Predicting each NHL crew’s end within the 2022-23 standings

The Edmonton Oilers are going to win the 2023 Stanley Cup.

Granted, this may not be one of the best information for the Edmonton Oilers, as evidenced by the lack of a Stanley Cup parade for the New York Islanders final June. So, I reached out to Edmonton normal supervisor Ken Holland to both congratulate him and/or warn him this proclamation was coming.

Me: “Hey Ken. I will choose you guys to win the Stanley Cup in our predictions. Please inform me I am right.”

Ken Holland: “I certain hope you are proper lol!!”

That is the spirit.

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are generational abilities on the identical crew. The gravitational pull of these stars will, ultimately, ensnare a Stanley Cup for the franchise. Because it did for Gretzky and Messier, for Mario and Jagr, for Sakic and Forsberg and for Crosby and Malkin. So why not now?

The duo carried the Oilers to the convention finals final season, the place they have been swept by the Colorado Avalanche. At that time, an injured Draisaitl was being held collectively by tape and prayers. He nonetheless managed to attain 4 factors in Sport 4 towards the Avs. All the run was fueled by one thing one may extra generally discover within the NBA: two superstars exerting their will on playoff opponents. McDavid performed in 16 playoff video games. He had a number of factors in 12 of them. In distinction, Nathan MacKinnon performed in 20 playoff video games and had a number of factors in 4 of them.

Draisaitl and McDavid return with an Oilers crew that has extra ahead depth than any model in latest reminiscence. Evander Kane is again on McDavid’s wing to attain multitudes of targets. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins stays a perfect complementary participant on a contender. The Oilers have veterans and children and scorers and position gamers surrounding their two megastars.

This prediction is made with the hope that defenseman Evan Bouchard, after studying from Duncan Keith final season, ranges up considerably subsequent to Brett Kulak. Darnell Nurse is a strong defenseman on the opposite main pairing. Is it championship depth on paper? Not likely. But it surely may very well be ok, with room for enchancment throughout the season.

Clearly the Oilers made a serious change in aim, going from the curler coaster that was Mike Smith to … the curler coaster that’s Jack Campbell. Extra on that later.

I believe the Oilers did a whole lot of rising up final season. So does Holland. He cites their Sport 6 victory on the street in Los Angeles whereas dealing with elimination as a formative second for his crew. The Oilers dealt with the emotional powder keg that was the Battle of Alberta within the second spherical, too. That is vital transferring ahead. So is the scar tissue. Messier is a giant “you gotta lose earlier than you win man.” The Oilers have been embarrassed by the now-reigning champions. They’re going to keep in mind that ache.

This prognostication significantly will depend on whether or not Jay Woodcroft was the correct man on the proper time final season when he took over from Dave Tippett — or the correct coach transferring ahead. One who’s going to treatment among the Oilers’ defensive shortcomings whereas permitting them to place the pedal down offensively as he did final season. I am wagering that he’s. And never simply because he’s the handsomest coach in the NHL.

So Edmonton wins the West. Whom will the Oilers play for the Stanley Cup? How concerning the Carolina Hurricanes, who’ve been attempting to climb over the hump for a number of seasons? Extra on them in a bit.

Oilers vs. Hurricanes for the Stanley Cup. Occasion prefer it’s 2006. Solely this time, it is Edmonton sipping from the chalice as the primary Canadian crew to win the Cup since 1993 — which, if you recognize me, is the one draw back to this prediction.

What about the remainder of the NHL? This is my division-by-division breakdown of the projected standings. Playoff groups are bolded. Please benefit from the prognostications.

Atlantic Division

Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs
Boston Bruins
Florida Panthers
Detroit Red Wings
Ottawa Senators
Buffalo Sabres
Montreal Canadiens

The Atlantic is a extremely fascinating division. You’ve three rebuilding groups all biking again to relevance on the similar time and needing to climb over one another to knock on the playoff door. Guarding that door are 4 groups that not solely refuse to budge however can all legitimately contend for the Stanley Cup.

Someplace off within the distance are the Montreal Canadiens, doing squats for coach Marty St. Louis as they refresh their draft lottery odds …

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper advised me the climb to the Stanley Cup Remaining final season was tougher than both of those the Lightning made to win back-to-back Cups. “It is painful getting that far simply to bow out in the long run,” he mentioned. The Lightning will work out that frustration on the remainder of the NHL to take the Atlantic.

They’re clearly nonetheless loaded for a championship run and are a crew that may put up a .670 factors share in its sleep. I am intrigued to see what Brandon Hagel does now that he is settled into the crew and enjoying with a wholesome Brayden Point. I do marvel if the losses of blue-line stalwarts Ryan McDonagh and Jan Rutta can have a deleterious impact — though that could be extra of a difficulty within the playoffs than the common season.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have already proven they’ll play to a .701 factors share with middling goaltending. The query is whether or not this season’s goaltending will likely be middling or maladaptive. I’ve spoken to a number of consultants within the goalie group who imagine it will not horrible, with one going so far as saying that Matt Murray is a .920 goalie behind the Leafs’ protection primarily based on his metrics with Ottawa final season. (They have been rather less impassioned about Ilya Samsonov‘s prospects as the opposite half of this tandem.)

Frankly, all of the Leafs want is competency from their goaltenders. They have been within the prime 4 in anticipated targets for and towards at 5-on-5 final season. Their protection corps is de facto strong. There is a sizable hole between the highest two traces and the underside six, which might harm them in some conditions. However when the highest two traces are that good, it overcompensates for it. Auston Matthews writes a sequel to his 60-goal, Hart Trophy-winning season and Toronto cruises to a different playoff berth.

One can pinpoint the second throughout the offseason when some began predicting the demise of the Boston Bruins. It was proper after the announcement that coach Bruce Cassidy had been fired and that Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk would miss a number of regular-season weeks with accidents. The second ended when the primary 2022-23 predictions from the analytics group had Boston squarely within the playoff image. As common, “the Pc Boys and Ladies” are right. The demise of the Boston Bruins has been significantly overstated.

The Bruins are going to must navigate some tough waters in the beginning, nevertheless. Taylor Hall has joined the wounded with a week-to-week harm. That is the place the stabilizing forces of Patrice Bergeron and a returning David Krejci within the center and Hampus Lindholm on the blue line are very important. (The one factor extra tantalizing than that Corridor-Krejci-David Pastrnak line is how a lot Pasta’s subsequent contract is price.)

New head coach Jim Montgomery goes to take care of the Bruins’ defensive excellence. The distinction is that his system in Dallas instantly benefited his goaltenders, who had one of the best 5-on-5 save share within the league throughout his time there. Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman, a succesful tandem with out having Tuukka Rask haunting them, will expertise the identical profit. If the Bruins can keep aggressive till the reinforcements arrive, it’s going to be one other playoff season in Boston.

I predicted the Florida Panthers would drop about 20 factors within the standings, and I am sticking to that. It was an ideal storm of situations for them final season, from the leaguewide offensive uptick to the season’s chaotic play — the Panthers received 11 video games when trailing after two intervals — to the aggressive imbalance within the Japanese Convention.

The crew that amassed 122 factors was Joel Quenneville’s crew, as since-departed interim coach Andrew Brunette simply maintained these programs. Silver-tongued Paul Maurice talked his manner into this gig and can put his personal stamp on the crew, which might imply a step again within the common season for a leap ahead within the playoffs. As nice as Matthew Tkachuk is, eradicating Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar from the dressing room is a course-changer, too. Nonetheless a playoff crew, if not a steamroller.

play

4:22

Matthew Tkachuk chats with Emily Kaplan about being traded to the Florida Panthers and now turning into a division rival of his brother Brady and the Ottawa Senators.

I used to be talking with an NHL normal supervisor the opposite day who agreed with my pet idea: Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman is not going to begin spending on unrestricted free brokers except he thinks his crew is about to show the nook. Yzerman turned the NHL offseason into his personal “Grocery store Sweep,” pushing Andrew Copp, David Perron, Dominik Kubalik, Ben Chiarot, Olli Maatta and Ville Husso into his proverbial basket. (Alas, no $50 frozen turkeys.) The primary three gamers are going to goose the Wings’ offense, however so will the continued development of gamers like Lucas Raymond, Michael Rasmussen — who an NHL coach not too long ago advised me is “an absolute hoss” — and Filip Zadina.

The important thing to the season is how new coach Derek Lalonde offers this crew defensive construction, which the Wings decidedly lacked in 2021-22. One factor is evident: Defenseman Moritz Seider is on that “Calder-winning defenseman who ranges as much as Norris consideration” elevator. Count on an enormous enchancment from the Wings, and it is about time. Is not it bonkers to suppose that Little Caesars Area has by no means hosted an NHL postseason sport?

Count on the identical form of enchancment from the Ottawa Senators, though not fairly as a lot as many are predicting. Their prime two traces are extremely spectacular. Claude Giroux, Tim Stützle and Alex DeBrincat will kind one of many NHL’s best traces. Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris and Drake Batherson will likely be higher yr over yr. However I do not love their again finish, and I would slightly have Detroit’s goaltending, actually.

  • Caveat No. 1: Actually each coach and GM I’ve spoken with this offseason has provided some variation of “be careful for Ottawa.”

  • Caveat No. 2: Typically all it takes is 2 nice traces to make a playoff contender.

I really like the place the Buffalo Sabres are headed within the first full season of the post-Jack Eichel period. Different groups want that they had defensemen Rasmus Dahlin and rookie Owen Power as the muse on which to rebuild. It may be enjoyable to see Tage Thompson‘s breakout-year follow-up, and to trace the maturation curve of Dylan Cozens, Peyton Krebs, Jack Quinn and Alex Tuch, the latter of whom must be the Sabres’ new captain. How aggressive they’re will largely depend upon the ageless marvel of Craig Anderson and whether or not free agent Eric Comrie is not the following Carter Hutton.

There’s optimistic buzz and enthusiasm, however they’re nonetheless a yr away. I do know it will have been superior for Terry Pegula to have a Payments Tremendous Bowl championship and a Sabres playoff berth in 2023, however alas …

If the Montreal Canadiens are something however horrible then they’re doing it unsuitable. The perfect season: some fireworks from Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and hopefully No. 1 general choose Juraj Slafkovsky; optimistic progress for Kirby Dach; an lively and bountiful commerce deadline from GM Kent Hughes; after which a report worse than these of the Blackhawks and Coyotes. Oh, and Florida one way or the other misses the playoffs to extend these Connor Bedard odds. As a result of the Cats traded a conditional first-round choose for a number of months of Ben Chiarot, and Montreal now owns that choose for the 2023 draft. Sure, that truly occurred.


Metropolitan Division

Carolina Hurricanes
Pittsburgh Penguins
New Jersey Devils
New York Rangers
Washington Capitals
New York Islanders
Columbus Blue Jackets
Philadelphia Flyers

Let’s begin with the seismic shift within the Metro panorama, which has the New Jersey Devils bettering by practically 30 factors within the standings to enter the playoff social gathering for the primary time since 2018, whereas the Capitals are left outdoors, banging on the home windows for the primary time since 2014.

Each season there is a gestating crew that breaks out of its shell. That is the Devils this season. Their ahead group is deep with younger abilities like Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, Yegor Sharangovich and Dawson Mercer. Add one other freshman phenom: 20-year-old Alexander Holtz, who had a type of Lucas Raymond-esque preseasons during which his play advised the Devils he is prepared. The addition of Swiss military knife Ondrej Palat to Hughes’ wing may not have the accelerant impression of getting landed free agent Johnny Gaudreau — who wiggled off New Jersey’s hook on the final second — however his defensive duty and knack for filthy targets are going to profit Jack. Including John Marino to the third defensive pairing could be simply as impactful.

That ahead group helped the Devils to eleventh within the NHL final season in anticipated targets for per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 (2.63), and the crew tied for thirteenth in anticipated targets towards (2.48). Why wasn’t New Jersey higher than seventh within the Metro? Three elements, all of which must reverse course for a playoff berth:

  • The Devils’ energy play was in “simply decline the penalty” territory final season (15.6%). Former Panthers interim coach and Jack Adams finalist (!) Andrew Brunette takes over this unit as an assistant coach. The Panthers had the fifth-best energy play within the league final season (24.4%).

  • I noticed assistant GM Martin Brodeur at Devils camp the opposite day and requested him what the keys to the season have been. To the shock of nobody, the Corridor of Fame goalie mentioned, “getting a save.” After whiffing twice in two years on goalie acquisitions, GM Tom Fitzgerald hopes Vitek Vanecek is a stabilizing power for 26-year-old Mackenzie Blackwood, whom the group nonetheless believes can recapture the magic. No goaltending, no playoffs. It is that easy.

  • Dangerous goaltending subverted each good factor the Devils did final season. So did well being. They want a minimal of 70 video games from Hughes. They must hope Hischier performs 80 video games for the primary time since his rookie season. Dougie Hamilton — bear in mind him? — wants a full season. They get these three elements straightened out, and play as much as their metrics final season, and so they’re a playoff crew.

Which implies somebody is not, and I believe that crew is the Washington Capitals. I can see why others have them penciled right into a playoff spot. They have been tenth in anticipated targets towards final season however twenty third in crew save share (.898); in order that they signal Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren, and that drawback is addressed. Their 5-on-5 offensive metrics have been middling for 2 seasons, and so they’re lacking Tom Wilson (ACL) for a minimum of two months and Nicklas Backstrom (main hip surgical procedure) for the foreseeable future; they bring about in Connor Brown and Dylan Strome to stabilize issues. Ovi shoot, Ovi rating, Capitals make the playoffs, proper?

Improper. I believe Father Time continues to stalk this crew and gamers like T.J. Oshie. I believe the impression of Kuemper and Lindgren has been a bit overstated. I believe generally good groups aren’t nearly as good as a few of their division rivals and so they miss the playoffs, which is the case right here. However fret not for the Capitals. They’re going to work out Peter Laviolette’s future, as he is within the final yr of his deal, and work with Backstrom to determine his. They’re maybe essentially the most fascinating crew of the 2023 NHL offseason: 9 gamers below contract — together with only one defenseman, John Carlson — with $23.87 million in open cap house and a world of prospects for Ovechkin’s twilight years.

play

2:06

Try the 5 finest targets from final yr as we put together for the upcoming season.

The Carolina Hurricanes win the Metro for a 3rd straight season on the energy of their goaltending (.913 final season), even-strength offense and a penalty kill as sturdy as Rod Brind’Amour on leg day. They’ve lengthy had one of many smartest entrance workplaces within the NHL, and their offseason bolstered that. Brent Burns is nearly good for the shot quantity the Hurricanes prefer to create. Paul Stastny is the spackle for any gap within the lineup. They’re going to have to attend for Max Pacioretty to heal up, however that is tremendous: He is there to create that aim within the postseason in shut video games that Carolina hasn’t been getting, with 30 factors in his previous 36 playoff video games. Three veterans arriving on the proper time for a crew that is going to interrupt by means of.

I requested Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Jan Rutta to check the usual of excellence in Tampa Bay with that on his new crew. “When you will have a working-hard tradition, a profitable tradition, a whole lot of the issues are the identical, and you’ll really feel that,” he mentioned. The band is back together in Pittsburgh. The Penguins have not had something lower than a .623 factors share up to now three seasons, regardless of their common spate of accidents. Mike Sullivan ought to have been a Jack Adams finalist final season; so long as he is behind the bench as a steadying presence, and Sidney Crosby continues be extra “Sid The Child” than “35-year-old man getting into his 18th NHL season,” that profitable tradition Rutta described will proceed unencumbered in Pittsburgh.

I’ve the New York Rangers fourth right here as a result of I stay involved about their 5-on-5 play — they have been twenty eighth in anticipated targets per 60 minutes final season — even with the addition of free-agent heart Vincent Trocheck, who’s an improve over Ryan Strome. These considerations may very well be rapidly alleviated if Alexis Lafrenière‘s flashes of brilliance of their playoff run are seen on a weekly foundation within the common season, and if Vitali Kravtsov is among the league’s breakout gamers. However consider just a little regression for Igor Shesterkin, nonetheless one of the best goalie on the planet, and an influence play (25.2%) on which they have been overly reliant, and it is a playoff crew however not one other 110-point crew.

My remorse in choosing the New York Islanders to win all of it final season was assuming that it was their veteran poise and defensive construction that enabled them to navigate by means of two pandemic seasons to the convention finals, and never one thing extra anomalous. I assumed the identical traits would have stabilized them by means of that early street journey and any COVID-related street bumps final season; as an alternative the wheels got here flying off. Now GM Lou Lamoriello is making the identical calculation, supposing that the Islanders’ 2021-22 flop was as a consequence of mitigating circumstances.

Outdoors of upgrading the protection with Alexander Romanov, Lamoriello fired his coach and doubled down on his aged roster, which must be acquainted to any Devils fan who watched him make that very same mistake a half-dozen occasions in between Cup wins. Nonetheless, Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov are ok to maintain the Devils aggressive even when Lane Lambert does not show as efficient as his mentor Barry Trotz.

Michael Bublé performed the Saddledome on Tuesday, and reportedly roasted Johnny Gaudreau in entrance of Calgary followers, saying, “I do not wish to play the place it is arduous. I do not wish to win the Stanley Cup.” (I am certain it appeared like velvet when he mentioned it, although.) What Gaudreau did need: seven years, $68.25 million, a full no-movement clause and a spot the place his rising household may very well be blissful. He clearly makes the Columbus Blue Jackets higher, and the magic he creates with Patrik Laine might make for some must-see hockey. However with a younger supporting solid, they’re a minimum of a yr away from leveling up, particularly with goaltending that options the strong play of Elvis Merzļikins and no matter it’s that Joonas Korpisalo does.

John Tortorella hasn’t coached a crew to a factors share lower than .500 for the reason that 2007-08 Lightning. The Philadelphia Flyers had a .372 factors share final season. They’re going to enhance below Torts. As a substitute of giving up rebounds, there is a risk that Carter Hart has a rebound yr himself whereas enjoying in again of a 5-on-5 protection that is higher than twenty eighth within the league this season.

However GM Chuck Fletcher constructed a roster that assumed Ryan Ellis would play a serious position on protection and Sean Couturier could be an enormous issue at ahead. The previous is finished for the season; the latter is week-to-week with an upper-body harm. Count on plenty of younger gamers, rising pains that go away the Flyers doubled over, and a few epic Tortorella postgame information conferences as frustration festers.


Central Division

Colorado Avalanche
Minnesota Wild
Nashville Predators
Dallas Stars
Winnipeg Jets
St. Louis Blues
Arizona Coyotes
Chicago Blackhawks

I requested Colorado Avalanche GM Chris MacFarland not too long ago concerning the hurdles his crew has to gallop over to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. The very first thing he talked about was personnel adjustments. “It is a new chapter that is going to should be written. There’s going to be traps and pitfalls which can be going to impression us. However we’re assured within the maturity of our membership and suppose they will deal with these inevitable challenges which can be head-on,” he advised me.

The best lure to wriggle from is at No. 2 heart, the place the Avalanche misplaced Nazem Kadri to free company. That blow was instantly softened by having Alex Newhook prepared to attract in. He has the potential to equal or surpass Kadri’s offensive output, even when he does not carry the coarse intangibles that made Kadri such a singular participant final season.

Essentially the most perilous pitfall is the goaltending. When Philipp Grubauer bolted for Seattle in 2021, the Avalanche anted up massive for Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper. The wager paid off with a powerful common season and a Stanley Cup playoffs efficiency that … properly, they received, did not they? Alexandar Georgiev is not Kuemper. The way in which MacFarland described it, he is Grubauer 2.0: a backup goalie given the possibility to “run with the ball” as a starter. Or, failing that, efficiently kind a powerful tandem with Pavel Francouz, who has a whole lot of followers within the goaltending group.

The Avalanche might take a small step again due to these adjustments however stay the category of the West. The one different potential lure: Easy methods to replicate the starvation to win as soon as you’ve got happy it. Though if there’s something we find out about Nathan MacKinnon, it is how he manages his teammates’ diets.

play

3:11

Cale Makar displays on his offseason after profitable the Stanley Cup and what the Avalanche are hoping to realize this season.

The impact rookie Matt Boldy had on the Minnesota Wild final season has been famous however undersold: They went 32-11-4 with him within the lineup, as he had 39 factors in 47 video games. To enhance on a 113-point common season, the Wild are going to wish an analogous impression from rookie heart Marco Rossi, as that is by far the thinnest space of the crew. I believe he is as much as the duty and must be within the Calder Trophy dialogue.

The Wild are extremely deep on protection. You realize what they’ve up entrance: Kirill Kaprizov, who completed with 108 factors in 81 video games and was seventh for the Hart; the surprising dominance of Ryan Hartman and the welcome return to type of Mats Zuccarello; and the GREEF Line of Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno, the most effective checking traces in hockey. They’ve sufficient to soak up the loss Kevin Fiala, whom they could not afford to maintain because of Zach Parise‘s and Ryan Suter‘s useless cap house.

“I am not nervous in any respect,” GM Invoice Guerin advised me. “Kevin’s a great participant. Look, I am certain that Colorado would like to have Kadri again. I am certain Calgary wished Gaudreau and Tkachuk again. You lose good gamers. That is what occurs.”

My most important concern with the Wild is within the crease, which is not one thing you’d usually affiliate with Marc-Andre Fleury, however he had the third-worst targets saved above anticipated of any goalie final season (min. 40 video games). Was {that a} results of the tumult from his fallout in Vegas and two trades? Or was it the inkling of a decline for a goalie who turns 38 in November? In both case, Filip Gustavsson is a downgrade from Cam Talbot, even when he is only a placeholder for Jesper Wallstedt.

I liked the Ryan McDonagh transfer for the Nashville Predators. He was a steadying presence for the Lightning’s protection and would be the similar in Nashville. I believe Mattias Ekholm goes to utterly thrive with McDonagh within the lineup. I actually favored the Nino Niederreiter signing, too, as a reliable veteran ahead on a roster that would use a number of extra of them. I am keen on ahead Filip Forsberg, defenseman Roman Josi and goalie Juuse Saros, three of the best possible at what they do within the NHL.

What I do not love, like or adore: Choosing this Nashville crew third within the division whereas realizing how arduous the potential regression goes to be for gamers like Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene. They rode the NHL’s offensive wave to profession revivals. If their manufacturing falls off a cliff, so do the Predators. I am extra assured in Duchene’s renaissance than that of Johansen, if we’re being sincere.

Now comes the arduous half: Who from the Blues, Jets and Stars makes the playoff reduce? My choose is the Dallas Stars.

I warning you that I would nonetheless be dazzled by the road of Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski, one of the best trio in hockey final season, in addition to the postseason heroics of Jake Oettinger. It is arduous to think about the Hintz line getting any higher or Otter enjoying like Lakeville, Minnesota’s reply to Dominik Hasek for 60 video games. But it surely’s not tough to see them serving to the Stars again to the playoffs if the supporting solid lives as much as its promise — assuming Robertson is within the fold rapidly and this contract drama ends.

Three key names: Mason Marchment, GM Jim Nill’s huge free-agent signing at ahead whom I’ve heard they’re actually excessive on this season; Tyler Seguin, lastly wholesome and able to discover one other offensive stage below new coach Pete DeBoer; and Miro Heiskanen, who will likely be handed the keys to the highest power-play unit. A further 10 factors from particular groups, and I wager he lastly enters the Norris Trophy dialog.

Keep in mind this about DeBoer: He does not miss in 12 months 1. He made Florida a 93-point crew that misplaced out on a playoff spot by way of a tiebreaker. He introduced the Devils and Sharks to the Stanley Cup Remaining, and Vegas to the convention finals. Certain, all of it sours like spoiled milk by 12 months 3, however 12 months 1 is all sweet and roses.

In case St. Louis Blues followers wanted another excuse to hate Steve Yzerman — previous rivalries die arduous — they’ll blame him if the crew misses the playoffs for signing two key gamers to the Purple Wings. I believe they will miss David Perron, if not on the highest line then particularly on the ability play. I believe they’re actually going to overlook Ville Husso within the crease, as a result of Thomas Greiss is about three seasons faraway from being the security web they will want him to be for Jordan Binnington within the common season.

As with Nashville, there is a regression case to observe with St. Louis. It is not about particular gamers however slightly a whole crew that shot a full share level higher (12.4%) than anybody else within the NHL, and produced over a half a aim extra at 5-on-5 (per 60 minutes) than anticipated. Mix that with a protection corps whose depth may very well be ghastly if Colton Parayko does not bounce again, and I believe the Blues simply miss the reduce.

The Winnipeg Jets employed Rick Bowness to do two issues: enhance their crew protection and be the curmudgeonly coach who upsets the established order, which he did by stripping Blake Wheeler of his captaincy. Out of all of the groups within the Central, the Jets might need the widest variance. Possibly Bowness finds a technique to get Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor and Wheeler to “D” it up whereas staying in an offensive groove. Possibly we discuss extra about what Pierre-Luc Dubois is doing on the ice slightly than the place he desires to play in 2023-24 as a restricted free agent. Possibly Nikolaj Ehlers performs 80 video games and that makes all of the distinction. Possibly Connor Hellebuyck does what he used to do, which is drag the Jets to the postseason it doesn’t matter what’s taking place in entrance of him.

Once more, I would not be stunned if we underestimate this crew. Heck, Tom Cruise went again to the jets for a second time and may get an Oscar for it — why could not the identical factor occur for Rick Bowness? In the long run, I believe these Jets rating a bunch, let in much less, however fall simply in need of the playoffs just like the Blues. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff heads again to the drafting board forward of the final yr of Scheifele’s contract in Winnipeg, and with Dubois’ future unsure.

I do not like large variables clouding my predictions, which is why I’ve struggled to handicap the Arizona Coyotes. How does the crew react to enjoying its 41 house video games at a university hockey enviornment that seats lower than 5,000 followers? Is it like a Hollywood sports activities comedy, the place the scrappy crew that everybody treats as a joke rises as much as demand respectability? Or is that this going to be a crew that turns into a product of its atmosphere, enjoying like an outmatched crew? I really suppose the Coyotes will not be as dangerous as they hope to be. For the sake of their draft place, these ASU video games higher not change into a celebration ambiance that offers the Yotes an indelible home-ice benefit.

The one three issues I will be enthusiastic about relating to the Chicago Blackhawks this season: The place Patrick Kane is enjoying by March, the place Jonathan Toews is enjoying by March and what quantity Connor Bedard goes to put on as a rookie in Chicago beginning in 2023. C’mon, search your emotions. You realize this to be true.


Pacific Division

Calgary Flames
Edmonton Oilers
Vegas Golden Knights
Los Angeles Kings
Vancouver Canucks
Seattle Kraken
Anaheim Ducks
San Jose Sharks

That the Calgary Flames are a greater crew with Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri and MacKenzie Weegar than they have been with Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau has change into a type of takes that all the things assumes is scorching when it is like winter in Banff. I can see the argument: Huberdeau and Johnny Hockey may very well be a wash, Kadri replaces Chucky’s truculence whereas giving the Flames a strong No. 2 heart, and Weegar’s an apparent improve on protection. However 82 targets scored simply walked out the door with Gaudreau and Tkachuk, who clearly contributed to the vast majority of Elias Lindholm‘s 42 tallies as properly. So proper now I am much less “higher crew” than “GM Brad Treliving dealt with determined occasions with some actually spectacular determined measures” as one of the best I can say.

I would be extra involved concerning the DNA of a crew being rewritten if the DNA of the Flames wasn’t basically Darryl Sutter’s. The Jack Adams winner had the Flames fifth in anticipated targets for and third in anticipated targets towards at 5-on-5 final season. His system helped foster a crew save share of .913 (4th) with 11 shutouts (1st). The Flames may not hit the offensive heights of final season’s crew, however they are a basically sound group that is going to be proper again on the prime of the Pacific with Huberdeau and Kadri.

I’ve already spoken a bit concerning the Edmonton Oilers up prime, however let me reiterate that my Stanley Cup prediction is based on the Oilers studying to defend at a championship stage when essential and the stabilization of the goaltending place by both Jack Campbell or Stuart Skinner or each. That I discover each possible could be my downfall.

The Vegas Golden Knights would have been a playoff crew have been it not for a number of key accidents down the stretch, most notably to crew coronary heart/soul/mind/spine Mark Stone. Then they did what Vegas does: overreact to any season’s outcomes by buying and selling Max Pacioretty for a bag of air and firing coach Peter DeBoer to herald Bruce Cassidy, late of the Bruins. They misplaced Robin Lehner to offseason surgical procedure and opted for (largely) an inner goaltending repair.

Many have written off the Knights as a result of Lehner’s out, however I believe that misses three issues:

  • Logan Thompson is not horrible and may very well be a sneaky Calder Trophy contender if he competently fills the void left by Lehner.

  • Cassidy is implementing a brand new defensive system that hopefully provides some fortification round that goaltending.

  • The Knights are actually good in most different areas, from a full season of Jack Eichel to a wholesome Stone to the Golden Misfits line at ahead, and with Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore anchoring the blue line. That is ok to ship them again to the playoffs, or in Eichel’s case to the playoffs for the primary time.

Oh, and yet one more factor: They’re completely enraged about lacking the playoffs and being written off. Keep in mind the final time the Knights acquired salty for being neglected?

The Los Angeles Kings have gotten a hipster choose to win the Pacific, and why not? They made the playoffs forward of their rebuild’s schedule final season, added Kevin Fiala‘s goal-scoring prowess to Anze Kopitar‘s wing within the offseason and have Drew Doughty again from a season-ending harm. They’re deep, proficient and have not even scratched the floor of what gamers like Quinton Byfield and Brandt Clarke are going to provide them.

I believe that makes them a playoff crew, possibly even a third-place crew within the Pacific once more. However I am sorry, I am not shopping for an encore of the Jonathan Quick renaissance. He performed beneath anticipated for 3 straight seasons earlier than ending seventh in targets saved above anticipated final season. I do not suppose he repeats the feat; and if Cal Petersen cannot bounce again from his tough marketing campaign, the Kings may very well be subverted by their crease.

I’ve squinted as arduous as I might and I nonetheless cannot fairly see the Vancouver Canucks as a playoff crew, sadly. I believe Thatcher Demko makes a critical Vezina Trophy run as one of many NHL’s higher workhorse-type goalies. I sit up for extra offensive wizardry from Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. However the newly paid J.T. Miller has had an “each different yr” factor offensively, so weren’t going to see one other 99 factors from him. The proper aspect of Vancouver’s protection corps is among the weakest teams within the NHL. The crew feels prefer it’s attempting to wash up previous messes, contend within the current and arrange for the long run on the similar time, and the result’s disorienting.

The Seattle Kraken may very well be a sneaky lengthy shot to make the playoffs within the Pacific. They have been sound defensively final season, fifth within the NHL in anticipated targets towards on common. It is simply that any defensive lapses they made mainly become targets because of the worst goaltending within the NHL, each in crew save share and analytically. If Philipp Grubauer and Martin Jones, there to play for the injured Chris Driedger, give Seattle something near replacement-level efforts, the Kraken might shock … if the offense improves.

Coach Dave Hakstol’s system left the Kraken thirtieth in anticipated targets scored and twenty eighth in targets per sport (2.60). There’s completely no motive a crew that added Oliver Bjorkstrand and Andre Burakovsky, and can have Calder contender Matty Beniers as its main heart, cannot be considerably higher offensively. Properly, except that motive is Hakstol.

play

2:31

Trevor Zegras talks with John Buccigross about his highlight-reel targets and the criticism he has confronted for his flashy strikes on the ice.

The Anaheim Ducks are like a online game. Trevor Zegras is rewriting the programming together with his strikes. Jamie Drysdale, Kevin Shattenkirk, Cam Fowler and John Klingberg are just like the protection you construct on your roster that forgoes any stay-at-home guys — properly, save for Dmitry Kulikov. Mason McTavish is like an growth pack that brings hours of leisure. This crew is tremendous enjoyable. I hope the Geese stage up and contend for an extended interval time than their temporary flirtation with relevance final season. However these Geese want one other yr within the nest.

The San Jose Sharks stay caught in that purgatory between their years of Stanley Cup rivalry and ready for regardless of the subsequent section of the franchise appears to be like like. The re-signed Tomas Hertl joins Logan Couture, Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic as veterans with commerce safety. Timo Meier is a pending restricted free agent making $10 million in base wage this season. James Reimer and Kaapo Kahkonen might give new head coach David Quinn some strong goaltending, however I am at a loss for the place this crew is headed or what it is speculated to be now.


Leave a Comment