- Boston will have multiple 40-goal scorers this season
- Cale Makar will win the Calder Trophy
- The Flyers are a dark horse in the East
- The Blackhawks will trade a big name by the deadline
- Mitch Korn is the person most responsible for the Islanders' success
1. Boston will finish with multiple 40-goal scorers
Emily Kaplan, national NHL reporter: I'm buying that David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand will get there. I'm selling that anyone else will. The Bruins' top line is spectacular, but bottom-lineup scoring is a looming issue.
Rick DiPietro, radio host and former NHL goalie: Buy.Pastrnak already has 16 goals and Marchand has 11, so unless either suffers an injury or the NHL stops calling penalties, both will score 40.
Ben Arledge, associate NHL editor: Buy. Fifty goals from Pastrnak and at least 40 from Marchand. Marchand has never hit 40, but with 11 goals already and a spot-on seemingly unstoppable power play, this is the season he does it.
Sachin Chandan, fantasy hockey editor: Buy. Pastrnak will hit 40, so it's Marchand to watch. Marchand has a goals-per-game rate of 0.61 through Boston's first 18 games, which is a career-high pace. Needing 29 more goals, he would need to maintain a 0.46 rate for the rest of the season, which is in line with his career averages.
2. Cale Makar will win the Calder Trophy
Kaplan: Sell.Defensemen rarely win the Calder. Barret Jackman, Tyler Myers and Aaron Ekblad are the only blueliners in the past 20 years to do it. Makar might be the guy to buck the trend, but I'm not sleeping on my preseason pick of Kaapo Kakko; he is looking a lot more comfortable lately, with three goals in his past two games.
DiPietro: Buy. It's tough not to buy this. Makar is playing just over 19 minutes per game on a team that could end up winning the Central Division. Eight of his 18 points have come on the power play, so he'll continue to get plenty of opportunities to build on his six-point lead in the rookie points race.
Arledge: Sell. It looks as if Makar is running away with it, already posting 18 points from the blue line. But I picked Kakko in the preseason, and I still think he will end up on top after a 30-plus-goal campaign once he gets going.
Chandan: Buy. It's tough for a defenseman to win the Calder, but Makar has already come out of the gate hot. He has been playing at a point-per-game pace, more than twice what Ekblad was notching when he won the award in 2015 and just higher than last year's winner,Elias Pettersson.
3. The Flyers are a dark horse in the East
Kaplan: I'm buying it. Alain Vigneault has a reputation as a quick-fix artist as a coach -- getting the most out of veteran players -- and it's starting to show. The best news for Flyers fans? The team is getting off to fast starts to games, something that eluded them over the past few seasons.
DiPietro: Sell. The Flyers will battle for a playoff spot, but I'm not ready to call them a dark horse to win the East.
Arledge: Sell as a contender for the East crown.Travis Konecny is off to a nice start, and Claude Giroux is still Claude Giroux, but the Flyers don't match up with the high-end Eastern teams. And while Carter Hart will be a Vezina Trophy finalist someday, it just won't be this season. Dark horse to make the playoffs, sure. Serious dark horse? Probably not.
Chandan: Sell. The Flyers have a .625 win percentage in one-goal games, which can be fluky, and they have only two regulation wins over likely playoff teams. I want to see more consistency from Hart in net and more non-shootout wins before I trust them.
4. The Blackhawks will trade a big name by the deadline
Kaplan: I'm selling this. The Blackhawks are trying to remain competitive as they retool. They're not parting with Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews. I can't imagine anyone taking on Brent Seabrook's contract (and he would have to waive his no-trade clause), while Duncan Keith is still their minutes leader and an important piece to the blue line.
DiPietro: Sell. Corey Crawford or Robin Lehner could be moved to a team looking to upgrade or add depth in net, but their big-name, big-money skaters will stay put.
Arledge: Buy.Both Crawford and Lehner will be free agents in 2020, and in a tough Central Division, the Blackhawks probably aren't going anywhere. I could certainly see Crawford heading to another team in need of goaltending help. San Jose makes a lot of sense if it is a buyer at the deadline and it can make the financials work, albeit a hefty task.
Chandan:Sell. I agree with Rick and Ben in that a goalie could be moved, but I think they have some strong movable assets further down the cap registry in Brandon Saad ($6 million per year until 2021) and Andrew Shaw, the latter of whom would be a good fit to reunite with coach Joel Quenneville in Florida.
5. Goaltending guru Mitch Korn (as opposed to Barry Trotz) is the secret to the Isles' success
Kaplan: It's a combination, for sure. Mitch Korn squeezes the most out of his goaltenders, but equally important is Trotz's stingy defensive system. What should scare other teams in the Metro: That blue line is young and disciplined. They're not going away anytime soon.
DiPietro: Sell. Mitch Korn deserves a ton of credit, but it all starts with Barry Trotz. Trotz's ability to get his team to buy into his defensive system has been the catalyst for the Islanders' success.
Arledge: Buy, but not as a knock on Trotz. A year after Robin Lehner went from castoff to Vezina finalist under Korn, Thomas Greiss is now leading the NHL in even-strength save percentage (.949), and Semyon Varlamov is posting some of his best numbers from the past five seasons. Korn's goalies are the driving force for New York.
Hayes, Subban among struggling NHL players
Greg Wyshynski and Emily Kaplan detail the NHL players who have struggled to play to expectations so far this year.