NHL season preview 2021-22: Predictions for Stanley Cup, every award

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Stanley Cup, individual award predictions for 2021-22 NHL season originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Another NHL season has arrived, and that means it's time to make predictions for which teams will make the playoffs, the Stanley Cup winner and the players who will earn the individual awards such as the Hart Trophy.

The Tampa Bay Lightning enter the new campaign as the two-time defending champions. They are attempting to become the first franchise since the New York Islanders in the early 1980s to win three consecutive Stanley Cup titles. The Islanders won four in a row from 1979-80 through 1982-83.

Five BOLD Bruins predictions for 2021-22 NHL season

The Lightning will have plenty of competition, though, especially in their own division. In fact, four of the top seven teams in the latest Stanley Cup odds play in the Atlantic. They are the Lightning, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers. It's going to be awesome watching these teams battle for the three playoff spots from that division.

And, of course, the league has welcomed a 32nd team via expansion in the Seattle Kraken. The Kraken lost 4-3 to the Vegas Golden Knights in their first ever game Tuesday night.

Here are our predictions for the 2021-22 NHL season.

Playoff Teams

Atlantic

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning

  2. Boston Bruins

  3. Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan

  1. New York Islanders

  2. Carolina Hurricanes

  3. Philadelphia Flyers

Eastern Conference Wild Cards

  1. Florida Panthers

  2. Pittsburgh Penguins

Central

  1. Colorado Avalanche

  2. Winnipeg Jets

  3. St. Louis Blues

Pacific

  1. Vegas Golden Knights

  2. Edmonton Oilers

  3. Seattle Kraken

Western Conference Wild Cards

  1. Minnesota Wild

  2. Dallas Stars

Conference Finals

  • Boston Bruins defeat New York Islanders in seven games

  • Colorado Avalanche defeat Vegas Golden Knights in six games

Stanley Cup Final

Avalanche defeat Bruins in six games (Nathan MacKinnon wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP)

Individual Awards

  • Hart Trophy (MVP): Nathan MacKinnon, C, Avalanche

  • Art Ross Trophy (leading scorer): Connor McDavid, C, Oilers

  • Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy (leading goal scorer): David Pastrnak, RW, Bruins

  • Norris Trophy (best defenseman): Charlie McAvoy, Bruins

  • Selke Trophy (best defensive forward): Aleksander Barkov, Panthers

  • Vezina Trophy (best goaltender): Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning

  • Calder Trophy (best rookie): Cole Caufield, RW, Canadiens

  • Jack Adams Award (coach of the year): Barry Trotz, Islanders