Here we are barreling toward the start of the NHL Regular season. So it is time to start previewing what is to come in the upcoming 2019-20 season. I will break down every division, than the league as a whole. With a final look at the playoffs and crown my 2019-20 Stanley Cup Champion.
The Atlantic Division is going to be intense. Ten points separated the bulk of the division last year. The Lightning were unreal last year and Florida sucked. It looks like both of those teams are going to average out. This division is going to make it tough for anyone in the Metro to secure a wildcard spot.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning tied the 96 Red Wings for most wins in a regular season. They literally had a goal differential of ten. Then in the offseason they went out and added Luke Shen and Curtis McElhinney. Can they be better this season? I don’t see why not. Can they win the cup? If they don’t I would hate to be apart of that organization in the summer.
Boston lost the cup to St. Louis. That is their third trip to the final in ten years. For a core group of players that’s a great achievement. Here is the scary thing. That core, has gone through a transition and now has been completely refreshed. Guys like Charlie McAvoy, David Pasternak, and Jake Debrusk have brought a new hunger to the team. Guys who are elite now playing with guys in the twilight of their prime is a dangerous combination. Their roster remained largely intact from last season. Chances are they will be good again. Plus as you look around the league and all the young studs that aren’t under contract this close to the seasons they have to be breathing a sigh of relief that Pasternak is locked up long term. Now they just have to get Charlie McAvoy taken care of.
Toronto Maple Leafs
For the second year in a row the Leafs fall to the Boston Bruins in the playoffs. This trend must be wearing thin in Toronto. Pair that with another season in which a star player will most likely miss a portion of the season due to contract disputes it’s hard to imagine this season going much better. The addition of Tyson Barrie is great. He will be a serious tool to that team that they have been missing. Cody Ceci adds depth. Up front it will be the same guys trying to pull the cart. The loss of Patrick Marleau will loom over the young brued, but if John Tavares emerges as the leader he was on Long Island they should be able to right the ship. The two major things to watch this season will be the Mitch Marner situation and Austin Matthews ice time. If they can get Marner under contract before the season starts, that’s a huge problem taken care of. The next key will be spreading ice time evenly between the steady handed John Tavares and the dynamic Austin Matthews. The situation is very similar to what Pittsburgh deals with every year. Hopefully Mike Babcock has a plan. Because if Matthews is under utilized again this year the Leafs are doomed to a short postseason.
This team has more things to be excited about than anyone would expect. A very young talented roster of forwards. A healthy Carey Price and Shea Weber. Endless possibilities this season. Last year they elected to hold on to their assets and draft picks instead of pushing for a playoff spot. They turned around and made a killing in the draft. It may take a year or two for all their picks to pay off but they have a bright future ahead of them.
Well they got their man Bobrovsky is booked till the turn of the century. Will this make all the difference in Florida? No, but adding a guy like Anton Stralman and a couple other little pieces will. Look Bob will win you ten more games a season if he is healthy. Adding depth pieces allows you to moderate the ice time of your top six. This team is built to make a playoff run. I think they sneak in. The East is tough this year, you have to finnish in the top three of your division to be guaranteed a spot. Florida won’t do that, but they will be in the mix for a wildcard spot late into the season.
Where do we begin. The best team October has ever seen. Then the worst team in the league after that. The off season moves did not inspire a lot of change. I understand the new coach Ralph Krueger is a breath of fresh air. I understand he has a good working relationship with Jack Eichel. How far will that take this team? Much like the Vancouver Canucks this team is in limbo. They aren’t bad, but they also aren’t very good. They have some young studs, but the rest of the roster is filled with spot holders. Maybe the Sabers would consider taking a look a the LA Kings rosters? A guy like Jeff Carter could find a nice home on Buffalo’s second line.
Detroit Red Wings
We are talking about a lot of teams in limbo so far in these previews. The Detroit Redwings are not one of them. The man responsible for building the juggernaut known as the Tampa Bay Lightning is at the helm. Steve Yzerman is attempting to do what only Mario Lemieux has done. Win cups as a player for a franchise then return in management to lead them to a more successful run then when they played. Lucky Ken Holland has left him with a great young group to start off with. Dylan Larkin will emerge as the most underrated player in the league sooner than later. You can imagine that the young guys will get a lot of ice time moving forward as Stevie Y begins to make moves to perfect this roster. One place he will need to find an upgrade soon is in net. Jimmy Howard has pledged to stay a Wing for life. Which takes care of right now, but Jimmy will be ready to retire when this team is in its prime. I would suggest finding a young stud to grow with this team. Much like Marc Andre Fleury and the Penguins. May I suggest making a trade with Florida for Spencer Knight.
The Ottoawa Senators
You know everyone has taken their turns shitting on Ottawa. Rightfully so, they team has been a hot mess the past two seasons. But I’m not going to. I think the Sens are starting to turn the ship around. Brady Tkachuck, Colin White, Connor Brown, Thomas Chabot, and Dylan Demelo provide a nice core to move forward with. They have some pieces to trade away for more picks. I like what their future holds. They will be god awful this season, but I think that time will be short lived. I see them contending for a playoff spot in the next few years.
This division is going to be weird to play out, but I will give it my best shot here.
I think Tampa is a juggernaut again. I think Toronto maybe gets by Boston this year. Possibly because they won’t play them in the first round if Florida takes the step forward they want too. Ottawa and Buffalo continue to struggle while Detroit and Montreal will shock some teams this year. Especially Montreal. If they sneak into the playoffs they could easily do what Colorado did last year.