October 02, 2019
By: Dan Fremuth
A new season of National Hockey League action gets underway Wednesday evening, which means I've waited until the last possible moment to make some preseason predictions that will most assuredly turn out to be woefully inaccurate. Don't think for one minute though that it's going to keep me from continuing to make them!
Another summer of change has swept across the NHL landscape, which has left nearly each of the league's 31 clubs (sorry Ottawa) feeling as though they have a genuine chance to compete for Lord Stanley's Cup.
The New York Rangers are markedly improved with the additions of dynamic scoring winger Artemi Panarin, budding defenseman Jacob Trouba and the 2nd overall selection in June's Draft, Kappo Kakko. The New Jersey Devils claimed the first overall pick in that draft and altered their franchise in a blink with the selection of Jack Hughes. But they didn't stop there. New Jersey acquired All-Star blueliner P.K. Subban from Nashville and welcome back a healthy Taylor Hall into the mix (don't forget, he was the league's MVP just 15 months ago). While the Florida Panthers, who just missed the playoffs a year ago, addressed their most glaring weakness from a season ago by signing two-time Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
Meanwhile in the West, the Nashville Predators added star center Matt Duchene, the Dallas Stars inked Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry, the upstart Arizona Coyotes acquired Phil Kessel, the ascending Colorado Avalanche added Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky, and the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues plucked All-Star defenseman Justin Faulk from Carolina.
Oh, and then there's the Vegas Golden Knights and Tampa Bay Lightning who didn't change much at all and are still probably the two best teams in the league.
In short, it's shaping up to be a fun year!
1. Tampa Bay Lightning
2. Toronto Maple Leafs
3. Boston Bruins
1. Washington Capitals
2. Carolina Hurricanes
3. Pittsburgh Penguins
Wild Cards: Florida Panthers, Philadelphia Flyers
1. Colorado Avalanche
2. Nashville Predators
3. Dallas Stars
1. Vegas Golden Knights
2. Calgary Flames
3. San Jose Sharks
Wild Cards: Winnipeg Jets, Chicago Blackhawks
Stanley Cup Champion: Vegas Golden Knights (vs. Tampa Bay)