Basically the theory behind the posts I’ve done regarding the various prizes on offer in the Premiership (link) applied to the NHL.
Over the past five seasons the 8th placed team in the West has scored 94 and the East 92, simply because the East isn’t very good. This time there also looks like being a 1-2 point discrepancy because a ton of extra overtime games are taking place in the West (31% vs. 18% in the East).
Anyway the average 8th placed team across both conferences over that span has scored ~93 points, equivalent to ~54 points over 48 games. So I’ll set the thresholds for 8th at 53 points in the East, and 55 points in the West.
The Kings are about the only good team in a tough position, whereas the Ducks, Leafs, and Preds have a pretty good chance of getting in despite being somewhere between poor and terrible.
As an aside the best source of NHL possession numbers are here, an awesome resource kept by Gabe Desjardins. Fenwick close refers to all shots, minus blocked shots, that take place at even strength, and with the score within one goal in the first two periods, or tied in the third. It’s been shown to give the best repeatability through a season and does a great job of minimising score effects. If anyone knows code and would like to put together something similar for football that’d be great…