Florida Panthers Positional Preview: Goalie

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Entering the 2022-23 NHL season, it’s not a stretch to say that the Florida Panthers have an elite goaltending tandem that is possibly in the top-5 of duos as the season kicks off Thursday when the Panthers travel to New York to take on the Islanders. When the strength of each other position group that the Panthers employ is taken into consideration, it highlights the fact that Florida has no glaring weaknesses throughout their lineup as they look to build on a 122 point season and win the Atlantic division for the second straight season.

Although there is a clear choice for the number one goalie heading into the season, it will be interesting to track the utilization of Florida’s two star goaltenders as the season progresses.


Sergei Bobrovsky


Sergei Bobrovsky is heading into the fourth year of his 7-year, 70 million dollar contract he signed with the Panthers back in 2019. Simply put, when you are dedicating $10 million dollars to a goalie, he’s your starter even if it means blocking goalie of the future, Spencer Knight. Bobrovsky is coming off of an interesting season where his win and loss record and stats were generally eye-candy for any Panthers fan.

He posted a record of 39-7-3 in 53 games started. A near 40 win season for any goalie is nothing to scoff at. Even with his impressive play and borderline elite save percentage of .913, Bobrovsky looked very shaky in net at times and was kept afloat by his offense’s ability to put the puck in the net at an astonishing pace. The Panthers led the league in goals by scoring 337 over the course of the season. That number is good for 25 more than the next highest scoring team, the offensive juggernaut Maple Leafs.

At one point in the season, the Panthers offense had to put the goaltending on their back when they were victorious in back to back games back to back 7-6 OT wins in early April of last season, both games in which Bobrovsky started. He recorded save percentages of .714 and .760 respectively in those games. Here’s a guy who was benched in the 2021 playoffs after posting an .841 save percentage and a 5.33 GAA in two games.

Inconsistency has really been the main issue for Bobrovsky. Sometimes he’s fantastic, sometimes he’s not. Can’t the same be said about any goalie, though? It just depends on the night. Sometimes your ace in the rotation is going to go out and get shelled. It’s just the way sports work. In Bobrovsky’s case, however, the good largely outweighs the bad. (Is it $10,000,000 worth of good? That’s a topic for another day).

Bobrovsky has been one of the best goaltenders in the league since breaking in with the Flyers in the 2010-11 season. Bob has two All-Star Appearances in 2015 and 2017. He won two Vezina trophies with Columbus in 2013 and 2017. Simply put, the guy is a great goaltender. Sure, he may be a bit overpaid, but he brings a solid veteran presence that every team desperately needs between the pipes.


Spencer Knight

Spencer Knight is without a doubt the Panthers’ goaltender of the future. The Panthers spent a first round pick on Knight in 2019, making him the 13th overall pick in the draft, which is pretty high for any goalie. Coming off of a freshly signed three-year, $13.5 million contract extension, Knight will look to finish the last year of his entry level contract strong before moving into his new deal. Lucky for Knight, all the pieces are set up around him for him to have a fantastic third season. He still has a solid defense in front of him even after the offseason losses of Ben Chiarot and MacKenzie Weegar, a high powered offense that can make up for any mistakes made in net with the blink of an eye, and an excellent veteran presence in Sergei Bobrovsky to help his game.

Knight is coming off of a season in which he didn’t play a ton. Florida kept his workload in check by starting him in 27 games. He came into five additional games in relief for a total of 32 games played, where he finished with a record of 27-19-9, a save percentage of .908 and a 2.79 GAA. Knight, just like Bobrovsky, had a couple of terrible games but was arguably more consistent throughout the year than his counterpart in net. Knight will probably start the year watching Bobrovsky from the bench, but he will likely pick up more and more playing time as the year progresses and the 34 year old Bobrovsky needs a break.

Final Verdict

The Panthers shouldn’t lose any sleep at night over their goaltending situation. They are well positioned to have not only one of the best starting goalies in the NHL, but also one of the best young backups. Panthers fans should take comfort in the fact that as soon as Bobrovsky falters or something else like an injury pops up, they have a reliable option to plug right in and not lose significant production value. The Panthers begin their Atlantic Division championship defense on Thursday, October 13th.

Rangers Training Camp Review

Via Getty Images

The 2022 New York Rangers training camp is officially complete, and the Rangers begin their season on Tuesday, October 11th against the Tampa Bay Lightning. With training camp complete, let’s look at five takeaways from the Rangers preseason expeditions.

Takeaway 1: Jimmy Vesey’s Return

In classic New York Rangers fashion, Jimmy Vesey has returned to the New York Rangers after securing a contract whilst on a professional try-out (PTO). While Jimmy Vesey’s reunion with the Rangers seemed to be somewhat of a surprise to most Ranger fans at first, he has done more than enough to earn him a roster spot. A goal and two assists in his first two games seemed to cement his place in the roster almost immediately, and for good reason. Vesey’s play has improved greatly since his original stint with the team, and his deployment as a player that can play on the first or the fourth line will come incredibly useful when the injury bug inevitably hits.

Jimmy Vesey can be deployed as a first or second line winger, but with that said, he should be in the lineup as a 3rd or 4th line player. If Jimmy Vesey is in the top-6, then that could mean one of two things: the injury bug has hit the Rangers, or there is something seriously wrong with the chemistry in the Rangers’ lineup. Regardless, Vesey is another piece of organizational depth at the Rangers disposal, and at a cheap price as well.

Takeaway 2: The Kid Line

The kid line seems to be keeping up their chemistry from last season. Kaapo Kakko, Filip Chytil, and Alexis Lafrenière seem to have an additional confidence gained from their Stanley Cup run. Throughout the preseason, this line was the Rangers most notable, as they seemed to always have control of the puck in the offensive zone. Kakko specifically has shown the most growth, as his decision making was greatly improved. Whenever he has the puck, he always seemed to make the smart pass, and never put the puck into the other teams’ hands. Additionally, his shot seems to have improved greatly compared to the last couple years, and, so far, he is playing up to his 2nd overall potential.

Chytil as well has shown growth, as the control he exudes on the puck, as well as his ability to enter the zone with the puck on his stick as opposed to the dump and chase method flaunts the skillset that got Chytil drafted in the first round way back when in 2017. Additionally, his ability to drive the play of his line as well the natural chemistry he has developed with his linemates Kakko and Lafrenière indicates that Chytil is poised for a breakout season, although Rangers general manager Chris Drury would like to keep the young centerman.

Lastly, look to a breakout season from Alexis Lafrenière. The former first overall pick, like his peers, gained expertise and confidence in their 2022 playoff run. With increased time on the powerplay as well as (hopefully) increased deployment, Alexis Lafrenière will be looking considerably more dangerous on the scoresheet this season.

Takeaway 3: Zac Jones and the Bottom Pairing

To the cheers of many-a Ranger fan, Zac Jones has made the opening night roster playing alongside Braden Schneider. Jones, who I mentioned in detail in my Ranger lineup overview, was given every opportunity to succeed in training camp, and did just that. Scoring a goal in four preseason games, Jones may not have excelled on the scoresheet, but showed enough prowess on the defensive end to gain the trust of the Rangers coaching staff. While he’s still getting acclimated to the systems in place as well as the pace of the NHL, he will be given a complete opportunity alongside Braden Schneider.

Speaking of Schneider, who had just changed his number today, looks for an improved sophomore year alongside a more skilled partner in Jones. No shade to Patrik Nemeth, but he seems to drain the offense out of his partners as he did with Nils Lundkvist during his short stint with the Rangers. Look for an improved season from Schneider alongside a stronger defensive partner in Jones.

Takeaway 4: Vitali Kravtsov

When Vitali Kravtsov announced that he would be returning to the Rangers, many Rangers fans, including myself, were excited. However in his preseason stint with the team, he’s looked rather pedestrian. He scored no goals, and only notched one secondary assist on an Artemi Panarin goal. Speaking of, Panarin is seemingly insistent that Kravtsov remain on his line, as he is his only fellow countryman on the Rangers offensive core. Whether or not Kravtsov is able to adjust to the American game, time will tell, but so far his camp has been rather disappointing.

Despite his disappointing camp, Kravtsov will be given every opportunity to succeed. He seems almost stapled to Artemi Panarin’s opposite wing, and having Panarin as a mentor is certainly a good thing for his development. Hopefully Kravtsov is able to develop his game in a manner similar to Panarin, and the Rangers will be able to reap the rewards of the former 2018 first round pick.

Takeaway 5: Artemi Panarin and Vinny Trocheck

When Ryan Strome was still a member of the Rangers, he was more or less the scapegoat on the Rangers offense. Missing open nets was his forte, and yet his chemistry with Artemi Panarin revitalized his career. They were almost as inseparable as Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, and yet, this offseason saw Strome take his talents to Southern California. The Rangers were then in the market for a 2C, and with Andrew Copp leaving the Rangers for the Detroit Red Wings, they sought out Vincent Trocheck to fill that 2C role.

Taking Strome’s old number 16, the Rangers were hoping that the chemistry with the numbers would translate from Strome to Trocheck. Unfortunately, in the preseason at least, the two have not yet seemed to gel. With the emergence of Filip Chytil as a star player, the clock is already ticking on Trocheck’s seven year contract, which many Rangers fans seemed hesitant to support when it was signed. If the line of Panarin, Trocheck, and Kravtsov can find their chemistry as the season starts, then there is not much to worry about. But if the season reaches December, and that line is already broken up, then there might be some concern amongst Ranger fans.

The Final Lineup

As the sun rises on the Rangers 2022-23 season, let’s take a look at how their opening night roster might look.

Kreider – Zib – Kakko
Panarin – Trocheck – Kravtsov
Laf – Chytil – Goodrow
Vesey – Carpenter – Reaves
Hunt

Lindgren – Fox
Miller – Trouba
Jones – Schneider
Hajek

Shesterkin
Halak

Minnesota Wild Roster Breakdown: Forwards

Via NHL.com

The 2022-2023 NHL season is finally upon us, and that means rosters are being finalized as teams get ready to start their seasons. Over the next three days, I will be breaking down the Wild roster to begin the season, broken into three articles (forwards, defensemen, and goalies), starting with the forwards.

1st Line (Kaprizov-Hartman-Zuccarello)

The Wild have a deep and versatile group of forwards, and it is a group that can contribute from all four lines. The depth of this year’s forward group is what excites me the most about this team. It all starts with the first line, which will be the same as last year, Kirill KaprizovRyan HartmanMats Zuccarello). This combo combined for 252 points last season, and are expected to maintain the same level of production, if not surpass it this season.

We have seen some plays this preseason that indicate that the chemistry between Kaprizov and Zuccarello has somehow gotten stronger. Kaprizov and Zuccarello are the most talked about in the general media with the Wild and this first line, but Hartman was a key (if not the most) important part of this line last year, and will continue to play a huge role in the success of this line. Hartman broke out last season with career highs in goals, assists, and points. Hartman played in all 82 games (!!!) last season, and tallied 34 goals, 31 assists for 65 points. Hartman is the glue that holds this line together, look for him to have another career season this year between Kaprizov and Zuccarello.

Ranked as the 5th highest line in xGF last season (according to Money Puck), this line is one of the best in the league. I do not expect any regression with this line, in fact I expect the opposite. Expect for this first line to exceed their point total from last season, and solidify themselves as a top three line in the NHL.

2nd Line (Jost-Eriksson Ek-Foligno)

The second line has a new left winger (at least to start the season) in Tyson Jost, replacing Jordan Greenway who is currently recovering from off-season surgery. Although Greenway is expected back within the first two weeks of the season, I do not see him re-joining this second line. That is how good Tyson Jost has looked this preseason. The former No. 10 overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft never got things going in four and a half years with the Colorado Avalanche. After being traded to the Wild near the deadline last year, Jost played in 21 games for the Wild, tallying just two goals and four assists. While not mind boggling numbers, Jost showed flashes of the skill and scoring ability that got him drafted so early. Jost mentally and physically regrouped this offseason, and came back a more complete version of the player he has the potential to be. Jost has looked fantastic this preseason, tallying three goals and four assists in five games. Jost isn’t afraid to mix it up and play physical, but is now adding a consistent ability to find the back of the net and get involved in the offense. If what we saw this preseason from Jost is any indication of what to expect this season, Jost is going to turn a lot of heads around the league.

As for the two returning members of the second line, you can expect Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno to play with the same level of grit and skill, and have solid campaigns this season. Both Eriksson Ek and Foligno tallied career highs in points last season (49 and 42 respectively) while being part of the GREEF line (Greenway-Eriksson Ek-Foligno). Coach Dean Evason often used this line against the opposing top line, and they were a stone cold shutdown line. What made this line different from most shut down lines is that they produced offensively at a high rate as well. They ranked 16th in the league in xGF (according to Money Puck). Replacing Greenway with Jost only improves the offensive potential of this second line, watch out for this line to be productive on both sides of the puck.

3rd Line (Gaudreau-Steel-Boldy)

The third line has some shakeup from last season, and is missing a big component (Kevin Fiala). Due to cap restrictions, the Wild were not going to be able to sign Fiala to an extension long-term, and were forced to trade him. The Wild ended up trading Fiala to the Los Angeles Kings, and got defenseman prospect Brock Faber and a first round pick (No. 19 in 2022 NHL Draft, which turned into Liam Ohgren) in return. This was a fairly good haul considering other teams knew that the Wild had no option but to trade Fiala.

In Fiala’s absence, Frederick Gaudreau moves to the wing, and Sam Steel (signed this offseason 1x$.825m) fills in at center. Gaudreau had by far his most productive season in the NHL, setting his career high in goals, assists, and points (14-30-44). Gaudreau signed a two-year, $2.4m deal last offseason, and the Wild could not have asked for a much better return on investment. While Fiala and Matt Boldy proved to be perfect partners for each other, Gaudreau was the steady rock that held this line together and provided stability. Now, after the move to wing, we can expect to see a little more offense out of Gaudreau.

Sam Steel was an offseason addition (and a cheap one at that) for the Wild that is proving to be one of the best moves of the summer for GM Bill Guerin. Steel (23 years old), was drafted No. 30 overall in the 2016 NHL Draft by the Anaheim Ducks. Similar to Tyson Jost, Steel never really lived up to the potential in Anaheim, and struggled to produce at a high level. The Wild hope a change of scenery will jump start his development back into motion. I would expect Steel to play more of the physical checker role for the third line, but the fact he is still only 23 years old, there may be time for the Wild to revamp his development as a scorer, which he did a lot of in junior hockey. I am very interested to see how Steel is used this season.

Matt Boldy had a fantastic rookie season, and if it were not for his ankle injury at the beginning of the season, Boldy would have been a favorite for the Calder Trophy. Boldy is an all-around great winger that we are only seeing the beginning of what he can become. If Boldy can stay healthy all season, expect him to be near the top of Wild points scorers by the end of the season.

4th Line (Dewar-Rossi-Duhaime)

Finally, but certainly not least, at probably the line I am most excited to watch is the fourth line of Connor DewarMarco RossiBrandon Duhaime. The fourth line is an all around combo of physicality, defense, and offense, with each member contributing some different attributes to the line. Starting with Connor Dewar, who is a fantastic penalty killer, and shows great hustle and can finish around the net. What makes Dewar so good in his role is his work ethic and motor, he makes up for his lack of size with an effort level about as high as I have ever seen. Brandon Duhaime is a great forechecker, with offensive upside that catch most opposing teams off guard. He is big, fast, and hard-hitting, and pairs great with a guy like Dewar.

Now for one of the most exciting prospects I can remember in Minnesota Wild history, Marco Rossi. Former No. 9 overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, Rossi is primed to play a full NHL season for the Wild, after battling through some scary COVID-19 complications a little over a year ago. Rossi worked hard all summer long to make sure he made the team this year, and he left no option to Bill Guerin but to give Rossi a spot on the team. Rossi led the NHL in preseason points with nine in six games. Rossi has incredible hockey IQ, is a fantastic playmaker, and knows how to handle his defensive responsibilities as a center. Rossi has all the potential in the world to become a No. 1 center for the Wild in the future, and I’m excited to see him get a full season of work this season.

Summary

The Minnesota Wild have a very deep and exciting forward group heading into this season. I expect there to be production from all four lines, and that Dean Evason can trust to put any line out in just about any situation.

Expectations for the Edmonton Oilers This Season

Via NHL.com

The Edmonton Oilers season starts this Wednesday and it’s the first time in a really, really long time that they’re entering the year as Stanley Cup contenders. The Oilers roster hasn’t changed all too much from the one that lost against the Avalanche in four, but there are some variables to consider and to factor in when formulating an opinion on how well this team will do this season. Besides the universal idea where it’s the Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl show, the Oilers have a lot more going right for them as well.

Depth

The depth of the Edmonton Oilers was always a question mark and until recently it still was. However, the additions of Zach Hyman, who not only had a career year but a fantastic playoff to go along with it. The controversial signing of Evander Kane and the emergence of youngsters Ryan McLeod and Dylan Holloway have made this forward core the deepest they’ve had since the dynasty years in the 1980’s. As well you still have your Ryan Nugent Hopkins, Kailer Yamamoto’s, and Jesse Puljujarvi’s of the world. Besides McDavid and Draisaitl, who are locks for 40-50 goals each barring major injuries, players like Hyman and Nugent-Hopkins can easily pot in 20-30 goals and Kane, if he can keep up his play from this past season, could hit 40. The rest of the guys mentioned are still young, but they’re so immensely talented that they could hit 15-20 goals as well. This Oilers team can score, no doubt about it.

For years, they’ve been carried by their two superstars and they would lead them to a playoff spot. Having a much deeper roster will certainly help the Oilers going forward.

Division

It’s no secret that the Pacific Division is the weakest in the league. You could make an argument about the Central with Chicago and Arizona seemingly locks for bottom-two in the league. Even then, with the likes of the San Jose Sharks, a still young-rebuilding Anaheim Ducks squad, a top-heavy no depth Vegas team, an inconsistent mess known as the Vancouver Canucks, and a young and still brand new team with the Kraken. The Oilers only major worries are the LA Kings and Calgary Flames, who the Oilers both beat this previous playoff run.

With LA, there’s a major question in the net. Could Jonathan Quick repeat his renaissance year from 21/22? Will the major new additions in Calgary gel correctly with Jonathan Huberdeau, Mackenzie Weegar, and Nazem Kadri? The benefit here for the Oilers as well comes with the fact that they only play Calgary, who is probably considered the best team in the Pacific still right now, three times. Who knows. Maybe an extra game against a much weaker team could propel the Oilers to a divisional title over the Flames.

Coaching

The Edmonton Oilers started last year 16-5. We all know what happened from there, and the fallout wasn’t shocking to many unless you were naive or a writer for the team. Carried by special teams, Dave Tippett and his terrible 5v5 system crashed and burned and went 2-9-2 in a 13 game stretch. Funny enough, those two wins weren’t under Tippett, rather than assistant coach Glen Gulutzan. After somewhat rebounding collecting a record of 5-0-1, once more the Oilers struggled out of the All Star Game and the long overdue firing of Tippett finally happened.

Jay Woodcroft and his right-hand man in Dave Manson came up and the Oilers were phenomenal. They made major improvements in not just their 5v5 play but their overall play as a whole. Woodcroft had a record of 26-9-3 (.724 points percentage). Over an 82 game season, that’s 59 wins. Now, I’m saying the Oilers are going to be close to a 60 win team next season. That’s ridiculous. But the point is that Woodcroft got this team back into the playoff hunt when they were practically done for, which lasted all the way up to the final four. He’s a great coach and the Oilers are lucky to have him for a full season now.

Goaltending

Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell are the newest goaltender duo in Edmonton. After a long three seasons of Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen splitting the net, the Oilers finally decided to make a switch in that department. Skinner is 24 years old and is gonna enter his first FULL season. He had a cup of coffee in the NHL last year and looked pretty good. Jack Campbell is coming off an up and down year in Toronto. In the first half, he was unstoppable but in the second half, he suffered a rib injury and fell off a cliff. He also has a lot of injury and consistency issues similar to Smith. If the Oilers want to contend for a cup, all Jack has to do is be average. If he is, the Oilers should have no problem getting back to the Western Conference Finals.

Expectations

The Oilers finished with 49 wins last year. That’s despite the 7-13-3 stretch aforementioned and the lack of quality goaltending from Smith and Koskinen. Evander Kane is also here for a full season and I haven’t even touched on the blue line.

Evan Bouchard who was already very good the previous season will also take another huge step in his development and Brett Kulak looked like the perfect fit here as we saw during the playoffs.

A full year under Jay Woodcroft as well should give this team some extra points in the standings. The Oilers should be a 50+ win team this season and the expectation is that they make it back to the Conference Finals and at least win a game or two. Small, baby steps in the right direction is key for this organization. One thing is certain, the Oilers are a good team

You can find me at @Shae_Nuge93 on Twitter.

Five Predictions for the 2022-23 Carolina Hurricanes Season

Via NHL.com

The Carolina Hurricanes are celebrating their 25th season in North Carolina and it is shaping up to be a special one. Although a disappointing end, last season saw the team set franchise records in both wins and points in the standings. After an incredibly exciting offseason that saw the Hurricanes acquire both Brent Burns and Max Pacioretty, the expectations for this team are high.

Every season can be hard to predict, and this one is no different. As the team looks to once again challenge for the Stanley Cup, here are five predictions for the 2022-23 iteration of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Brent Burns sets a new record for points by a Hurricanes defenseman

Last season, defenseman Tony DeAngelo set a record for most points in a season by a Canes defenseman in one season (since relocation) with 51 points. He surpassed Justin Faulk’s 49 point campaign in 2014-15. DeAngelo was traded to the Flyers this offseason and now the longtime Shark Brent Burns will be put into the same role as DeAngelo last year.

Last season as a member of the San Jose Sharks, Burns managed to put up 54 points. If he was able to accomplish that number on an offense-starved San Jose team, it’s reasonable to expect the same, if not better, on a contender like Carolina. Burns hasn’t missed a game in eight seasons and assuming that trend continues, 82 games seems like more than enough for him to put up 52+ points.

The Canes have a 40 goal scorer for the first time since 2008-09

The last time any player in a Hurricanes sweater had 40 or more goals was Eric Staal, who had an even 40 in the 2008-09 season. This season, the Hurricanes are in a position where they could potentially have another one. While many expect Andrei Svechnikov to be the first Cane to break the 40-goal threshold, I think it will be Sebastian Aho that gets the job done this season.

Aho came close in the 2019-20 season, with 38 goals through 68 games. It is almost a guarantee he would’ve surpassed 40 goals had the league (and world) not had to shut down in March. Aho came close again inn 2021-22, where he had 37 goals in 79 games.

Although Svechnikov had an impressive 30 goal campaign last season, I think it is more likely that Aho is the first Cane in over a decade to have over 40 goals to their name.

Goaltending takes a step back

These can’t all be positive, can they? Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta form one of the best goaltending tandems in the league, as evidenced by their William Jennings Trophy last season. However, it is not realistic to expect THAT level of goaltending from the duo again.

Andersen’s .922 save percentage was his career best as a starter, and Raanta shattered his career numbers in the playoffs with an outstanding performance as the impromptu starter. Naturally it is very hard for goaltenders not to regress after outstanding seasons like that, especially with how injury prone these two net-minders are.

Frederik Andersen was the Hurricanes most valuable player during the regular season in 2021-22, and while we should expect some regression, it is incredibly likely he still has a strong showing. Both Andersen and Raanta are unrestricted free agents at year’s end and both will want to prove they are still options for the Canes going forward.

Carolina finishes with less points than last season, still win the division

The Hurricanes set a new franchise record for both wins (54) and points (116) last season on their way to a Metropolitan Division title last season. They will look to build on that this year, but the wins will not come as easy in the Eastern Conference.

In the East last season, we saw a weird scenario where the eight playoff teams had separated themselves from the pack pretty early in the season. This year, this won’t be the case. There is reason to believe that most of if not all of Ottawa, New Jersey, Columbus, Detroit, and the Islanders will be at least a little bit better.

Those teams will likely steal more points from the Hurricanes than they have in years past, however, the many points they will end up with this year should still be enough for them to claim their third division title in a row. The only real threat to win the Metropolitan at the moment seems to be the New York Rangers, but assuming everyone stays healthy the Hurricanes should be able to out-pace them over the course of the season.

The Hurricanes win the Stanley Cup

Before the 2005-06 season the Hurricanes front office brought in a lot of veteran support in order to insulate their young talent. Those veterans brought sparked life into a Hurricanes team that finished 23rd the year. That team went on to win the Stanley Cup as a result of these moves, and one can’t help but wonder if Don Waddell copied that blueprint this season.

Brent Burns, Max Pacioretty, and Paul Stastny all fit in the category of veteran players who have not been able to capture a Stanley Cup. Add in the fact that all still very much have the ability to contribute, and this seems like a recipe for success. The Hurricanes finished 3rd in the standings and were one win away from a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals after playing the entirety of the postseason without their starting goaltender.

The Hurricanes have been unable to hit the second gear necessary to make it past the second round, but much like the 2018 Capitals and 2022 Avalanche, they certaintly have the ability to. Predicting the Hurricanes to win the Stanley Cup is hardly a hot take at this point, but this seems like the season to do it.

When the postseason comes around they will have a fresh Max Pacioretty, a lineup with a mix of hungry veterans and dynamic youth, as well as (hopefully) a Vezina quality goaltender to back them up. The boldest prediction and the one every Caniac wants to come true the most, the Carolina Hurricanes will end the season as the Stanley Cup Champions.

Bold Predictions for 2022/23 Season: Winnipeg Jets

Via Sportsnet.ca

With the regular season starting for the Winnipeg Jets on Friday October 14, 2022 versus the New York Rangers, here are some predictions that could be worth monitoring throughout the season.

Kyle Connor

Scoring 47 goals and adding 46 assists in the 2021/22 season over 79 games, Kyle Connor has showed he’s capable of being a 50 goal scorer and over a 100 point player potentially.

Bold Prediction: Connor scores more than 55 goals and produces over 110 points.

Brad Lambert

After an up and down showing at the World Juniors redo in August, Brad Lambert showed up to the Jets camp, ready to prove why some scouts had him ranked very high not too long ago.

Lambert who was selected round one 30th overall in the 2022 NHL draft has put himself in a position to be considered a top call up from the Manitoba Moose and perhaps force Winnipeg into making a few decisions on players they didn’t expect to make sooner rather than later.

Bold Prediction: Lambert sign his entry level contract and is one of the first players recalled from the AHL Manitoba Moose, finishing top three in rookie of the year voting.

Blake Wheeler

To Blake Wheeler’s credit, he has went about training camp showing a “team first” mentality and he will do what’s right for the team. After losing the “C” right before training camp opened, this decision could of went in a couple different ways. So far, everything looks to be going smoothly in Winnipeg when it comes to Blake Wheeler and where he stands within the Jets organization.

Bold Prediction: In large part due to the emergence of youngsters Cole Perfetti and Brad Lambert, Wheeler becomes expendable and is moved to a team looking for top-6 forward help. Nashville, New York Rangers, Calgary, Columbus, Carolina, Minnesota are teams to keep an eye on.

Pierre-Luc Dubois

No need to re-ignite the conversation on Pierre-Luc Dubois’ off-season.

Bold Prediction: Pierre-Luc Dubois and Winnipeg come to terms on a long term contract extension once the calendar flips to 2023. Once and for all putting any rumors about his long term commitment to Winnipeg to rest.

More Predictions

Rick Bowness comes in and leads the Winnipeg Jets back to the playoffs as the two seed in the central division and wins one round.

Kevin Cheveldayoff proves doubters wrong by pulling off more than one franchise altering trade before the trade deadline and setting Winnipeg up for long term success for years to come.

Jets Fan Feedback

Feel free to comment with your predictions for the Winnipeg Jets this upcoming season. Good, bad, somewhere in between; let’s hear them.

Hurricanes 25th Anniversary Team: Left Wingers

Via NHL.com

This season the Carolina Hurricanes will be celebrating their 25th anniversary of being in North Carolina. The team has had a very up and down history to say the least, but through that time, they’ve had some spectacular players come through the organization.

In this series, we’ll be looking at the best players at every position to fill out a lineup of the best Hurricanes players over the team’s 25 year history. Players qualify for this list based on the position they’re listed as on NHL.com. This list is based on overall impact, so attributes like big moments and longevity will be prioritized for this list.

Honorable Mentions:

Cory Stillman

Cory Stillman joined the Hurricanes in 2005 fresh off of a Stanley Cup win as a member of the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning. His 26 points in 25 games helped fuel the Canes to their 2006 Cup victory. Cory stayed around with the team until he was traded to Ottawa at the 2008 trade deadline. Stillman was traded back to the Hurricanes at the 2011 trade deadline and played 21 games with the club before retiring from NHL action.

Stillman posted 165 points in 191 regular season games as a member of the Canes, and his 0.86 PPG is one of the highest among Canes left wingers. He misses this list solely because he just wasn’t with the Canes long enough. Stillman still has an important place in Canes history evident by his name forever being etched on the Stanley Cup.

Jussi Jokinen

“The Juice”, Jussi Jokinen, spent 288 regular season games with the team and is responsible for one of the most iconic moments in franchise history. Picked up at the 2009 trade deadline, Jokinen was huge in the team’s run to the conference final that year. Jokinen famously scored the latest game-winning goal in NHL playoffs history after he got one past the New Jersey Devils with just 0.2 seconds remaining in Game four. He added two more game winners that playoff run, including an OT goal versus Boston in Game three.

Jokinen spent the next three-and-a-half seasons with the Hurricanes before being traded to the Penguins at the 2013 trade deadline. Including a career season with 65 points in 2009-10, Jokinen finished his Canes career with 185 points and numerous electrifying moments.

LW4: Erik Cole

In Erik Cole’s rookie season he made an instant impact as a member of the “BBC” line alongside Bates Battaglia and Rod Brind’amour. During that 2001-02 season, he and the Hurricanes made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. Although they lost in five games to the powerhouse Detroit Red Wings, it was still an incredible underdog run that Erik Cole got to be apart of.

Erik Cole was a member of the 2005-06 championship team, scoring at nearly a point per game pace until he had his neck broken on an infamous hit from Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik. Cole managed to make his return that season in Game six of the Stanley Cup Finals against Edmonton. Cole was able to lift the cup and celebrate with his teammates.

Cole was traded to the Oilers during the 2008 offseason, only to be re-acquired by the Canes at the 2009 trade deadline for a second tour of duty with the team. He was a huge part in the Canes making yet another deep run in the 2009 playoffs. Cole left the team in 2011 in free agency and played until 2014. Erik signed a 1-day contract to retire as a Canes in 2017.

The power forward was a unique mix of size and skill that would have translated perfectly into the modern game. Cole recorded 363 points in 557 games across his nine seasons with the team and will go down as one of the most beloved players in franchise history.

LW3: Ray Whitney

Ray Whitney signed a two-year contract with the Canes during the summer of 2005 and proved to be possibly the best of their offseason moves. The move paid off obviously, as it made Ray Whitney a Stanley Cup champion and gave the Canes a crucial part of their championship offense.

Ray’s best season as a Hurricanes was in 2006-07, where he led the team in scoring with 83 points in 81 games. His 77 points in 82 games in 2008-09 helped fuel the Hurricanes to another playoff appearance after a slight Stanley Cup hangover.

Whitney’s nickname was “the wizard”, and for good reason. He had a unique ability to make plays out of nothing and before you knew it, he was making a highlight reel pass to his line mate. The organization has never seen a passer quite like Whitney.

Whitney leads all LWs in power play points (145), overtime goals (five), and is tied with Sebastian Aho for the highest points per game in franchise history (0.90). Safe to say Whitney’s offensive impact left a mark on the history of the franchise.

The only knock is he didn’t play enough with the team, but over those five years he saw a lot of success. He was apart of a Stanley Cup run in 2006 and a run to the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals, and put up 334 points in 372 games. The Wizard will always have a special place in Hurricanes history.

LW2: Jeff Skinner

One of the longest tenured Hurricanes, Jeff Skinner had a very up and down career in Raleigh. Over his 500+ game career with the Hurricanes, Skinner recorded 204 goals, which ranks 2nd in franchise history. Jeff got off to a hot start, with 63 points in his rookie year, which was good enough to earn him the 2011 Calder trophy.

However Skinner was never able to eclipse that, coming close in 2016-17 when he matched his 2010-11 point total. None for his goal-scoring ability Skinner scored 20+ goals in six seasons and 30+ in three seasons. Concussions slowed Skinner down in multiple seasons and likely hurt his overall impact on the team.

Jeff Skinner had a unique skill set as his figure skating ability background allowed him to be extremely creative in the offensive zone. Being a smaller guy let him create space and give himself more room to unleash his wicked shot.

Skinner has a STRONG argument for the best left winger in franchise history and no matter what, he will go down as one of the most electric players in franchise history.

LW1: Teuvo Teravainen

Acquired by the Hurricanes from the Blackhawks in 2016 alongside Bryan Bickell, Teuvo Teravinen made an instant impact with the team, putting up 42 points in just his 1st season with team. Teravainen has developed undeniable chemistry with star center Sebastian Aho, and the two have only gotten better over the years.

Teuvo has been just under a point per game, including last season where Teuvo had 65 points in 77 games. Teravinen is best known for his playmaking ability, which has gone hand-in-hand with the team’s offense continuing to develop.

Teravinen is great at all facets of the game, being a very steady winger defensively as well as a dynamic offensive player. Teuvo kills penalties and is a key component in the power play year after year. Teuvo has been rather consistent in the playoffs as well. He led the team in scoring on this past playoff run with 11 points in 14 games.

Teuvo signed a five-year extension in 2019 and will remain a Hurricane until the end of the 2023-24 season. Teravinen has at least two more seasons as a Hurricane and he is already 10th in points as a Hurricane with 325. It is realistic to think that he could leapfrog all the way to 4th this season, a mark that is currently held by Jeff Skinner with 379 points.

Whether he is with the team past 2024 or not, he has played a big part in the most successful time period in the team’s history and will go down as the best left winger in the franchise’s history. Although there is some debate on if he’s there already or not, it is my belief that by the time his tenure in Raleigh is done, it won’t even be close.

Hurricanes sign Derek Stepan

Via NHL.com

The Carolina Hurricanes have officially signed veteran forward Derek Stepan. Stepan attended this year’s training camp on a professional tryout. Stepan spent the 2021-22 season with the Canes, netting nine goals and 10 assists in 58 games on the fourth line.

Stepan had an impressive training camp and preseason, with four points in three games. Stepan will likely play the same role as he did last year, as his veteran experience served him well on the fourth line. Last year Stepan served as a big part in the development of Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and will likely do the same for Jack Drury this season.

Stepan’s one-year deal carries a cap hit of $750,000. He is now the second veteran to turn a PTO into an NHL contract, after Calvin de Haan signed a one-year, $850K deal last week. Derek is entering his 13th NHL season and like many veterans on the Canes, is looking for his first Stanley Cup Championship.

Comparing Avalanche Season Projections

Via NHL.com

For the past two years, the Avalanche have been the favorite or near-favorite in every public model gambling book. However, following a season of key personnel losses in the forward group and net, the Avalanche have slid in ranking in several of these models.

Here’s a look at where the Avalanche land in projection models from around the hockey community. If you enjoy hockey analytics or want to learn more, please consider following and/or subscribing to the analysts and mathematicians who help make data and stats understandable and available to the public. They help us see the sport in new ways every day.

HockeyViz (Micah Blake McCurdy and @IneffectiveMath)

Season Projection from HockeyViz

HockeyViz project the Avs finishing 7th in the league with 95.8 points and a 74% chance of making the playoffs with a standard deviation of 8.4. The model has the Avs with a 25% chance of finishing first in the division — tied with the Wild.

HockeyViz’s model projects the Avs with the lowest number of points among the gathered projections. The team seems to be hurt by weak goaltending and a difficult schedule. However, the Avs also benefit from multiple games against the league’s weakest teams in the Coyotes and Blackhawks. HockeyViz has the Avs heavily favored in these matchups, but the Avalanche also lost two games against Arizona last year — one in regulation.

I feel it’s unlikely the Capitals finish second in the league, but if they do, the Avs will certainly miss Darcy Kuemper, especially if weak goaltending affects the team in the way HockeyViz projects.

The Athletic (Dom Luszczyszyn and @domluszczyszyn)

Avalanche Season Projection for The Athletic

Dom Luszczyszyn has been using his model to predict seasonal standings for the NHL since the 2016-17 season. The Avalanche led the model last year by a massive margin. This year, however, Dom’s model, which uses GSVA (Goal Score Value Added), has the Avs finishing third in the league with 106.6 points. They have the best odds to win the division but are predicted to lose the Western Conference to the Calgary Flames while Toronto is the favorite to win the President’s Trophy with 110.5 points. The Arizona Coyotes take up the rear with the lowest projection of 62.4 points.

The Athletic’s depth charts miss out on including Ben Meyers, so it’s unknown what value he will add to line up. Most likely, it’ll be better than Jayson Megna’s -0.4 GSVA, but he’s almost a complete unknown at the moment. Samuel Girard’s below-average play in 2021-22 and weak goaltending also hurt the Avs’ projection, but not nearly as much as the losses of Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky, and Darcy Kuemper.

Like Dom, Shayna Goldman, and Sean Gentille write in their analysis, the Avs might have a slow start to the season and miss out on the President’s Trophy, but that’s not really their main focus, anyway.

Moneypuck (@MoneyPuckdotcom)

Playoff Projections from MoneyPuck

MoneyPuck’s circular playoff graph carries a cult following in the hockey community – along with the site’s oft-ironic Deserve To Win O’Meter. This year, MoneyPuck projects the Avalanche to finish with 107.2 points, a total good for first place in the regular season. However, the site favors the Flames slightly in Stanley Cup odds, with Calgary edging out Colorado 8.3% to 8%.

Arizona wins the contest for last place, but projects to finish 70.4 points, a remarkably high value in comparison with both last year’s results and other statistical projections. MoneyPuck also has the Devils finishing 97.4 points and the Capitals with 93.8, enough to push the Rangers out of the playoffs entirely.

JFresh (@JFreshHockey)

JFresh’s model, which uses a WAR Roster Builder, did well in predicting last year’s totals and had the Avs winning the league with a massive projection of 119 points, though they ended up finishing second. This year, the model is quite a bit lower on the Avs’ regular season success with them finishing second or third in the league with 105 points.

The projection doesn’t predict any teams to finish over 110 points this year, though it includes Chicago in last place with a relatively low total of 65 points. Goaltending is favored — raising the Capitals and Rangers. JFresh expressed some uncertainty with the projection, especially the totals of Carolina, Toronto, and Boston.

I agree with the uncertainty on those teams, but the Avalanche prediction feels pretty good. The team lost quite a bit of depth during the offseason, so it’s no surprise they took a step back in statistical models. The team has a bit of a mystery in net with Alexandar Georgiev, so models that like statistically-sound goaltenders like Darcy Kuemper will predict a drop in points for the Avalanche.

Evolving-Hockey (@EvolvingHockey)

Season Projections from Evolving-Hockey

Evolving-Hockey, created by Josh and Luke Younggren, projects the Avalanche finishing first in the Central and first in the league with 110 points with a standard deviation of 8.0, the same projected finishing position as 2021-22. The margin of victory is slim, though — only 0.2 projected points above the Maple Leafs and 0.7 above the Flames. Evolving-Hockey’s model is a bit wider in projection than HockeyViz and JFresh, too, with the Blackhawks barely cracking 60 and three teams below 70 points in the standing. Nine teams are projected above 100 points

Once again, the Avs benefit from a weak division. Despite losing 10.6 points in their projected finish, the Avs still hold first place in the Central. Also, once again, the Wild are projected to take second in the division.

Top Down Hockey (Patrick Bacon and @TopDownHockey)

Season Projections from Top Down Hockey

Today’s final model from Top Down Hockey, created by Patrick Bacon, predicts the Avalanche to finish second in the league with 107.2 points, two points behind the Florida Panthers. That’s the fifth different team predicted to win the league, with the Avalanche the only team predicted to win the regular season by more than one model.

Top Down Hockey has the lowest point value of any of the models — with Chicago predicted to finish with a pretty abysmal 58.8 points. Here the projections find a bit more agreement as they all have either the Blackhawks or Coyotes finishing in last place.

The Hockey Guy (TheHockeyGuy)

It’s not a statistical model, but Shannon or The Hockey Guy on Youtube picked the Avalanche as his preseason team to win the Stanley Cup. Well, it’s always good to have The Hockey Guy on the Avs’ side.

Summary

Model:Points:Standing:
HockeyViz95.87
The Athletic106.63
MoneyPuck107.21
JFresh1052/3
Evolving-Hockey1101
Top Down Hockey107.22

Average Points Projection: 105.3

Looking at the Hurricanes’ 2C Options

Via NHL.com

Second-line center is an incredibly important position and one that the Canes have to fill after Vincent Trocheck left the team in free agency. As it stands, the 2C position is the only real weak point in the forward group currently, which is a testament to the team’s depth at forward. Despite this current vacancy, the Hurricanes still have a multitude of options to fill this void.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi

The most likely player to be the 2C this season is the one that we will be discussing first. After being acquired from the Canadiens via an offer sheet, Jesperi Kotkaniemi started last season as a winger before quickly being transitioned back to his natural center position, albeit on the 4th line.

Last March, Kotkaniemi signed a eight year extension that all but sealed the deal that management believes in him to anchor the second line for years to come. His first test comes this season, as throughout training camp and the preseason he has been positioned on the second line. The real question is, can he keep it?

His game improved throughout the season and hopefully the former 3rd overall pick can finally take the jump to a legitimate top-6 forward. Jesperi had 29 points in 66 games last season, and will without a doubt see a boost in his ice-time. At this point in time, 2C is Jesperi’s position to lose.

Paul Stastny

Signed to a one-year deal in free agency last month, Paul Stastny was brought in primarily to fill the talent void left by the injury to Max Pacioretty. Stastny is currently slotted to be on the checking line alongside Jordan Staal, and will likely be asked to shut down other teams’ top lines rather than provide offense.

Although he is currently slotted in at the winger position, throughout his career Stastny has made his mark on the league as a center. If for some reason Kotkaniemi isn’t producing as the 2C, I believe Stastny would be next in line to take his place.

Despite his foot speed slowing down over the years, he still has the skill necessary to keep up with the top guys. Paul Stastny had 45 points in 71 games as a member of the Jets last season, which is actually a higher points per game mark than the most recent Canes 2C, Vincent Trocheck. Stastny has the tools to play throughout the lineup, and that includes on the second line.

Martin Necas

Although a long shot, Martin Necas was initially drafted as a center in 2017 before being transitioned to a winger during his 2018-19 AHL season. Necas excelled in his first two years in the NHL before hitting a bit of a speed bump last year. Martin has openly stated his desire to play center.

If by chance Kotkaniemi struggles, maybe coach Rod Brind’amour opts to switch him and Necas around. Martin is one of the few right-shot forwards on the team and situationally, he may be taking draws on his side of the ice anyway. If given a full-time role I think Necas’ speed would be on display even more.

As I have said throughout this article, Kotkaniemi looks to be the 2C and so far through preseason he has looked very good. With that being said, he has to fight to keep that position. The team desperatedly needs somebody to step up to 2C full-time, and it looks like Jesperi is the best possible choice to be given the keys.