top of page

Back to the Future: BEARD Hockey Predictions

Time travel, Covid-tracking, and an undying love for the Maple Leafs. Steve McConnell returns to give unabashed opinions on the first BEARD Hockey season.

(This was sent to our shared BEARD Hockey email address - what follows is mostly unedited, straight from the source...)

I once was a young man. Some of you may remember me. I found the old PFHL in a random drunken search for Toronto Maple Leafs fan sites back in 2002, when I was a young lad.

I offered those GM's unbiased (and often harsh) predictions totally unsolicited. It became a bit of a tradition. I even managed to follow some of them to the new PFHL, and then to Skyward Hockey. And I still contributed - for reasons no one but Jack Daniel really knows (least of all, me).

Fast forward to 2020. A year that has changed perceptions on many levels. Most of all, mine.

You see, I am no longer Steve McConnell, 40-something stat nerd and hockey enthusiast. Oh sure, you can still find me in a Google search, and that Steve McConnell still plies away, now using his analytical prowess to track Covid-19 cases.

I am Steve McConnell, 67 years old. And I come from the future.

Don't ask me why, or how. In 2021, let's just say things get a bit...haywire. I can't divulge much in fear of rupturing the space-time continuum. But suffice it to say, I along with a handful of others escaped to the distant future. We were called 'specimens' of a time when humanity was on the brink, and...

Well, I've already said too much.

Having come from the future, what follows ought to be instantly treated as the gospel truth of what's to come in your precious sim league. Of course, by me revealing this information, I've already altered the past. Your present. And because you all like to intervene with concepts of 'free will', my factual presentation will be labeled as 'predictions' and they may or may not now come true.

But hopefully, this give you an escape from what you know to be the 'real world'. Oh, if you only knew the future...

Good luck.

-- McConnell




1st Place: Montreal Canadiens

Top notch defence, top-flight goaltending, and lethal goal scoring ability. GM Lennart Westmantooth - still kicking after all these years, eh? - has built himself an arsenal.

2nd Place: Tampa Bay Lightning

Going to compete with the Habs for the division title, but Anton Khudobin is going to be the reason the Bolts fall just short. Don't be surprised if Mackenzie Blackwood plays a few more games than GM Tyler Hetheringtonsonvillelanemanorroad originally intended.

3rd Place: Ottawa Senators

Solid top four on the backend with some decent talent on offence. Jacob Markstrom should be adequate enough to get the Senators to the playoffs. But don't expect much beyond that.

4th Place: Detroit Red Wings

They aren't going to wow you with overwhelming skill, but the hard-nosed defensive corps and eternally underrated Thomas Griess should be enough to keep the Wings in the playoff mix. Good to see Mathias Lundgren too - still smarting from that King Carl XVI slash in the 2012 GM Game?

5th Place: Florida Panthers

This may look like a misread, as the Cats have some sneaky good players in tow. But leaving their success up to Philipp Grubauer will prove to be an oversight by GM Trevor Cook.

6th Place: Boston Bruins

A team with Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, and Mike Hoffman is destined to be playing golf come playoff time? If the Bruins were to outscore their opponents 6-5 every game, maybe not. But defence wins in the end, and the B's are a bit short in this department. Is it really Tye Graczyk? Boy I wish I could tell you your future - you wouldn't believe it.

7th Place: Sabres?

Sacrilege. Thomas Gidlow has angered the sim hockey gods by turning his back on his usual Carolina posting for...Buffalo? Well, that's close to my beloved Toronto, but not close enough. Other than Carey Price, who will have to stand on his head most nights, this team is built for tomorrow...too bad that in November 2021, when ******* *********** starts, he's going to wish he...(McConnell trailed off here).

8th Place: Toronto Maple Leafs

Well, I must hometown Leafs are built to be basement dwellers. Shame. GM Sean Hanley seems to be planning for better days ahead, but they may be a long way off...a long way off. At least Mitch Marner is still wearing the blue and white.


1st Place: New Jersey Devils

A shade thin on the backend, but with Darcy Kuemper in net and a plethora of offensive options up front, the Metro is New Jersey's to lose. Hard to believe young Corey Chernuka is back in this league - didn't he get lost in a Manitoba excursion to one Aaron Sanderson's house in like 2004?

2nd Place: Carolina Hurricanes

GM Jay Williams running his favorite team and stacking it with homer picks is a sight to see. It's a good sight, though. An exciting team on offence will need Sergei Bobrovsky to play at his best to reach this lofty height, because that defence leaves a lot to be desired.

3rd Place: New York Rangers

Going with the youth movement, but with some high-end youth paired led by Connor McDavid. The veterans around their young guns will make this team a lot more dangerous than some opponents think.

4th Place: New York Islanders

A little top heavy with some question marks on defence and in net. But the sum will be greater than the parts with the Isles, who should make a modicum of noise come playoff time.

5th Place: Washington Capitals

Sleepy Shawn Davis is back again, eh? If memory serves, the last thing I remember about him was being passed out next to a few beer bottles. Maybe he's older and wiser, but his club is still built on hopes and dreams. Depth issues will prevent the Caps from playing extra hockey come playoff time.

6th Place: Philadelphia Flyers

Seemingly a common theme in the East, the Flyers shunned defensive and goaltending needs in the Dispersal Draft for a smattering of decent scorers and youth. That youth is promising, so it's up to GM Eric Wolf to develop them. Just don't develop a belief that Philly will be playoff bound for a while still.

7th Place: Columbus Blue Jackets

Long term, GM Tommy Barr seems to have the right mentality to led the Blue Jackets to consistency down the road. But that road will be bumpy for at least this year. Don't be surprised to see Patrick Kane dangled as a big piece come deadline time that accelerates Columbus' rise next season.