NHL 19 simulation says Leafs will win Stanley Cup
John Tavares and the Toronto Maple Leafs will be Stanley Cup champions, at least according a recent computer simulation.
The 2018-19 season doesn't get going until Wednesday, but in the video game world, NHL 19 predicts Toronto will end its 51-year title drought next spring.
The annual simulation by game publisher EA Sports has the Leafs defeating Erik Karlsson and the San Jose Sharks in the final.
NHL 19 also pegs Tavares, who joined Toronto in free agency this summer after nine seasons with the New York Islanders, to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs.
The simulation has Karlsson, who was recently traded by the Ottawa Senators to San Jose after months of uncertainty about his future, winning his third Norris Trophy as the league's top defenceman.
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is EA Sports's pick to win Hart Trophy as regular-season MVP and the Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion.
EA Sports has the Vegas Golden Knights taking home the Presidents' Trophy for the best regular-season record with 118 points, while No. 1 pick Rasmus Dahlin is predicted to help the Buffalo Sabres get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
The video game company says the simulation is conducted by artificial intelligence that uses real-life data. The results are determined by how teams match up on player ratings, line combinations, and include variances such as injuries and hot streaks to give a realistic outcome of a game or series.
Their prediction this time last year, with NHL 18, had the Tampa Bay Lightning winning the Stanley Cup final over the Edmonton Oilers. In real life, the Lightning were defeated by the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference final, while the Oilers didn't make the playoffs.
The Montreal Canadiens? They finished 14th in the NHL 19 simulation, with 72 points — 20 points out of a playoff spot. They'll finish ahead of only Detroit in 15th (63 points), and Ottawa in 16th (51 points).
The Canadiens and Leafs get the season started — for real — on Wednesday night in Toronto.