Last season, the Nashville Predators won a playoff series for the first time since 2012 beating the division champion Ducks before losing to the Sharks in 7 games. The first blockbuster trade for Ryan Johansen gave the Preds a bonafide #1 center while still maintaining a strong defensive core. Then in the offseason, David Piole pulled off one of the most lopsided trades ever acquiring P.K. Subban for Shea Weber. Now, the Predators are absolutely loaded and if Pekka Rinne has one of his good years, they’re among the favorites to win the Cup. Let’s take a look at what Peter Laviolette has to work with:Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Minnesota Wild are one of the most interesting teams to watch this coming season. They have a strong older core that is supplemented by an up and coming young group ready to make a consistent impact. Their defense is among the best in the league and they have a goaltender who has settled in as a true #1 goalie since his arrival. Add in the hiring of Bruce Boudreau, one of the best coaches in the league, and you have a team that could surprise in the best division in hockey (and it’s not even close). Let’s take a look at what the Wild are working with from top to bottom:Please, blog, may I have some more?
As far as top heavy teams go, the Colorado Avalanche may be at the top of the pack. They have their three young studs at forward leading the way offensively but then a bunch of question marks behind them. Same goes with the defense where they have a few strong players, some aging guys and more question marks. As I’ve talked about in this space multiple times, Patrick Roy was clueless behind the bench and he abruptly quit his job in the summer. He’s been replaced by Jared Bednar who won the AHL championship with the Lake Erie Monsters (Columbus affiliate) last season. Bednar rose through the ranks and was a winning coach every season in the AHL and ECHL making me think the Avs made a fairly big coaching upgrade. The help of a system can only help the players so let’s take a look at the players Bednar are working with:Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Winnipeg Jets looked to be turning a corner in 2014-15 when they made the playoffs for the first time since moving from Atlanta. However, their goaltending fell apart and injuries piled up last season causing the Jets to struggle mightily, consequently trade their captain and bottom out. Luckily for them, they moved up in the lottery to the second pick to give them an absolutely loaded top 6. The Central Division will be a bloodbath but I expect the Jets to bounce back and fight to return to the playoffs. They have a handful of players I’m extremely high on so let’s take a look at what they’re working with:Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Washington Capitals ran train through the entire league last season finishing with an absurd 120 points. Like every other season in the Alex Ovechkin era, they fell short in the playoffs, although this time they weren’t a prohibitive favorite despite their regular season dominance. They played extremely well only to fall short to their rival in Pittsburgh. They remain as loaded as before with the hope that some young guys on the roster find another gear. The Caps are full of fantasy superstars and others who carry plenty of value. Let’s take a look at what they’re working with:Please, blog, may I have some more?
To start the season, the Pittsburgh Penguins were a mess. They were sitting in the middle of their division, their studs were extremely struggling and the defense was lost without Kris Letang. The Penguins fired their coach, Letang sparked the entire team and the rest is history. Maybe the Penguins need to fire their coach every season, it’s worked twice now! Sorry, Mike Sullivan. Anyways, the Penguins have a handful of superstars worry of a top pick in drafts, a few middling players and the unknown between the pipes. Let’s take a look at the defending champion’s roster:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Hey guys! My top 50 rankings have taken a little longer than expected, it’s getting pretty lengthy, so I will finish them up today and post them first thing on Tuesday morning. For now, I’ll do the next team in my season preview series, the New York Rangers. This works out well because they won the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes over the weekend. More on what that entails later. The Rangers are in a tough position after years of being a viable contender. They were absolutely demolished by the Penguins in the first round of the playoffs. Jeff Gorton made one trade to switch the core and with the addition of Vesey, they have a plethora of forwards with fantasy value. Defensemen, not so much, but the King stay the King. Here’s a look at the Rangers roster and top 5 prospects:Please, blog, may I have some more?
For the first time in 23 seasons, the New York Islanders won a playoff series, building momentum in their first year in Brooklyn. Free agency was not kind to the Islanders as they lost two of their best players from the past few seasons, Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen. In comes Andrew Ladd to play on the first line and the expectation is that their young trio of first round picks take the next step (or first step) in their games to fill the void. There’s more pressure on the team to succeed than there has been in decades so let’s take a look at how the team is shaping up.Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Philadelphia Flyers made a big push in the second half of the season to secure a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. The Capitals smacked them around early in the series going up 3-0 before Philly put up a valiant effort, ultimately succumbing in Game 6. Their roster is fairly thin in terms of fantasy assets but those assets are almost all on the elite side of the spectrum. Let’s take a look at what the Flyers are working with.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Just like the Devils who I wrote about yesterday, the Carolina Hurricanes overachieved quite a bit reaching 86 points. Young defensemen really stepped up giving the Canes one of the best young bluelines in the league. They’ll need better goaltending this season and the young forwards to now take that step to make the push into the playoffs. While I don’t think they get there because I don’t trust either goalie (Spoiler!), they are a team that could surprise. Let’s take a look at how their roster is shaping up along with their top 5 prospects.Please, blog, may I have some more?