Our best and worst predictions of the NHL season
Justin Cuthbert and Julian McKenzie boast about being bullish about the Florida Panthers entering the season, while also sharing where they went wrong with preseason predictions.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: That actually helps me segue into the last topic that we're going to go into today. And that's just-- we're like six days left in the regular season here. We can review what we were right and wrong about. We'll probably do this quickly, because we've talked about all this stuff a little bit. But I think it's worth just revisiting some of the things that we were proud to say that we forecast and proud to say that we-- or not proud to say that we have to admit that we messed up on.
One of them for me was the Vegas Golden Knights. I thought they were going to win the Presidents Trophy. The $25 million that doesn't exist, I thought that might be theirs because I thought they were going to have a tremendous season. And that was before Jack Eichel came aboard. I just thought this was one of the machines in the NHL that just knows how to play regular season hockey and could repeat what they did the previous four or five years, or however long they've been in existence.
So I was way off on them. My Islanders Stanley Cup prediction went up in smoke pretty quickly. So that was bad. But I did say Florida was going to win the division. And I got a lot of crap, a lot of flak for that. And clearly, well, they've won it. But they've clearly been the class of not just the division but the Eastern Conference. But I do have a Igor Shesterkin Vezina ticket. So I have proof that I thought he was going to have a spectacular season.
But I think the one that I'm proudest about is forecasting the Seattle Kraken being terrible, because--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: You did say that.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: --everyone loved the Kraken coming in, 92 points projected total in Vegas, everyone picking them to maybe win the Pacific, come second, beat up both the Alberta teams. They were going to be the hot thing this year. They were going to do what Vegas did because they built-- they didn't have a great expansion draft, but they got a lot of decent players.
Proud to say that I thought they were going to be terrible, and they are terrible.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: You called it. You did get it right.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: What do you got? What do you got?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: OK, I too was right there with you, calling the Florida Panthers, the division team, to win in the Atlantic.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: The only podcast to do that.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah, yeah, exactly. We believed in the Florida Panthers. So I want that. On top of that, it hasn't been confirmed yet, but I am very close to having correctly predicted the top four teams in the Atlantic Division, because I said it was going to be Florida, Toronto, Tampa Bay, then Boston.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Oh, you got it. That's happening.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I think that's going to be that. Just don't ask me about who I picked to be fifth in that division, because I said that the Montreal Canadiens were going to be going to compete for a playoff spot this year. And they went through the worst franchise they've ever-- like, season they've ever had.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Yeah.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: This is pretty bad. There's no calling back on me being all like, hey, this is the greatest Canadiens team I've ever seen. It's kind of wild. I have gone through watching the greatest Canadiens team I've ever seen in my life and, the year after, the worst team I have ever seen in my life. Kind of funny how those things have kind of matriculated and all the funny stuff that has happened in between.
The Islanders, I'm right there with you. I didn't say they're going to win the cup. But I did say they were going to win the Metropolitan Division, something they have not done since the '80s. Man, I did not think that starting what-- like, how many games on the road-- would affect them that much that much.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Yeah, that was dumb. It should have known. I should have at least waited to say like, OK, they've got to weather that storm. And then maybe we'll be-- they didn't weather the storm.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah.
In the Pacific division, when I made division picks, I said it would be Vegas, Edmonton, Seattle, and Vancouver as the top four teams in the Pacific. That is bad. Only one of those four teams are going to make the playoffs.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Vancouver could still be four. And I think you had Edmonton two. So you got two of the slots.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I did have Edmonton two. So at the very least, I have that. And I think Edmonton could clinch too. So yeah, that's fun, yeah.
I whiffed on Calgary. I whiffed on St. Louis. St. Louis is a team that everyone is sleeping on right now. They have all those 20-goal scorers on their team. No one's really talking about them right now.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: They could be dangerous.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah, they could be very dangerous. I gave way too much credit, I think, to Chicago.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: I think I did that as well.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah. Philly, I think I was thinking they'd be a little bit better too. Columbus I short-changed a little bit, even though they're not going to make the playoffs as well. I got a lot wrong. But I'm very proud of the things that I got right.
Actually, one other prediction that I made this year, not even made, but a proclamation that I made this year on television, on national television that the most underrated player in the league was Jonathan Huberdeau and that this year, a lot of people would be talking about it this year. That might be the proclamation I'm had the most proud of, because everyone else was saying, oh, it's Kyle Connels. Like, no, it's Jonathan Huberdeau, because he was the guy who was just kind of there in Florida, producing pretty well, but not nearly having the explosion he was having this year.
I could say I'm deadass right about that. And look, he might not even end up on a Hart Trophy ballot this year. And people will say, all right, fine, the reason why he's not there is because he doesn't play defense. He plays on that stacked team in Florida. But I think when we look back at his season, especially if he wins the Art Ross Trophy this year, man, we are going to look back at that and be like, man, that was a really good year from Jonathan Huberdeau.
He did a lot of great things offensively. So I feel pretty good about how I forecasted the Panthers.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: That's a good one.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: That's a really good one. And it means more too. I mean, it's all about volume on podcasting, right? We can spit a million takes all the time. We can change our minds. I literally, on the last one, said, I'm all over the Leafs. I think they're going to dominate in the first round. And then they play a game, and now I feel like an idiot.
It's all about volume with takes on podcasts. But if you're on that rare national TV spot where you only have about 30 seconds to make your point and you nail something like Jonathan Huberdeau competing for an Art Ross and a Hart Trophy, I mean, you deserve a little--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: At least say he's underrated. Just like, hey, look, just letting people know, like, Jonathan Huberdeau is that dude. I feel pretty good with that. I'm going to find that clip, if it's online somewhere--
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: You better.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: --and put that out there and be, hey, who told you all about Jonathan Huberdeau?
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: You better.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Hey, look--
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: I will say, I was right about Florida. I was all over Florida. We were all over Florida. We were the Florida podcast before there were Florida podcasts. But I also had a theory that if you took the top four teams in the Atlantic, the ones that we thought were going to make it, did make it, you bet the under on all four of those teams, you'd make a ton of money. They're all going to go over their totals. So I was way, way, way off on that as well. The Atlantic Division, beyond the top four, non-competitive, it turns out, completely non-competitive.