2023-24 NHL season predictions: Picks for Stanley Cup, conference, division

A new season of hockey is finally here!

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Hockey is back!

The 2023-24 NHL season has arrived. The first regular season games are scheduled for Tuesday, including the highly anticipated debut of Chicago Blackhawks No. 1 draft pick Connor Bedard. His first opponent is Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Boston Bruins open their season Wednesday night when they host the Blackhawks at TD Garden.

After a record-breaking 2022-23 regular season, the Bruins' playoff run was short-lived thanks to a Game 7 loss to the Florida Panthers in the first round. Given all of the offseason departures, the B's likely will take a step back this season, but many experts are still predicting they will at least be a playoff team again.

Check out our predictions for the upcoming season, as well as a look at how the national media views the Bruins and their chances of success.

Eastern Conference winner

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs finally got over the hump last season and won their first playoff series since 2004. Now they take the next step and get to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1967, which was the last time they won a title. The Leafs are absolutely loaded, especially up front with superstars (Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, etc.) all over the top six.

Toronto's depth at forward is better, too, with the offseason additions of Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi. Those two guys will make Toronto a tougher team that's harder to play against. Young players such as left wing Matthew Knies could make a huge impact, too. Goaltending, as always, will be the difference for the Leafs, but they have a few serviceable options in net.

Western Conference winner

Edmonton Oilers

The path to the Cup Final will be pretty difficult for the Oilers, and might even include playoff series against the defending champion Golden Knights, Kraken/Kings and whoever comes out of the Central (likely Avalanche or Stars).

If the Oilers get slightly above average goaltending, combined with their high-powered offense, they should be able to survive three rounds out West. Goaltending has been the Achilles heel for this team in recent playoff runs.

Stanley Cup winner

Edmonton Oilers

Yes, I'm all aboard the Oilers hype train. Connor McDavid will lead Edmonton to its first championship since 1990 and win the Conn Smythe Trophy. The Oilers outlast the Leafs in an exciting, high-scoring seven-game series.

Around the league predictions/projections

Analytics website Evolving Hockey projects the Bruins will be a top-three team in the Atlantic with a 75.9 percent chance of reaching the playoffs.

The Athletic's Dom Luszczyszyn uses his own model for season projections, and it has the Bruins finishing with 103 points (ninth-highest in his model). The Bruins have a five percent chance of winning the Stanley Cup (fifth-highest in his model).

Based on Luszczyszyn’s model, the Bruins are in the "Cup contenders" tier.

Here are some Bruins regular season predictions from national media members.

Nicholas J. Cotsonika, NHL.com: Third place in Atlantic

Tom Gulitti, NHL.com: Second place in Atlantic

Dan Rosen, NHL.com: Second place in Atlantic

Frank Seravalli, Daily Faceoff: Second place in Atlantic

Charles Curtis, USA TODAY: Third place in Atlantic

Bryan Murphy, Sporting News: Fourth in Atlantic

Sportsnet's staff/insiders were asked to pick a team "most likely to disappoint." Jeff Marek, Eric Francis, and Nick Kypreos picked the Bruins.

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