Ok, it's freaking mid-September. The wait is almost over. Pre-season games start on Monday! That's all fine and everything, but seriously, the NHL's real problems begin at the top. I blame Bettman for the July - September NHL lockout that seems to happen year after year after year. I mean, I can't remember the last NHL game I watched in July. Can you? This has to change.
Those problems aside, you should know that Cam and Jay are in the midst of setting up a very cool schedule of columns and features for FHS this season. You will not be disappointed.
In the meantime, I thought I'd post some of my own bold and/or foolish predictions for the 2011-12 season. My only real criteria was to avoid repeating anything I'd read already. I'm hoping you'll add your own predictions in the comments section, or at least take the time to debunk mine and make me feel like an idiot, which is the eventual, inherent nature of predictions anyway. But time will tell, as usual, and in April maybe we can all re-visit this to see who wins this year's coveted Nostradamus Award. Deal? Deal. I'll get things started with a dozen bold and foolish predictions of my own.
1. Montoya plays 60 games and is a Vezina honorable mention. I'm saying this mostly because A-Mo has been on my keeper farm team since '04, but also because Cam is a bit of a Montoya non-believer and I like getting a reaction by being a contrarian jackass. But, truly and strangely, I do actually believe in Montoya, and I will until he proves me wrong.
2. Chris Stewart scores 40+ goals and finishes top 10 in points. Who is this year's Perry? Stewart, that's who. I traded him over the summer and will eventually hate myself for it - although getting Kovy back helps ease the pain for now.
3. Lehtonen plays 65+ games again and posts a career high SV%. Fantrax recently posted a news blurb with the headline "Lehtonen is a major fantasy risk this year". I suppose that's because he dropped 20 pounds, figured out what conditioning is, and almost backstopped Dallas to an unlikely playoff berth last year? I can think of risks a lot more "major" than this kid. A year ago 99% of pundits were predicting Dallas to finish bottom 8. I see the same sentiment again this year, but Benn, Ribeiro, Goligoski, and mostly, Kari Lehtonen, are gonna prove 'em wrong again. Not saying playoffs - but it could happen.
4. Pacioretty is your league's most-added player through October and November. The kid scores 15 of his 35 goals before Dec. 1. Patches plays possessed - coming back from a near death experience will do that to a player.
5. Doan and Kesler (see what I did there?) find incredible chemistry and take the Canucks deep into the playoffs again. Barring injury, they hoist the cup together next June.
6. I covered this in a previous piece: Skinner scores 40. Bet on it, and know I'd have covered you if you'd lost - which, of course, you won't.
7. The Islanders miss the playoffs by a mile and Tavares "struggles" to 70 points. Now don't get me wrong - NYI will break out. But we'll have to wait until at least 2012-13 for JT's first 80 point season and a low seed playoff berth for the Isles. But I hope I'm wrong, because I freaking love Tavares and Co.
8. Speaking of the Isles, Strome makes the team and starts Moulson down the road to an Anson Carter-seque obscurity.
9. LA becomes the NHL's highest scoring team with 70+ point seasons from Kopitar, Richards and Brown.
10. Crosby or not, James Neal again fails to hit the elusive 30 goal mark.
11. Goligoski and Green trade off the D points lead from Nov. - Feb. Doughty passes them in March and wins the Norris. Yes, this prediction has three parts. When I said bold AND foolish, I meant it.
12. This is more plastered premonition than bold prediction, but Winnipeg squeaks into the playoffs this year on the backs of breakout seasons from Pavelec and Kane.
Ok, I'd better stop here before this gets out of hand, Winnipeg will almost certainly not make the playoffs. But a 1% chance of looking like a genius is certainly100% better than a 50% chance of looking 110% average. It's just simple math, right? Right!
I should reiterate that, for the most part, these outlandish predictions are nothing around which you should base your drafting - for the important stuff you'll want to lean on the FHS 2011/12 Fantasy Scouting Report and Breakout Bible. But if you want to have a little fun, feel free to post some of your own bold and foolish predictions in the comments.