2013-14 Season Preview

Posted: September 28, 2013 in Offseason

With the NHL season just days away, I figure it’s time to preview all 30 teams, make playoff predictions, and over/under regular season points predictions. The over/under numbers came from cbssports.com. Here we go!
Retired #'s

Predictions for Final Divisional Standings: Scroll down for individual team season previews

Atlantic Division:
1. Boston Bruins
2. Ottawa Senators
3. Toronto Maple Leafs
4. Montreal Canadiens *Wild Card Winner
5. Tampa Bay Lightning
6. Detroit Red Wings
7. Florida Panthers
8. Buffalo Sabres

Metropolitan Division:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins
2. New York Rangers
3. Washington Capitals
4. Philadelphia Flyers *Wild Card Winner
5. New York Islanders
6. Carolina Hurricanes
7. New Jersey Devils
8. Columbus Blue Jackets

Central Division:
1. Chicago Blackhawks
2. St. Louis Blues
3. Minnesota Wild
4. Nashville Predators *Wild Card Winner
5. Colorado Avalanche
6. Dallas Stars
7. Winnipeg Jets

Pacific Division:
1. Los Angeles Kings
2. Vancouver Canucks
3. Anaheim Ducks
4. Edmonton Oilers *Wild Card Winner
5. Phoenix Coyotes
6. San Jose Sharks
7. Calgary Flames

Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks surprised almost everyone last season, finishing second in the west, but went through some drastic changes this offseason. The biggest move was trading Bobby Ryan to Ottawa for Jakob Silfverberg, prospect Stefan Noesen, and a 1st round pick. The Ducks also brought Dustin Penner back via free agency on a 1 year deal, and Temmu Selanne announced he was coming back for one final year. They’ve done well this offseason, Jonas Hiller and Victor Fasth provide solid goaltending, and Bruce Boudreau has proven over and over again he knows how to win in the regular season.

Prediction: 3rd in the Pacific
Over/Under (90.5 Points): Over

Boston Bruins: The Bruins made a surprising run to the Stanley Cup Finals last season, and lost a heatbreaker in game 6 to end their year. The signed Jarome Iginla, gave Tuukka Rask an 8 year extension, and let Jaromir Jagr, Nathan Horton, and Andrew Ference walk in free agency, but the storyline for Boston in the offseason was when they traded Tyler Seguin, and Rich Peverley to Dallas for Loui Eriksson and 3 prospects. Eriksson, who never received much attention in Dallas, will finally be able to showcase his skill in a hockey market. Eriksson is going to have a huge year. Boston lost a lot in the offseason, and while I think they’ll easily make the playoffs, they’ll take a step backwards from last season once they get there.

Prediction: 1st in the Atlantic
Over/Under (102.5 points): Under

Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres officially began to re-build last year when they traded away their captain Jason Pominville to Minnesota. As a rebuilding team, Buffalo remained relatively quiet in free agency, and let fan favorite Nathan Gerbe sign with Carolina in the offseason.In another related note, the Sabres traded Andrej Sekera to Carolina for Jamie McBain and a 2nd round pick. The question with the Sabres this season is going to be if and when the Sabres are going to trade Ryan Miller, and Tomas Vanek, both who are in the last year of their contract. Another intriguing storyline with the Sabres is going to be Tyler Myers. The Calder winning defenseman has underperformed the last couple of years. I don’t know why, but I think Myers has a solid year and give Buffalo fans hope that he can anchor the blue line for years to come.

Prediction: 8th in the Atlantic
Over/Under (83.5 points): Under

Calgary Flames: Calgary is another team that is rebuilding. Some would say it’s a couple years later than they should have been, but that’s an argument for another day. The Flames have undergone massive roster change in the last 9 months. Gone are Jarome Iginla, Jay Bouwmeester, Alex Tanguay, Miikka Kiprusoff, and Cory Sarich. There is plenty of new blood in Calgary too; David Jones and Shane O’Brien joined the Flames, along with goaltended Karri Ramo, who came back from the KHL after a very solid couple of seasons in Russia. TJ Galiardi and Kris Russell also made the move to Canada. They drafted Sean Monahan 7th overall in the 2013 draft, and he could crack the roster. But I don’t think anyone expects the Flames to be any good this year, and neither do I.
Flames

Prediction: 7th in the Pacific
Over/Under (74.5 points): Under

Carolina Hurricanes:
The Canes are an unpredictable as any team in the NHL. The brought in many veterans in the offseason including Joe Corvo, Nathan Gerbe, Aaron Palushaj, Mike Komisarek, and goalie Anton Khudobin. They still have the Staal brothers up front, along with Jeff Skinner and Alex Semin. Defenseman Justin Faulk is underrated, and could provide some nice fantasy numbers. The x-factor for Carolina is Cam Ward. Can he stay healthy? And can he return to being the goalie that won the Stanley Cup in 2006? Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, they’re in a tough division, and Cam Ward is just not as good of a goalie as everyone thinks he is, which spells for another season of missing the playoffs in Raleigh.

Prediction: 6th in the Metropolitan
Over/Under (84.5 points): Over

Chicago Blackhawks: The cup champs did a good job keeping their core intact unlike the last time they won the cup. While the losses of Michael Frolik, Dave Bolland, Viktor Stalberg, and Ray Emery are going to hurt more than most people realize, the leadership and star power they have up front will help Chicago be near the top of the standings next spring again. It was the perfect storm for the Blackhawks last year, and I certainly don’t expect them to be AS dominant as they were this year. Keep in mind, the last time the Blackhawks won the cup, the next season they didn’t qualify for the playoffs until game 82.

Prediction: 1st in the Central
Over/Under (105.5 points): Under
Avs-Sharks 041

Colorado Avalanche:
The Avs have been a fun team to follow in the offseason. They brought in Patrick Roy to coach the team, drafted Nathan MacKinnon first overall, and traded for an Avalanche hero in Alex Tanguay. They traded away David Jones, and Shane O’Brien, waived Greg Zanon and Matt Hunwick, and told longtime great Milan Hejduk they won’t be offering him another contract. They’ll get Steve Downie back in the lineup after missing all last season with an ACL injury, but the team didn’t address their defensive needs. They’ll be better, but I don’t think it’ll be enough to make the playoffs. If you want a fantasy sleeper: TYSON BARRIE.

Prediction: 5th in the Central
Over/Under (86.5 points): Over


Columbus Blue Jackets:
The Blue Jackets surprised almost everyone (except me) last year by making a run at the playoffs. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky had an amazing year, capped off by winning the Vezina trophy. The Jackets added a big name free agent by giving Nathan Horton a 7 year, $37 million contract. They added Marian Gaborik at the trade deadline, but other than that, they remained essentially the same team. Everyone is high on the Blue Jackets this season, but I am not. There is no way Bobrovsky can repeat the kind of season he had again, and they are moving into an incredibly tough division. It will be interesting to see if Ryan Murray cracks the Columbus roster, and what impact he will have. But on a positive note, they have one of the best jerseys in the league.

Prediction: 8th in the Metropolitan

Over/Under (85.5 points): Under
IMG_2618

Dallas Stars: The Stars made one of the biggest offseason trades, bringing in former #2 overall pick Tyler Seguin from Boston. They gave up a quality player in Loui Eriksson, but are banking on Seguin breaking out and becoming a franchise player. They also brought in former Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff via trade, and goaltender Dan Ellis to back up an underrated Kari Lehtonen. They also brought in Sergei Gonchar to bolster the blue line, which is the biggest question for Dallas heading into the season. They’ll be better, and fight most of the season for a playoff spot, but ultimately fall short.

Prediction: 6th in the Central
Over/Under (86.5 points): Over


Detroit Red Wings:
The Wings had to scratch and claw for their playoff spot last year, led by Olympic hopeful Jimmy Howard. In their first season without Nick Lidstrom in a long, long time, the Wings defense struggled at times, but found a way to get into the playoffs, and pushed the eventual champs to the brink in the second round. Detroit brought in longtime Senator John McCain Daniel Alfredsson, and Stephen Weiss, but lost Damien Brunner, Valtteri Filppula, Dan Cleary, and Ian White. The Wings are going to have to rely on young guns Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, and Danny DeKeyser to step up and help them out. But they still have Kyle Quincey, so they’ll finally miss the playoffs.

Prediction: 6th in the Atlantic
Over/Under (97.5 points): Under

Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers were a sleek pick to make the playoffs last year, but faltered down the stretch, leaving them on the outside looking in. They’ve had a lot of roster movement, like their rivals in Alberta. They’ve lost Shawn Horcoff, Magnus Paajarvi, and Nicolai Khabibulin, but brought in David Perron, Andrew Ference, Boyd Gordon, Jason Labarbera, and Richard Bachman. With new coach Dallas Eakins, this will be the year the Oilers crack the playoffs. Devan Dubnyk is going to have a stellar year, overcoming a shaky defensive core, and leading Edmonton to a wild-card spot.

Prediction: 4th in the Pacific
Over/Under (89.5 points): Over

Florida Panthers: Florida had a relatively boring offseason, up until a few weeks ago. They drafted Alexsander Barkov 2nd overall in June’s draft, signed veteran Scott Gomez, but lost winger Peter Mueller to Switzerland and Stephen Weiss to Detroit. They gave Tim Thomas a tryout, and then a contract. No doubt Florida be heavily leaning on Calder trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau this season. The Panthers are just one season removed away from a playoff appearance, and it will be up to their young core if the Panthers are going to get back to there. I’m betting Thomas, and fellow goalie Jacob Markstrom have good years, and the team will be better, but not good enough to get back to the promise land.

Prediction: 7th in the Atlantic
Over/Under (75.5 points): Over

Los Angeles Kings: The Kings avoided a Stanley Cup hangover, thanks in part to the lockout, and made it back to the Western Conference Finals, before falling to the Blackhawks in 5 games. The Kings finally traded away backup goalie Jonathan Bernier, but got a less than stellar return of Matt Frattin, Ben Scrivens, and a 2nd round pick. They also lost Rob Scuderi and Dustin Penner, but Slava Voynov and Tyler Toffoli look to fill the roles nicely. They will also get Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene back from injury on the blue line, which cannot be overlooked. They’re a little weak at LW, but the defensive core, and Jonathan Quick will lead the Kings to their first Pacific Division/Conference title.

Prediction: 1st in the Pacific
Over/Under (98.5 Points): Over
Avs-Wild 3-6-12 040
Minnesota Wild: The Wild continued to bring in big names during the season acquiring Jason Pominville at the trade deadline. Minnesota squeezed into the playoffs, but Nicklas Backstrom got hurt, and eventually lost in 5 to Chicago. This season, Minnesota will be looking for some of their prospects to step up and contribute. Minnesota traded Cal Clutterbuck to the Islanders for former 5th overall pick, and amazing name Nino Niederreiter. They also traded Devin Setoguchi to the Jets, meaning Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund will be together on the second line. They still have the big names of Koivu, Parise, and Suter, but the Wild’s season will hinge on whether the young players can provide depth.

Prediction: 3rd in the Central

Over/Under (94.5 points): Just over

Montreal Canadiens: The Habs won the Atlantic Division last year, and PK Subban brought the Norris trophy back to Quebec, but questions remain in eastern Canada. Can Carey Price find his form from a couple of years ago? A good first half could land him between the pipes for Canada in the Olympics. They replaced Michael Ryder with Danny Briere, but it’s winger Max Pacioretty who is going to have a big year. The Canadiens overachieved in the shortened season last year, but if Price can put together a Vezina like season, they will contend for the Atlantic again.
Prediction: 4th in the Atlantic
Over/Under (94.5 points): Under

140

Nashville Predators: The Predators fell off a cliff at the end of the season last year, and ended up picking highly toughed defenseman Seth Jones 4th overall in the draft. Pekka Rinne had offseason hip surgery, but should be ready to go for the start of the year. Viktor Stalberg, and Matt Cullen were brought in to help the depth and offensive abilities of the defensively minded Preds, and Filip Forsberg, who was brought in for Martin Erat figures to add some size and skill up front. Of course, they still have Shea Weber, and with a full season, and a full training camp, I think Nashville rebounds after a tough year last spring.

Prediction: 4th in the Central
Over/Under (84.5 Points): Over

New Jersey Devils: The Devils might have had the most interesting offseason in the NHL. They lost Ilya Kovalchuk to the KHL retirement. They made a huge trade at the draft to bring in Cory Schneider, and needing to replace Kovalchuk’s production (and David Clarkson, 7 years, $36.75 Million from the Leafs), brought in Jaromir Jagr, Michael Ryder, Ryan Clowe, and Damien Brunner. I love the Ryder signing, and wouldn’t be surprised if he scores 30-35 goals, but the Metropolitan division is sooo good, that Martin Broduer and the rest of the Devils are going to have a tough season.

Prediction: 7th in the Metropolitan
Over/Under (79.5 Points): Under
168
New York Islanders: The Islanders shocked many by not only making the playoffs last year, but taking the top seeded Penguins to 6 games. I believe they benefited from the short season, but it was still an impressive accomplishment. They added even more toughness with Cal Clutterbuck, and brought in Pierre-Marc Bouchard in free agency. They lost their captain Mark Streit to Philadelphia, but quickly turned that role over to John Tavares, who proved last year that he is one of the best in the league. If you’re looking for a fantasy sleeper, look no further than Travis Hamonic, who is quite underrated. I don’t think the Isles makes the playoffs this year with a questionable blue line, but they’re taking steps in the right direction.

Prediction: 5th in the Metropolitan

Over/Under (89.5 Points): Under

New York Rangers: The blue shirts biggest offseason move was not on the bench, but behind the bench, firing John Torterella and bringing in Alain Vigneault to coach the squad. They didn’t buy out Brad Richards, who will have something to prove this season, and I think he’ll have a big year. They were able to sign Derek Stepan, but I believe the biggest offseason re-signing was Ryan McDonagh who is my sleeper pick for the Norris trophy. I think the Rangers could go all the way this season. And of course, they still have Henrik Lundqvist in net. It is the last year of Lundqvist’s contract, and he hopes to have a season somewhere as spectacular as this Swedish commercial he appeared in:

Prediction: 2nd in the Metropolitan
Over/Under (98.5 Points): Over

Ottawa Senators:
The Sens completed a big offseason trade of their own, bringing in Bobby Ryan from Anaheim. He’ll join an explosive first with with Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek. Erik Karlsson is healthy, and so is Craig Anderson. It is going to be interesting to see how the teams reacts to losing longtime captain Daniel Alfredsson to the Red Wings. I think Ottawa could take the next step this season and really contend in the playoffs, but it’s going to require the Ottawa Craig Anderson, and not the Colorado Craig Anderson. Kyle Turris is going to take another step forward, and I think Mika Zibanejad (who rivals Niederreiter for best name) will also impress fans.

Prediction: 2nd in the Atlantic
Over/Under (93.5 Points): Over

Philadephia Flyers: Paul Holmgren certainly likes to keep things interesting in the offseason by throwing out big contracts. This summer they were to Vinny Lecavalier, and Mark Streit. Holmgren also made some quality financial moves, specifically Ray Emery and buying out Ilya Bryzgalov (who didn’t deserve it, but financially it made sense). I think the Flyers are going to be a better team this year. I look for Jakub Voracek to have a big year, and I think the Ray Emery – Steve Mason goalie tandem is going to surprise a lot of people.

Prediction: 4th in the Metropolitan
Over/Under (92.5 Points): Under

Phoenix Coyotes: The Coyotes are now a year removed from their surprise Western Conference Finals appearance, and have made a number of changes this offseason, but the best news the Coyotes got was that they’re staying in Phoenix/Glendale for at least 5 more years, and are under new ownership. They brought in Mike Ribeiro, the 33 year old center who acts like he’s 8. Ribeiro’s ego is going to be an interesting fit with the team first attitude Dave Tippett has installed. Mikkel Boedker is going to be a fantasy asset this year, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson could, and should be a Norris candidate this season. However, I’m not a Mike Smith believer, and I think Phoenix falls short of the playoffs for a second straight year.

Prediction: 5th in the Pacific
Over/Under (85.5 Points): Under

Pittsburgh Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury and the Penguins struggled again in the playoffs, and are snug against the cap as the season is set to begin. I love that they brought Rob Scuderi back from Los Angeles to help the defense, but I think they made a mistake in not trading Kris Letang, but rather re-signed him to a huge contract (8 years, $56 million). They traded Tyler Kennedy, and signed a bunch of veteran, cheap players to become cap compliant. I will be interested to see what Beau Bennett brings to the table, but I have a feeling he won’t meet the high expectations Pens fans have for him. Bottom line though, Pittsburgh will go as far as their goalies take them.

Prediction: 1st in the Metropolitan
Over/Under (108.5 Points): Under
Avs-Sharks 037

San Jose Sharks:
Last season, I thought San Jose was going to start re-building, but Antti Niemi single-handedly kept them afloat. They’re moving Brent Burns from defense to wing (Joe Thornton’s wing) and they’re counting on some young players to make an impact, specifically Tomas Hertl. If Hertl and Tyler Kennedy can’t provide an offensive spark, and Niemi can’t continue his play from last season, it’s going to be a long season for the Sharks. The feeling I get, is the organization isn’t sure if they should give the cup one more go, or start to re-build. The lack of direction in the organization is going to spell trouble for the Sharks, who will fail to make the playoffs.

Prediction: 6th in the Pacific

Over/Under (94.5 Points): Under

St. Louis Blues: The Blues right now, are the sexy pick to win the Stanley Cup. I’m just not attracted to them, it must be the personality. In all seriousness, the Blues have been busy this offseason. They traded David Perron to Edmonton for Magnus Paajarvi and a pick. They signed free agents Derek Roy and Brendan Morrow. They were able to sign stud defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (again, sweet name), and both Jaroslav Halak and Brain Elliott remain in St. Louis. The Blues probably have the best defense in the league, but for some reason it feels like the Blues are trying to force it. I don’t like the Roy or Morrow signing, and the vibe I’ve gotten from the offseason is that St. Louis has been pressured into making moves by the media/fans. They’ll be good, but they won’t win the cup.

Prediction: 2nd in the Central
Over/Under (99.5 Points): Over

Avs-Lightning 085
Tampa Bay Lightning:
The Lightning went through some drastic changes in the offseason, most notably buying out their captain Vinny Lecavalier. They attempted to replace him with Valtteri Filppula (name=awesome), and drafted arguably the most talented player in the draft at #3 in Jonathan Drouin. I look for defenseman Victor Hedman to put up 40-45 points this year, and Radko Gudas will become a more well known name as he provides a physical force on the Bolts blue line. Of course they still have Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, but like Pittsburgh, the Lightning will go as far as their goalies take them. It is going to be interesting to see if they lean on Ben Bishop, or Anders Lindback between the pipes. I think both are going to have surprisingly good years.

Prediction: 5th in the Atlantic
Over/Under (88.5 Points): Over

Toronto Maple Leafs: The Leafs finally made the playoffs last year, and gave the Boston Bruins all they could handle, and then some, but ultimately fell short in a heartbreaking loss. They bought out Mikhail Grabovski, and brought in Dave Bolland and David Clarkson to make up his production. They signed Tyler Bozak to a big deal, but now he needs to prove his worth. In a very surprising move, the Leafs traded for Jonathan Bernier despite a great seeason from James Reimer in net. I get the feeling Toronto to going to be the new Vancouver for goalie controversies. The biggest offseason move was being able to re-sign Nazem Kadri and Cody Franson, but are in a tough cap spot heading into the season. I look for Phil Kessel to have a big year, and the Leafs to once again, make the playoffs.

Prediction: 3rd in the Atlantic
Over/Under (96.5 Points): Under

Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks shocked the hockey world by trading Cory Schneider this summer, instead of a frustrated Roberto Luongo. They drafted Bo Horvat with the pick they got from the Devils in the trade, and scooped up Hunter Shinkaruk later in the first round, both will start the season in Vancouver. If David Booth and Ryan Kesler can stay healthy I think the Canucks could surprise a lot of people, maybe making a playoff run. If the Luongo storyline wasn’t enough, the Canucks brought in John Tortorella to coach the team on how to block shots, even saying “so be it” if the Sedin’s get hurt blocking shots. It’s going to be an interesting season in BC.

Prediction: 2nd in the Pacific
Over/Under (95.5 Points): Over

Washington Capitals:
The Caps really found their stride in the second half of the season under Adam Oates. They lost Mike Ribiero, and fan favorite Matt Hendricks, but signed Mikhail Grabovski late in free agency to slot into the #2 center spot. They brought in Martin Erat at the trade deadline to add another scoring touch, and rookie Tom Wilson should be a nice fit on the third line. The defense will make or break the Caps this season, but we all know what they’re capable of in the regular season, it is the playoffs that will define their year.

Prediction: 3rd in the Metropolitan
Over/Under (93.5 Points): Over

Winnipeg Jets: Lastly are the Winnipeg Jets. A few years ago, I was in Phoenix playing golf with a couple from Winnipeg, and they mentioned how the Jets are always in contention, but ultimately leave fans disappointed. I think this will be the case yet again this year. They made a couple of nice trades, bringing in Devin Setoguchi and Michael Frolik to add winger depth. If Jacob Trouba can crack the lineup, I expect him to be right there for the Calder Trophy, even more-so than teammate Mark Scheifele. I don’t think Winnipeg is strong enough down the middle to contend for a playoff spot, and once again the fans will be disappointed come early April.

Prediction: 7th in the Central
Over/Under (82.5 Points): Under

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Comments
  1. Advenstor says:

    Thanks for the preview; This may be a year where either the Avs will make the playoffs or be the worst team in the division; tough to know how Roy will do behind the bench; as a look back, there is a great post from last june by Joe Posnanski on the NBCSports site about the last game last season; a great way to start off this season

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