It’s easy to sound like a genius when you’re predicting the NHL season. Focus only on the obvious, articulate everything you know will happen, and feel confident in your unwavering wisdom. And then – and this is the important part – don’t leave a public record anywhere, so that no one can look back a few months later and see how wrong you really were.
This is where this competition comes into play. A few years ago, I got tired of everyone telling me how predictable the NHL was. Something you thought was unexpected might happen, like the Vegas Golden Knights being good in year one, the San Jose Sharks collapsing, or Barry Trotz getting the Islanders into the playoffs. I’ll express my surprise, and I’ll inevitably hear from all kinds of fans who will scoff. It was clear all along, they told me. And everyone with half a brain knows that.
Well, I finally said, prove it. After a little tinkering, my annual prediction contest was born. The premise was simple: Since the league is so easy to predict, I’ll ask you some of the most basic questions imaginable. Nothing fancy or particularly complicated. Just which teams will be good or bad, which coaches and general managers will be on safe ground, and which players will be the stars of the season. If forecasting was as easy as everyone said it was, you guys would crush it.
Dear readers, you did not crush him.
Within three years, the number of entries in the competition increased from 800 entries to 1,600 entries and then to 2,100 entries last year. No one came close to achieving a particularly impressive result. Only a small handful managed to get a passing grade. You can check out last year’s results here When it turns out you don’t believe in the Kraken, you believe in Darryl Sutter, and literally no one thought old man Erik Karlsson was a Norris candidate. Like I said, it’s not that simple…at least when someone is tracking it.
This year, we have all the old classic questions back, plus a brand new question that takes the spotlight to the middle of the pack. And yes, the dreaded bonus question is back too. As always, the winner gets a signed copy of my book, plus the (infinitely more valuable) bragging rights that you actually shot your shots.
good luck. History says you’ll need it.
How it works
Please read these rules carefully, even if you are a contest veteran.
• The contest includes 10 questions plus an all-or-nothing bonus. For each of the ten regular questions, you can give at least one answer and up to five.
• For each of the regular questions, you can earn one point for the correct answer, two points for the second correct answer (for a total of three) and so on, up to a maximum of 15 points if you run the table with five correct answers.
• but, One wrong answer gives you a zero for the entire question. Going 1 to 1 and getting one point is better than 4 to 5 and zero, so how confident do you want to be?
• The bonus question is optional, you can leave it blank. If you choose the answer, you will only give one answer, and you earn an additional 15 points if you are right. But if I’m wrong, You will receive a zero for your entire entry. Not only this question, but your entire entry has been erased. Like we said, it’s all or nothing.
• The winner is the entry that collects the most points. Note that this does not necessarily mean that you should get points for every answer; You can have a “perfect” entry that has no wrong answers but does not collect enough points. Note that in each year of the competition the entries that received at least a few zeros are won.
• Please read and follow the formatting rules below; Any ineligible entry may be disqualified. It takes a lot of work to extract and store all the information, and if you make life difficult, we reserve the right to skip your participation.
• New this year: We count invalid answers as wrong instead of just skipping them. This will undoubtedly impact coach and GM questions, as even after three years people won’t pay attention to deadlines. You have been warned.
• Entry deadline is 5:30pm ET on October 10.
1. Name up to five teams that will participate in the playoffs.
2. Name up to five teams that will not participate in the playoffs.
3. Name up to five teams that will finish in the middle of the regular season standings (i.e. between 9th and 23rd).
4. Name up to five coaches who will not be fired or leave their positions before July 1, 2024, not including any coach who has held their current position for less than one year.
5. Name up to five general managers who will not be fired or leave their positions before July 1, 2024, not including any general manager who has held their current position for less than two years.
6. Name up to five goalkeepers who will start at least 50 games this season.
7. Name up to five starters who would finish in the top ten on the Calder ballot.
8. Name up to five defensemen who would finish in the top ten on the Norris ballot.
9. Name up to five players who will end up in the top 15 in Hart Trophy voting.
10. Name up to five players currently on an NHL roster who would change the difference between landing the puck on opening night and the end of the first day of 2024 free agency. This means they would have to be on a new roster via trade, free agency, waivers, or any Something else, but that doesn’t include retiring, leaving the league entirely, or being an unsigned free agent.
Optional additional question:
11. For an additional 15 points, name only one player who will finish this season with at least 100 points who is not an Edmonton Oiler. Remember, you don’t have to answer the bonus if you don’t want to, and a wrong answer will result in your entire entry being deleted.
How to enter
Please read this section before entering the competition. If you do not follow these rules, your participation may be excluded from the collected data.
• Enter by listing your answers in the comments section below.
• Do not cut and paste questions into your post. Just list your answers.
• Do not list each name in your entry on a new line. One line per question please.
• Important: Please be aware of cases where people have the same or similar last names. There are a couple of GMs with the last name Armstrong, and several good players with names like Hughes, Tkachuk, etc. We’ll do our best to figure out who you’re referring to in obvious cases — if you include Elias Pettersson in Hart’s question, we will. We’ll assume you mean the high-scoring forward and not the blue-liner prospect – but if we’re not sure, you’ll take a zero for that answer.
• Please double check that you have the correct answers for the correct question number. (You’d be surprised how many people messed this up and ended up listing Connor McDavid as a candidate for Norris or swapping coaches and general managers.)
• Finally, this is not a rule, but a suggestion: write your answers somewhere, because this comments section is going to get big and it might be hard to find your post if you come back a few months later wondering how you did it.
That’s it. Ten easy questions, give or take a reward you may or may not have the stomach for. You’ll know that all the right answers were obvious in a few months, but how many do you know now? Comments are open, so let’s see what you have.
(Photo of Jack Eichel hoisting the Stanley Cup: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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