The new NHL season is upon us, and ahead of opening night for the Colorado Avalanche against the Chicago Blackhawks, here are some hot and wild takes that I am predicting will happen during the regular season.
No. 1 — Mikko Rantanen scores 50 goals
The most confident of my hot takes is this one. I am predicting big things for Mikko Rantanen this season. He has threatened to break out for two years now; this is the year we finally see that.
Combine the speed of Nathan MacKinnon and his ability to draw defenders with the willingness of Gabriel Landeskog to do the dirty work and Rantanen is on the perfect line to succeed. Just when you thought that was good enough, add in the quality of his shot, and versatility of it, and Rantanen is in dreamland.
The Finnish forward has a great backhand, brilliant one-timer and a wrist shot he gets off with ease. Everything is in place for Rantanen to have a huge year, and for me, that means 50 goals.
Joe Sakic on Mikko Rantanen: "When he has that puck, you're not getting that from him."
He compared him to Peter Forsberg, which is high praise.
— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) October 12, 2021
No. 2 — Andre Burakovsky scores 70 points
Andre Burakovsky has been threatening to come to life for the past two seasons, which have been shortened but full of promise. Couple that with him being on a contract year, and the potential to earn some big bucks in the offseason and Burakovsky is going to go off this year.
On my Avalanche season preview, I said 30 goals and 30 assists was the aim, with the potential to go 35 and 35, so let’s go with the latter. Burakovsky is going to score 70 points this season, be the biggest threat on the second line and earn himself a big deal in the summer, whether that is with the Avs or elsewhere in the league.
No. 3 — Bowen Byram makes the Canadian Olympic roster
The Team Canada Olympic roster is going to be stacked from front to back. However, do not be surprised to see them take a punt with one or two players, and one of those could be Bowen Byram.
He missed a number of games last season, which slowed down his development, but there was a lot to like and his ability to do special things will really appeal in a tournament-style format. He will need to hit the ground running because Byram has just a couple of months to stake his claim for a spot.
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) January 23, 2021
This situation would also mean that Byram beats out fellow Avalanche Samuel Girard and goes to play for Canada alongside Cale Makar and MacKinnon. Many of the other options that would round off the Canadian defense are older players like Brent Burns, Drew Doughty, Kris Letang and others. The roster will have more than enough experience to take a flyer on Byram, and that is exactly what I think they will do.
No. 4 — Sampo Ranta Outscores Alex Newhook
Talk about the young forwards in this Avs group and the first name people will mention is Alex Newhook. This is not a look at the future, but more about this season, where the size and experience of Ranta will come into play.
Both will get chances and both are likely to be scratched at times, but given his size and the simplicity of his play, it would be no surprise to see Ranta adjust to a full NHL season quicker than Newhook does.
This could lead to Ranta having first chance to grab the second-line spot that is currently with Valeri Nichushkin, or it could mean more games in the early part of the season.
With that, he can take a lead in the point-scoring department and hold onto it over the year.
“Coach told me this morning.
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) October 11, 2021
No. 5 — Shane Bowers makes the NHL—after being traded away
We have not spoken about an Avs prospect who has not played a game as much as we have done with Shane Bowers in recent years. Ultimately, almost everything with the centerman has ended in disappointment.
Bowers has yet to get involved, and the feeling is that if he does not break onto the Avs’ roster this season, he never will. My feeling is that he will not, and with that, I think he becomes prime trade bait at the deadline this season.
A rebuilding team, looking to get rid of some aging talent in return for prospects, would work. That would give Bowers the fresh start he is clearly craving, while also giving him a path to the NHL that is not as congested as the one currently in Colorado.
The last hot take is that all of this comes together, Bowers moves at the deadline and he makes his NHL debut before the season is out.