Lingering questions for all 32 NHL groups heading into coaching camp



It does not appear that way back that the Colorado Avalanche gained the Stanley Cup, and it has been much more current that Juraj Slafkovsky was drafted first general and a wild offseason introduced Johnny Gaudreau to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Claude Giroux to the Ottawa Senators, and Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers.

However now that fall is formally set to start on Thursday, it is also time for coaching camps across the NHL to open, as we sit up for opening night time of the season on Oct. 11.

To assist get you prepared for the following few weeks — as groups determine on which gamers make the roster, and the way their traces, D pairings and goalie tandems will shake out — listed below are the largest lingering questions for every membership, courtesy of Ryan S. Clark, Kristen Shilton and Greg Wyshynski.

Bounce to a workforce:

Atlantic Division

Large query: How effectively can Boston climate its early accidents?

The Bruins will begin this season with a severely depleted roster. Brad Marchand had offseason surgical procedure on each hips and will probably be unavailable till a minimum of late November. Charlie McAvoy is on an identical — and presumably longer — timeline following offseason shoulder surgical procedure. Matt Grzelcyk had a shoulder process executed, too; he is out till November.

That leaves the Bruins with out two of their finest defensemen and considered one of their finest forwards (who led the workforce with 80 factors final season) for a large chunk of the schedule.

Will these absences spell catastrophe in Beantown? Or does the Bruins’ depth maintain up? It will fall on new coach Jim Montgomery to maintain his group on the rails. Veterans like David Pastrnak and Taylor Hall will probably be relied on greater than ever to carry out. Having Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci again within the combine helps too. Uncertainty nonetheless looms massive, although. How Boston navigates these first two months would possibly simply decide the end result of their complete season. It is a variety of stress to placed on these nonetheless wholesome — to not point out Montgomery — and all eyes will probably be on how Boston rises to the event. — Shilton

Large query: Has Buffalo lastly discovered constant goaltending?

The Sabres have some dynamic younger gamers of their midst (whats up, Owen Power, Tage Thompson, Dylan Cozens and others) who will make this a enjoyable workforce to look at. What Buffalo wants to enrich these rising studs is best goaltending. The Sabres have been abysmal in that division final season, rotating by way of six totally different starters and averaging 3.50 objectives towards (eighth worst within the NHL). Have they discovered the suitable goalie tandem now?

Craig Anderson was Buffalo’s most suitable choice between the pipes in 2021-22 (17-12-2 document, .897 goals-against common) however missed time early on due to harm. He is again with the Sabres once more, joined now by free agent signee Eric Comrie — who could possibly be on the cusp of an actual breakthrough. Comrie went 10-5-1 with Winnipeg final season, producing a .920 save proportion and a 2.58 goals-against common. At 27 years previous, he is poised to tackle probably the most begins of his profession alongside Anderson, and based mostly on previous efficiency, that could possibly be nice information for the Sabres.

There’s a variety of perception round Buffalo that the workforce is popping a nook. Reliable goaltending would go a good distance in seeing that come to fruition. — Shilton

Large query: How good will Detroit be with its new additions?

Purple Wings’ common supervisor Steve Yzerman got here to slay this offseason. He signed Andrew Copp, Dominik Kubalik and David Perron up entrance, added Ben Chiarot to the blue line and Ville Husso to enrich Alex Nedeljkovic in web. Yzerman additionally made his first head-coaching rent in Detroit, changing Jeff Blashill with Derek Lalonde. The brand new bench boss has loads of contemporary expertise to start out with. The place will all of it take the Purple Wings?

Final season, it was Detroit’s defensive deficiencies that stood out. The Purple Wings allowed the second-most objectives towards within the league (3.78 per recreation) and the fifth-most photographs (33.7). Addressing and bettering that space will probably be important from the outset for Lalonde, and the brand new guys ought to be an asset in doing so. Perron and Copp are each stable two-way gamers who will lead by instance on the defensive aspect. Purple Wings captain Dylan Larkin may also need a return to type in that space, after posting a 2.95 anticipated objectives towards in 2021-22.

Then there’s Husso. He was a stud within the common season for St. Louis final season and now has an opportunity to be Detroit’s No. 1 in a tandem with Nedeljkovic. Detroit had a cumulative save proportion beneath .900 a yr in the past (Nedeljkovic was at .901) and Husso ought to push that quantity up. If he does, and if these different new gamers come out firing, Detroit could possibly be flying excessive. — Shilton

Large query: Has Florida compensated an excessive amount of for its postseason failure?

Florida gained the 2021-22 Presidents’ Trophy on the energy of its 122-point season. Basic supervisor Invoice Zito was a commerce deadline darling together with his acquisitions of Claude Giroux and Ben Chiarot. The Panthers appeared poised for playoff greatness, however have been swept away by Tampa Bay within the second spherical. That harm. A lot in order that Zito turned sharply in one other route.

Gone is interim head coach Andrew Brunette; Paul Maurice is behind the bench now. Giroux, Chiarot and Mason Marchment have been all allowed to depart in free company. Jonathan Huberdeau (who scored 30 objectives final season) and MacKenzie Weegar (an underrated offensive defenseman) have been swapped to Calgary in July for Matthew Tkachuk. It is a variety of overhaul in a brief interval, not not like the one Florida went by way of after March’s deadline. These aggressive strikes did not repay for the Panthers then. Will Zito’s modifications make a special influence on the workforce’s trajectory this time? — Shilton

Large query: How will Montreal handle its ahead group?

Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis will not be missing for choices up entrance. Montreal is brimming with younger skills, from current first general draft choose Juraj Slafkovsky to newly named captain Nick Suzuki to contemporary acquisition Kirby Dach to the still-emerging Cole Caufield. And people are simply the fellows of their early 20s (or teenagers, in Slafkovsky’s case). The Canadiens have their veteran incumbents too, and even added Sean Monahan within the offseason.

Monahan is at the moment on IR (as are Jonathan Drouin and Paul Byron) however as soon as (or if) all the roster is wholesome, who will populate the Canadiens’ major ahead pack? Will there be an emphasis on getting reps for these up-and-coming core gamers, or will the main focus be purely on profitable video games? Montreal has no cause to hurry anybody alongside — they seemingly aren’t a playoff workforce simply but — however that is additionally the time to start out constructing confidence within the workforce’s basis and future.

Talking of the long run, what does that seem like for Carey Price? Montreal is not betting on Value to play this season as he continues rehabbing a knee harm however he’ll stay across the membership. That is a very good factor for the Canadiens, whose rising stars will particularly profit from Value’s presence all through the season — even when it is off the ice. — Shilton

Large query: Is Ottawa a playoff workforce?

The Senators have not appeared within the postseason since reaching the Japanese Convention finals in 2017. They’ve surpassed the 30-win mark solely as soon as within the 5 seasons since. Basic supervisor Pierre Dorion is clearly uninterested in these outcomes — therefore the daring offseason strikes. Dorion traded for Alex DeBrincat, signed free agent Claude Giroux, swapped out Matt Murray for Cam Talbot in web and stuffed across the edges with some veteran provides. On paper, these Senators look pretty formidable.

Ottawa’s pink flag is on the again finish. If the Senators count on to push for playoffs, they will want a defensive effort to match what could possibly be a potent top-six assault. However Dorion did not goal a lot turnover for a defensive unit that was eleventh in objectives towards final season (3.22 per recreation). Was that the improper resolution? It’s going to fall on Ottawa’s forwards to assist enhance the workforce defensively too, in fact. However standing pat when it comes to defensive personnel would possibly spell hassle for Ottawa in its quest to rejoin the playoff area. Time will inform if Dorion put his eggs in the suitable baskets. — Shilton

Large query: How does Tampa reset after offseason subtractions?

Lightning common supervisor Julien BriseBois prioritized taking good care of his personal final summer season by signing Nick Paul, Mikhail Sergachev, Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak to long-term extensions. Within the course of, Tampa needed to let go of Ondrej Palat (signed now in New Jersey) and Ryan McDonagh (traded to Nashville). Each Palat and McDonagh performed main roles in Tampa’s current run of success. Dropping them creates alternative for others, but in addition doubtlessly weakens the Lightning roster general.

Sergachev should tackle extra accountability. Identical for Paul, particularly since Cirelli will probably be out of Tampa’s top-six rotation till a minimum of November. Brandon Hagel and Ross Colton have an opportunity to step up. Vladislav Namestnikov is a brand new face within the room this season, too. Tampa will not be missing in decisions; it is extra a query of chemistry. What has made the Lightning so particular is how they’ve come collectively and performed — because the workforce so usually states — for one another. How will the departure of some beloved core gamers harm that all-for-one mentality, if in any respect? And even with the suitable buy-in, can Tampa proceed its spectacular run of success for one more yr? — Shilton

Large query: Did Toronto make the suitable wager on its goaltending?

The Maple Leafs’ goalie carousel is galloping into one other season of (potential) uncertainty. Two summers in the past, Toronto let former incumbent Frederik Andersen go to Carolina as a free agent with a purpose to trip with Jack Campbell and signal Petr Mrazek to again him up. A yr later, Campbell too left in free company (for Edmonton), Mrazek was traded to Chicago and common supervisor Kyle Dubas changed them with oft-injured Matt Murray (traded from Ottawa) and free agent Ilya Samsonov. Is that … higher? We’ll quickly discover out.

Goaltending was an general energy for the Leafs final season. Campbell went 31-9-6 with a .914 save proportion. Murray and Samsonov mixed for 28 wins final yr (granted Murray was restricted by accidents and Samsonov cut up time with Vitek Vanecek).

Toronto boasting elite scoring skills like Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner does not negate the need for dependable goaltending — significantly in terms of the postseason. As a result of in case you have not heard, Toronto’s missing in current playoff success. That hasn’t been primarily due to poor netminding, however Murray and/or Samsonov will must be in a robust, established place by then. Can they be that tandem the Leafs are in search of to compete — and keep wholesome sufficient to show it? — Shilton

Metropolitan Division

Large query: Who steps as much as change Vincent Trocheck?

The most important query the Hurricanes should reply is whether or not the offseason acquisitions of Brent Burns and Max Pacioretty can lastly push them by way of the Japanese Convention bracket and into the Stanley Cup Ultimate once more. However since we’re not prone to see Pacioretty till 2023 after tearing an Achilles tendon, let’s as a substitute deal with the gaping void left by heart Vincent Trocheck’s departure to the Rangers in free company.

Trocheck had 51 factors in 81 video games because the second heart on the depth chart behind Sebastian Aho and forward of Jordan Staal, enjoying nearly all of his time with Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas. The widespread principle is that 22-year-old Jesperi Kotkaniemi will probably be given the primary crack at taking up the second line, given the eight-year dedication the Hurricanes made to him final March. Whereas his totals final season weren’t overwhelming, he was tied with rookie Seth Jarvis for second on the workforce in objectives per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 (1.02). There’s additionally the potential to maneuver Necas to his pure place at heart, though he won’t have the defensive chops for that task on a Rod Brind’Amour-coached workforce.

The Canes have versatile veteran Paul Stastny as an insurance coverage coverage, however they’d love for a youthful participant to plant their flag on the second line. — Wyshynski

Large query: How does Johnny Gaudreau reshape the lineup?

Gaudreau’s arrival in Columbus despatched shockwaves by way of the NHL throughout the summer season. Now we’ll get to see what sort of seismic shifts Johnny Hockey has brought on inside the Blue Jackets’ lineup. It is anticipated that Patrik Laine, coming off a resurgent point-per-game season, will play on the other wing from Gaudreau on their high line. As nice as Gaudreau might be as a playmaker, he cannot do it alone. Please recall that Gaudreau performed over 1,000 minutes at 5-on-5 with Matthew Tkachuk final season with the Flames, serving to him hit 40 objectives and break 100 factors for the primary time in his profession. May Laine provide the identical assist?

Boone Jenner might heart the Gaudreau line. The 29-year-old had 44 factors in 59 video games final season earlier than a again harm lower his marketing campaign brief. He is obtained the scale and physicality that would profit Gaudreau, and performed effectively with Laine final season. However when Jenner was out, Jack Roslovic was elevated to the highest line and performed effectively. Do not depend him out of the combination. They’re each seemingly protecting the seat heat for Cole Sillinger, the 19-year-old coming off a robust rookie season. How lengthy earlier than he earns his shot?

Gaudreau’s arrival means left wing Jakub Voracek will get knocked down the depth chart for Columbus. He tallied 56 assists final season and averaged 17:28 of ice time per recreation. If does not have Laine on his reverse wing, and with Oliver Bjorkstrand off to Seattle, do these numbers take a tumble? Or does Voracek play hip uncle to Sillinger and Yegor Chinakhov on one other scoring line? — Wyshynski

Large query: Is the goaltending lastly going to attain some competency?

The truth that the franchise of Martin Brodeur is now outlined by goaltending inefficiency has “hoping on a monkey’s paw” ranges of merciless irony. Over the past three seasons, the Devils have the bottom save proportion (.906) of any NHL workforce at 5-on-5. The strides their younger roster has made at all times flip into stumbles, as they’re tripped up by the Devils’ lack of ability to get a save.

That is the third straight offseason that GM Tom Fitzgerald has tried to rectify that downside. He signed Corey Crawford in 2020, solely to see him retire as a substitute. He acquired Jonathan Bernier in 2021, solely to see him play 10 video games earlier than present process season-ending hip surgical procedure.

Bernier remains to be beneath contract and the Devils depend him as being within the goaltending combine, however the two major netminders heading into 2022-23 are former Capitals goalie Vitek Vanecek — acquired through commerce as a restricted free agent — and 25-year-old Mackenzie Blackwood, who’s getting into his fifth NHL season. They hope Vanecek might be the stabilizing power that they hoped Crawford and Bernier would change into, permitting Blackwood to search out the shape he confirmed throughout a 2019-2020 breakout marketing campaign. The operative phrase right here is “hope.” — Wyshynski

Large query: How does Lane Lambert put his stamp on this workforce?

Essentially the most well-known factor in regards to the latest Islanders head coach is his affiliation with the earlier one. Lambert labored because the right-hand man for Barry Trotz during the last decade earlier than lastly getting his time to shine as a head coach. Are there philosophical variations in Lambert’s method to the sport than his predecessor’s, or is that this a case of “similar method, contemporary voice?”

What’s actually intriguing about Lambert taking up is that the Islanders’ roster is, by and huge, the identical one which missed the playoffs and obtained Trotz fired. Does Lambert run it again with some acquainted line combos? Does he do something to handle the diminishing returns on Mathew Barzal; like, for instance, giving 22-year-old winger Oliver Wahlstrom the ice time that Trotz was reluctant to offer him? What’s a Lane Lambert workforce? — Wyshynski

Large query: What’s subsequent for The Child Line?

We ask about The Child Line in summary. Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere have been the beating coronary heart of the Rangers throughout a very good portion of their run to the Japanese Convention finals final season till coach Gerard Gallant broke them up. Perhaps they trip once more some day, however it’s extra seemingly that these three younger skills will probably be sprinkled all through the Rangers’ lineup as a substitute. It is only a query of the place.

Chytil could be the simplest to foretell. He ought to be the workforce’s No. 3 heart behind Mika Zibanejad and the newly acquired Vincent Trocheck. Lafreniere began to see a while with Zibanejad throughout the playoffs. One assumes he’ll be given the prospect to shine on the highest line with Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. Then there’s Kakko, the No. 2 general choose in 2019 who was final seen getting scratched in Recreation 6 of the convention finals. They handed him a two-year bridge contract. They will proceed to problem him till they know what he’s. Does Kakko lastly take the following step in his NHL profession? In that case, it could possibly be on Trocheck’s flank. — Wyshynski

Large query: John Tortorella. Philadelphia Flyers. So, uh, what does that seem like?

Torts leaves the ESPN tv studio to return to an NHL bench, taking up a Flyers workforce that completed final in its division and has missed the playoffs for 2 straight seasons. It did not take lengthy for considered one of hockey’s most combative coaches to make headlines in Philly, telling SiriusXM NHL Community Radio that he has “main issues” in regards to the Flyers locker room, and that “earlier than we even step onto the ice, conditions and requirements and accountability within the room is forefront, and you may’t get squat executed on the ice till you get your room straightened out.”

We think about he is not speaking in regards to the room’s feng shui …

There are two issues we learn about Tortorella as an NHL coach. The primary is that everybody will stroll into camp with a clear slate, having but earned nothing on his watch. The second is that he’ll try to show the Flyers from a simple workforce to play towards, having completed final within the Metro final season, to a Torts-tough group that competes each night time. One of many extra intriguing subplots: How his system may gain advantage franchise goalie Carter Hart, who confirmed some enchancment final season after earlier struggles. — Wyshynski

Large query: Does “the band” have the suitable backup musicians?

Sidney Crosby obtained his want; Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang are, considerably inexplicably, again with the Penguins on multiyear contracts. So is Bryan Rust. The band is again collectively beneath coach Mike Sullivan, who obtained his personal contract extension.

However Sid have to be feeling much more déjà vu for the Penguins as he glances down the depth chart. Similar to again within the days when Ray Shero was the overall supervisor, Pittsburgh’s backside six and defensive depth might drown out the candy music the band orchestrates collectively.

The Penguins have Jeff Carter and Teddy Blueger as potential bottom-six facilities. Danton Heinen, Brock McGinn, Kasperi Kapanen. Ryan Poehling, Josh Archibald and Drew O’Connor will probably be within the combine at wing. What trios emerge from that group to assist the highest two traces? Then there’s the blue line. The Penguins are set on the suitable aspect with Letang, offseason pickup Jeff Petry and former Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta. However Brian Dumoulin and Marcus Pettersson have been inconsistent at finest on the left aspect. Pierre-Olivier Joseph and Ty Smith are younger, offensively gifted however defensively poor. The Penguins have choices down the lineup. Which of them do they roll with first? — Wyshynski

Large query: What does life with out Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson seem like?

On paper, the Capitals enter the season with out their top-line proper wing and their No. 2 heart. However Wilson and Backstrom are a lot greater than names on a roster. Say what you’ll about Tom Wilson — and please, attempt to maintain it PG-13 — however he is the proper complement to Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov on the Capitals’ high line. He is out for the primary few months of the season after reconstructive surgical procedure to repair a torn ACL in his left knee. Backstrom is a franchise icon who, when wholesome, might be one of many NHL’s best two-way facilities. However “when wholesome” is doing a variety of work right here, as his offseason hip resurfacing surgical procedure will put him on the shelf for an indefinite time frame.

What does this do for the lineup? Let’s begin with Backstrom. The Capitals had restricted wage cap flexibility, realizing that each Wilson and Backstrom might return this season, in order that they added former Blackhawks heart Dylan Strome ($3.5 million AAV) as an choice to switch Backstrom. Another choice: Heart Lars Eller, who has held down their third line. As a pending free agent, Eller most likely would not thoughts a showcase with wingers Anthony Mantha and T.J. Oshie. The wild card: Connor McMichael, the 21-year-old heart.

The Capitals would possibly solely be with out Wilson for the primary seven or eight weeks of the season, however they will must fill that function within the brief time period. Winger Connor Brown, added from the Senators, is an choice. However Oshie has performed with Ovechkin and Kuznetsov earlier than and that trio has labored decently, too. — Wyshynski

Central Division

Large query: How aggressive can the Coyotes truly be?

There was greater than sufficient deal with the place Arizona is enjoying this season, and what kind of expertise that 5,000-seat facility at Arizona State College goes to supply for gamers and followers alike. However what in regards to the on-ice product these Coyotes will provide? GM Invoice Armstrong has gone all-in on rebuilding this workforce from the bottom up, with the draft capital (31 picks within the subsequent three years) and up-and-comers to show it. Nonetheless, nearly all of these gamers simply can not help make the Coyotes higher proper now. What kind of workforce will they be?

Arizona has its core foundational gamers within the likes of Clayton Keller, Nick Schmaltz, Christian Fischer and Lawson Crouse. Karel Vejmelka will enter his second NHL season because the Coyotes’ projected starter. And, a minimum of for now, there are some veteran defenders patrolling the blue line in Jakob Chychrun, Shayne Gostisbehere and Troy Stecher (though who stays post-trade deadline is anybody’s guess). After that, Arizona’s ahead depth is just too many 30-plus skaters like Andrew Ladd, Zack Kassian and Nick Bjugstad, and their back-end choices drop off sharply.

There’s an apparent emphasis on the lengthy recreation for Arizona, each with its dwelling house and its roster development. How a lot that method is affecting the Coyotes’ current will seemingly change into clear fairly shortly this season. — Shilton

Large query: How do Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews match into the rebuilding Blackhawks?

Kane and Toews do not essentially wish to go away Chicago. It is potential neither participant will. However the concept of a five-year lengthy rebuild is not interesting, both.

It is change into more and more possible that sooner or later this season, one or each could possibly be sporting new sweaters. As a result of the Blackhawks seem headed for a nosedive so arduous into the bottom that they earn the suitable to draft Connor Bedard first general in June. Does protecting Kane and Toews get in the best way of that? Kane put up 92 factors final season, albeit alongside Alex DeBrincat, who has since been traded to Ottawa. Toews remains to be a viable two-way heart, even whereas not producing the identical scoring numbers as at his peak. There is a marketplace for these gamers’ providers, and whether or not Chicago opts to essentially discover that would be the Blackhawks’ all-encompassing storyline from now till both a commerce occurs or the deadline passes.

Kane and Toews have full no-movement clauses, in fact, so any deal must be accredited on their ends. Chicago would not have been the dynastic membership it grew to become within the 2010s with out their contributions and an ideal world would possibly enable each to enthusiastically finish their careers as Blackhawks. However what if the suitable provide comes alongside? A possibility to chase one other championship, quite than plod by way of extra of a multiyear overhaul, might finally be too good to let slip. — Shilton

Large query: Who would be the new second-line heart?

Return to when the Avalanche have been upstarts en path to turning into the eventual Stanley Cup champions. Discovering a second-line heart was an issue again then. That’s what made getting Nazem Kadri in a commerce again in 2019 so essential. It gave the Avs that legimiate second-line heart who might function in plenty of roles, which then allowed the entrance workplace the liberty to deal with different areas they wanted to strengthen.

Three years and a Stanley Cup later, the Avs are actually looking for Kadri’s substitute. However this time, there look like inner candidates who might win the job. Whoever replaces Kadri because the second-line heart should cope with the expectations he created. It seems the first challengers could possibly be J.T. Compher, Alex Newhook or Evan Rodrigues, who signed a one-year contract with the Avs on Sept. 12.

Compher was one of many choices the workforce appeared to earlier than they finally traded for Kadri. Since then, he labored to ascertain himself as a third-line heart who scored a career-high 18 objectives and 33 factors in 70 video games final season. Newhook was drafted sixteenth in 2019 with the expectation he might doubtlessly function a top-six, two-way heart able to anchoring a line. He completed with 13 objectives and 33 factors in 71 video games in what was his first full NHL marketing campaign. As for Rodrigues, he scored a career-best 19 objectives and 43 factors final season with the Penguins, whereas giving Avs coach Jared Bednar one other ahead who might both be used down the center or on the wing. — Clark

Large query: When does Jason Robertson re-sign with the Stars, and what might his subsequent deal seem like?

Ideally, the Stars would seemingly wish to re-sign Robertson earlier than September ends or sooner or later in early October. The problem, nonetheless, seems to lie to find one thing that works past the 2022-23 season. CapFriendly tasks the Stars to have $6.335 million in cap house this season whereas being projected to have $29.26 million forward of the 2023-24 season. Anton Khudobin and Joe Pavelski will probably be pending UFAs who price a mixed $8.83 million in cap house, whereas Denis Gurianov and Roope Hintz are pending RFAs who may also be in want of recent offers.

These are all components that could possibly be in consideration in terms of making a framework for Robertson’s new deal. It quantities to Stars GM Jim Nill and his front-office employees managing cap house in a method that permits the franchise to re-sign a 23-year-old winger who’s averaging 0.98 factors in 128 video games whereas doubtlessly having the pliability to retain others.

As for what might occur? It’s potential Robertson and the Stars might do a bridge deal as a brief answer, with the plan of creating one thing with extra time period and cash. However that additionally comes with the chance Robertson continues his trajectory and doubtlessly raises his asking worth, when signing him earlier may need price barely much less. — Clark

Large query: Who might step up and assist strengthen the top-nine ahead group?

Kirill Kaprizov went from 51 factors to 108 in his sophomore marketing campaign. Marcus Foligno had by no means scored greater than 26 factors in a season, but scored 42. Frederick Gaudreau quadrupled his profession excessive of 10 factors to attain 44, whereas Ryan Hartman had extra objectives in 2021-22 than he had in his final 4 seasons … mixed. Mats Zuccarello did one thing related by scoring extra factors final season than he had within the earlier two seasons mixed.

Having that individual quintet replicate, if not exceed what they did in 2021-22 would assist the Wild. Particularly now that Kevin Fiala, alongside together with his 33 objectives and 85 factors, is with the Los Angeles Kings. That is what makes the Wild so intriguing past the 5 gamers who set profession highs. It’s a workforce that may search to capitalize off the continued progress Matt Boldy confirmed throughout his rookie marketing campaign, when he scored 15 objectives and 39 factors in 47 video games.

However Boldy will not be the one participant whose contributions might show essential. A lot of forwards, akin to Tyson Jost and Sam Steel, are anticipated to push for top-nine roles. So is Marco Rossi. The Wild drafted Rossi with the ninth choose in 2020 with the purpose he might sometime change into a top-six choice after scoring 39 objectives and 120 factors for the Ottawa 67’s within the OHL throughout the 2019-20 season. Rossi was restricted to 5 video games in 2020-21 due to COVID-19 issues, however would return to attain 18 objectives and 53 factors in 63 video games for the Iowa Wild within the AHL a yr later. — Clark

Large query: How does Nashville construct on final season — and outline its high six?

Retaining Filip Forsberg on an enormous eight-year extension was the offseason transfer Nashville needed to make. He’ll rejoin Matt Duchene, Mikael Granlund and Ryan Johansen within the Predators’ high six, and welcome free agent acquisition Nino Niederreiter to that group for this season as effectively. Forsberg (84 factors in 69 video games) and Duchene (86 factors in 78 video games) had career-best seasons in 2021-22, and together with Roman Josi‘s career-high 96 level marketing campaign have been main components within the Predators getting again to the playoffs.

The postseason is the place Nashville fell aside. Beginning goaltender Juuse Saros was injured, and Colorado tidily swept the Predators to an early summer season. How does Nashville stop that kind of final result once more? It begins with its veterans discovering related success, and determining who most closely fits in that vacant top-six slot. Philip Tomasino is getting into his sophomore season however is probably not prepared for a full-time soar up. Tanner Jeannot had a robust rookie displaying on Nashville’s third line and will certainly get a glance, too. Eeli Tolvanen could possibly be a contender as effectively.

Bringing Niederreiter in definitely offers coach John Hynes extra choices to combine and match. Placing the suitable stability will probably be key for Nashville to enhance on its previous accomplishments. — Shilton

Large query: How does life look with out Ville Husso?

You might have seen that there’s something of a theme creating in terms of how the Blues discover a answer to switch a goaltender. Sort of like how Carter Hutton and his 17-7-3 document left after the 2017-18 season, solely to get replaced by Jordan Binnington. Or how the Blues wanted to discover a appropriate substitute for Jake Allen going into the 2020-21 season. Each time the Blues are confronted with this query, they provide you with a solution.

May Thomas Greiss be subsequent? Maybe that could be a query the Blues will be capable of reply later within the common season. For now, the expectation is Griess can work in tandem with Binnington to switch Husso, who’s now with the Purple Wings. It’s only a matter of whether or not that tandem can discover consistency.

Husso went 25-7-6 with a 2.56 goals-against common and a .919 save proportion, whereas Binnington completed 18-14-4 with a career-worst 3.13 GAA and a. 901 save proportion, one other private low. Griess gained a mixed 18 video games over two seasons for a Purple Wings workforce that was nonetheless constructing towards being extra aggressive. His time with the Islanders hypothetically presents extra perception into how Griess fares in a tandem for a workforce with playoff aspirations. Griess gained greater than 10 video games in 5 of his six seasons and was a three-time 20-game winner. — Clark

Large query: Can Rick Bowness get the suitable buy-in?

When Paul Maurice excused himself from Winnipeg’s head-coaching submit final December, the Jets have been underperforming and in want of “a brand new voice,” in line with their departing bench boss. Dave Lowry stuffed in, Winnipeg missed the postseason and visibly pissed off high gamers like Mark Scheifele publicly questioned what route the Jets have been headed in.

Seems, they have been flying towards veteran coach Wealthy Bowness. His first huge resolution was stripping Blake Wheeler of the workforce’s captaincy, paving the best way for a leadership-by-committee method. On the ice, he’ll purpose to steer these Jets into calmer skies by cultivating a hard-to-play-against mentality that leaves room for creativity. Winnipeg struggled defensively final season as effectively (they have been thirteenth in objectives towards), and a historically defensive-minded coach like Bowness will emphasize a 200-foot recreation from everybody (star skaters included).

Will that be sufficient to fulfill a disenchanted group in Winnipeg that is too usually falling wanting its personal expectations? Profitable groups are constructed on good construction. Bowness has 33 years of expertise in hockey to lean on. He’ll faucet into all of it to design and implement the suitable plan for Winnipeg, one which he hopes can flip some frowns the wrong way up within the dressing room. — Shilton

Pacific Division

Large query: What’s the plan with their protection?

It is a quite broad query, ensuing from the Geese’ circumstances. A dialogue might be held about how their defensemen will truly carry out. Or about how free agent signing John Klingberg modifications the dynamic along with the expectations going through the Geese this season. For now? It seems the speedy concern could possibly be figuring out what selections Geese coach Dallas Eakins will make together with his pairings whereas GM Pat Verbeek examines the strongest method to take in terms of all of the choices inside his group.

Eakins has 9 defensemen on his roster. Verbeek added extra expertise in Klingberg and Dmitry Kulikov to go along with what they already had in veterans Cam Fowler and Kevin Shattenkirk. These 4 present a distinction to the remaining 5 defensemen who’re all youthful than 25 years previous, with Jamie Drysdale being a member of that group. They signed one other veteran in Nathan Beaulieu to knowledgeable tryout provide whereas the skilled John Moore additionally stays within the system.

All of it quantities to the Geese having choices — particularly when three of their present defensemen are pending UFAs whereas three extra are pending RFAs at season’s finish. Even how they handle these future contracts will probably be influenced by the information that prospects Drew Helleson, Pavel Mintyukov and Owen Zellweger might problem for roster spots within the coming seasons. — Clark

Large query: How will all of the items work in terms of changing Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk’s manufacturing?

Changing two forwards who mixed to attain 219 factors final season was executed by getting two extra forwards who mixed to attain 202 factors, and a defenseman who scored an extra 44 factors. This could be one of many less complicated methods to explain the Flames’ method in terms of utilizing Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar and Nazem Kadri to switch Gaudreau and Tkachuk.

Pure Stat Trick’s metrics reveal Gaudreau and Tkachuk have been on the ice final season for a bit of greater than 1,047 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time, whereas additionally accounting for 86 objectives, 663 scoring probabilities and 259 high-danger scoring probabilities in these sequences. It’s potential the Flames elect to play Huberdeau and Kadri on the identical line. However they could possibly be tempted to separate them up. One of many objects that made the Panthers profitable final season was their means to have Barkov and Huberdeau function on seperate traces. They’d 204 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time collectively. However Barkov had 681 minutes in 5-on-5 play with out Huberdeau over his 67-game season. Huberdeau had 805 minutes with out Barkov, having performed 80 video games.

One in all Kadri’s traits throughout his three-season stint in Denver was the actual fact he might anchor a line no matter who was subsequent to him. There can be occasions when the Avs would shuffle their second line. Plus, there have been additionally events when Kadri stuffed in on the primary line each time Nathan MacKinnon was injured. Most of Kadri’s 5-on-5 time was spent with Andre Burakovsky (1,281 minutes) and Valeri Nichushkin (645 minutes) over his three campaigns with the Avs, per Pure Stat Trick. But Kadri additionally logged greater than 250 minutes of 5-on-5 time with wingers Joonas Donskoi, Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen, Brandon Saad and J.T. Compher.

Weegar’s arrival comes with its personal set of circumstances. He was on the ice for extra scoring probabilities and high-danger scoring probabilities in 5-on-5 sequences than any skater on the Panthers roster. Including a puck mover like Weegar means the Flames have added to a protection that watched Rasmus Andersson and Noah Hanifin every end with greater than 48 factors. Altogether, the Flames are returning 5 defenseman who completed the common season with greater than 20 factors. — Clark

Large query: What’s going to the Oilers do to change into cap-compliant?

Let’s begin right here. Pending RFA Ryan McLeod nonetheless wants a brand new contract. Couple that with the actual fact Oscar Klefbom‘s and Mike Smith‘s mixed $6.367 million cap hit are on injured reserve. Then there may be there may be additionally the consideration that the Oilers have $750,000 in useless cap from Milan Lucic‘s contract, along with a mixed $3.416 million that is still on the books from the James Neal and Andrej Sekera buyouts.

Determining navigate these objects, amongst different particulars, is what Oilers GM Ken Holland and his entrance workplace employees should navigate of their trek to change into cap-compliant. CapFriendly tasks the Oilers are $6.781 million over the cap. There are quite a few avenues the Oilers might pursue of their plan to change into compliant. A few of the hypotheticals embrace electing to maneuver Klefbom and Smith to long run injured reserve, dressing a restricted roster or trying to shed wage by way of trades, amongst different choices. — Clark

Large query: Will this be the season Quinton Byfield breaks by way of?

Rebuilding the franchise round gamers akin to Anze Kopitar was the place to begin. Signing free brokers akin to Phillip Danault was the following step. Collectively, the pair type a one-two mixture down the center that made the Kings formidable sufficient to achieve the postseason for the primary time in three seasons. But it’s the promise somebody like Byfield presents that solely provides to what might make the Kings a long-term contender.

He has the scale and the flexibility to make performs, with a 6-foot-5 body. These are among the many the reason why Byfield went second within the 2020 draft. However is that this the season when the 20-year-old could make all of it work? Byfield scored 10 factors in 40 video games final season for the Kings, whereas additionally scoring six factors in 11 video games within the AHL. His bodily traits are why he carries excessive expectations. So does the actual fact he went second general.

Sufficient is in place to recommend the dialogue round Byfield is a bit philosophical. He is solely 20, which suggests there may be time. However he is additionally 20 in a league that has seen first-round picks change into instantaneous contributors. Look no additional than Byfield’s draft class. There are eight first-rounders from that draft who’ve scored extra factors and performed in additional video games than Byfield up to now. — Clark

Large query: What modifications will David Quinn and his employees implement to search out extra objectives?

Creating scoring probabilities and high-danger scoring probabilities in 5-on-5 play was not an issue final season for the Sharks. They have been close to league common in these classes. What was a difficulty, nonetheless, was changing these probabilities into objectives. The Sharks scored the fewest objectives in 5-on-5 sequences whereas having the fifth-fewest photographs in these conditions. Furthemore, their shot-attempt proportion was 45.59%, which suggests sustaining possession was a difficulty for the Sharks. Solely the Coyotes have been worse at 44%, per Pure Stat Trick.

Nick Bonino, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier accounted for 49% of the Sharks’ objectives final season. However Jonathan Dahlen, Rudolfs Balcers and Brent Burns? The three gamers who completed fifth, sixth and seventh in objectives are enjoying elsewhere this season. It is what makes the necessity to discover supplemental scoring much more essential.

Sharks GM Mike Grier and his front-office employees imagine free agent signings Luke Kunin and Oskar Lindblom may help in that space. Kunin’s 13 objectives final season would have made him the Sharks’ fifth main scorer whereas Lindblom’s 12 objectives would have positioned him in a tie for sixth. Nico Sturm, who additionally arrived in free company, had 9 objectives final season. These additions together with a completely wholesome Kevin Labanc is anticipated to make a distinction. Moreover, might it’s potential Thomas Bordeleau and William Eklund be a part of the answer? — Clark

Large query: What influence will new goaltending coach Steve Briere have on the Kraken?

Matty Beniers scoring 9 factors in 10 video games final season has created Calder Trophy buzz along with pleasure about what he might present as a top-six heart. Seattle unexpectedly drafting Shane Wright with the fourth choose has additionally led to discussions about whether or not or not he makes the Kraken’s roster out of coaching camp. However an argument could possibly be made that what Briere does with Philipp Grubauer and Martin Jones comes with a considerable quantity of significance.

Goaltending was a multifaceted concern for the Kraken. They signed Grubauer to a six-year contract price $5.9 million yearly, solely to look at him go from being a 30-game profitable Vezina Trophy finalist with the Avalanche to shedding 31 video games within the Kraken’s debut season. Chris Driedger began to search out consistency over the ultimate months of the common season, however he later suffered a torn ACL representing Canada on the World Championships. Driedger is anticipated to be out of the lineup till January on the earliest.

These season-long struggles are what finally led to the Kraken transferring on from goalie coach Andrew Allen and hiring Briere from the Maple Leafs. One other method the Kraken sought to handle their goalie dilemma was signing Jones in free company to create a tandem with Grubauer whereas Driedger continues his restoration. A Grubauer-Jones partnership offers the Kraken an skilled tandem that has performed greater than 660 NHL video games. But it surely comes with the popularity that Grubauer and Jones additionally completed final season with a mixed 3.30 GAA. — Clark

Large query: So … that Bo Horvat contract?

That specific query has an opportunity to change into a quite acquainted one even after coaching camp and the preseason ends. Until Horvat and the Canucks can get a deal labored out sooner or later. Till then? Horvat’s contract has the potential to change into a season-long speaking level in terms of the Canucks, their captain and the collective way forward for all concerned.

Horvat is getting into the ultimate season of a six-year extension that carries a $5.5 million annual cap hit. The 27-year-old is the longest-serving member of the workforce’s present core. However he is additionally the one one who will not be beneath contract after this season. J.T. Miller simply signed a long-term contract in early September. That transfer comes within the wake of the Canucks re-signing Brock Boeser, Thatcher Demko, Conor Garland, Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson going again to March 2021, when Demko was the primary inside that group to signal an extension. Having these offers in place presents a way of stability.

How do the Canucks get Horvat to the identical place? The Canucks are projected to solely have $14.6 million in obtainable cap house subsequent offseason. Re-signing Horvat is simply a part of the equation. Former SKA St. Petersburg ahead Andrei Kuzmenko is on a one-year contract earlier than he turns into a UFA. There may be additionally the dynamic in play with Travis Dermott and Nils Hoglander, who change into RFAs on the finish of the 2022-23 season. — Clark

Large query: Who comes out on high within the goaltending competitors?

Place the goalie dialogue on pause for a minute. The Golden Knights have fairly a number of questions going into camp. One is how will Jack Eichel carry out in his first full season with the membership. One other is: What’s going to Mark Stone seem like after having offseason again surgical procedure? Signing Phil Kessel raises questions in regards to the influence he might have. Bruce Cassidy’s arrival comes with questions on what he can do to assist the Golden Knights return to the postseason after lacking it for the primary time within the franchise’s temporary historical past.

OK. Now, for the goalies. Robin Lehner‘s offseason hip surgical procedure means he’ll miss the 2022-23 season. It leaves Cassidy entrusting what occurs in web to the trio of Laurent Brossoit, Adin Hill and Logan Thompson filling in for Lehner.

Brossoit and Thompson each gained 10 video games whereas enjoying for the Golden Knights final season. Nonetheless, Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon introduced in reinforcements by buying and selling for Hill, who additionally gained 10 video games whereas posting a 2.90 GAA and a .906 save proportion whereas enjoying for the Sharks. The idea is that Brossoit, Hill and Thompson will problem to be a part of the tandem mixture Cassidy is anticipated to make use of all through the common season. Plus, it’s potential the Golden Knights might use Michael Hutchinson sooner or later within the common season. Altogether, these 4 goaltenders have a mixed 337 video games of NHL expertise, which falls simply shy of Lehner and his 364 video games. — Clark

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