10 Bold Storyline Predictions for the NHL in 2027

The 2022-23 season is set to start in a little more than two months time. Players are actively working hard to make sure they’re ready for training camp. For many teams, the promise of their future begins to reveal itself.

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We thought this would be a good time to look ahead. By look ahead, I mean look ahead five years into the future and to what the NHL might look like in 2027. It certainly promises to have its share of fascinating storylines and surprises.

In this space, I am going to share 10 rather bold storylines that will be a part of the NHL leading up to or during the 2027-28 season. Who is good now might not be in five years. Who’s bad now could be the next big thing in the league.

Rationale

An important note before we begin. This is completely subjective based on certain criteria. This is meant to give you an idea of the possible stories that could come up and then the result of those stories. Things can change in a heartbeat. One injury could completely alter a team’s plans.

The criteria I am using to make these 10 bold predictions involves both trying to project a team’s core in five years while adding in their prospect pool. Stars in their mid 30’s now will be 40 or older in 2027-28. Likewise players drafted this year will turn 22 or 23 by then.

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There will be a lot of turnover in both coaching and management. Much of that will be unexpected based on how a particular season goes. Teams that should have started a rebuild now will only to come to find out within five years that they should not have waited.

The 2027-28 NHL promises to be a new world compared to what we’re seeing today. Let’s jump right into the predictions and with the one thing that has eluded Canadian teams for almost 30 years now.

10 Bold Predictions for 2027-28

1. Not only do the Oilers win the Cup, they win it again in 2027-28.

This one might not seem bold on the surface. But when the Oilers’ two stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl don’t have a contract in 2027-28 yet, it stands out. But don’t worry Oilers’ fans. I do not expect them to leave Edmonton anytime soon.

The Oilers addressed the net when they signed Jack Campbell. Now it’s just a matter of putting the right depth pieces around their stars. With three shots at the Stanley Cup before Draisaitl is up, I believe the Oilers break the curse and will bring the Cup back to Canada for the first time since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens.

Related: 10 Reasons Why the Edmonton Oilers Are Stanley Cup Contenders

Not only do the Oilers win the Cup, they do it again in 2027-28. Here’s the scary thing. McDavid is only going to get better. And he’s already the best in the world. Despite the disappointment of his early career from a postseason perspective, that won’t last forever. It’s only appropriate that it’s McDavid that would break the Stanley Cup curse for Canada.

Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid will be the one to break the Canadian Stanley Cup curse. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

You might be thinking what about the Maple Leafs? Doesn’t Vegas favor them in the East upcoming? This is true. That leads us into our second prediction.

2. The Oilers defeat Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs to win the Stanley Cup.

There’s a lot to unpack with this one. I believe this is the result of the 2027-28 Final. Yes, Matthews is a Maple Leaf. Understanding that he could test unrestricted free agency in 2024-25, this story is going to hover over the team until there is clarity.

For this exercise, I believe Matthews stays with the Maple Leafs. He’s on record as saying he loves it in Toronto. A lot will depend on their postseason success upcoming. But count me in for believing they’re on the verge of breaking through.

We all then would get an epic Cup final with McDavid vs. Matthews. Legacy would be on the line in that series for both players. Maybe then we’ll finally answer the question of who is better between the two superstars. Also Campbell sticking it to Toronto would sure make for a shockwave of a story. This is the Final we all need.

3. Ottawa Senators will be on the verge of becoming Canada’s team in 2027-28.

For all the flack Pierre Dorion has taken since he became the GM of the Ottawa Senators, his offseason was among the best in the league. They have a legitimate top-six. Their defense is on the rise.

Pierre Dorion Ottawa Senators
Pierre Dorion has the Senators on the right track. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While they still have questions especially in net, we are in the beginning stages of the Senators’ rise. In five years time thanks to the development of their core and moves to address their weaknesses, they’ll be in position to not only give the Maple Leafs trouble, but also to eliminate them from the postseason.

This hinges on their ability to lock in Alex DeBrincat to a long-term deal. Given he is an RFA with arbitration rights, I expect this to get done and thus the Senators will be the ones laughing at everyone else instead of others laughing at them.

4. Penguins’ and Capitals’ window will be shut.

Both the Penguins and Capitals will be heard from the next few seasons. Their window isn’t closed now. But it will be in 2027-28.

Both Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang will be 40. Evgeni Malkin will be 41. If they’re going to win another Cup together, they’re going to have to do it soon. Because in five years, father time is going to have his say and he always wins.

The same thing can be said about the Capitals. Alex Ovechkin will be 41, T.J. Oshie will be 40 and Nicklas Backstrom will be 39. They can still win now but they have to do it soon.

Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins
The only thing that will stop Sidney Crosby is father time. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In both cases, the prospect pools are not the strongest. Once these stars are done playing, they’re going to be on a path to find the next great player. They’re going to start paying the price for their dominance of the 2000’s and 2010’s.

5. Wings and Kings primed to be NHL’s next juggernauts.

Both the Detroit Red Wings and Los Angeles Kings have that perfect combination of up and coming teams along with a strong prospect pool. By 2027-28, we will be looking at two of the next great teams.

The Kings just gave the Oilers a run in the playoffs with a team who’s still rising and have many others soon to join them. The Red Wings are finally ready to turn the page on their rebuild under Steve Yzerman. They have key pieces in place and are just a couple of steps away from being in the playoff conversation.

These teams handled their business right even if it was painful. They built a strong prospect pool. Now they are ready for the next step and can use their prospect pool to acquire talent should they be close enough. While the Cup may be more than five years out, we’ll see just how close they are. They both are primed to become dominant by then.

5 More Quick Hit Predictions

  • The Chicago Blackhawks’ rebuild will just be turning the page by 2027-28. It’s going to be a long road ahead these next few years. By the way I think Connor Bedard ends up here.
  • The Arizona Coyotes will become a premier NHL destination by 2027-28. Make fun of them now at your own risk. The setup in Tempe looks amazing and players will end up making Arizona a destination. Their prospect pool suggests they’re off to a good start.
  • The Philadelphia Flyers will regret that they didn’t start their rebuild sooner. While they’re trying to make the most of now, they’ll quickly realize their talent doesn’t stack up and will need to tear it down at some point. That could be in 2027-28 if not a little sooner.
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  • The Minnesota Wild will be the class of their division by 2027-28. They have cap problems now. But they have an elite prospect pool in waiting. If they can get through the next couple of seasons, they’ll have a very bright future beyond that.
  • The NHL will have its first $15 million per season player by 2027-28, but probably sooner. Matthews probably gets that from the Maple Leafs, Coyotes or someone else interested in him.

Five years from now promises to see seismic changes to the NHL landscape. Some windows are opening, some will close and some will start to swing it the right way.

No matter what, be prepared to see things that would seem outrageous now. If you’re a fan of a team that’s winning now, enjoy every moment. If it’s the other way around, stay patient. In either case, the only constant is change. I hope you’ll be ready for it.