5 bold predictions for the unofficial second half of the NHL season

Jamie Sabau / National Hockey League / Getty

We're into the nitty-gritty.

The NHL's postseason push is now officially underway with just two-and-a-half months left in the regular-season schedule. Here are five bold predictions for the stretch run:

Montreal drafts in the top 5

After six wins in 25 games before the All-Star break and a difficult stretch of four games in six nights this week, Montreal decides to wave the white flag. Marc Bergevin sells at the deadline and the Canadiens land a top-five pick to play with Alex Galchenyuk after this lost season. - Mark Millard

Capitals clinch Presidents' Trophy in March

Washington slips, only slightly, from its current .787 winning clip, fashioning an 19-8-1 record over the next two months to hit 113 points before the calendar turns to April. It's enough to clinch the Presidents' Trophy then, despite two postponed late January games. - Justin Cuthbert

Stars finish in wild-card position

Despite winning 28 of its first 39 games, Dallas falls from the top three in the Central Division. Three wins in January serve as an indication of what's to come: the Stars will eventually be overtaken by the Predators, succumbing to the fact that 24 of their final 32 games come against teams currently in playoff position. - Mark Millard

Sabres win NHL draft lottery

The Sabres missed out on Connor McDavid, but gain the opportunity to form the All-American (and eventually all-world) duo of Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews after they win the NHL draft lottery in April. They enter the sweepstakes with the third-best odds (behind the Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets), effectively offsetting their luckless result last spring. - Justin Cuthbert

Kane finishes with 70 assists, more than 110 points

Patrick Kane tallies 27 assists in the final 29 games to become the first player to record 70 assists in a season since Henrik Sedin in 2010-11. The Art Ross Trophy winner will also surpass the 40-goal mark, making him the first player to record 110 points since Henrik the season prior. - Mark Millard

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5 bold predictions for the unofficial second half of the NHL season
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