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Every NHL Team’s 2023-24 Season Goals

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    NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - OCTOBER 12: Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils celebrates his first goal of the second period against the Detroit Red Wings at the Prudential Center on October 12, 2023 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    The most important things in the game of hockey are goals. You need them to win games and most of all to hoist the Stanley Cup.

    But the goals we’re looking at here aren’t the sort we’re watching Auston Matthews pile up. We’re examining what each NHL team should aim to achieve this during the 2023-24 season.

    Winning the Cup is on the table for a handful of franchises. For others, their bar to clear is a bit lower—and for a select few, that bar is laying on the ground.

    We’re breaking this one down division by division. Don’t worry, we won’t lay it out by projected finish to really enhance the expectations or potential future disappointment for you.

Atlantic Division

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    David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand

    David Pastrnak and Brad MarchandMaddie Meyer/Getty Images

    Boston Bruins: Advance to Eastern Conference Final

    Yes, the Bruins lost their top two centers to retirement and are staring regression in the face, but thanks to the Florida Panthers, the team that upset them in the first round of their Presidents’ Trophy-winning season last year, the bar is set very high for them regardless.

    Remember, it was two years ago that the Panthers were the Presidents’ Trophy winners who came up short of hoisting the Cup after they lost in the second round to Tampa Bay. That they followed that by making a blockbuster trade and going to the Final means Boston can follow in their footsteps.

    It would be mean to set their goal at winning the Cup, but getting to the Final after Florida just pulled it off under similar circumstances is actually doable because they proved it. The B’s have great goaltending and play tough defense and still have 60-goal scorer David Pastrnak on the roster. No sweat!

    Buffalo Sabres: Just make the playoffs

    The last time the Sabres made the postseason it was 2011. Ryan Miller was their starting goalie, Thomas Vanek was their leading scorer and Lindy Ruff was still their head coach. We won’t get into it about how it was Danny Brière and Ville Leino who helped knock them out of the postseason or about how they’re in their second and more successful rebuild since then either, but it’s time.

    With Rasmus Dahlin, Tage Thompson, Owen Power, Dylan Cozens, Devon Levi and the rest of the super young stars on the team, the Sabres’ ascendancy brought them to within one win of making the playoffs last year. Logic says that experience and a year of growth can take them higher this year. While logic doesn’t always apply in sports, youth, skill, speed and talent does in the NHL. They can make the playoffs and maybe even win a round if they get there…but getting there is the biggest mountain to climb.

    Detroit Red Wings: Carry the “Yzer-plan” into the postseason

    The Wings have drafted well, and their young stars like Dylan Larkin, Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond have been joined by free agents and trade acquisitions like Alex DeBrincat, J.T. Compher, Andrew Copp, David Perron and many more to get Detroit back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

    They’ve been scrutinized for some of their signings (Ben Chiarot most notably) and for how they’ve loaded up with vets instead of getting more young players into the lineup. But GM Steve Yzerman has special status in Detroit that’s earned him a lot of leeway. Missing out on the playoffs yet again, however, will pose a serious challenge to his elevated legacy in Motor City.

    Florida Panthers: Win the Stanley Cup

    The problem with having a successful playoff run somewhat unexpectedly is that it immediately zeroes in the focus on vitally important goals. In the Panthers’ case, the only way for them to improve on last season is to win the whole dang thing.

    Winning the Eastern Conference and advancing to the Stanley Cup Final were huge accomplishments for Florida, and while the Panthers were able to somewhat sneak up on everyone else during the playoffs, Vegas was wise to it and humbled them in the end.

    After learning the pain of being the best team in the league and coming up well short of expectations the season before and turning that into an incredible playoff run last year, they’ll need to once again show how they can learn and evolve via disappointment. Once Brandon Montour and Aaron Ekblad return from injury and rejoin Matthew Tkachuk, that goal becomes much more attainable.

    Montréal Canadiens: Drive the rest of the NHL up the wall

    Most everyone is expecting that the Canadiens will be bad again this year. They weren’t great last season, and they were also besieged by injuries throughout the lineup. But if they have a down season again, that’ll allow them to get another high-end first-round pick, which will allow them to get caught up quickly.

    But they already have a lot of very good young scorers with Nick Suzuki leading the way and Cole Caufield back to fill the net with Kirby Dach and Juraj Slafkovsky. They also have defenseman Arber Xhekaj ready to beat up everyone else.

    With Martin St. Louis as their coach, they’re going to play fast and hard all the time and make it so no game is a breeze. No team likes facing an opponent they’re supposed to beat and having a hard time with them. The Habs will make everyone miserable with their brand of hockey, and if it leads them unexpectedly up the standings, then that’s just fine, too.

    Ottawa Senators: Don’t let the fanbase down again

    Senators fans have been through the wringer in recent years with the lack of on-ice success coupled with the death of former owner Eugene Melnyk and the selling of the team. But now that that’s at an end and they’ve got a pile of very good young players, the time is now for Ottawa to get back to the postseason.

    There’s a catch, however, because they’re also trying to accomplish that while Buffalo and Detroit are as well and everyone else in the division is already a playoff-level. It’s a tall order for Brady Tkachuk and Tim Stützle, but if they get a health Josh Norris back in action, get Shane Pinto re-signed and have Jake Sanderson’s game continue to grow…maybe they can steal the spotlight from their division brethren and crash the postseason party.

    Tampa Bay Lightning: Remind everyone they’re not dead yet

    When the Lightning bowed out of the postseason in the first round last year (to Toronto no less!) many believed it was the moment that signified the start of their downfall. After all, they’d just spent the previous three postseasons going all the way to the Stanley Cup Final and winning it twice, and teams these days just don’t dynasty it up like they used to…right?

    Tampa Bay would love nothing more than to prove that all it needed was a slightly longer offseason to rest and recover and get back to punishing the rest of the NHL on the way to yet another deep playoff run.

    Andrei Vasilevskiy’s back injury that will keep him out for the first two months throws a wrench into things, but they’ve still got Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman and Steven Stamkos among others. If they can survive Vasilevskiy’s absence, they might not be as down as we think they are.

    Toronto Maple Leafs: Make Eastern Conference Final and annoy every other fanbase in process

    If there’s something that unites fans across the rest of the NHL, it’s the glee felt when the Maple Leafs are eliminated from playoff contention. That’s why Toronto advancing deeper into the postseason than it has since 2002 would go a long way toward making the rest of the hockey world miserable.

    The Leafs finally won a playoff series last year, and despite the meek showing in the second round, all it takes is for Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner or William Nylander to really blow up to make the team an absolute menace.

    Seeing Matthews go off with a hat trick in each of the first two games this season makes us wonder if maybe, just maybe, this might be the year Toronto goes deeper than it has in over 20 seasons and drags every fan outside of the Six into despair because of it.

Metropolitan Division

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    Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho

    Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian AhoJosh Lavallee/NHLI via Getty Images

    Carolina Hurricanes: Win the Stanley Cup

    For too long now the Hurricanes have escaped the watchful pundits’ eyes while they racked up wins and regular-season points only to come up short in the postseason without so much as a scolding for the lack of success.

    Since Rod Brind’Amour took over as head coach in 2018-2019, they’ve made the playoffs every season, and they’ve finished first in their division the past three straight seasons. Twice in those five years they’ve made the Eastern Conference Final, losing to Boston in 2019 and Florida last season.

    The Hurricanes are good and deserve the respected status they’ve earned. But they’ve got to get over the hump and make it to the Stanley Cup Final and bring it all home to make the pain worth it—otherwise people might actually start to notice how they haven’t gotten it done, and that’s when things get actually difficult.

    Columbus Blue Jackets: Stun everyone

    The thing about the Blue Jackets throughout most of their existence is that no one expects much of anything from them. They’ve never been a Cup favorite or even favored to win their division, and expectations are low again this season despite adding rookie Adam Fantilli to a roster that features Johnny Gaudreau, Patrik Laine and Zach Werenski.

    That’s why their main motivation should be to stun opponents and opposing fans into taking them deadly serious. They have talented players and young players on the way up, along with a new coach in Pascal Vincent. They’ve also got a fiercely loyal fanbase eager to root for a winning group. Playing hard, battling every night and pulling out unexpected wins would go a long way in Columbus and around the league.

    New Jersey Devils: Blitz the league, win the Cup

    The Devils’ arrival last season as one of the best teams in the league came almost out of nowhere. Jack Hughes was healthy and arrived as one of the NHL’s best scorers, and with Nico Hischier, Dougie Hamilton, Timo Meier and Jesper Bratt all piling up points, they developed one of the most formidable attacks in the NHL.

    Now they’ve added Luke Hughes and Tyler Toffoli to that group and will have the rest of the league better prepared for what they’re about to deal with. It might not matter how ready they are because the Devils are going to be really good.

    While the Eastern Conference is going to be a battle night in and night out into and during the postseason, the Devils know they’ve got a group that can win it all now. With their blazing attack, they can take down the East and then make life miserable for whoever comes out of the West to win the Stanley Cup. You know, so long as goaltending holds up and all.

    New York Islanders: Return to the Eastern Conference Final

    It’s kind of weird to think that it was just a few seasons ago the Islanders made it to within a round of the Stanley Cup Final in back-to-back seasons. The COVID-affected campaigns were a bit disjointed in how they played out, but the Isles thrived, particularly in the postseason. Although they were done in by a horrible start to the season and injuries two years ago that kept them out of the playoffs, they returned last year and spooked Carolina briefly before bowing out in the first round.

    Make no mistake, however: The Isles are built with the playoffs in mind and frustrating whoever they play against as a means to an end. Ilya Sorokin is a top goalie, and with players like Mat Barzal, Bo Horvat and Brock Nelson, they can score enough to win games.

    They’re never the first team to come to mind out of the East, and they frankly like it that way. If they get back to the postseason, it’s the time when a stingy defensive style and a hot goalie can take you far. Think about it: Would you want your favorite team to deal with a team setup like that in the playoffs? Didn’t think so.

    New York Rangers: Overpower the division

    The Rangers have a boatload of talent with Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider and Igor Shesterkin. They were a 100-point team last season and were in it until the end, duking it out with New Jersey and Carolina. They can play with speed and can score a ton. They’re made to have a lot of success, and now they’ve got a Stanley Cup-winning coach in Peter Laviolette to lead the way.

    The Rangers roster with Laviolette in charge will play a much more mature style of hockey, and so long as the players are in lockstep with what he wants, they’ll be a bear to deal with all season long and into the playoffs.

    They’ve shown early on this year a commitment to a more defensive style of hockey with a willingness to block a lot of shots. Playing like that is a good way to resist the firepower teams like Carolina and New Jersey have. That could spell trouble for them if they have to duke it out with the Rangers atop the Metropolitan and into the playoffs.

    Philadelphia Flyers: Continue to outwork and overachieve

    The Flyers were supposed to be one of the NHL’s worst teams last season, and while they still weren’t a playoff squad, they weren’t all-time bad either. Their commitment to defending stronger and outworking opponents thanks to coach John Tortorella helped them finish a bit higher in the standings at perhaps the worst time, with Connor Bedard as last year’s ultimate draft prize.

    This season, they’ve got Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson back in the lineup, so they’ll have a bit more offensive punch as well as a top-tier defender up front in Couturier. They’ll likely once again catch teams off guard and make each game the kind of grind session they were hoping to avoid to earn two points. The Flyers are rebuilding, but they’re not about to roll over just to improve lottery chances. It’s noble, if nothing else, but also might provide the kind of lessons past iterations of the Flyers sorely needed and never received.

    Pittsburgh Penguins: Return to the playoffs and use old-man strength

    When the Penguins missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006 last season, it was a damning mark against them given it was the first time since Sidney Crosby’s rookie season that happened. They’ve deepened their forward corps and added Erik Karlsson to the blue line to give their offense a major jolt. Those kinds of moves could be enough to get them back to the playoffs.

    Consider that they missed the postseason by one point last year, perhaps things will be different this season. Their roster is better, but it’s older still. With Crosby, Karlsson, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Jake Guentzel, they’ve got enough talent to score a lot for the duration of the year. If they can make age and perhaps lack of speed a non-factor, they can get back to the playoffs and make opponents wary of having to deal with all of those future Hall of Famers in a best-of-seven series.

    Washington Capitals: Figure it out

    Like the Penguins, the Capitals also missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006 last year, although they did it in a much quieter fashion when they petered out with 80 points. Sure, Alex Ovechkin continued to pile up goals, but the rest of the roster was horribly banged up with John Carlson, Tom Wilson and Nicklas Backstrom all missing big chunks of time among others.

    Good health and a revitalized style of play under new coach Spencer Carbery could be the jolt they need to recoup those lost points and perhaps throw themselves back into the playoff discussion. But they’re also a cap-strapped team that wasn’t able to do much to improve in the offseason, and they’re not in any hurry to rebuild. Sounds worrisome, doesn’t it?

Central Division

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    Jason Robertson and Joe Pavelski

    Jason Robertson and Joe PavelskiSam Hodde/Getty Images

    Arizona Coyotes: Let youth guide the way

    The Coyotes aren’t usually ever counted on to do big things, and the same is true for this season. But there are a few reasons to keep an eye on them, starting with Logan Cooley. The rookie forward plays an exciting brand of hockey with a ton of skill, and he’s already making his impact felt on the lineup after he had two assists in his debut against the Devils.

    With Cooley and last season’s surprise breakout player Matias Maccelli, Arizona has some scoring skill to keep an eye on. And although they sent Dylan Guenther to the AHL to start the season, he’ll be part of what helps get the Coyotes back on the winning track down the road as well.

    They’ve surrounded those players with veterans like Jason Zucker, Sean Durzi and Matt Dumba, and with Clayton Keller leading the way, the Coyotes could be a sneaky team in the Central. Most of the division is trying to figure some things out, and they could be in position to steal a lot of points. Until then, soak in what Cooley does because he’s worth watching alone.

    Chicago Blackhawks: Improve…but not that much

    Landing Connor Bedard with the No. 1 pick has Chicago in prime position to be watched often this season and have its performances overhyped. After all, Bedard will make whoever he’s on the ice with better, and with the smattering of veterans they’ve added, they’ll be much more competitive than they were last season.

    But they’re not going to be too much more competitive because if they’re going to recreate the rebuild magic that led them to winning multiple Stanley Cups in the 2010s, Bedard will need more guys like Kevin Korchinski and Lukas Reichel to help him out.

    The roster is still relatively thin, and most of the rest of the league is overall more talented than they are. Of course, they’ve already shown they will take advantage of teams that don’t have their A-game, but most nights the deck will be stacked against them, and that’s probably OK by them.

    Colorado Avalanche: Survive and advance

    Injuries wreaked havoc on the Avs last season. Losing Gabriel Landeskog was a harsh blow, and Cale Makar’s absence for part of the season also stung them. Although they’re without Landeskog again this season, they’ve acquired more than enough veteran help to stack the talent on their roster in the meantime with Tomas Tatar, Ryan Johansen, Miles Wood and Ross Colton to go along with MVP hopeful Nathan MacKinnon.

    On paper, the Avalanche are going to be one of the best teams in the NHL, and with Dallas, Minnesota and Winnipeg as their main competition within the division, the key for them will be to stay healthy and be ready to rumble in the playoffs. They got worn down by Seattle in the postseason last season, and after winning the Stanley Cup two years ago, there’s no doubt they’re hungry to get it back.

    Dallas Stars: Go deeper

    Last season felt like a learning experience for the Stars. They were eliminated in the Western Conference Final by Vegas after they showed how wicked they can be against Minnesota and Seattle in the first two rounds, particularly in Game 7 against the Kraken. But the loss to Vegas is one that should stick with their younger core players in Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, Miro Heiskanen and Jake Oettinger.

    Losses like the six-game affair to the Golden Knights are the kind that set the table for the future for teams built like Dallas. Their mix of young stars combined with older players who have been there before have that sort of Hollywood script vibe to them where they take those learning moments and spin them forward in the seasons to come.

    Dallas is poised to do that this season and go to the Stanley Cup Final. Doing so won’t be easy, but they’ve gotten a taste of what it takes, and now is the time they’ll take to use it to get over the hump.

    Minnesota Wild: Remember the pain and learn from it

    When the Wild bowed out in six games to Dallas in the first round last season, they did so in such a meek fashion it left them questioning what it was that caused such malaise. They made relatively few changes in the offseason, only losing Matt Dumba to free agency and adding Pat Maroon via trade, the latter of whom has shown the knack for playing big in key moments for winning teams.

    But this year’s team adds rookies Brock Faber and Marco Rossi to give it a breath of fresh air in the lineup. They’ll combine with a group headed by Kirill Kaprizov and Matt Boldy along with a mix of solid veterans and high-end goaltending from Filip Gustavsson and Marc-Andre Fleury.

    If the Wild can learn from last season, they can be a very good team and make the road to the Stanley Cup an absolute minefield for favorites Colorado and Dallas and use that to possibly help them make a deep run of their own. But they cannot afford to come up small like they did last season or else the questions they’ll have to face will get twice as hard to answer.

    Nashville Predators: Go as far as Saros takes them

    After all the roster cleanup former GM David Poile and current GM Barry Trotz have done in Nashville, they’re still a team that looks like one that’ll be on the outside of the playoff picture. Sure, adding Ryan O’Reilly, Gustav Nyquist and Luke Schenn to a group that has Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg and Ryan McDonagh should make them a little better. But this is still a team that’s going to go as far as its goaltender, Juuse Saros, takes it.

    It’s somewhat unfair to pin all of the Preds’ hopes on Saros. But given the rough shape the roster was in last year after season-ending injuries to Forsberg and Ryan Johansen that cost them a large chunk of their goal scoring—and considering how Saros almost single-handedly dragged them back into playoff discussion—it’s nothing new. He learned from Pekka Rinne how to handle these sorts of situations.

    If Saros has a Vezina-worthy season that gets them into the mix for the playoffs, so be it. If not, well, they made moves to add draft picks, and they can make more of them again later this year if they have to help the future.

    St. Louis Blues: Recapture old glory

    It was an ugly season for St. Louis last year, and if there’s a goal for the Blues this year, it involves getting back to the postseason. To do that, however, they’re going to need to tap into some of their old ways from their Stanley Cup season in 2019, namely getting Jordan Binnington back into top form.

    The roster will be different, sure, but after trading for Kevin Hayes out of Philadelphia, the hope is he’ll be their new version of Ryan O’Reilly while Brayden Schenn captains the team. They’ll need younger guys like Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas to embrace the years they’ve played there and take steps forward in both their ability to lead and to score while also getting improved play on the blue line from Colton Parayko, Justin Faulk and Torey Krug.

    It’s a curious mix of a roster, but there is talent. Thing is, competition is stiff at the top of the Central, and Binnington showing he can return to form will go a long way toward deciding whether this team goes up or further down in the standings.

    Winnipeg Jets: Turn back the clock

    Before the season began, the Jets faced far too many questions because their top players were eligible to leave next summer. Now that Mark Scheifele and Connor Hellebuyck are signed to long-term extensions, the picture is so much clearer for Winnipeg that it’s got the Jets thinking back to how last season began.

    Hellebuyck’s blazing start last year got the Jets flying high atop the division. Along with Scheifele’s great season, Kyle Connor’s continued offensive excellence and Josh Morrissey’s elite-level playmaking, the feeling was the Jets were about to become a force.

    It’s that vibe they’ll want to recapture, and this time make sure it doesn’t flame out. And now that their top guys are locked in for the long run, there’s no anxiety about whether they’ll have to tear the team up.

Pacific Division

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    Jack Eichel

    Jack EichelEthan Miller/Getty Images

    Anaheim Ducks: Go for No. 1

    The pingpong balls were not in the Ducks’ favor in the offseason, and despite having the worst record in the league, they landed the No. 2 pick in the draft. They selected Leo Carlsson, and while he’ll make a great center for them in the years to come, the Ducks need more top talent if they’re going to fly high once again.

    To that end, the Ducks’ aim this year should be to try for No. 1 once more—and they may not have to try terribly hard to make it happen. Having Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry to go along with Jamie Drysdale and Cam Fowler gives them a handful of very good players. But because they’re lacking depth and with the number of younger players who will get extended looks, it may be difficult for them to maintain the success they do have.

    John Gibson in goal gives them a fighting chance nightly, but the amount of overall improvement they need to not be in the conversation for the top pick is substantial.

    Calgary Flames: Find their smile once again

    After Calgary’s players had such a miserable time with Darryl Sutter last season, a big part of this year’s success hinges upon them all finding joy in the game again. From Jonathan Huberdeau to Nazem Kadri to impending UFAs Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev, they could all use more goals and more wins to get them feeling good about the situation.

    On top of all that, a more positive situation centers around Jacob Markstrom returning to his previous Vezina Trophy-finalist form as well. It’s a lot to work out for new coach Adam Huska, but he knows his roster has a lot of talent, and getting them back to a place where they can lean into their strengths can get them right back into the playoff picture. After so many frowns and grumpy dispositions under Sutter, getting some sunshine back in the roster’s life would go a long way.

    Edmonton Oilers: Prove themselves to others

    The Oilers can score a ton of goals, it’s true. Especially on the power play. These are facts that are never in doubt, and they’re true again so far this year. Of course, they’ve also dropped their first two games to Vancouver and even got embarrassed 8-1 in the season opener, so it’s not all rosy off the hop.

    Edmonton getting shut down by Vegas last season despite having an offense that left everyone’s heads spinning should’ve been yet another “ah-ha!” moment for its leadership that while scoring at will on the power play can take you a lot of places, it can’t quite take you all the way. They’ve got to prove to themselves they can do everything else winning teams do to win in many different ways.

    Winning games at even strength shows what you’re really made of and how nasty a team can be in the postseason. Same goes with being able to clamp things down when needed or knowing how best to win when nothing goes right. If they can prove that over the course of a season, they can prove to the rest of the league they’re ready to take that leap.

    Los Angeles Kings: Beat the Oilers

    For the past two seasons, the Kings showed they’re back as one of the more dangerous teams in the Western Conference, but the only thing that could stop them were the Oilers. Sure enough, that’s who’s knocked them out of the playoffs in the first round the past two seasons, and now it’s time for them to slay that particular dragon.

    The Kings were done in by their lack of discipline against the Oilers and allowed Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl plenty of opportunity to beat them on the power play. Despite having elite players of their own in Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty, they weren’t able to corral McDavid and Draisaitl.

    Although Vegas presents its own challenges in the Pacific, the Oilers are L.A.’s nemesis right now. And while they’ve given the Oilers fits of their own, they haven’t found a way through just yet. It would be easy to point at goaltending and say that’s the difference for the Kings, but discipline in multiple ways helped put their goaltending at a disadvantage and they’ve got to change that to go deeper into the playoffs.

    San Jose Sharks: Race for the bottom

    The Sharks’ half-in/half-out approach to a rebuild has them ensnared in a trap of sorts, and if they’re going to get anywhere down the road a little quicker, they’ve got to take aim on Davy Jones’ locker in the Pacific right away.

    Although San Jose will have young guys like Thomas Bordeleau, William Eklund and Filip Zadina in their lineup this year, they’ll still have a few veterans in the mix who will keep them afloat in a slightly weaker Western Conference. Guys like Anthony Duclair, Mackenzie Blackwood and Jan Rutta will play well and play hard for this group but won’t help them bridge the gap to make the postseason or make a hard run at the No. 1 pick.

    The Sharks are in the mix with a pile of teams that will be hovering near the bottom for the best odds at No. 1, but with a few choice deals later on, they could be the front-runners far and away.

    Seattle Kraken: Follow Vegas’ footsteps

    Even though the Kraken have built their franchise their own way, their success last season has put them on the same path as their expansion cousins in Vegas, who won the Cup in their sixth season last year. Although Seattle is doing things in a more organic fashion, six seasons isn’t an unrealistic goal for them to make an honest run at winning their own Stanley Cup.

    They put up 100 points last year with a lineup that threatened to score from all four lines and a defense that was effective at moving the puck and defending. They added complementary players like Kailer Yamamoto and Brian Dumoulin from successful teams, and while they have areas to improve upon (penalty kill in particular), they showed in the playoffs their style of play and deep lineup can win a playoff series.

    The Kraken aren’t going away, and they’re learning how to win together. A return to the postseason and perhaps a run to the Western Conference Final would show they’re absolutely on the Golden Knights’ road to success.

    Vancouver Canucks: Silence the naysayers

    Very few teams had as negative a season as Vancouver did last year, and this year the tone is different—although with some of the same worries lingering. Things are feeling good after the Canucks beat Edmonton in their first two games of the season, and their key players have shown up in a big way as well.

    Vancouver allowing guys like Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson, Andrei Kuzmenko and JT Miller to lead the way while Thatcher Demko locks it down in goal (riddled with the flu or not) shows it’s got a lot of talent and that much of the negative attention toward them is perhaps a bit too harsh.

    They’re not a deep team, sure, but their top talent is excellent, and top players can win games on their own sometimes. Coach Rick Tocchet is clearly pulling some of the right switches with the lineup. If they can make a smart deal regarding Conor Garland, they could add even more help to their roster. We’re not saying it’s a playoff team, but we are saying the Canucks could cause a lot of teams a lot of sleepless nights instead.

    Vegas Golden Knights: Do it all over again

    When a team wins the Stanley Cup, the only goal for them is to do it again, right? That’s where Vegas is at, and fortunately for the Golden Knights, despite some losses to the roster, they’re right there in the mix again.

    They had to trade Reilly Smith, but after the extended audition Ivan Barbashev got last season when he showed he was a natural fit to the roster, that move didn’t hurt quite so bad—especially when he teamed up with Jack Eichel and Jonathan Marchesseault.

    Adin Hill and Logan Thompson provide solid play in goal, and the Golden Knights defense with Alex Pietrangelo leading the way is as good as it was last year. Even more so, Vegas has succeeded even though it has been tasked with an impossibly high bar to meet since it began play in the NHL.

    The pressure is sky high there, and yet the Knight have won the Cup and are top contenders for it once again. Good thing, too, because from now on, anything else is a letdown.

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