2017-18 NHL Preview: Original 6September 13, 2017
Training camp starts this week, so hockey is BACK! Today we preview the first six franchises to belong to the NHL. From the powerhouse of the Chicago Blackhawks, to the speedy Toronto Maple Leafs. Which team has the most to prove this season, and which team is the one to watch out for? Find out below!
Boston Bruins – Another training camp and another potential loss of a young promising player for the Bruins. David Pastrnak still remains unsigned heading into camp and it has a lot of Bruins fans scratching their head wondering if they can re-watch this movie all over again, previous titles were Joe Thornton, Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin, and Dougie Hamilton. The Bruins moved on from each of those players who have gone on to prove that they are worthy of being paid. Pastrnak’s camp is looking for an eight year contract worth most likely around $80 million, which would make Pastrnak the highest paid Bruin. I find it un-fair for Pastrnak to ask for a contract like that when he has only been in the league for two plus years and only had one season (16-17) where he scored 30 goals. Regardless, the Bruins will most likely be in the bottom mix of contenders in the Eastern Conference this year. Their veterans like Bergeron, Marchand, Krejci, Chara, and Rask are all a year older as the window closes in on their time to get back to the Cup Finals and win it all. With a promising future for Charlie McAvoy entering his first official rookie year, it will come down to how well the Bruins defensemen can come together and keep the puck in front of Tuukka Rask. As a Bruin fan, I see this season being a roller coaster of a ride, with a squeak into the playoffs.
Chicago Blackhawks – It was a stunning surprise to see the Blackhawks be one and done in the playoffs last season, it was even more surprising that they were swept. Many Blackhawk haters enjoyed it, such as myself. The “hockey town” city of the past decade took a long look in the mirror during the off-season, and you can’t expect anything else but for the Hawks to be back to their winning dominant ways again this season. They have lost many of players to other teams across the league, spreading that winning mentality across the NHL, but Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are still who they are, the best forwards in the game. Chicago will be fine this year and they will be back in the playoffs borrowing a bad injury to their superstars, but will they get out of the first round? I think so.
Detroit Red Wings – The city of Detroit said goodbye to Joe Louis Arena when the Red Wings missed the playoffs last year. Now in a new arena, the Wings hope to re-establish their “hockey town” glorified name. Not much changed personnel wise for Detroit during the off-season as they hope the core that they have can get them back into the post-season. With Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader, and Niklas Kronwall still being the leaders for the team, they hope that players like Tomas Tatar, Dylan Larkin, and Gustav NyQuist can jolt the team from the bottom of the East to at least the middle.
Montreal Canadiens – Montreal was the winner of the Atlantic Division last season but ended up being a one and done losing to the New York Rangers. Carey Price returned to his form and was able to help carry Montreal to home ice advantage, however the offense and defense just couldn’t keep it together. Max Pacioretty put 35 pucks in the net last season and Shea Weber got a taste of what it was like to play for the most historical franchise in the NHL. The loss of Alexander Radulov will definitely sting the Habs this year, but if Carey Price can be himself, and the Habs can be the pest that they are as a team they should coast to another Atlantic Divison title. If not, a second place finish and another playoff appearance.
New York Rangers – The Rangers always seem to be in the mix at the end of the year but have yet to win a cup since the Mark Messier years. This year could be different as the blue shirts made the biggest splash in the off-season adding Kevin Shattenkirk to the roster via free agency. The Rangers made the first Wild Card spot last season and were able to get to the second round of the playoffs ultimately losing to the Ottawa Senators. The Rangers play in the toughest of the two divisions in the East and should make the playoffs again this year behind 30 year old vet, Henrik Lundvqist.
Toronto Maple Leafs – Toronto made the playoffs as the second Wild Card in the Eastern Conference last season lead by rookie sensation and 40 goal scorer, Auston Matthews. The young trio of Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander have Maple Leafs fans ecstatic for this season and beyond. The addition of veteran Patrick Marleau adds to the boost as well, Marleau is from the Toronto area and feels he has three seasons left to make something happen in his own backyard. With Frederick Andersen tending the twine again for Toronto this year, the biggest question mark lies on the blue line. There is no doubt Toronto will score this year, but can the defense do enough to keep the goals against down and make the playoffs again, and perhaps, again, and again, and again.
Written by Nick Gendreau