Photo Credit: Anders Krogh Jorgensen, Unsplash
From hot takes to predictions, get ready for a hockey season like no other!
Lucas Carpignano, Sports Editor
As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, a familiar chill is settling in the hearts of hockey fans worldwide. It’s a feeling that’s impossible to mistake, as it signals the start of another NHL season. I’ve got you covered with all you need to know to go into the season filled with hope and excitement. So sharpen your skates and tape up your sticks as we embark on a journey to explore the thrilling events that await in the upcoming NHL season.
As the regular season begins, it makes sense first to look at the team that had the most successful regular season in league history last year, the Boston Bruins. After a disappointing first-round exit in the playoffs last season, how will the Bruins look to bounce back? Truthfully, they probably won’t. The Bruins suffered major losses in the offseason. The biggest losses are Patrice Bergeron, who was the team captain, and David Krejci. Both spent well over a decade with the organization, and both decided it was time to hang it up. Other losses included Taylor Hall, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Dmitry Orlov, all of whom elected to sign with different teams. These losses are major, considering that the Bruins did not make any significant offseason additions. It is very possible that we see the Bruins miss the playoffs for the first time since 2016, as the Atlantic Division is looking even tougher this year.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Florida Panthers all look like playoff locks for the Atlantic Division, but we must always expect the unexpected. The Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators are teams that I would recommend keeping an eye on. Both teams have been able to build up a strong young core, and they are starting to look ready to compete for those playoff spots.
The team that made the biggest move this offseason was the Pittsburgh Penguins, acquiring defenseman Erik Karlsson. Karlsson is coming off a fantastic year scoring 101 points in 82 games, winning himself the Norris Trophy, awarded to the top defenseman. The Penguins have not seen much success since winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017. As their core players, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang are approaching the end of their careers, this looks to be their last dance.
Other notable players who found new homes include Matt Duchene with the Dallas Stars, Tyler Bertuzzi with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Michael Bunting with the Carolina Hurricanes, Vladimir Takasenko with the Ottawa Senators, and Alex Killorn with the Anaheim Ducks. But it’s not always about the veterans that leave the biggest impact. We can’t forget about the rookies.
The biggest story coming into this season is Connor Bedard. Bedard was drafted first overall this past June by the Chicago Blackhawks. There has not been this much hype for a prospect since Connor McDavid entered the league back in 2015. All this hype has led to the Blackhawks selling double the amount of season tickets compared to the previous year. It’s a no-brainer that Bedard will most likely win the Calder Trophy, awarded to the rookie of the year, but who knows? There are plenty of rookies to keep an eye on.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to be starting three rookies this season, Matthew Knies, Fraser Minten, and Joseph Woll. 19-year-old Logan Cooley is expected to start the season with the Arizona Coyotes. Adan Fantilli, who went two picks after Bedard in the draft, is going to play a big role for the Columbus Blue Jackets. New Jersey Devils superstar Jack Hughes’s younger brother Luke will be getting big minutes for the Devils blueline, and 21-year-old Devon Levi will be the starting goaltender for the Buffalo Sabres after a strong college season last year.
As the anticipation builds, the NHL’s season promises to deliver fans the skill, passion, and drama they all crave. Whether you bleed the colours of a powerhouse or rally behind an underdog, one thing is certain: it’s time to let the puck drop, goals fly, and the cheers roar, because hockey is finally back!