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Monday, October 6, 2008
Updated: October 8, 7:07 PM ET
2008-09 NHL Predictions

ESPN.com

THE STANLEY CUP

Which team will lift Lord Stanley in June? Our experts weigh in, and the picks are across the board:

Expert Atlantic N'east S'east Central N'west Pacific East West Cup
David
Amber
Matthew
Barnaby
John
Buccigross
Scott
Burnside
Linda
Cohn
E.J.
Hradek
Pierre
LeBrun



• Vote: Your conference and Stanley Cup winners?



AWARDS WATCH

There's the MVP race, and then there's the rest of the hardware. Here are our experts' picks for all the major awards, which will be handed out in June.

Expert MVP Vezina Norris Selke Rookie Coach
David
Amber
Zetterberg
Lundqvist
Phaneuf
Morrow
Turris
Gretzky
Matthew
Barnaby
Crosby
Turco
Lidstrom
Datsyuk
Stamkos
Carbonneau
John
Buccigross
Zetterberg
Lundqvist
Phaneuf
Kesler
Stamkos
Melrose
Scott
Burnside
Crosby
Turco
Campbell
Zetterberg
Stamkos
Carbonneau
Linda
Cohn
Ovechkin
Lundqvist
Phaneuf
Zetterberg
Stamkos
Melrose
E.J.
Hradek
Crosby
Luongo
Lidstrom
Brind'Amour
Stamkos
MacTavish
Pierre
LeBrun
Crosby
Brodeur
Chara
Zetterberg
Stamkos
Carbonneau



• Vote: Rank your favorites for the Hart Trophy

HART TROPHY WATCH

Our experts weigh in with their preseason top five Hart Trophy finalists. In the coming weeks, we'll revisit their selections and see whose stocks have gone up and whose have tumbled.

SCOTT BURNSIDE:

1. Sidney Crosby, Penguins
The Pens have been hurt early by injuries, and it will be up to Crosby to set a positive tone early on for a team that went through significant offseason changes.

2. Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings

He'll likely start the season playing on a separate line from pal Pavel Datsyuk, but if the slick Swede can stay healthy, he'll be a force in the Wings' attempt to repeat.

3. Alex Ovechkin, Capitals
We know, Don Cherry thinks Ovechkin will drop off this season. But the Caps are deeper offensively, and Ovechkin has the playoff fever after the team's 2007-08 run.

4. Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers
The Rangers may need time to get the pieces in the right order, but Lundqvist is ready to tackle Brodeur, Luongo, Kiprusoff and Nabokov for the king of the hill.

5. Jarome Iginla, Flames
The Flames look to be in a dogfight again to make the playoffs. Look for Iginla to be a 100-point guy to get them there.


E.J. HRADEK:

1. Sidney Crosby, Penguins
After winning the Hart with an 120-point campaign in 2006-07, Crosby missed 29 games with a high-ankle sprain last season. This season, I think the ultracompetitive star will stay healthy and reclaim the Hart.

2. Alex Ovechkin, Capitals
Ovechkin, last season's Hart winner, had an electric season and led the league with 65 goals and 112 points. I expect him to be great again this year.

3. Mike Richards, Flyers
The Flyers' new captain averaged more than a point per game last season. Just 23 years old, Richards isn't flashy, but he's a heart-and-soul guy who can beat you in different ways.

4. Joe Thornton, Sharks
Big Joe remains among the very best playmakers in the game. In 2005-06, while playing for the Bruins and Sharks, he put up 125 points and took home the Hart. He totaled a team-best 96 points in 2007-08. This season, I think he'll be back over the century mark.

5. Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings
The Conn Smythe Trophy winner is coming off a career year in which he posted 43 goals and 92 points. This season, working with Pavel Datsyuk and newcomer Marian Hossa, I think he can do even more.

PIERRE LEBRUN:

1. Mike Richards, Flyers
The Flyers' captain is ready to soar. His team surprised many last season and is poised to join the NHL's elite. Leading the way will be Richards, a feisty two-way center destined to be this generation's Mark Messier.

2. Joe Thornton, Sharks
The much-maligned center is feeling the heat along with his underperforming team. Look for Thornton to step up to the challenge and lead his Sharks to the promised land this season, erasing any doubt of his character and determination.

3. Sidney Crosby, Penguins
Injuries to top defensemen Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney have put a damper on the Penguins' preseason Cup hopes, but look for the 21-year-old superstar to deliver a monstrous offensive season while keeping Pittsburgh in the chase.

4. Alex Ovechkin, Capitals
From the moment he signed his near-lifetime contract with the Capitals last season, the NHL's best goal scorer never took a night off. That kind of consistency will continue this season with a 60-goal campaign and will help the Caps earn another division title.

5. Jarome Iginla, Flames
This guy does it all for the Flames -- score goals, deliver timely hits and drop the gloves when the time is right. His team lost a bit of offense in the offseason, so the pressure is on Iggy to deliver another 50-goal season and carry the team to another playoff berth. He'll deliver.