Stanley Cup Favorites:
1. Colorado Avalanche
Somehow Joe Sakic and the Colorado Avalanche got better this offseason. They added a solid middle-six forward in Brandon Saad and a vastly underrated top-four defenseman in Devon Toews.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning still have work to do to manage the team’s cap situation and remaining unrestricted free agents. However, the roster is still one of the most, if not, the most talented in the league.
3. Vegas Golden Knights
Although the team added Alex Pietrangelo, Vegas lost Paul Statsny, Nate Schmidt, Nick Cousins, and Jon Merrill. Nonetheless, the Golden Knights should still be one of the best teams in the league.
Poised for a Deep Run:
4. St. Louis Blues
The Blues resemble very much the same team as last year, minus Alex Pietrangelo and Jake Allen, plus Torey Krug. This will be a very good hockey team once again.
5. Boston Bruins
The Bruins did lose a couple notable players (Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara), but the team made a sneaky addition to their top-nine in Craig Smith. With one of the top goaltending tandems in the NHL, the Bruins will most definitely be a force.
6. Carolina Hurricanes
The Hurricanes lost quite a bit on defense, but as crazy as it sounds, still have one of the best units on paper. This young team is only going to get better as the year goes on.
7. Washington Capitals
The Capitals quietly had a terrific offseason. The team got much better with the swapping of Braden Holtby for Henrik Lundqvist. The team also addressed their defensive core with the additions of Justin Schultz and Trevor van Riemsdyk.
Should be Playoff Teams:
8. Toronto Maple Leafs
Kyle Dubas was busy this offseason, as the team added six new players and saw six of their own walk. The additions of T.J. Brodie, Joe Thornton, and Joey Anderson should help a ton, specifically defensively.
9. Montreal Canadiens
Marc Bergevin continues to build his team into salary cap hell. However, he has added some decent players while doing so. Jake Allen will serve as a solid backup and Tyler Toffoli was a stellar pickup. The analytically-sound Canadiens should surprise some people this upcoming year.
10. Dallas Stars
It was a pretty boring offseason for the surprise Stanley Cup finalists. Nonetheless, the team is still talented and have one of the best goaltending duos in the league. Also, new defenseman Mark Pysyk will provide a solid depth option.
11. Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers actually have had a decent offseason so far. The addition of Tyson Barrie on an extremely team-friendly contract will help provide offense from the blue line. Also, Kyle Turris is a major rebound candidate for a team that desperately needed scoring depth. It all comes down to goaltending.
12. Calgary Flames
Will this be the year the Flames finally put it all together? The team brought in stud goaltender Jacob Markstrom and an okay defenseman in Chris Tanev. Calgary did lose a decent bit, however, the team is still really talented.
13. Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers had a story-book ending to the team’s season last year that may prove to be a bit of a fluke. The team lost a few depth forwards as well as a solid defensive defenseman in Matt Niskanen. To compensate, all they did was bring in an offensive-only defenseman, in Erik Gustafsson. Not sure this is exactly what the team needed.
14. Pittsburgh Penguins
Jim Rutherford was busy this offseason. The Penguins lost a ton, and brought in five pieces. The biggest move being the trade of Matt Murray, which means Tristian Jarry is now the guy. The Penguins, like always, will probably still find a way into the playoffs.
Battling for a Playoff Spot:
15. Nashville Predators
The Predators have a solid roster on paper. And made some decent moves this offseason. However, it comes down to the goaltending duo of Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros. As well as head coach John Hynes.
16. New York Islanders
The Islanders had a pretty miserable offseason. The team has brought in nothing while losing the likes of Devon Toews, Thomas Greiss, Derrick Brassard, Matt Martin, and Andy Greene. Barry Trotz can only do so much.
17. Winnipeg Jets
The Winnipeg Jets vastly over performed last year thanks to Connor Hellebuyck. The team made some nice moves this offseason with the additions of Paul Statsny and Derek Forbort. If Hellebuyck is anywhere near his form last year this team may surprise some this season.
18. Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks are another team that vastly over performed due to their goaltending. However, the team does not have that guy they relied on anymore and besides the trade for Nate Schmidt have had a horrific offseason. Expect some regression from the Canucks this season.
Just Outside the Playoff Battle:
19. Minnesota Wild
The Wild have one of the best defensive cores in the league. However, the team’s lack of scoring really hurt them last year. And the goaltending duo of Cam Talbot and Alex Stalock is underwhelming.
20. Florida Panthers
It tough to get a read on the Panthers offseason as there was a ton of turnover. It is also tough to get a read on how the Panthers will do this season as the team has a ton of question marks. Will Sergei Bobrovsky figure it out? How will the team compensate for the losses of Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov? We shall see.
21. Columbus Blue Jackets
Will this be the year the Blue Jackets finally face regression? The team lost even more this offseason despite making a solid trade for Max Domi. If the goaltending is not there, the Jackets can be in for a long season.
22. New York Rangers
The Rangers had an outlier of a season last year. The team’s defense was miserable and it only got worse this offseason with the addition of Jack Johnson. If Igor Shesterkin and Alexander Georgiev are not terrific this year we may very well see how flukey last season was.
23. New Jersey Devils
The Devils once again had a terrific offseason. But as we saw last year, this means nothing unless the team puts it together on the ice. Additionally, there are still question marks surrounding the team’s depth forwards.
24. Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres made terrific moves to improve the team’s forward group as they added Taylor Hall and Eric Staal. Besides that, not much else was done. The lack of improvements to the defensive group and goaltending tandem may prove costly.
25. San Jose Sharks
The Sharks dealt with tremendous injury woes and bad goaltending all year long. The team added a decent bit and only lost Joe Thornton. If Devan Dubnyk and Martin Jones can figure it out, and that is a humongous “if” this team can be primed for a major bounce back.
26. Arizona Coyotes
The Coyotes have had the roughest few months in the NHL. From the team’s penalties, losing five forwards (including Taylor Hall), and not adding much of anything, this team is due for major regression.
27. Anaheim Ducks
Poor John Gibson and Adam Henrique. The Ducks actually had a fine offseason as the team brought in Kevin Shattenkirk and shed the likes of Erik Gudbranson and Michael Del Zotto. However, the team still lacks talent and is going to be mired in a rebuild for the next couple seasons.
28. Chicago Blackhawks
It is never good when the team issues a “we are going to rebuild” statement to their fans. Add in the fact that the Blackhawks core are reportedly disgruntled about the team’s moves this offseason and that is not a recipe for success.
29. Los Angeles Kings
The Kings are certainly in rebuild mode but they are going about it the right way. Los Angeles has the league’s best prospect system and should have a pretty swift rebuild.
The Worst of The Worst:
30. Ottawa Senators
Bravo to the Senators for bringing in Evgenii Dadonov on an extremely friendly deal. The team also made a questionable move in brining in struggling goaltender Matt Murray and giving him a large extension. This lineup is going to be extremely raw and young. Rarely a recipe for success.
31. Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings have actually had a terrific offseason. Adding Thomas Greiss, Troy Stetcher, and Jon Merrill were all solid moves. The team also shed a ton of dead weight. Despite this, the Wings are still going to be in the thick of a rebuild. It’ll be another long season for Detroit fans.
All signings and trades courtesy of capfriendly.com.