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Can Senators pass Bruins? Will Gaudreau outscore Huberdeau?

September 27, 2022, 9:29 PM ET [1 Comments]
Kevin Allen
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Five questions we are asking with the start of the NHL season just around the corner:

1. Could the Ottawa Senators make the playoffs for first time since 2017?

Yes. It's possible, maybe not likely, but not out of the question. GM Pierre Dorion did a masterful job upgrading this roster. Alex DeBrincat. Claude Giroux. Cam Talbot. The Senators boast a formidable Top 6 forward group and a dependable goaltender. Their younger players -- Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stutzle, Josh Norris, etc -- could take another step this season. The only question is whether their defense is strong enough. Rookie Jake Sanderson is probably the X Factor. He is going to be impact performer, but will it be there this season? The Senators also need some help, like the Boston Bruins being undermined by injuries,

2. Which of last season's playoff teams is vulnerable in the Eastern Conference?

Boston Bruins. Honorable mention: Washington Capitals. The Bruins will start the season without Brad Marchand, Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy. Those are important players. None of them will be back until at least November. The Atlantic Division will be more challenging this season. The Ottawa Senators, Detroit Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres are all improved. If the injuries cause a poor start for the Bruins, they could have difficulty matching last season's success. But in fairness to the Bruins, they have a tradition of playing solidly in the face of injuries. They have only missed the playoffs twice since 2008.

3. Where does Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane end up this season?

He didn't sound like he wanted to leave the Blackhawks in a recent interview. But can't imagine this rebuilding team wants to pay him his true value. He is still an elite level player. My prediction is the Blackhawks will work out a trade with the New York Rangers. Kane has a good history with Artemi Panarin. The New York Rangers are poised for a long playoff run. Plus, they have the assets, including a surplus of young talent, to make this deal happen. But don't rule out the Colorado Avalanche. Also keep in mind that Kane controls his destiny. He owns a no-trade clause.

4. Which one of these goalies will have the most impact with their new team: Darcy Kuemper (Washington), Jack Campbell (Edmonton Oilers), Alexandar Georgiev (Colorado) or Matt Murray (Toronto Maple Leafs) or Cam Talbot (Ottawa Senators)?

Going with Campbell, but I considered Talbot. My hunch is Campbell will play this season with a chip on his shoulder. He wants to show the Maple Leafs organization it made a mistake when it didn't make a strong effort to keep him. Liked this move by the Oilers. Campbell can handle the pressure. He's already been in the Toronto pressure cooker. He can handle the Oilers' pressure.

5. Who produces more points this season -- Johnny Gaudreau in Columbus or Jonathan Huberdeau in Calgary?

Gaudreau. They are comparable players. You are splitting hairs when you attempt to decide which is better. Give Gaudreau the edge because he led the NHL with 90 even-strength points last season and is likely to play on a line this season with Patrik Laine. Remember how impressive Laine was in the second half of last season? The Blue Jackets will be a much improved team this season.
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