmonton Oilers

Western Conference wild cards

1: Chicago Blackhawks | 2: Dallas Stars

Conference champions

East: Tampa Bay Lightning

West: Vegas Golden Knights

Stanley Cup champion: Tampa Bay Lightning

Conn Smythe Trophy winner: Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning

Video: Tampa Bay Lightning 2021-22 Season Preview

 

Mike G. Morreale, staff writer

Atlantic Division

1: Tampa Bay Lightning | 2: Florida Panthers | 3: Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan Division

1: Carolina Hurricanes | 2: New York Islanders | 3: Pittsburgh Penguins

Eastern Conference wild cards

1: Boston Bruins | 2: Washington Capitals

Central Division

1: Colorado Avalanche | 2: Winnipeg Jets | 3: Dallas Stars

Pacific Division

1: Vegas Golden Knights | 2: Edmonton Oilers | 3: Calgary Flames

Western Conference wild cards

1: St. Louis Blues | 2: Minnesota Wild

Conference champions

East: New York Islanders

West: Colorado Avalanche

Stanley Cup champion: New York Islanders

Conn Smythe Trophy winner: Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders 

Video: New York Islanders 2021-22 Season Preview

 

Tracey Myers, staff writer

Atlantic Division

1: Tampa Bay Lightning | 2: Toronto Maple Leafs | 3: Florida Panthers

Metropolitan Division

1: Washington Capitals | 2: New York Islanders | 3: Carolina Hurricanes

Eastern Conference wild cards

1: Boston Bruins | 2: New Jersey Devils

Central Division

1: Colorado Avalanche | 2: Winnipeg Jets | 3: Dallas Stars

Pacific Division

1: Vegas Golden Knights | 2: Edmonton Oilers | 3: Los Angeles Kings

Western Conference wild cards

1: St. Louis Blues | 2: Chicago Blackhawks 

Conference champions

East: Tampa Bay Lightning

West: Colorado Avalanche

Stanley Cup champion: Colorado Avalanche

Conn Smythe Trophy winner: Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche

 

Bill Price, Editor-in-Chief 

Atlantic Division

1: Tampa Bay Lightning | 2: Toronto Maple Leafs | 3: Florida Panthers

Metropolitan Division

1: New York Islanders | 2: Carolina Hurricanes | 3: Washington Capitals

Eastern Conference wild cards

1: Boston Bruins | 2: New York Rangers 

Central Division

1: Colorado Avalanche | 2: Chicago Blackhawks | 3: Minnesota Wild 

Pacific Division

1: Vegas Golden Knights | 2: Edmonton Oilers | 3: Calgary Flames 

Western Conference wild cards

1: St. Louis Blues | 2: Seattle Kraken 

Conference champions

East: Toronto Maple Leafs 

West: Colorado Avalanche

Stanley Cup champion: Toronto Maple Leafs

Conn Smythe Trophy winner: Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs 

 

Rob Reese, fantasy editor 

Atlantic Division

1: Tampa Bay Lightning | 2: Florida Panthers | 3: Boston Bruins

Metropolitan Division

1: Washington Capitals | 2: New York Islanders | 3: Carolina Hurricanes

Eastern Conference wild cards

1: Toronto Maple Leafs | 2: New York Rangers

Central Division

1: Colorado Avalanche | 2: Minnesota Wild | 3: Winnipeg Jets

Pacific Division

1: Vegas Golden Knights | 2: Edmonton Oilers | 3: Vancouver Canucks

Western Conference wild cards

1: Dallas Stars | 2: Chicago Blackhawks

Conference champions

East: Florida Panthers

West: Vegas Golden Knights

Stanley Cup champion: Vegas Golden Knights

Conn Smythe Trophy winner: Mark Stone, Vegas Golden Knights

 

Shawn P. Roarke, Senior Director of Editorial

Atlantic Division

1: Florida Panthers | 2: Toronto Maple Leafs | 3: Tampa Bay Lightning

Metropolitan Division

1: Carolina Hurricanes | 2: New York Islanders | 3: Washington Capitals

Eastern Conference wild cards

1: Boston Bruins | 2: Pittsburgh Penguins

Central Division

1: Colorado Avalanche | 2: Winnipeg Jets | 3: Minnesota Wild

Pacific Division

1: Edmonton Oilers | 2: Vegas Golden Knights | 3: Seattle Kraken

Western Conference wild cards

1: Dallas Stars| 2: Vancouver Canucks

Conference champions

East: Tampa Bay Lightning

West: Vegas Golden Knights

Stanley Cup champion: Vegas Golden Knights

Conn Smythe Trophy winner: Mark Stone, Vegas Golden Knights

 

Dan Rosen, senior writer

Atlantic Division

1: Florida Panthers | 2: Toronto Maple Leafs | 3: Tampa Bay Lightning

Metropolitan Division

1: New York Islanders | 2: Carolina Hurricanes | 3: New York Rangers

Eastern Conference wild cards

1: Boston Bruins | 2: Washington Capitals

Central Division

1: Colorado Avalanche | 2: Winnipeg Jets | 3: Dallas Stars

Pacific Division

1: Vegas Golden Knights | 2: Edmonton Oilers | 3: Vancouver Canucks

Western Conference wild cards

1: Minnesota Wild | 2: Seattle Kraken

Conference champions

East: New York Islanders

West: Colorado Avalanche

Stanley Cup champion: Colorado Avalanche

Conn Smythe Trophy winner: Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche 

Video: Colorado Avalanche 2021-22 Season Preview

 

Dave Stubbs, columnist

Atlantic Division

1: Toronto Maple Leafs | 2: Tampa Bay Lightning | 3: Boston Bruins

Metropolitan Division

1: New York Islanders | 2: Philadelphia Flyers | 3: Washington Capitals

Eastern Conference Wild Cards

1: Florida Panthers | 2: Carolina Hurricanes

Central Division

1: Colorado Avalanche | 2: Winnipeg Jets | 3: Dallas Stars

Pacific Division

1: Vegas Golden Knights | 2: Edmonton Oilers | 3: Calgary Flames

Western Conference Wild Cards

1: Minnesota Wild | 2: Vancouver Canucks

Conference champions

East: New York Islanders

West: Colorado Avalanche

Stanley Cup champion: Colorado Avalanche

Conn Smythe Trophy winner: Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche

 

Mike Zeisberger, staff writer

Atlantic Division

1: Tampa Bay Lightning | 2: Boston Bruins | 3: Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan Division

1: Carolina Hurricanes | 2: New York Islanders | 3: Washington Capitals

Eastern Conference wild cards

1: Florida Panthers | 2: New York Rangers

Central Division

1: Colorado Avalanche | 2: Winnipeg Jets | 3: St. Louis Blues

Pacific Division

1: Vegas Golden Knights | 2: Edmonton Oilers | 3: Vancouver Canucks

Western Conference wild cards

1: Dallas Stars | 2: Minnesota Wild

Conference champions

East: Tampa Bay Lightning

West: Colorado Avalanche 

Stanley Cup champion: Colorado Avalanche 

Conn Smythe Trophy winner: Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche 

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