By Owen Swanson & Charlie Goodwin
Last Season: (44-25-13; 101 pts) Swept in 1st round by San Jose
Notable Offseason Departures: D Francois Beauchemin, D Kevin Bieksa, C Antoine Vermette
Notable Offseason Additions: C Brian Gibbons, F Carter Rowney, D Luke Schenn, D Andrej Sustr
Stanley Cup odds: +3000
Anaheim’s strong season was overshadowed by an absolute beat down at the hands of the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the playoffs. The Ducks looked pitiful in the series, being swept with home ice advantage and outscored 16-4 in the series. The offseason was one of addition by subtraction, as Anaheim stands to gain more from cutting ties with aging, unproductive players, such as Vermette and Beauchemin, than from the depth they added. However, look for a slight improvement from this team as a result of the added experience on their blue line. An eight year contract extension for goalie John Gibson cements Anaheim’s situation in net for the foreseeable future.
Prediction: 2nd Wild Card, first round exit (Winnipeg)
Last Season: (29-41-12; 70 pts) Last in Western Conference
Notable Offseason Departures: F Max Domi
Notable Offseason Additions: C Alex Galchenyuk, F Michael Grabner, C Vinnie Hinostroza, F Brad Richardson
Stanley Cup odds: +10000
Arizona’s miserable 2017-18 campaign was likely contributed to by the absence of longtime team captain Shane Doan. The retirement of the 14 year Coyote left a void in the locker room that no doubt contributed to their lack of success last season. Look for a slight improvement for Arizona this year as Antti Raanta settles into his starting role in goal and star defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson assumes the capitancy. Increased production from the franchise’s young players, including Christian Dvorak, Alex Galchenyuk, and Clayton Keller with a full year under their belt will also set the franchise on the right track.
Prediction: 7th in Pacific Division, 13th in Western Conference
Last Season: (37-35-10; 84 pts) 5th in Pacific Division, 11th in Western Conference
Notable Offseason Departures: D Dougie Hamilton, F Michael Ferland, D Brett Kulak
Notable Offseason Additions: F James Neal, D Noah Hanifin, C Elias Lindholm, C Derek Ryan
Stanley Cup odds: +3300
The offseason acquisition of Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin for Dougie Hamilton was no doubt a look into the future of the Flames. Thus, it was no surprise when Calgary committed long-term to Hanifin and Lindholm, tendering them each six year contract extensions. Considering their former head coach in Carolina was hired to lead the Flames this offseason (Bill Peters), the adjustment process in Calgary shouldn’t be too difficult for Hanifin and Lindholm. While moves like this suggest a focus on the future, the James Neal signing (5 years, $5.75 million AAV) in his age 31 season was unexpected. While these moves look aggressive on paper, it will take a few years for Calgary to see their full impact. A regressing James Neal and 36 years old Mike Smith in net won’t be enough to take this team to the playoffs as their young players continue to develop.
Prediction: 5th in Pacific Division, 9th in Western Conference
Last Season: (36-40-6; 78 pts) 6th in Pacific Division, 12th in Western Conference
Notable Offseason Additions: C Tobias Rieder, C Kyle Brodziak, D Jason Garrison
Stanley Cup odds: +3000
Even a 108 point season from superstar Connor McDavid couldn’t get Edmonton to the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. While McDavid will be around for a long time to come, the Oilers will continue wasting his years until the front office, more specifically GM Peter Chiarelli, commit to building around him. Once again, Chiarelli made moves that marginally added depth, but don’t expect the addition of Jason Garrison (1 year, $650K AAV) to magically solve Edmonton’s defensive woes. Strap in for another season of superstar production from Connor McDavid, but don’t expect to see him in the playoffs.
Prediction: 6th in Pacific Division, 12th in Western Conference
Los Angeles Kings
Last Season: (45-29-8; 98 pts) Swept in 1st Round of Stanley Cup Playoffs by Vegas
Notable Offseason Departures: C Tobias Rieder
Notable Offseason Additions: F Ilya Kovalchuk
Stanley Cup odds: +2600
The loss of Jeff Carter for much of the Kings’ 2017-18 season had a significant impact on where they finished in the standings, but a healthy Carter in the playoffs didn’t help against the Golden Knights. A red-hot Marc-Andre Fleury lead the the Knights to a dominating sweep over the Kings.
The Kings committed to a vision of contention for the next several years during the offseason by extending Drew Doughty (8 years, $11 million AAV) and signing 35 year old Ilya Kovalchuk (3 years, $6.25 million AAV). If the addition of Kovalchuk and a full, healthy year of Jeff Carter helps this team figure it out offensively, they will finish the season as dark-horse cup contenders in the Western Conference. Dustin Brown’s (28 G, 33 P last season) absence to start the season will hurt them, however.
Prediction: 3rd in Pacific Division, second round exit (San Jose)
San Jose Sharks
Last Season: (45-27-10; 100 pts) Lost to Vegas in 2nd Round of Playoffs
Notable Offseason Departures: F Chris Tierney, D Dylan DaMelo, F Mikkel Boedker
Notable Offseason Additions: D Erik Karlsson
Stanley Cup odds: +1250
After falling to a dialed-in Marc-Andre Fleury and the surprising Vegas Golden Knights in last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, the San Jose Sharks look poised for a deep cup run this season. San Jose deserves credit for making the most impactful move of the offseason by acquiring Erik Karlsson for a package of draft picks, young NHL players, and prospects (including UM’s Josh Norris). The Sharks also made sure not to lose Evander Kane, an important producer in the offensive zone for San Jose, by locking him down for the next seven years ($7 million AAV). As long as Martin Jones continues to be dependable in goal, San Jose’s lethal back end will have two Norris Trophy finalists and will determine the fate of their season. The loss of Joe Thornton to start the season won’t hurt this team in the long run.
Prediction: Pacific Division Champions, eliminated in Conference Final (Winnipeg)
Last Season: (31-40-11; 73 pts) 7th in Pacific Division, 14th in Western Conference
Notable Offseason Departures: C Henrik Sedin, F Daniel Sedin
Notable Offseason Additions: F Antoine Roussel, C Jay Beagle, C Tim Schaller
Stanley Cup odds: +12500
Brock Boeser’s breakout campaign for the Canucks proved to be a silver lining on another extremely disappointing season, and Canuck fans shouldn’t hold their breath for a different outcome anytime soon. This season won’t end with the Canucks in a drastically different position in the standings, mainly because of the 100+ points generated by the now-retired Sedin twins that need to be replaced. However, Canuck fans may experience deja vu watching Elias Pettersson emerge as a Calder Trophy finalist, and his development will begin to solidify a young core for the Canucks to build around. Two of the offseason’s worst signings (Antoine Roussel, age 28, 4 years, $3 million AAV and Jay Beagle, age 32, 4 years, $3 million AAV) were made by Vancouver, however, and will hinder the progression of the franchise during this lost season.
Prediction: Last in Pacific Division, Last in Western Conference
Vegas Golden Knights
Last Season: (51-24-7; 109 pts) Lost to Washington in Stanley Cup Final
Notable Offseason Departures: F James Neal, F David Perron, F Tomas Tatar
Notable Offseason Additions: C Paul Stastny, F Max Pacioretty, D Nick Holden
Stanley Cup odds: +1100
After a surprisingly successful first season, the Golden Knights will surprise no one this year. Breakout years from William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault, in addition to a renaissance season from Marc-Andre Fleury, propelled them to the Stanley Cup Final. However, their offseason moves leave something to be desired, as they signed 32-year old Paul Stastny to a 3 year contract ($6.5 million AAV), and extended defenseman Shea Theodore (7 years, $5.2 million AAV) and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (3 years, $7 million AAV). The Stastny and Fleury contracts are questionable because of player age and likely regression. Their best move of the offseason was trading for and extending Max Pacioretty (4 years, $7 million AAV), who will attempt to make up for the loss of the team’s 3rd most productive player, David Perron (66 points in 2017-18).
Vegas will have to withstand a stint on Injured Reserve for Paul Stastny and Alex Tuch, as well as defenseman Nate Schmidt’s 20 game suspension for PED use (which he still claims was done unknowingly) to start the season. The Knights will be in the mix once again this year, but expect an earlier exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs as Marc-Andre Fleury regresses and sin city is unable to recapture the magic of their inaugural season. The Golden Knights are betting on development from their young forwards and the additions of Stastny and Pacioretty to replace the point production of James Neal and David Perron, but it’s a bet that won’t pay off.
Prediction: 2nd in Pacific Division, first round exit (Los Angeles)
Last Season: (33-39-10; 76 pts) Last in Central Division, 13th in Western Conference
Notable Offseason Departures: F Marian Hossa, F Vinnie Hinostroza, G Jean-Francois Berube, F Patrick Sharp
Notable Offseason Additions: F Chris Kunitz, G Cam Ward, D Brandon Manning, C Marcus Kruger
Stanley Cup odds: +3500
The Blackhawks’ 2017-18 season was another sign that the days of Chicago’s semi-dynasty (three Stanley Cups in six seasons) are long gone. Last year’s finish in last place in the Central Division is their worst since the 2006-7 season. Nevertheless, the moves made by Chicago’s front office seem to indicate they believe a window of contention is open as long as Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, and Corey Crawford are still under contract. Rather than selling high on some of their aging talent and beginning to rebuild around young stand-out Alex Debrincat, the ‘Hawks took on several players (Marcus Kruger and Brandon Manning) in their late twenties. The front office’s hope that they will reach their full potential with a change of scenery isn’t grounded in reality and won’t turn out well. It is extremely unlikely that Marcus Kruger (who had 6 points in 48 games with Carolina last season) and 39-year old Chris Kunitz reach a new level play and hoist Chicago back into the playoff picture.
Prediction: Last in Central Division, 14th in Western Conference
Last Season: (43-30-9; 95 pts) Lost to Nashville in 1st Round of Playoffs
Notable Offseason Departures: G Jonathan Bernier, F Blake Comeau
Notable Offseason Additions: F Matt Calvert, G Philipp Grubauer, D Ian Cole
Stanley Cup odds: +4000
The Avs find themselves in an interesting position this season, as the team that finished with one of the worst records in NHL history two years ago is coming off a playoff appearance. Nathan MacKinnon’s Hart Trophy finalist campaign was the main reason for this. One would think they are poised to take a major step forward and contend, but the stacked Western Conference and the front office’s lack of impact moves would indicate otherwise. Matt Calvert (3 years, $2.85 million AAV) and Ian Cole (3 years, $4.25 million AAV) are low-risk signings that add depth and leadership to the roster, while not hindering the development and signing of younger players. With development from promising young forwards Tyson Jost and Mikko Rantanen, the solidification of a succession plan in net with Philipp Grubauer, and effective use of their five picks in the first three rounds of the upcoming draft, the Avalanche will be ready to contend in a few years. For now, they are out of the playoff picture, but boast one of the most exciting young stars in the NHL.
Prediction: 6th in Central Division, 11th in Western Conference
Last Season: (42-32-8; 92 pts) 6th in Central Division, 10th in Western Conference
Notable Offseason Departures: F Antoine Roussel, D Dan Hamhuis, G Kari Lehtonen, D Greg Pateryn
Notable Offseason Additions: D Roman Polak, F Valeri Nichushkin, G Anton Khudobin, F Blake Comeau
Stanley Cup odds: +3000
Dallas positioned itself well to make a return to the playoffs this season with a slew of offseason moves, none more important than the hiring of Jim Montgomery as head coach. Ken Hitchcock’s system and coaching style both seem somewhat outdated and the Stars’ decision to fire him after one season back with the franchise was the right one. Jim Montgomery’s hiring straight from the NCAA (University of Denver), where he has been successful and progressive as a coach, will bring a fresh attitude and set of ideas to a team that hasn’t made the playoffs for two consecutive seasons. The Stars’ roster has enough top-level talent (Seguin, Benn, Radulov, Klingberg, Bishop) that a forward-thinking coaching hire, cutting bait with aging players (Roussel, Hamhuis), and depth signings puts them in a great position where not making the playoffs this season would be a major failure. Stars fans can also look forward to eight more years of Tyler Seguin ($9.85 million AAV) as well.
Prediction: 1st Wild Card, first round exit (San Jose)
Last Season: (45-26-11; 101 pts) Lost to Winnipeg in 1st Round of Stanley Cup Playoffs
Notable Offseason Additions: D Greg Pateryn, G Andrew Hammond, F Eric Fehr
Stanley Cup odds: +3500
The Minnesota Wild followed up six consecutive seasons of making the playoffs and being eliminated in the first (4 times) or second (2 times) round with one of the most underwhelming off-seasons in the entire league. Their most notable moves consisted of signing a depth forward in his age 33 season who played 18 games in the NHL last season and a backup goalie known for one good stretch of games and being associated with an old McDonald’s marketing ploy. Yikes.
Just about the only positives this offseason were the extensions of forward Jason Zucker (5 years, $5.5 million AAV) and defenseman Matt Dumba (5 years, $6 million AAV). Wild fans can also look forward to watching Jordan Greenway, who made his debut in last year’s playoffs and looked excellent. Regardless, the vast majority of Minnesota’s point production comes from players in their mid-thirties, and the development of the younger players on this roster can’t cover up for their regression. The Wild won’t be playing for the Stanley Cup at the end of the regular season for the first time in six years.
Prediction: 5th in Central Division, 10th in Western Conference
Last Season: (53-18-11; 117 pts) Won Presidents’ Trophy, Lost in 2nd Round of Playoffs
Notable Offseason Departures: C Mike Fisher, D Alexei Emelin
Notable Offseason Additions: F Zac Rinaldo
Stanley Cup odds: +1100
The Presidents’ Trophy curse continued this spring with the Predators being eliminated before the Conference Finals, despite having the best record in the league during the regular season. An offseason of minimal moves wasn’t negative in this case; it leaves the Predators in a similar position to last year: serious cup contenders and a regular season powerhouse. This regular season’s end will find the Preds similarly positioned to last year, even if they don’t win the Presidents’. Either way, Pekka Rinne’s performance in the postseason will determine how close they come to bringing the Stanley Cup home to Nashville for the first time. Rinne is a consistent contender for the Vezina Trophy and won it for his play during the regular season last year, but come playoff time Nashville will only go as far as he will let them. Despite the incredibly balanced, talented team built around Rinne, his play declined as the playoffs progressed to the point where some blamed Nashville’s second round exit almost entirely on him.
Mike Fisher’s retirement is only important to this team from a leadership standpoint and won’t reduce the team’s chances of winning it all this season. More importantly, Ryan Ellis’ newly signed contract extension will keep him in Nashville for the next eight years ($6.25 million AAV). The Predators will find themselves deeper in the playoffs than last year, but won’t be lifting the cup in June.
Prediction: 2nd in Central Division, 2nd round exit (Winnipeg)
St. Louis Blues
Last Season: (44-32-6; 94 pts) 5th in Central Division, 9th in Western Conference
Notable Offseason Departures: G Carter Hutton, C Vladimir Sobotka, C Patrik Berglund
Notable Offseason Additions: C Ryan O’Reilly, F Patrick Maroon, F David Perron, C Tyler Bozak, G Chad Johnson, F Jordan Nolan
Stanley Cup odds: +2000
The Blues had one of the most impressive off-seasons in the NHL, making aggressive moves via both free agency and the trade market in order to fill out a contending roster. St. Louis acquired 27-year old perennial 60-point scorer Ryan O’Reilly. In return they gave up Berglund and Sobotka, two players 30 years old or older (whose combined point production equals that of O’Reilly), two draft picks (one first rounder), and a prospect (Thompson) who is developing slower than expected. The signings of Pat Maroon (1 year, $1.75 million AAV), David Perron (4 years, $4 million AAV), and Tyler Bozak (3 years, $5 million) make this team much deeper and primed to compete, although the Bozak and Perron contracts won’t look good in three years when they are being overpaid well into their thirties. However, none of that will matter if the Blues can win the cup in the near future. With these offseason moves adding to an already talented roster, the Blues will certainly be playing for the chance to lift the cup come April.
Prediction: 3rd in Central Division, first round exit (Nashville)
Last Season: (52-20-10; 114 pts) Lost to Vegas in Western Conference Final
Notable Offseason Departures: F Joel Armia, C Paul Stastny, G Steve Mason
Stanley Cup odds: +850
The Jets’ run to the Western Conference Final last season took many by surprise, but considering the talent on this roster, it should have surprised no one. Michigan native Connor Hellebuyck’s breakout season, resulting in a six year contract extension ($6.176 million AAV), and a career year from captain Blake Wheeler also were the two single biggest reasons for this. Wheeler impressed with a career-high 91 points and was rewarded with an extension as well (5 years, $8.25 million AAV). The development of much of the Jets’ young talent came together at the right time to power them down the stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs. Unfortunately for the front office, many players who were critical to Winnipeg’s success are in the final year of their contracts, including Patrik Laine, Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers, and former UM athlete Kyle Connor. With only about $5 million in cap space, it will be incredibly hard for the Jets to retain several of these players, making it important for the Jets to capitalize this year. Otherwise, Winnipeg will be forced to wait a few years while replacing lost production.
Paul Stastny’s 15 points in 17 playoff games will be incredibly hard to replace, but the Jets have the cap space to make an acquisition at the deadline and go all-in for the cup this year. The continued development of the young players on this roster and excellent play in goal from Hellebuyck will take the Jets deep in the playoffs once again.
Prediction: 1st in Central Division, Western Conference champions
Last Season: 50-20-12 (112 points), Lost 4-1 to Tampa Bay in Conference Semifinals
Notable Offseason additions: G Jaroslav Halak, D John Moore
Stanley Cup odds: +1100
The Bruins shocked a lot of people last year: the first full year under coach Bruce Cassidy after longtime coach Claude Julien’s abrupt departure, and their core of the last decade depleting. While the season started how many would expect, with a call to rebuild the franchise and dump big contracts, it certainly did not end that way. The Bruins surged late in the season, grabbing a point in 18 straight games at one point. They eventually came one game short of the Atlantic Division title, and ousted the Maple Leafs in a seven game series before falling to the Lightning in the second round of the playoffs. Brad Marchand has fine tuned his game to turn him into one of the league’s best scorers and the addition of Jaroslav Halak alongside Tuukka Rask gives the B’s a goaltending duo reminiscent of Henrik Lundqvist and Cam Talbot in New York a few years back. However, don’t be surprised if Boston struggles early while longtime star Patrice Bergeron is on the mend. Bruins fans should expect a similar season this year.
Prediction: 3rd in Atlantic, 5th in Eastern Conference
Last Season: 25-45-12 (62 points), 31st in the NHL
Notable Offseason Additions: D Rasmus Dahlin, C Casey Mittelstadt, C Patrik Berglund, LW Jeff Skinner
Notable Offseason Departures: C Ryan O’Reilly
Stanley Cup odds: +10000
The Sabres finished last season as they do most years -- smack at the bottom of the league. It seems that no matter what phenom they draft each year, things just don’t change in Buffalo. Well we’re here to tell you things are about to change in Buffalo! Very slightly. Captain Jack Eichel is getting better each year and looks to be the longtime star the Sabres thought they would be when they drafted him. The addition of Jeff Skinner certainly gives them some much needed offensive firepower, but can he fill the shoes of the departed Ryan O’Reilly? The Sabres’ success will also depend on if rookie defenseman Rasmus Dahlin is all he’s cracked up to be. As the Sabres continue their franchise-long rebuild, expect them to improve slightly this year and show signs of growth as a young team.
Prediction: 7th in the Atlantic, 13th in the Eastern Conference
Detroit Red Wings
Last Season: 30-39-13 (73 points), 27th in NHL
Notable Offseason Additions: RW Filip Zadina, LW Thomas Vanek, G Jonathan Bernier
Notable Offseason Departures: C Henrik Zetterberg
Stanley Cup Odds: +20000
After the Red Wings’ decades of dominance, they failed to make the playoffs for the first time in consecutive years since the early 80’s. The retirement of longtime captain Henrik Zetterberg officially signified the end of an era. The Red Wings are now in a rebuild and have a couple young pieces such as Dylan Larkin to center their team around moving forward. Red Wings fan should not expect much this year. No team can reign forever.
Prediction: 6th in Atlantic, 12th in Eastern Conference
Last Season: 44-30-8 (96 Points), 16th in NHL
Notable Offseason Additions: LW Mike Hoffman
Stanley Cup Odds: +4500
The Panthers late season push last year fell just short of a playoff berth. They were easily the hottest team in the NHL at the end of the season, but unfortunately it was too little too late. Expect Florida to build on that energy this season with Barkov, Trocheck, and Huberdeau all coming into their own. The addition of Mike Hoffman also adds offense to an already strong team. The defensive duo of Aaron Ekblad and Keith Yandle is one of the NHL’s best. Expect the Panthers to clinch a playoff berth this season, as well as be a dark horse in the playoffs.
Prediction: 4th in Atlantic, 7th in Eastern Conference
Last Season: 29-40-13 (71 points), 28th in NHL
Notable Offseason Additions: C Jesperi Kotkaniemi, LW Tomas Tatar
Notable Offseason Departures: C Alex Galchenyuk, LW Max Pacioretty
Stanley Cup Odds: +10000
It looks like the Canadiens’ dominance in the NHL will be on hold for a few years. They are coming off one of their worst seasons ever, they’ve gotten rid of almost every longtime player, Carey Price looks to be at the end of his reign, and standout defenseman Shea Weber is sidelined for at least half the season. On the bright side, Jesperi Kotkaniemi looks to be the right draft pick for the Habs and Paul Byron looks to be worth his new contract. If Price can return to Vezina form, and the Habs still have a season worth playing when Weber returns, don’t be surprised if they sneak into the playoffs. But that’s a big if.
Prediction: 5th in Atlantic, 11th in Eastern Conference
Last Season: 28-43-11 (67 points), 30th in NHL
Notable Offseason Additions: C Brady Tkachuk, C Chris Tierney, D Dylan DeMelo
Notable Offseason Departures: D Erik Karlsson
Stanley Cup Odds: +20000
If you’re a Senators fan, we’re sorry. The Sens are coming off a horrific season after it looked as if they had one of the best young cores in the NHL. This terror all culminated in star defenseman Erik Karlsson being dealt to San Jose for virtually nothing. So the future looks bleak to say the least. All the Senators can do at this point is hope for a good draft pick because this season is over before it even starts. Ottawa fans should expect them to be dead last in the league this year, there’s no way to sugarcoat it.
Prediction: 8th in Atlantic, 16th in Eastern Conference
Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Season: 54-23-5 (115 points), Lost to Washington 4-3 in Conference Finals
Notable Offseason Departures: GM Steve Yzerman
Stanley Cup Odds: +850
The Lightning are coming off yet another dominant season, and are liking to stay at the top of the East once again. With top talent in the league Steven Stamkos, and one of the best defenseman Victor Hedman leading the way, the Lightning are poised for another playoff run. However, it might not be as easy as previous years with the new-look Leafs standing in their way. The late season addition of Ryan McDonagh certainly added to their already strong defense, and young netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy will look to build on his career year last season. Though general manager Steve Yzerman is leaving the team he built behind, they’ll still look to contend for the East’s top seed this year
Prediction: 2nd in Atlantic, 2nd in Eastern Conference
Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Season: 49-26-7 (105 points), Lost 4-3 to Boston in First Round
Notable Offseason Additions: C John Tavares
Notable Offseason Departures: LW James van Riemsdyk
Stanley Cup Odds: +700
Things are finally looking up in Toronto. Auston Matthews has established himself as a perennial all star in professional hockey, and he’s just getting started. He is not only the future of the Maple Leafs, but also of the National Hockey League. The Leafs’ offseason addition of John Tavares -- one of the hockey’s best players -- instantly elevates Toronto to the top of the Eastern conference. This is a team that lost a grueling first round series last year, but is getting better each year. Expect the Leafs to make a run for the Stanley Cup this season.
Prediction: 1st in Atlantic, 1st in Eastern Conference
Last Season: 36-35-11 (83 points), 21st in NHL
Notable Offseason Additions: RW Andrei Svechnikov, D Calvin de Haan, D Dougie Hamilton
Notable Offseason Departures: LW Jeff Skinner
Stanley Cup Odds: +10000
The Hurricanes were far from a playoff berth, and it should more of the same this season. The departure of longtime star Jeff Skinner is certainly a blow to the organization as those are tough shoes to fill. The drafting of young phenom Andrei Svechnikov as well as the free agency additions of Calvin de Haan and Dougie Hamilton should certainly help the Canes move in the right direction. But frankly, Carolina does just not have the talent to earn themselves a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. The most exciting thing that will happen to the Carolina Hurricanes this season is when they don the old school Hartford Whalers uniform for three games this season. #BringBackTheWhalers
Prediction: 6th in Metropolitan, 10th in Eastern Conference
Columbus Blue Jackets
Last Season: 45-30-7 (97 points), Lost 4-2 to Washington in First Round
Notable Offseason Additions: C Riley Nash,
Notable Offseason Departures: D Ian Cole, D Jack Johnson
Stanley Cup odds: +3000
The Blue Jackets have been a pretty solid hockey team the past couple seasons. Out of their 4 franchise playoff berths, 2 of those have come in the past 2 years. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has been at the top of his game and cemented himself as a one of the best netminders in the National Hockey League. The Jackets have a solid defense headmanned by Seth Jones (also shoutout to Michigan Man Zach Werenski). And Columbus retained their offensive core of Nick Foligno and Cam Atkinson. The addition of Riley Nash gives the Jackets an offensive boost, while the young duo of Sonny Milano and Artemi Panarin gives Columbus some insurance for the future (assuming Panarin is re-signed). Expect the Jackets to earn themselves their fifth playoff berth in franchise history.
Prediction: 3rd in Metropolitan, 6th in Eastern Conference
New Jersey Devils
Last Season: 44-29-9 (97 points), Lost 4-1 to Tampa Bay in First Round
Notable Offseason Additions: D Ty Smith
Stanley Cup Odds: +4000
The New Jersey Devils finally found a way back to the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Though it ended abruptly and with disappointment, there is some hope in New Jersey. Taylor Hall is coming fresh off winning the Hart Trophy (the first Devil to ever win the award), and is looking to build off last season’s momentum. Coach John Hynes is a young, fiery individual who wants to prove he’s deserving of being an NHL coach, and looking to build a winning culture in New Jersey again. However, Devils fans shouldn't be surprised if they manage to barely miss the playoffs. With no big free agents acquired in the offseason, it may be difficult for the Devils to earn a berth if Taylor Hall is not at the top of his game.
Prediction: 5th in Metropolitan, 9th in Eastern Conference
New York Islanders
Last Season: 35-37-10 (80 points), 22nd in NHL
Notable Offseason Additions: HC Barry Trotz
Notable Offseason Departures: C John Tavares, D Calvin de Haan
Stanley Cup Odds: +10000
It is not the best time to be an Isles fan. They’ve struggled since moving from the historic Nassau Coliseum to the Barclays Center, failed to make the playoffs recently, and lost key players each year, all culminating in longtime superstar John Tavares’ departure this offseason. The loss of Tavares is an enormous blow to the Islanders and sets them back far from where they were. They are now in total rebuild mode, and are off to a good start with prospect Oliver Wahlstrom. The arrival of Barry Trotz from the Capitals should help start to implement a winning mentality within the organization, though they are a few years away from that. For now, the Islanders should focus on moving back to the Coliseum -- where they belong.
Prediction: 8th in Metropolitan, 15th in Eastern Conference
New York Rangers
Last Season: 34-39-9 (71 points), 24th in NHL
Stanley Cup Odds: +8500
While the Islanders are having their own issues, New York’s other hockey team isn’t doing too hot either. Last season they failed to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2010. They traded away captain Ryan McDonagh late last season, as well as goal scorer Rick Nash. And Ranger fans need to face the fact that Henrik Lundqvist’s time is coming to a close as he will turn 37 this season. Though they have been a strong team for the last decade, it is time for a rebuild at Madison Square Garden. With a quiet offseason for the Rangers, they should be about the same as last season, if not worse, which isn’t great. If the Blueshirts could somehow land a marquee player midseason, there may be hope for one last run with the King in the net.
Prediction: 7th in Metropolitan, 14th in Eastern Conference
Last Season: 42-26-14 (98 points), Lost 4-2 to Pittsburgh in First Round
Notable Offseason Additions: LW James van Riemsdyk
Stanley Cup Odds: +2600
The Flyers have been one of the most hot and cold teams since moving to the Metropolitan division, making the playoffs every other year. But we have a bold prediction -- the Flyers will make the playoffs for two years straight. Philly is now looking like a winning city after the Eagles finally won a Superbowl, and the Sixers trusted the Process. But not so fast Flyers fans--don’t expect to contend for Lord Stanley this year. While Philadelphia will probably make the playoffs, they still lack the starpower to push past Metropolitan powerhouses such as Washington and Pittsburgh. That being said, the addition of James van Riemsdyk will certainly help out on the offensive side of the puck, but the Flyers must land a big name if they want to be viewed as contenders.
Prediction: 4th in Metropolitan, 8th in Eastern Conference
Last Season: 47-29-6 (100 points), Lost 4-2 to Washington in Conference Semifinals
Notable Offseason Departures: LW Conor Sheary
Stanley Cup Odds: +1200
The Penguins looked be going for a three-peat year until the unthinkable happened -- they lost a playoff series to Washington. With Washington sending Pittsburgh packing for the first time since 1994, it was certainly not something Pens fans were expecting. However, there is no reason to fret--you still have Sidney Crosby. As long as #87 is donning black and yellow, the Penguins will continue to contend for the Stanley Cup. Furthermore, they’ve retained their longtime core of Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, as well as Phil Kessel. The late season addition of Derick Brassard should add a nice touch of offense to an already strong Pittsburgh team. Expect another playoff appearance from the Pens.
Prediction: 1st in Metropolitan, 3rd in Eastern Conference
Last Season: 49-26-7 (105 points), Won Stanley Cup
Notable Offseason Departures: HC Barry Trotz
Stanley Cup Odds: +1100
The Caps were finally able to bring a Stanley Cup to Washington D.C. last season after years of disappointment. The victory was shortly followed by the exit of Barry Trotz, their coach of the last 4 years. While his departure may shake things up for the Caps early on, do NOT count them out to make another playoff run. Captain Alex Ovechkin continues to dominate the hockey world, alongside longtime teammate Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and T.J Oshie. If goalie Braden Holtby can keep up his stellar play of the past few seasons, the Caps will still remain contenders. They did not lose any key players this offseason, and Ovechkin still hasn’t lost a step.
Prediction: 2nd in Metropolitan, 4th in Eastern Conference
Stanley Cup Predictions
Owen: Tampa Bay Lightning over Winnipeg Jets in 6 games
Charlie: Pittsburgh Penguins over San Jose Sharks in 7 games
Patrick Sharp (Blackhawks), Daniel and Henrik Sedin (Canucks), Mike Fisher (Predators), Brian Gionta (Bruins), Scott Hartnell (Predators)