With a new season comes new predictions, a new chance for people like myself to make wild prognostications that will be somewhere between 3 and 5 percent correct (at best) at season’s end. Yes, it’s a gigantic waste of time. But it’s *fun* and pointless, like a book club or voting in America.
What follows is a hybrid preview/predictions for the upcoming season. The teams are ranked from 30 to 1, with the idea that this is how they will set up for the 2014 NHL Draft (traded and forfeited picks aside) before the lottery. So the teams that are ranked 1-2 here are the Stanley Cup champion and runner-up. Teams 3-4 are your conference final losers. Teams 5-16 are reverse order of the final standings based on overall points. Teams 17-30…you guessed it…failed to make the postseason.
So kick back, put your feet up on the coffee table, get angry or happy and enjoy one man’s opinion on what’s going to happen in the NHL this season along with some useful information about players who have changed teams this offseason.
30. CALGARY FLAMES
Key additions: A realistic outlook on the team, David Jones, TJ Galiardi, Kris Russell, Shane O’Brien, Karri Ramo
Key subtractions: A warped belief this is a playoff team, Miikka Kiprusoff, Alex Tanguay, Roman Cervenka, Anton Babchuk, Cory Sarich
Must bounce back: The guy who continues to fail to invent a time a machine
Why they are here: Finally, about three years too late, the Flames are embarking on a rebuild. They will move Mike Cammalleri as things worsen. This is going to be a very, very bad professional hockey team, but that is just fine.
How it can go right: It can’t.
Funny quote of the offseason: “We can’t keep trading away high draft picks and trying for that solution that gets us through and gets us to the playoffs at the expense of the foundation.” – Jay Feaster, with a liberal use of the word “we.”
29. FLORIDA PANTHERS
Key additions: Scott Gomez (seriously), Bobby Butler, Joey Crabb
Key subtractions: Stephen Weiss, Jose Theodore, Jack Skille
Must bounce back: Kris Versteeg
Why they are here: There is no longer a Southeast Division, which means all the bonus points in the world aren’t getting the Panthers back to the playoffs. The young guys are too young (sans Jonathan Huberdeau) and the old guys are too old. Bad times are ahead.
How it can go right: The NHL decides to allow 28 teams to make the postseason and Jacob Markstrom has the greatest season in the history of goaltending. The NHL seizes ownership of 15 other teams and sells them to Russia.
Funny quote of the offseason: “We are very excited to unveil this special $7 season ticket package that will give fans a chance to catch every single Panthers game next season.” — Team President Michael Yormark
28. BUFFALO SABRES
Key additions: Henrik Tallinder, Jamie McBain
Key subtractions: Nathan Gerbe, Adam Pardy, Andrej Sekera, Ville Leino…wait, they didn’t buy out Leino? Really?
Must bounce back: Tyler Myers
Why they are here: It was a bad team in 2013 and it’s basically the same team for this season. At some point, the Sabres are probably going to trade Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek, making them exponentially worse.
How it can go right: Ville Leino becomes a point-per-game player. Vanek and Miller carry the team on their backs for months, forcing the Sabres to retain their services. Tallinder proves to be Myers’ muse and they become a dynamic top pairing. Jim Carrey becomes God and grants a bunch of Sabres fans’ wishes.
Funny quote of the offseason: “He is a very qualified person.” – Terry Pegula, on Darcy Regier
27. COLORADO AVALANCHE
Key additions: Patrick Roy, Nathan MacKinnon, Alex Tanguay, Cory Sarich
Key subtractions: Joe Sacco, Milan Hejduk, David Jones, Chuck Kobasew, Greg Zanon
Must bounce back: Semyon Varlamov
Why they are here: There are improvements up front, but the defense and goaltending are more questionable than holding your glove in the air thinking you’ve made a save when you haven’t. The future looks nice, however, but this season isn’t the future.
How it can go right: Paul Stastny becomes a 79-point guy again. Varlamov becomes worth the trade. MacKinnon wins the Calder. Roy has surgery to remove his Stanley Cup rings from his ears and listens to his players.
Funny quote of the offseason: “One thing I know — we’re going to have a Stanley Cup attitude.” – Patrick Roy
26. PHOENIX COYOTES
Key additions: Mike Ribeiro, Thomas Greiss, debt at the expense of taxpayers
Key subtractions: Jason LaBarbera, Chad Johnson, Boyd Gordon, Alexandre Bolduc
Must bounce back: Mike Smith
Why they are here: They’re stuck in a stacked division and even with the upgrade of Ribeiro, still lack the offensive punch to compete. But hey, at least those people in Coyotes jerseys at the council meeting get to watch their favorite team.
How it can go right: The Coyotes get back to being the defensive stalwarts they were in Dave Tippett’s first two seasons and Smith plays Vezina-worthy hockey.
Funny quote of the offseason: “(The lease) is in the best interest of residents and the taxpayers of the city of Glendale.” – Anthony Leblanc
25. CAROLINA HURRICANES
Key additions: Andrej Sekera, Anton Khudobin, Mike Komisarek, Nathan Gerbe
Key subtractions: Joe Corvo, Dan Ellis, Jaime McBain, Chad LaRose
Must bounce back: Cam Ward, Jeff Skinner
Why they are here: Sekera is an upgrade on the blue line, but this is still arguably the worst group of defensemen in the NHL. Ward can mask the problems, but it’s like putting a dab of aloe on the burned-up guy they pulled out of the drain in The Usual Suspects.
How it can go right: Ward stands on his head all season long. Skinner shakes off the pressure he was under after signing a massive contract and scores 30 goals. The Rangers and Penguins run away in the Metro Division, leaving the third spot free for the taking.
Funny quote of the offseason: “I feel good about our coaching staff, feel good about our whole staff. … We have a real strong hockey staff.” – Jim Rutherford, on his staff
24. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Key additions: Valtteri Filppula, Jonathan Drouin
Key subtractions: Vinny Lecavalier, Mathieu Garon, Brendan Mikkelson, Benoit Pouilot
Must bounce back: Anders Lindback, Matt Carle
Why they are here: Yes, the proper long-term move is buying out Lecavalier, but right now, he’s better than Filppula, so that’s a downgrade. It’s pretty much the same defensemen as last season, and the goalie situation is a powder keg. Jon Cooper needs to teach this team how to play defense, which will be tough, but it’s hard to find a more successful AHL coach.
How it can go right: The Lindback/Ben Bishop duo becomes an elite tandem. Drouin is a Calder Trophy finalist. The Lightning allow fewer than three goals per game. Cooper becomes a Jack Adams finalist.
Funny quote of the offseason: “He’s here to make us a better team and he will make us a better team.” – Steve Yzerman on Valtteri Filppula
23. DALLAS STARS
Key additions: Lindy Ruff, Tyler Seguin, Tyler Seguin’s Twitter account, Tyler Seguin’s Twitter hackers, Rich Peverley, Shawn Horcoff, Sergei Gonchar, Dan Ellis
Key subtractions: Glen Gulutzan, Loui Eriksson, Eric Nystrom, Philip Larsen, Richard Bachman
Must bounce back: Tyler Seguin
Why they are here: People went nuts when Jim Nill made his moves this summer, but what did he really add? Horcoff is 34 hasn’t cracked 13 goals since 2008-09, Seguin could be trending toward being a monumental bust, and Peverley is a good depth forward. Gonchar is 39 and won’t have Erik Karlsson to run with this season.
How it can go right: Seguin becomes a star. Lehtonen is even better than he has been. Gonchar proves he has a lot left in the tank.
Funny quote of the offseason: “After repeated attempts by ‘hackers’ to try to damage my reputation I have decided to shut down my twitter account for a while.” – Tyler Seguin, via Twitter
22. NASHVILLE PREDATORS
Key additions: Viktor Stalberg, Matt Cullen, Eric Nystrom, Matt Hendricks, Seth Jones
Key subtractions: Sergei Kostitsyn, Matt Halischuk, Bobby Butler, Chris Mason, Brandon Yip
Must bounce back: Shea Weber, Pekka Rinne
Why they are here: They fell hard last season without Ryan Suter and stockpiled pluggers and grinders in the offseason without adding any scoring help. There’s hope for them in the wide-open Central Division, but not much.
How it can go right: Weber and Rinne prove their subpar seasons were lockout-induced flukes, not a product of Suter’s departure. Seth Jones makes an immediate impact, as does Filip Forsberg. The Central is as bad as it looks. They play a lot of 2-1 games.
Funny quote of the offseason: “Obviously we know we had a bad season this year. I think everybody is going to come back and improve and have a run in the playoffs next year. ” – Patric Hornqvist
21. NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Key additions: Cal Clutterbuck, Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Key subtractions: Mark Streit, Nino Niederreiter, Brad Boyes, momentum off last season’s playoff appearance, Keith Aucoin
Must bounce back: Kyle Okposo
Why they are here: They narrowly made the playoffs last year in a conference that shuttled a bad team West and welcomed two really good ones. They aren’t a laughingstock anymore, but they’re merely team on the cusp of the playoff picture.
How it can go right: Okposo scores 20. Nabokov improves. Tavares gets even better, which he’s more than capable of doing. The Metro Division is as bad as it can be and the Islanders take advantage of it.
Funny quote of the offseason: “Seven years is a long time. To me, that’s enough time to win a couple Stanley Cups.” – Travis Hamonic, after signing a seven-year contract with the Islanders
20. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
Key additions: Vinny Lecavalier, Mark Streit, Ray Emery, Claude Giroux golf jokes
Key subtractions: Ilya Bryzgalov, Danny Briere, Simon Gagne, Ruslan Fedotenko
Must bounce back: Claude Giroux, Luke Schenn
Why they are here: Giroux had people arguing he was the best player in the NHL two seasons ago. Last season, he was very good, but he needs to be great for the Flyers to have success. Those two sentences were padding because “Goaltending and defense” would’ve been too short of an analysis.
How it can go right: Giroux returns to his 90-point form. Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier become the players that people think they are. Steve Mason proves he is a No. 1 goaltender. Peter Laviolette doesn’t lose the room.
Funny quote of the offseason: “I want to add that we really like our defense.” – Paul Holmgren
19. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Key additions: David Clarkson, Dave Bolland, Jonathan Bernier, a smug sense of superiority based on one playoff trip in a shortened season
Key subtractions: Mikhail Grabovski, Clarke MacArthur, Ryan O’Byrne, Ben Scrivens, perspective
Must bounce back: David Clarkson
Why they are here: This is a team that scored three goals a game last season and, in theory, bolstered the offense, but they were also very lucky shooting percentage-wise. The James Reimer-Bernier tandem has the makings of a very good one, but Bernier seems unnecessary given Reimer’s play when healthy.
How it can go right: Clarkson proves his 30-goal season two years ago wasn’t a mirage and he gets to 25 with the Leafs. Nazem Kadri doesn’t regress as much as many think he will. Phil Kessel has a contract year for the ages. The Reimer/Bernier tandem is one of the five best in the NHL.
Funny quote of the offseason: “I have it planned out and it’s going to be fantastic.” – Tim Leiweke, MLSE chief, on the Leafs’ 2014 Stanley Cup parade
18. ANAHEIM DUCKS
Key additions: Jakob Silfverberg, Dustin Penner, Mark Fistric
Key subtractions: Bobby Ryan, Matthew Lombardi, David Steckel, Tony Lydman
Must bounce back: Cam Fowler, Teemu Selanne
Why they are here: They were the flukiest team in a fluky season, and after a hot start with a PDO off the charts, they regressed majorly down the stretch (10-9-3 in their last 22) and lost in the first round of the playoffs. Since then, they parted ways with perennial 30-goal scorer Ryan and lost Sheldon Souray until January. Selanne looked like he was at his end last season, so him coming back doesn’t matter one way or the other.
How it can go right: Kids Jakob Silfverberg, Emerson Etem and Devante Smith-Pelly emerge as consistent goal-scoring threats. Viktor Fasth shows he can repeat his first season. Selanne has more left in the tank than he showed in 2013.
Funny quote of the offseason: ”It was one of those things I felt in my gut.” – Dustin Penner, on returning to Anaheim
17. MONTREAL CANADIENS
Key additions: Danny Briere, George Parros, Douglas Murray
Key subtractions: Michael Ryder, Colby Armstrong, Yannick Weber
Must bounce back: Rene Bourque, David Desharnais
Why they are here: Carey Price coupled with the Habs’ young talent has them in a good position, but they faded in 2013. Adding Briere, who has something to prove after being bought out by the Flyers, was a wise move, but the improved East will be a challenge for the Habs.
How it can go right: Price elevates his game. Subban shows the Norris wasn’t a short-season anomaly. Briere isn’t done. Andrei Markov plays two full seasons in a row for the first time since 2007-09. No sophomore slumps for Brendan Gallagher and/or Alex Galchenyuk.
Funny quote of the offseason: “I invited (Senators coach Paul MacLean) for a barbecue, but he couldn’t make it.” – Brandon Prust, jokingly
16. WINNIPEG JETS
Key additions: Devin Setoguchi, Michael Frolik, Adam Pardy
Key subtractions: Alex Burmistrov, Nik Antropov, Kyle Wellwood, Antti Miettenen, Ron Hainsey
Must bounce back: Ondrej Pavelec, Olli Jokinen
Why they are here: They’ve got a pretty good group of forwards and this has to be the year (it doesn’t actually) Pavelec gets to .915 with his save percentage and fans stop blaming his defense for all of his shortcomings. The Central Division is weak enough that the Jets can crack the postseason.
How it can go wrong: Pavelec is his normal self. The defense doesn’t improve. Really, it won’t take much to steer the Jets into an iceberg, or a sky iceberg. A skiceberg.
Funny quote of the offseason: “We’ve had a lot of good players on our team for a couple years now.” – Zach Bogosian, on the Winnipeg Jets
15. NEW JERSEY DEVILS
Key additions: Cory Schneider, Jaromir Jagr, Ryane Clowe, Michael Ryder
Key subtractions: Ilya Kovalchuk, David Clarkson, Henrik Tallinder, Johan Hedberg, Steve Sullivan
Must bounce back: Martin Brodeur, Adam Henrique, Adam Larsson
Why they are here: Because even with Kovalchuk fleeing to Russia, the Devils did enough in the offseason to bolster the roster. The addition of Schneider will allow the Devils to get the most out of the aging Brodeur without overextending him.
How it can go wrong: Henrique doesn’t return to his rookie season form. Players signed to replace Kovalchuk don’t close the scoring void enough. The Brodeur-Schneider tandem isn’t harmonious and both players struggle.
Funny quote of the offseason: “Hey Ilya hope u live comfortably in Russia w the money u made from the 23 million u stole from the devils Again I’m right in my analysis.” – Jeremy Roenick, via Twitter
14. MINNESOTA WILD
Key additions: Nino Niederreiter, Matt Cooke, Keith Ballard, Jonathan Blum
Key subtractions: Matt Cullen, Cal Clutterbuck, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Matt Kassian, Tom Gilbert, Devin Setoguchi
Must bounce back: Dany Heatley, Niklas Backstrom
Why they are here: They were a playoff team before Detroit and Columbus moved East, so it shouldn’t change now. They have some great young talent on this team that should be a factor this season. It can really go either way for the Wild, but they appear just good enough to make the playoffs.
How it can go wrong: Very easily, actually. Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker don’t meet expectations. Backstrom continues to decline. Heatley continues to disappoint.
Funny quote of the offseason: “The business side, we were great. Yes, the lockout cost us money. It cost every team money in the short term. Going forward, we’re going to be seeing the benefits of that financial investment. The lockout was costly for the first year, but the ticket sales were incredible. The sponsors came back in droves. So we feel good about that and we achieved all our business objectives.” – Craig Leipold, about a month before it was leaked the Wild lost $30 million last season
13. VANCOUVER CANUCKS
Key additions: John Tortorella, Brad Richardson, Mike Santorelli, Yannick Weber
Key departures: Alain Vigneault, Cory Schneider, Roberto Luongo’s dreams of playing elsewhere, Derek Roy, Maxim Lapierre, Andrew Ebbett
Must bounce back: Ryan Kesler
Why they are here: One game from a championship in 2011, the Canucks look like an erotic lamp inside a wooden crate – fragile. But what they have is still good enough for the postseason, but one key injury (especially in net) could sink them.
How it can go wrong: A long-term injury to Luongo leaves the Canucks with a goaltender who has a LACK of experience. Get it? One of the Sedins blocks a shot on a penalty kill and explodes. Tortorella’s style doesn’t mesh with the players on the roster.
Funny quote of the offseason: “I’ll tell you right now, they’re going to kill penalties, and if they’re going to kill penalties they’re going to block shots.” – John Tortorella, on the Sedin twins
12. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
Key additions: Nathan Horton, Jack Skille, an Eastern Conference schedule
Key subtractions: Vinny Prospal, a Western Conference competition problem
Must bounce back: R.J. Umberger
Why they are here: In 2013, the veterans and youth came together like a pair of gambling addicts in a Las Vegas sportsbook because they both bet the over on an NHL game that was sent to overtime on a last-second goal. Moving East helps, and as long as last year wasn’t an abberation, a playoff berth should be in the cards for Columbus.
How it can go wrong: Sergei Bobrovsky is proven to be a 48-game season fraud. The shoulders of Horton and Marian Gaborik simultaneously tear. Jack Johnson finishes in the top 10 in ice time in the NHL.
Funny quote of the offseason: “With 8, you turn it sideways and it means forever.” – Nathan Horton, when asked if he was going with No. 8 as a Jacket
11. EDMONTON OILERS
Key additions: Dallas Eakins, David Perron, Andrew Ference, Jason LaBarbera, Richard Bachman, Denis Grebeshkov, Linus Omark
Key subtractions: Ralph Krueger, Ryan Whitney, Shawn Horcoff, Magnus Paajarvi, Nikolai Khabibulin
Must bounce back: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (kinda)
Why they are here: It’s their time. They’re not the third-best team in the NHL, but they are one of the eight-best teams in the West. Justin Schultz will be much-improved, and the addition of Ference was terrific. This is a team that should be in the top-5 in goals scored.
How it can go wrong: Devan Dubnyk can’t handle a 65-game load. Despite dispatching Whitney, the defense is still a train wreck. Nail Yakupov is murdered by Mike Milbury for smiling too widely after scoring in overtime.
Funny quote of the offseason: “And lastly, I’ll say that there’s one other guy in hockey today that is still working in the game that has won more Stanley Cups than me. So I think I know a little bit about winning, if there’s ever a concern.” – Kevin Lowe
10. WASHINGTON CAPITALS
Key additions: Mikhail Grabovski, Tyson Strachan
Key subtractions: Mike Ribeiro, Matt Hendricks, Tom Poti, Joey Crabb, Wojtek Wolski, Jeff Schultz
Must bounce back: Brooks Laich
Why they are here: The Caps had the second-most points last season among teams in the new Metro Division. They closed strong, and while they will miss Ribeiro, having Laich at full-strength and signing Grabovski will help offset that loss.
How it can go wrong: Alex Ovechkin takes the first half of the season off again. The depth scoring is nonexistent. Mike Green finds a way to get worse defensively. Adam Oates spends the season playing outfield in a cornfield in Iowa.
Funny quote of the offseason: “I thought at first that I got traded. My jaw dropped. I was thinking ‘Is he seriously calling me?’” – Karl Alzner, when he got the call from Blues GM Doug Armstrong to attend Team Canada’s camp, not to come to St. Louis
9. BOSTON BRUINS
Key additions: Loui Eriksson, Jarome Iginla, Chad Johnson
Key subtractions: Tyler Seguin, Peter Chiarelli’s hatred of Twitter, Nathan Horton, Rich Peverley, Anton Khudobin, the ability to win a Stanley Cup, Jaromir Jagr, Andrew Ference
Must bounce back: Milan Lucic
Why they are here: Even with all the losses, they’re still a playoff team in the East. Zdeno Chara turns 37 this season, and his time as an elite defenseman is running out. There’s still enough here to be formidable.
How it can go wrong: If Chara looks 100 years old more often this season like he did at times in last year’s postseason. Tuukka Rask’s mega-bucks deal plays with his head and he falters.
Funny quote of the offseason: “I think we’re a better team.” – Peter Chiarelli
8. SAN JOSE SHARKS
Key additions: Tyler Kennedy, Scott Hannan
Key subtractions: Thomas Greiss, T.J. Galiardi
Must bounce back: Martin Havlat
Why they are here: “We don’t do windows” should be the Sharks’ team slogan, because all you ever hear about is how their window is always closing yet it never does. They have talent throughout the lineup and there’s no reason to think they can’t contend again.
How it can go wrong: Much like the Red Wings, Joe Thornton (34) and Patrick Marleau (33) could start playing like guys in their mid-30s at any moment. Dan Boyle becomes a major liability. Havlat is so prone to injury that it becomes contagious and everyone tears their groins.
Funny quote of the offseason: “He plays an honest, straightforward kind of game that’s contagious.” – Doug Wilson, on Raffi Torres
7. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Key additions: Rob Scuderi
Key subtractions: Jarome Iginla, Tyler Kennedy, Matt Cooke, Brenden Morrow
Must bounce back: Marc-Andre Fleury
Why they are here: Fleury isn’t a problem in the regular season, and as long as that doesn’t change, the Penguins will be a top team in the East. Their bottom six doesn’t look all that great, but their top six is plenty good enough to carry them until the postseason begins.
How it can go wrong: Someone tricks Fleury into thinking the playoffs start in October. The lack of depth at forward is exposed because of lengthy injuries to either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. Bane blows up Consol Energy Center.
Funny quote of the offseason: “The faith I have in Fleury hasn’t waned.” – Ray Shero
6. LOS ANGELES KINGS
Key additions: Matt Frattin, Ben Scrivens, Jeff Schultz, Dan Carcillo? I guess?
Key subtractions: Jonathan Bernier, Rob Scuderi, Dustin Penner, Brad Richardson
Must bounce back: Willie Mitchell
Why they are here: Not all that much has changed on a team that has won a Cup and reached the conference final the past two seasons. They have scoring, defense and the best American goaltender in the NHL, which is saying a lot, because they are a plethora of great American goaltenders in the NHL.
How it can go wrong: Slava Voynov doesn’t respond well to increased responsibility, which is coming with Scuderi’s departure. Quick’s back gives out. Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Carcillo agree to star on a reality show and leave the team for three months.
Funny quote of the offseason: “On that note the ones close to me can assure you my farts smell way worse than rotten toe nails.” – Drew Doughty, via Twitter
5. DETROIT RED WINGS
Key additions: Stephen Weiss, Daniel Alfredsson, excess laughter looking at Eastern Conference teams they will now face multiple times
Key subtractions: Valtteri Filppula, Damien Brunner, Dan Cleary, frequent flyer mile points
Must bounce back: Jonas Gustavsson
Why they are here: As the Wings got healthy last year, they got better, and they will enter 2013-14 basically injury-free. Their young players looked for real as last season wore on, and Jimmy Howard is among the elite goaltenders in the league.
How it can go wrong: Henrik Zetterberg (32), Johan Franzen (33) and Pavel Datsyuk (35) start showing signs of age. Jimmy Howard is forced to play 70 games. The defense doesn’t improve enough over last season.
Funny quote of the offseason: “I’m meaner.” – Prospect Tyler Bertuzzi, comparing himself to uncle Todd Bertuzzi
4. OTTAWA SENATORS
Key additions: Bobby Ryan, Clarke MacArthur, Joe Corvo
Key subtractions: Sergei Gonchar, Daniel Alfredsson, Jakob Silfverberg, Andre Benoit
Must bounce back: Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza
Why they are here: Even with the loss of their captain, the Senators have enough offensive punch to thrive in the East. They have two very capable goaltenders and as a team, and have improved every season under Paul MacLean.
How it can go wrong: Joe Corvo plays 20 minutes a night. Cory Conacher takes a step back. Ryan locks up under the Ottawa spotlight. MacLean is revealed to be an actual walrus, eats players.
Funny quote of the offseason: “You can talk to anybody around the League — players, managers, people in the press, fans — they would say the same thing, that he holds a lot of credibility.” – Mark Messier, on Daniel Alfredsson
3. ST. LOUIS BLUES
Key additions: Derek Roy, Magnus Pajaarvi, Maxim Lapierre
Key subtractions: David Perron, Kris Russell, Andy McDonald
Must bounce back: Derek Roy
Why they are here: They have arguably the best defense corps in the NHL outside Chicago if Jay Bouwmeester plays like he can. They also have a top goaltending duo. They are defensively sound and have potential to improve on their middle-of-the-road scoring from last season.
How it can go wrong: The offense remains mediocre. Jaroslav Halak can’t stay healthy again. Pietrangelo holds out, realizes he doesn’t love hockey as much as competitive chess, gives up his NHL career.
Funny quote of the offseason: “There’s not a lot of concern when you talk about Jay Bouwmeester.” – Doug Armstrong
2. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
Key additions: Nikolai Khabibulin
Key subtractions: Dave Bolland, Michael Frolik, Viktor Stalberg, Ray Emery
Must bounce back: Really? Did you watch this team last season?
Why they are here: They lost some very important depth pieces and an excellent goalie who made 21 starts, but they kept just about everyone that matters from last season’s 48-game championship. They are loaded up front and in the back, like Beyonce.
How it can go wrong: Corey Crawford reverts to his pre-2013 form that had people wondering if he was a starter, leading to more starts for Khabibulin. Role players who were key in 2013 take a step back. Joel Quenneville shaves his mustache, the source of Chicago’s power.
Funny quote of the offseason: “Perceptions are, ‘Geez, the Blackhawks mismanaged the salary cap, but I’d say we did the opposite — we managed the hell out of it. We exploited it in a way.” – Stan Bowman
1. NEW YORK RANGERS
Key additions: Alain Vigneault, Dominic Moore, happiness, joy
Key subtractions: John Tortorella, Ryane Clowe, dread, sadness
Must bounce back: Brad Richards, Dan Girardi
Why they are here: They have depth at forward and on the blue line and the best goalie in the NHL. The team grew immensely under Tortorella, but the switch to Vigneault will be a big reason the Rangers push themselves over the top.
How it can go wrong: It turns out Tortorella was the real reason for the team’s success. Lundqvist’s contract situation becomes a distraction. Richards shows last season really was the beginning of the end.
Funny quote of the offseason: “I thought Torts did a great job with the guys in the room. We all loved him.” – Dan Girardi
*Note: There is no trolling in here. Just because someone thinks lesser of your team than you or others does not make them a troll. It simply means they have a different opinion than you. Thank you. Have a great day.