The NHL season is here, and its time to take a quick look at all 30 teams and how they will start the season.
Anaheim Ducks: On paper, if their goaltending can be sorted out they might just be the best regular season team in the NHL. That said, the regular season is nearly meaningless when you start off this damn good.
Arizona Coyotes: Maybe the return of the distractions that hung over this team for half a decade will push it back into playoff position. Ekman-Larsson may be getting better every year, but Shane Doan isn’t getting any younger.
Boston Bruins: This is a solid team but the entire right side of the team is questionable, and with the trade of Boychuk the defense becomes much less steady.
Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres are working very hard at getting better while getting worse, the addition of Josh Georges makes the defense better, the loss of Ryan Miller leaves two goalies shaped question marks in the crease. Almost certainly a lottery team.
Calgary Flames: This team could have two legitimate All-Star’s this year and still be 10+ points out of the playoffs, no matter how good Giordano and Monahan are the rest are not.
Carolina Hurricanes: With Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner down and out, things look grim for this season’s point total. Last year they hit 34 ROW’s, the same as the Detroit Red Wings, might not be achievable. Noah Hanflin or Oliver Kylington might not be the distant dream they seemed just a few weeks ago.
Chicago Blackhawks: Take a good long look at the core opening night, unless the cap goes up about ten million, they are really likely to be broken up, Hossa is almost 36, and Seabrook only has this and one more year left on his contract.
Colorado Avalanche: Regression to the mean is what all the advanced stats folks are expecting this season. I’ll just say that the new additions to the team, are going to slow it down…
Columbus Blue Jackets: With Johansen starting late, Horton’s career is in doubt, and Dubinsky is on the injured reserve, that said they still have a solid shot at the playoffs.
Dallas Stars: The off season fairy was kind to the Dallas Stars forward depth but their defense and goaltending could still use a gift or two.
Detroit Red Wings: Injuries, aging players, and a coach who might not return next season, what a recipe for success.
Edmonton Oilers: The Nikitin injury should accelerate the development of Darnell Nurse, add in the other injuries and it makes starting the season off on a good note difficult, on the plus side they only play three road games in October.
Florida Panthers: Willie Mitchell,, Roberto Luongo, and Jussi Jokinen are nice adds, I’m not sure the team escapes the bottom five but games will be closer.
Los Angeles Kings: Like the Blackhawks, this team is likely to be very different at the start of next season, is that enough to push them over the top into being the first team to repeat in the salary cap era? They didn’t add anyone, but this year, they also didn’t lose any of the core.
Minnesota Wild: Only four of the nine October games are at home including an opening night rematch with the Avalanche, and a visit to the defending Kings early on will tell people more about the healthy version of this team than anything else.
Montreal Canadiens: No captain, contract years for two key, young forwards, a reliable member of the defense gone, the much relied upon backup gone, this year could indeed be interesting times for the men in the CH.
Nashville Predators: For the first time in team history the Predators will have a new head coach and a new playing style, to compliment that James Neal, Olli Jokinen, and Derek Roy were added up front. General Manager David Polie has to hope he’s found the right way to make sure he’s not the next out the door.
New Jersey Devils: The End of The Brodeur Era is what is being talked about, some interesting additions have helped mask the other question; How much longer will the Lamoriello era last? On October 21st he’ll be 72 years old.
New York Islanders: The additions of Boychuk and Leddy at the end of training camp are the single most disruptive preseason moves in recent history. Fans, players, and executives have to hope upsetting balance in the standing follows.
New York Rangers: Depth and balance helped the blue shirts make the finals last year, this year they start off without Stepan, Pouliot, Richards, Dorsett, and Stralman are gone. An argument can be made that those voids are all filled, but that doesn’t mean the team is as good.
Nashville Predators: Rinne is healthy, Weber is ready, Neal and Roy are part of the squad, a better year is ahead.
Ottawa Senators: If this team gets great goaltending they likely finish eight to ten points outside the playoffs, if they get average or bad goaltending they are in for a very long season. There just is much depth here to work with.
Philadelphia Flyers: This is a team with a lot of opportunity to change peoples minds. Mason, Simmonds, Giroux, Voracek all had solid seasons last year, but the rest of the squad is more question marks than answers.
Pittsburgh Penguins: In the off season they lost a third of their defense, a top six winger, and will enter the season with at least one of their best players below 100%.
Saint Louis Blues: The Blues have a really interesting team, and have a really good good shot at playing in the second half of April and beyond, the big question about this team is goaltending as it has been for years.
San Jose Sharks: This team is imperfectly mixed concrete. With all the outside pressure, maybe, just maybe the team will come together and like that imperfect concrete hold for just long enough.
Toronto Maple Leafs: In the first 10 games we’ll see if the team has fixed their penalty kill, if they have they are a notably better team they were last year on that alone.
Vancouver Canucks: More stability in net is great, but up front this team is clearly not as good as last year, GM Benning still has a long road ahead.
Washington Capitals: Picking up a solid pair of defensemen is good, taking them off the hands of a division rival is better. Wrapped up in that is the addition of someone who can arguably improve their mushy penalty kill.
Winnipeg Jets: Evander Kane is the only player on the team making over four million a year without a no trade clause, if he’s there at the end of the season is anyone’s guess.