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I once read somewhere that pre-season predictions were for arrogant idiots! Well I'd say that qualifies me in the month of August with a case of 12 within arms reach! We'll see what happens, I guess. I have to say I felt pretty good after making these picks, and i know damn well it wasn't just the beer.

Still, I have never finished last in a hockey pool draft. Pro line still kills me on a daily basis. The best prediction I ever made was in the purchase of hockey cards. I spent the summer of 1992 buying every Teemu Selanne RC I could find at 0.75 cents each. I got 37! By March I was selling them off at ten bucks a crack to people I'd bought them from. They all wanted to know what it is was I knew that they didn't. Truth was, I pegged him as a 35 goal man. I was way off in a good way!

With these crystal ball visions filtered through the brown glass of a Molson's bottle, keep in mind how tight playoff races usually are. A fifth place team may be a single point from second place. A golf course bound team could be a shootout goal away from saving a coaches ass.

For comparison sake, I placed my picks between ones from the Hockey News and Zanstorm at "Waiting For Stanley". My picks are justified by the comments in italics on the right. For good measure, or ridicule, I added in my divisional final standings, a top 10 scoring list, and some award winners just to up the ante. I imagine I'll get blasted for much of it. Bring it on! The truth is a long 9 months away. Enjoy!

THN / RC / Zanstorm

Carolina/Carolina/Ottawa....Canes lost little of their nucleus
Ottawa/Montreal/Carolina....Habs are much deeper than you'd expect
NY Rangers/New Jersey/Philadelphia....Finished on a tear last year and have made few changes
New Jersey/Buffalo/Buffalo....Had they been able to keep a couple of RFA's, I'd have picked them for first
Buffalo/Ottawa/Montreal....A 100 pt season, maybe a win away from top spot
Philadelphia/NY Rangers/Florida...Jagr will continue to dominate and lead
Montreal/Tampa Bay/.Boston....Great top two lines and better goaltending
Atlanta/Philadelphia/NY Rangers....Too much depth to miss playoffs but they're slow and getting old fast
Tampa Bay/Toronto/New Jersey...Some good upgrades but not enough in the right places
Toronto/Boston/Tampa Bay....Better overall balance but still a bit too thin
Florida/Atlanta/Atlanta....Lack of depth, a #1 center and net questions keep them out
Boston/Pittsburgh/Toronto....Improved but not there yet
Pittsburgh/NY Islanders/NY Islanders....If coach Nolan can light up Yashin, this rank will change
NY Islanders/Washington/Pittsburgh.... Competitive team nightly remains a one man show
Washington/ Florida/Washington...Some good aging vets but no depth and no direction
Anaheim/San Jose/Anaheim.....The best 1-2-3 punch at center with Thornton, Marleau and Bell
Nashville/Calgary/Calgary....Same great defense with some added scoring punch
Calgary/Detroit/Nashville...Still a solid nucleus, Detroit will suffer some but finish high in the weak Central
San Jose/Anaheim/San Jose...Intense leadership and youth stockpile has them missing 1st overall by a win
Dallas/Edmonton/Dallas....Lessons learned in playoffs pay dividends. A very fast skating team
Detroit/Phoenix/Detroit...Made some of the best off season additions and upgraded D immensely
Minnesota/Minnesota/Colorado...Added scoring punch to an already dound defensive squad
Columbus/Los Angeles/Edmonton...Coach who turns teams around, sound organizational commitment
Phoenix/Dallas/Vancouver...Lindros cancer throws all plans out of wack. Close but no cigar
Los Angeles/Vancouver/Minnesota....A good second half under Vigneault won't be enough
Vancouver/Colorado/Los Angeles.... Losses of Blake and Tanguay are too much to recover from
Edmonton/Nashville/Phoenix....Lost way too much in the off season. Vokoun a question mark
Colorado/St.Louis/St. Louis...Got better, got older, still miles away
Chicago/Chicago/Columbus...Made great steps sideways - still going in circles
St. Louis/Columbus/Chicago... Sacrificed goaltending for punch with backchecking. Nice #1 pick coming


Northeast - Mon, Buf, Ott, Tor, Bos
Atlantic - NJ, NYR, Phi, Pit, NYI
Southeast - Car, TB, Atl, Was, Flo
Central - Det, Nas, St.L, Chi, Clb
Pacific - SJ, Ana, LA, Pho, Dal
Northwest - Cal, Edm, Min, Van, Col

TOP 10 Scorers

1- Thornton
2 - Jagr
3 - Crosby*
4 - Ovechkin
5 - Cheechoo
6 - Marleau
7 - Iginla*
8 - Richards
9 - Alfredsson
10 - Spezza

AWARDS ( 1-2-3- finish)

Hart Trophy - Thornton/Huet*/Neidermayer
Art Ross - Thornton/ Jagr/ Crosby
Calder - Malkin/ Wolski/O'Sullivan*
Norris - Phaneuf*Neidermayer/ Pronger
Vezina - Brodeur/ Huet*/ Kiprusoff
Byng - Kariya/Sakic/ Whofuckincares
Selke - Iginla*/Richards/Madden
Smythe - Thornton*/ Cheechoo*/Marleau*
Jennings - Kiprusoff/Brodeur/ Huet*
Adams - Laviolette/ Carbonneau*/Wilson

So there you have it, a fool out on a limb. There are always surprises. I suggest a top 10 breakout players of the year. Good news is, if I fall flat on my face, I have a case of Molson to break my fall. Bring this season on, damnit!
* Go ahead make fun of me!