The NHL season begins Wednesday night, and this week brings a bunch of firsts: the first game in Vegas Golden Knights history, the first game at Detroit's Little Caesar's Arena and the NHL debut of top overall pick Nico Hischier. Before all that, though, comes a familiar sight: the Penguins raising a Stanley Cup championship banner, their second in a row and the third of the Sidney Crosby era. Can Pittsburgh win it all again? Let's make some predictions.
1. Well let's get this out of the way early: The Penguins won't three-peat.
2. Their visit to the White House will generate more debate than any Oval Office trip since the days of Tim Thomas.
3. Last year's Vezina winner, Sergei Bobrovsky, won't be a finalist this year.
5. After a great run to the Final, the Predators won't get past the second round of the playoffs ...
6. ... but they'll sell out every home game this season.
7. Erik Karlsson will win the Norris Trophy.
8. He'll do this despite scary quotes like this about his recovery from foot surgery: "It feels like I have a leather piece in my one ankle. You can't really move it. It's going to take some getting used to."
9. Without active NHL players participating, no one will care about the men's Olympic tournament.
10. That's good news for the women's tournament, which will overshadow everything else in the hockey world -- NHL games included -- when it reaches the medal round, assuming the U.S. and Canada play for gold again.
11. The Rangers will miss the playoffs.
12. We'll spend at least three consecutive weeks at some point wondering what's wrong with Henrik Lundqvist, and if he'll be able to fix it.
13. But at least Kevin Shattenkirk will be the Rangers' best power-play quarterback since they traded Brian Leetch.
14. John Tavares will resign with the Islanders, but maybe not until after the season ends.
16. Jaromir Jagr will stay healthy and break Gordie Howe's record for career NHL games played.
17. He'll then retire after the season.
18. In his sophomore season, Patrick Laine will score at least 45 goals.
19. In his first season away from Chicago, Columbus' Artemi Panarin will score fewer than 65 points.
20. The Blue Jackets will make the playoffs again, though.
21. The Golden Knights will finish with the fewest wins in the league, but they won't challenge the record low of eight set during the Capitals expansion season.
22. Speaking of the Capitals: They'll take a step backward and finish as a Wild Card in the East.
23. That could mean a path to the Eastern Conference Final that doesn't go through Pittsburgh.
24. They won't advance that far, anyway.
25. Martin Brodeur and Martin St. Louis will be inducted to the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility.
26. If Carey Price is healthy, he'll win the Vezina.
27. If he's not, it'll go to Cam Talbot.
28. Free-agent-to-be Evander Kane will be traded before the deadline.
29. Matt Duchene will be traded, as well.
30. The Stars will win the Central Division.
31. The Pacific Division will be a two-team race between the Ducks and Oilers …
32. ... and the Ducks will prevail.
33. The Atlantic Division will be a three-team race between the Lightning, Maple Leafs, and Canadiens ...
34. ... and the Maple Leafs will prevail.
35. The Penguins will win the Metropolitan Division.
36. The Red Wings will miss the playoffs for a second straight year.
37. Avalanche coach Jared Bednar will be the first coach fired.
38. Arizona's Clayton Keller will win the Calder Trophy.
39. Despite a messy push for a new arena that's involved threats from Gary Bettman that the Flames could relocate, the team will not be leaving Calgary.
40. Jack Eichel will average a point a game for the first time.
41. Connor McDavid will again will the scoring title.
42. He'll also again win the Hart Trophy.
43. The Oilers will win the Western Conference.
44. The Penguins will win the Eastern Conference.
45. The Oilers will win the Stanley Cup.