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Annoucements Are Here

October 13, 2021, 12:32 AM ET [4 Comments]
Zak MacMillan
Columbus Blue Jackets Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Opening Night is here hockey world, and this could not be a more entertaining season that is ahead for all fans. The expansion of Seattle; the All-Star Game; the Winter Olympics; outdoor games; and changes to every team is still happening. Starting with channel and blog announcements...

1. As this is the first full season where all will see my content, I am stretching it out with debuting a Columbus twitter page for all to follow
2. There will also be vlogs and collaborations coming through YouTube, Instagram Live, and potentially Twitch.
3. First video will cover mostly everything upcoming plus previewing game on against the Arizona Coyotes. Will be looking to stretch first video to share and present all things Columbus plus all NHL in first swing

Now onto Columbus news:

BREAKING - Columbus has named center Boone Jenner as the seventh captain in franchise history. Zach Werenski; Oliver Bjorkstrand; and Gustav Nyqvist will be the alternate captains.The final cuts to the roster were defensemen Mikko Lethonen and Gabriel Carlsson, and Max Domi will be playing on opening night for Columbus.

Waiver Wire

Lethonen has been placed on unconditional waivers for the purpose of contract termination; he is headed back to the KHL where he was held as the league's top defender in the 2018-2019 season.

Roster Announcement

The opening night roster for Columbus includes the following 23 man roster via the Hockey Writers:

Forwards:
Patrik Laine
Jakub Voracek
Alexandre Texier
Gustav Nyqvist (A)
Jack Roslovic
Emil Bemstrom
Boone Jenner (C)
Cole Sillinger
Yegor Chinakov
Max Domi
Eric Robinson
Sean Kuraly
Gregory Hoffman
Oliver Bjorkstrand (A)

Defenders:
Zach Werenski (A)
Vladislav Gavrikov
Jake Bean
Adam Boqvist
Scott Harrington
Dean Kukan
Andrew Peeke

Goaltenders
Jonas Korpisalo
Elvis Merzlikins

Injured
Nathan Gerbe
Trey Fix-Wolansky


Final Reaction to the Roster

What a surprise boost to the roster with three players on this roster. Cole Sillinger, Yegor Chinakov, and Max Domi. I was not expecting them to make the team due to development and injury. Domi was expected to return in December, and he is back in October. Sillinger will last just the nine games before burning the entry-level contact, he needs more time to develop in junior and play in the world junior championship. Chinakov is motivated, and burned a year of his contract to compete with the roster now. Gabriel Carlsson getting beat out once again is a concern on his development, as the other teammates and defenders added seem to be holding him back. They could also be giving minutes to Harrington and Kukan to move at the trade deadline.The roster in Columbus has a lot of bright spots with so many question marks, including the coaching staff; the new veterans and depth; the kids on the roster; and the returning struggles of the past season. With the mold of the team, I have this team finishing last in the Metropolitan, in what is the toughest and most physical division in hockey. Comparing what I said in August:


8 — Columbus Blue Jackets

Generation Z is here. The Blue Jackets brass has been given the opportunity of a rebirth, with defender Zach Werenski being given the keys to the franchise. Werenski is now the center piece, and who the team will be built around. The goaltending is rock solid between Jonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins, but the defense has gotten younger; and the offense has dried up. Head coach Brad Larsen was promoted from assistant after the departure of John Tortorella, and he is being given the time and staff to move the team into the right direction.Adam Boqvist and Jake Bean are speedy adds on the defense, with lots of potential to improve. Boqvist was the present-day piece acquired from Chicago in the Seth Jones trade, while prospect Cole Sillinger will come later. Bean was added as a result of the second round pick also moved in the Carolina trade. Seth Jones announced he was not extending with Columbus, they decided to move on him this time, and to get the club the best value possible.

Additions — Jakub Voracek, Adam Boqvist, Jake Bean, Sean Kuraly, Zac Rinaldo

Subtractions— Seth Jones, Cam Atkinson, Michael Del Zotto, Adam Clendenning, Stefan Matteau, Zac Dalpe, Mattais Kivelikins

Projected Lineups

Voracek—Roslovic—Laine

Nyqvist—Jenner—Bjorkstrand
Texier—Kuraly—Stenlund
Robinson—Bemstrom—Rinaldo

Werenski—Boqvist
Gavrikov—Bean
Carlsson—Kukan

Korpisalo
Merzlikins

Injured: Max Domi (surgery)


Now, they have Max Domi in, and Zac Rinaldo has basically been vanished from the roster after the disagreements about the COVID-19 vaccine. This roster has upside, but this year it is a build year. The Jackets will be collecting picks come the trade deadline as they have the pieces to sell, but have the pieces to stay.


Per Cap Friendly, the Blue Jackets have the following draft picks in the 2022 Draft:

Round One: Own; Conditional One from Chicago
Round Two: Own
Round Three: From Tampa Bay
Round Four: Own; From Toronto
Round Six: From Toronto
Round Seven: From Anahiem


Additionally, the following players have one season remaining on their contract:

F Max Domi
F Gregory Hoffman
F Nathan Gerbe
F Brendan Gaunce
F Zac Rinaldo
F Justin Danforth
D Dean Kukan
D Scott Harrington
G Jonas Korpisalo
G Jean-Francois Berube
G Cam Johnson

Fodder for the deadline that could be worth the most would be Korpisalo and Kukan as they are on lower term contracts with yeas of experience. Thoughts on the full Columbus breakdown?

With that, let's move into the full breakdown...

Metro8-- Columbus

7-- New York Rangers

The changes are here, and early in the opening night final predictions. The Rangers are also shopping Vitali Kravtsov, and letting his agent talk to teams. The kids and skill is great, but the toughness they added will cost them opportunities and games. Panarin is their franchise, and he will continue to provide up front.

The grit is nice on the Rangers, but adding it due to Tom Wilson and the Washington Capitals is a foul reason to readjust a team direction and lose elite level prospects. From August, this team has dropped in my final prediction:


6 — New York Rangers

One player can describe the changes that have destroyed the Rangers — Tom Wilson. The Capitals winger changed the Rangers mentality during this rebuild to make this team tougher, stronger; and more questionable than ever before. This squad has all the talent and potential between Artemi Panarin, Alexis Lafereniere, Kappo Kakko on offense; the defending Norris Trophy winner, Adam Fox; and franchise goalie Igor Sherstenkin. The grit came after the onslaught from Washington, and if the tough guys take away the kids’ ice time, they may struggle into the postseason, or string wins at all. The process was going right for new president and general manager Chris Drury under old leadership in Jeff Groton and John Davidson, but Hall of Famer Glen Slather is back in the fold, and the heat is now on the Blueshrits.

Additions— Ryan Reaves, Jared Tinordi, Greg McKegg, Barclay Goodrow, Samuel Blias

Subtractions— Colin Blackwell, Pavel Buchnevich

Potential Starting Lineups

Panarin—Zibanejad—Kratsov
Lafereniere—Cythil—Kakko
Kreider—Strome—Gauthier
Goodrow—Blias—Reaves

Miller—Trouba
Hajek—Fox
Lindgren—Nemeth

Sherstenkin
Georgiev


6 -- New Jersey Devils

The Devils are on the outside looking in, with the additions of Thomas Tatar, Jonathan Bernier, Dougie Hamilton, and Ryan Graves. There is strength, speed, and goal-tending when Blackwood is out due to being unvaccinated. The Devils are too young up on the front end of the ice, but that is okay as the team continues to develop. From August, they also dropped:


5 — New Jersey Devils

The Devils are rising with the additions of Dougie Hamilton and Thomas Tatar, two of the biggest fish in the opening market this summer. Adding Jonathan Bernier after the sudden and unexpected retirement of Corey Crawford put a dent in the Devils’ hopes for Mackenzie Blackwood, but the future is the brightest it has been in Newark since the winning days of tricky Lou Lamerillo. Luke Hughes getting drafted has brother Jack hyped for this direction, and as this fan base should be too. The Devils have them and Nico Hischer to build this team around and contend with going forward. Lindy Ruff is a decorated coach from his Buffalo days, and is getting similar pieces to that in New Jersey.

Additions — Dougie Hamilton, Thomas Tatar, Jonathan Bernier, Ryan Graves, Christian Jaros

Subtractions — Nathan Batsian, Ryan Murray, Will Butcher, Connor Carrick, Nick Merkley

Potential Starting Lineup

Tatar—Hischer—Bratt
Johnsson—Hughes—Wood
Kuokkanen—Zacha—McLeod
Boqvist—Sharangovich—Thompson

Graves—Hamilton
Smith—Subban
Sigenthaler —Severson

Blackwood
Bernier


5 -- Carolina Hurricanes

One player has changed their ranking for me, and that was the addition of forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi, the former third overall draft selection of the Montreal Canadiens. Carolina and ownership went out of their way to offer sheet this young player at the cost of a first and third round pick, but now joins a elite Finnish core of his fellow countrymen in Raleigh.

From August, they have gone up in my rankings:

7 — Carolina Hurricanes

The changes are blooming in Raleigh. The coaching has been extended, and veteran stability has been added to the Carolina squad. The defense has gotten weaker, but younger and more suspect. The offense is relatively strong and can push this team to contender-ship. The holes are my question marks, but this team could win, but also struggle is situations are not resolved.

Additions — Anthony DeAngelo, Ethan Bear, Frederick Andersen, Antti Raanta

Subtractions — Jake Bean, Morgan Geekie, Warren Foegle, Alex Nedjelkovic, James Reimer, Peter Mrazek, Jonathan Bernier, Brock McGinn

Potential Starting Lineups

Terrivanen—Aho—Svechinkov
Niederitter—Staal—Throchek
Lorentz—Necas—Levio
Martinook—Stepan—Fast

Slavin —Pesce
Gardiner—Bear
Skeji—DeAngelo

Andersen
Raanta


4-- WC -- Washington Capitals

This team has not changed as they demote Michael Kempny to Hershey, but push the kids I have seen in Hershey with Martin Feheravy, Connor McMichael, and Hendrix Lapierre. Bringing back Vitek Vanecek for Ilya Samsonov will be a lethal young goalie tandem in Washington as Alex Ovechkin looks to add to a milestone career.From August, this team has not changed in their positioning.


4 — Washington Capitals

The stagnant Capitals are watching everyone get better while they bully the league with Tom Wilson and Alex Ovechkin and Nicolas Backstrom leading this team. Being in Hershey and seeing the Capitals’ development system, I do not question Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vancek like most of the league does as they are studs. Connor McMichael, Lucas Johansen, and Alexander Alexeyev are highly touted, and for all the right reasons. My question in Washington lies with veterans, and why keep the higher paid lower six group together still. The kids in Hershey compete year in and year out, and can make the team better now than keeping some of the guys on the roster. Additionally, betting against Ovechkin is not smart to do, but the playoffs are extremely doubtful this year with the age of this team, and why they’re becoming this season’s San Jose Sharks, and will indeed miss the postseason.

Additions — Vitek Vancek, Matt Irwin, Dylan McIlrath,

Subtractions — Henrik Lundqvist, Zdeno Chara, Brendan Dillon, Daniel Carr, Craig Anderson, Michael Raffl

Potential Starting Lineups

Ovechkin—Kuznetsov—Wilson
Mantha—Backstrom—Oshie
Sheary—Eller—Sprong
Hagelin—McMichael—Hathaway

Kempny—Carlson
Orlov —Schultz
van Reimsdyk —Jensen

Samsonov
Vanecek


3 -- New York Islanders

The Queens Islanders have continued to add to the team since August, including defensemen Paul LaDue and Zdeno Chara, winger Zach Parise, and center Andy Anderoff. The Islanders extended most of the roster last minute between Ilya Sorokin, Anthony Beauviller, Adam Pelech, Casey Cizkas, and Kyle Palmieri. Since August, this team has not changed their position either.


3 — New York Islanders

Regular season success does not lead to postseason success, and Lou Lamerillo knows that best. The Islanders have battled the Lightning in the last two Cup semifinal matchups, with lower regular season positioning. Chemistry and defense are this team’s biggest strengths, and they continue to be. Only question in Belmont is if they can score with the losses and veterans on the roster. Since things are so quiet, I’m assuming some additions into this list and the lineup. Hence why it’s an early too early list.

Additions — Zach Parise, Richard Panik

Subtractions— Jordan Eberle, Nick Leddy, Andrew Ladd,

Projected Potential Lineups

Lee—Barzal—Parise
Beauvillier—Nelson—Bailey
Komarov—Pageau—Zajac
Martin—Cizkas—Clutterbuck

Pelech—Dobson
Couburn—Pullock
Greene—Mayfield

Varlamov
Sorokin

Injured— Johnny Boychuk



2 -- Pittsburgh Penguins

A slow start will bring them into contention with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Gunetzel, and Zach Aston-Reese all being injured; however, Pittsburgh added veteran center Brian Boyle to the team after a strong preseason for the former LA King prospect. From August, this team has not changed as well:


2 — Pittsburgh Penguins

Sidney Crosby and his pals are still running this team to nowhere in terms of cup desires with lackluster goaltending, but freeing up cap space for more grit may help keep them afloat. Geno and Kris Letang are due soon along with recently added Jeff Carter, so it may signal one last hope into the locker room. Tristian Jarry needs to become Marc-Andre Fleury, before he is replaced by the actual Fleury in the Steel City. DeSmith is a dependable backup, but cannot be the starter for 50+ games. Maybe Burke convinces Hextall into a Bobby Ryan signing to help this team too?

Additions— Brock McGinn, Dominik Simon, Danton Heinen, Michael Chaput, Taylor Fedun, Fillip Hallander

Subtractions— Jared McCann, Brandon Tanev, Zach Trotman, Mark Jankowski, Frederick Gaudreau, Yannick Weber, Colton Sceviour, Pontus Aberg, Maxime Lagace, Andrey Pedan, Cody Ceci, Kevin Cuzuzman

Potential Starting Lineups

Gunetzel—Crosby—Rust
Zucker—Malkin—Simon
McGinn—Carter—Kapanen
Heinen—Bleuger—Aston-Reese

Dumoulin —Letang
Petterson—Marino
Matheson—Ruhewedel

Jarry
DeSmith



1-- Philadelphia Flyers

This team has only added F Patrick Brown off waivers from Vegas since August, but that adds to the long list of adds from their strongest summer to date under Chuck Fletcher. From August, this team remains on top:


1 — Philadelphia Flyers

The 2013 Minnesota Wild are now the 2021 Philadelphia Flyers. The veteran faces added at the cost of Ron Hextall’s patient development. And this year we have the next Metropolitan Divison champions, with an early playoff exit. Fletcher played every move in his card possible to make this squad the best on paper is possibly be. Jakub Voracek and Shayne Ghostisbehere off the books. Prospects in Nolan Patrick, Phillipe Myers, and Carson Twarynaski gone. Brian Elliott gone, with all the pressure on Carter Hart in the crease. First round picks sacrificed. Veteran leaders and alternative captains brought in. And all on rental contracts or on lesser terms. This is a now year for Philly. The question is, can Alain Vinegault do it, and bring it out of the Flyers players.

Additions — Keith Yandle, Cam Atkinson, Ryan Ellis, Martin Jones, Nick Seeler, Rasmus Ristalonen, Nate Thompson, Adam Clendenning

Subtractions— Jakub Voracek, Robert Hagg, Phillipe Myers, Nolan Patrick, Brian Elliott, Carsen Twarynaski, Alex Lyon, Andy Anderoff, Nate Prosser, Derrick Pouliot, Tyler Wotherspoon

Potential Starting Lineup

Giroux—Couturier—Atkinson
Farabee—Hayes—Kocnecy
Lindblom —Laughton—van Reimsdyk
Thompson—Frost—Aube-Kubel

Provorov—Ellis
Sanhiem—Ristalonen
Yandle—Braun

Hart
Jones


Atlantic

8-- Buffalo Sabres

Dustin Tokarski made the team over their add in Aaron Dell, and Jack Eichel failed his physical. This team is the worst team in hockey. In my lifetime. From August, this has not changed.

8 — Buffalo Sabers

The 32nd ranked team this season. The rebuild of the rebuild has hit full scorched earth in Western New York after failed attempts to acquire talent, when there is lack of structure in coaching and management. Don Granato is the best piece on the Sabers team. Jack Eichel wants out, and yes while he is still on the roster, he needs surgery. Casey Mittlestadt, Dylan Cozens, and Rasmus Dahlin are are hurting their own growth in Buffalo, and Owen Power is dodging them to go back to Michigan.

Additions— Vinnie Hinistroza, Mark Pysyk, Robert Hagg, Craig Anderson, Aaron Dell, Ryan MacInnis, Ethan Prow, Sean Malone, Will Butcher, Devon Levi, Jimmy Schuldt

Subtractions— Rasmus Ristalonen, Sam Reinhart, Linus Ullmark, Jake McCabe, Tobias Reider, Riley Sheahan, Dawson DiPietro, Casey Nelson, Carter Hutton, Michael Houser, Will Borgen, Sean Fogarty, CJ Smith, Jean-Sebastian Dea, Stefanos Lekkas,

Potential Starting Lineup

Olofsson—Mittlestadt—Cozens
Bjork—Thompson—Hinistroza
Eakin—Hayden—Caggiula
Skinner—Girgensons—Okposo

Dahlin—Jokiharju
Butcher—Miller
Hagg—Pysyk

Dell
Anderson

Injured — Jack Eichel (neck)



7 -- Detroit Red Wings

The injury to Jakub Vrana, the unvaccinated Tyler Bertuzzi, and the unsigned Bobby Ryan drop this team down in my rankings due to a weaker offense in MoTown.

6 — Detroit Red Wings

The wizardry of Steve Yzerman continues to blossom around the MoTown’s hockey team. Adding talent for bargains on the trade block and acquiring youthful talent to grow into the rebuild will help keep structure within the core, as well as having the winning players they do. Nicky Leddy won with Chicago; Mitchell Stephens, Luke Witkowski, and Brian Lashoff all just won with Tampa Bay; and Jakub Vrana won with Washington. The goaltending reset is a huge win for Detroit, both in the trade of Alex Nedeljkovic and the draft selection of Sebastian Cosa.

Additions — Nick Leddy, Pius Suter, Alex Nedljkovic, Mitchell Stephens, Jordan Osterle, Luke Witkowski, Brian Lashoff,

Subtractions— Dennis Cholowski, Valterri Flippula, Christian Djoos, Richard Panik, Jonathan Bernier, Bobby Ryan, Darren Helm, Luke Glendenning

Projected Potential Lineup

Bertuzzi—Larkin—Vrana
Suter—Fabbri—Zadina
Erne—Veleno—Raymond
Rasmussen—Stephens—Smith

Leddy—Hronek

DeKeyser—Staal
Osterle—Seider

Nedjelkovic
Greiss

6 -- Ottawa Senators

Tyler Ennis returns to Ottawa after a season in Edmonton, and Filip Gustavsson will get ice time over Matt Murray; however, Matthew Tkachuk being out will hurt the Senators. Also, moving Logan Brown and a pick for Zach Sanford is a questionable move in Canada's capitol. Since August, this team has moved up a spot.


7 — Ottawa Senators
This year they are redoing the mistakes of last year, by moving on from all their 2020 additions and making prominent prospects available by trade. The kids still have growth to do, and if it all clicks at once, this team can push into the playoffs. Only question is Matt Murray and if he can find his winning form again, or if it was a facade in Pittsburgh. Tim Stuzle and Brady Tkachuk are their superstars up front and with Thomas Chabot on the back, they have a formidable young core to win soon.

Additions — Michael Del Zotto, Nick Holden, Pontus Aberg, Dillon Heatherington, Kole Sherwood, Scott Sabourin, Andrew Agozzino,

Subtractions— Vitaly Abramov, Marcus Hogberg, Artem Anisimov, Joey D’Accord, Mikael Wikstrand, Matthew Peca, Mike Amadio, Jack Kopacka, Jean-Christophe Beaudin, Derek Stepan, Evgeni Dadanov, Brandon Fortunato, Cody Goloubef, Zach Magwood, Jonathan Davidsson, Michael Haley, Ryan Dzingel

Potential Starting Lineup

Tkachuk—Stuzle—Batherson
Brown—Tierney—White
Formetton—Norris—Pinto
Aberg—Paul—Sabourin

Chabot—Zub
Del Zotto—Zatisev
Mete—J. Brown

Murray
Gustavsson


5 -- Montreal Canadiens

After losing Kotkaniemi for draft picks to Carolina, they added questionable center depth in Christian Dvorak and Adam Brooks. With Carey Price getting the help he deserves, they also added goalie Samuel Montembeault from Florida. The Canadiens are also without Shea Weber and Mike Hoffman due to injuries. After thinking they were a fringe team, do not expect a playoff run in 2022. Sure, Suzuki is a great contract extension, it will be in his prime when this team will be great. Since August, this team has now gone from a playoff team to not one.


5 — Montreal Canadiens

The run to the Stanley Cup was the high of the Marc Bergrvin era in Montreal, but the health of the elite will destroy any chance of a playoff birth in Quebec. Carey Price and Shea Weber have major health injuries, and the youth is still developing in Montreal. The timing in the team is off. David Savard is a big get after winning the cup, but the team all around has gotten weaker.

Additions— David Savard, Mike Hoffman, Cedric Paquette, Matthieu Perrault

Subtractions — Cale Fleury, Thomas Tatar, Corey Perry, Eric Staal, John Merrill, Erik Gustaffson

Potential Starting Lineup

Kotkniemi—Suzuki—Caufield
Hoffman—Drouin—Gallagher
Lehkonnen—Perrault—Armia
Phoeling—Paquette—Evans

Chariot—Petry
Kulak—Savard
Romanov—Edmunsson

Price
Allen

Injured- Shea Weber


4 -- WC -- Boston Bruins

Adding Aaron Ness will help Providence, but the team still has no Tukka Rask signed or David Krejci in North America. The Bruins also demoted defender John Moore.


4 — Boston Bruins

The tea has been spilt in the Northeast. The winning ways in Boston are dying by the exodus of star power leaving the area. Zdeno Chara and Torrey Krug in 2020. David Krejci and Tukka Rask in 2021. The more familiar faces go, the weaker this team is getting on the ice and on paper. Patrice Bergeron cannot be the sole carrier of this team on both ends. Sure the supplemental pieces were nice adds, but they got rid of their 2021 secondary pieces too.

Additions — Thomas Nosek, Derek Forbort, Nick Foligno, Erik Haula, Linus Ullmark, Troy Grosnick

Subtractions— David Krejci, Nick Ritchie, Ondrej Kase, Kevan Miller, Jeremy Lauzon, Sean Kuraly, Tukka Rask

Potential Starting Lineup

Marchand—Bergeron—Pasternak
Hall—Haula—Smith
Foligno—Coyle—DeBrusk
Nosek—Frederic—Lazar

Grezlyk—McAvoy
Forbort—Carlo
Reilly—Zboril

Ullmark
Swayman

Injured — John Moore


3 -- Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs lose Brooks, but add minor league depth in Josh Ho-Sang, who could get a chance to sign with Toronto. Michael Bunting also dominated the preseason after leaving Arizona.


3 — Toronto Maple Leafs

Overachieving in the regular season and failing In the postseason has been their success the last few years in the hockey Mecca, but the babyfat is still coming off this Leafs team. The kids are still learning, and blowing the core is too reactionary by any hockey fan’s take for Toronto. The core is still getting better in Toronto, but they may lose their top defender after this season in Morgan Reilly. The only concern in this city is their goaltending, which i heavily question. No more Freddie or big save Dave, but there still is no clear answer to their direction. Is Peter Mrazek and Jack Campbell a tandem, or a starter and backup, because I don’t believe in either to lift the cup in Toronto.

Additions — Peter Mrazek, Ondrej Kase, Nick Ritchie, David Kampf, Joshua Ho-Sang

Subtractions — Joe Thornton, Jared McCann, Zach Bogosian, David Rittich, Frederick Andersen, Zach Hyman, Fillip Hallander, Scott Sabourin

Potential Starting Lineup

Ritchie—Matthews—Marner
Kerfoot—Tavares—Nylander
Mikayev—Kampf—Kase
Engvall—Spezza—Simmonds

Reilly—Brodie
Muzzin—Holl
Dermott—Sandin

Campbell
Mrazek


2 -- Tampa Bay Lightning

This team will win their third cup in a row. Has not changed.
Losing Alex Barre-Boullet stings.
From August:


2 — Tampa Bay Lightning

The three peat will happen. The Lightning got even grittier and dirtier with the moves they made, but are now depending more on their stars to carry them to this next cup.

Additions — Corey Perry, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Brian Elliott, Zach Bogosian, Brent Seabrook

Subtractions — Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow, Mitchell Stephens, Tyler Johnson, Yanni Gourde, Curtis McElhinney, Luke Schenn, Luke Witkowski, Brian Lashoff,

Potential Starting Lineup

Palat—Stamkos—Kucherov
Killorn—Point—Joseph
Katichouk—Cirelli—Raddysh
Maroon—Bellemare—Perry

Hedman—Rutta
McDonagh—Bogosian
Sergachev—Foote

Vaslievsky
Elliott


1 -- Florida Panthers

Adding Oli Juolevi will help strengthen their defensive depth, but losing Sam Montembeault, Noah Juulsen, and Juho Lammikko during preseason changes the Cats' depth. From August:


1 — Florida Panthers

In Zito we trust. In Zito Florida trusts. The diamonds in the rough was his biggest adds in 2020, and he is hoping for the same result in 2021, but with extensions and new flavor. Spencer Knight is now the number one goalie, but will Sergei Bobrovsky be walked on by the kid? Also, Sam Reinhart is a big fish to get in any trade, and giving up a lot of future may be risqué.

Additions — Joe Thornton, Sam Reinhart, Christopher Gibson, Zac Dalpe

Subtractions— Chris Dreidger, Anton Stralman,

Potential Starting Lineups

Huberdeau—Barkov—Vergahae
Duclair—Reinhart—Hornqvist
Vatrano—Bennett—Tippett
Marchment—Thornton—Accari

Weager—Ekblad
Nutivarra—Montour
Forsling—Gudas

Knight
Bobrovsky



Central

8 -- Arizona Coyotes

The worst team in the West has not changed since August. Adding Travis Boyd and Alex Galchenyuk is nice depth, but expect them to move with Phil Kessel at the trade deadline. From August:


8 — Arizona Coyotes

The worst team in the Western Conference, and the team that made all the best moves possible this offseason. We all know what the dessert is doing. It was not going to last with the current ownership who is not willing to spend money, but add team with the most cap hit possible, and shop their stars. The team is tanking, and is fighting for Shane Wright. The franchise may not last in Phoenix or Glendale, but they may go to a new city soon. After the cheating scandal and draft pick penalties, the Coyotes are hitting a full reset.

Additions — Shayne Ghostisbehere, Andrew Ladd, Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle, Loui Erikkson, Dmitrij Jaskin, Josef Kosenar, Carter Hutton, Liam O’Brien, Connor Timmins, Anton Stralman, Ryan Dzingel, Travis Boyd

Subtractions — Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Connor Garland, Darcy Kuemper, Niklas Hjarlmasson, Alex Gologski, Jordan Osterle, Jason Demers, Michael Chaput

Potential Starting Lineup

Keller—Schmaltz—Kessel
Dzingel—Dvorak—Hayton
Roussel—Beagle—Jaskin
Crouse—Boys—Fischer

Chychrun—Lybushkin
Ghostisbehere—Timmins
Caboicaino—Stralman

Hutton
Koesnar


7 -- St Louis Blues

This team is sinking with the strict management, but adding Logan Brown and James Neal is nice offensive size and depth. From August:


7 — St. Louis Blues

The Blues have been in a downhill spiral since the Stanley Cup win. There seems to be lots of dysfunction in Missouri, and it doesn’t make sense why. The superstars that were there are leaving for more money after bringing their only Cup to the team. Alex Piterangelo, the captain that hoisted the cup, chose Vegas; Vladimir Tarasenko has asked out of St. Louis; Jaden Schwartz chose Seattle as he next chapter; Vince Dunn asked out in 2020, and was claimed by Seattle. Justin Faulk has continued to be in rumor talk in the Lou. Maybe a full rebuild is time, and why not when there is Canadian and Russian superstars arriving in the upcoming drafts.

Additions — Brandon Saad, Pavel Buchnevich, Matthew Peca, Calle Rosen, Tommy Cross, Charlie Lindgren

Subtractions — Jaden Schwartz, Samuel Blias, Mike Hoffman, Jacob De La Rose, Jon Gilles, Tyler Bozak, Alexander Steen, Carl Gunnarson,

Potential Starting Lineups

Buchnevich—O’Reilly—Tarasenko
Saad—Schenn—Kyrou
Sanford—Sundqvist—Perron
Clifford—Barbashev—Thomas

Krug—Faulk
Scandella—Parayko
Mikkola—Walman

Binnington
Husso


6 - - Nashville Predators

No changes is nice.

From August


6 — Nashville Predators

The team that is probably trending the most downwards in the entire NHL, and it is not even close. The goaltending has the most questions in the league with Jusse Saros as their undisputed number one starting goaltending. The heavy contracts in Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen are still hurting their team. David Poile seems to be recognizing the team is needing wholesale changes, and the efforts are only just beginning.

Additions — Cody Glass, Phillipe Myers, David Rittich, Matt LuffSubtractions — Pekka Rinne, Ryan Ellis, Erik Gubdransson, Erik Haula, Luca Sbisa, Calle Jarnkrok

Potential Starting Lineup

Forsberg—Johansen—Tolvanen
Granlund—Duchene—Kunin
Grimaldi—Cousins—Sissons
Treinen—Glass—Luff

Josi—Fabbro
Ekholm—Myers
Borowiecki—Benning

Saros
Rittich


5 -- WC -- Dallas Stars

Losing Sami Vatanen will not help their defense, but this team will make the playoffs regardless. From August:


5 — Dallas Stars

The reset has gone underway in the Lone Star State, and Jim Nill is the star of this team. His crafty management has changed the goaltending of this team, while losing overpaid big money players in years past to get this team back into contendership. Biggest worry is the durability of all the veteran talent in Dallas. Joe Pavelski is a playoff performer. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are in their early 30s. Ryan Suter is here. And Miro Heskinanen has become the franchise in Texas.

Additions — Brayden Holtby, Ryan Suter, Luke Glendenning, Michael Raffl, Jani Hakanppa

Subtractions — Jason Dickinson, Andrew Cogalino, Jamie Oleskiak

Potential Starting Lineup

Benn—Seguin—Radulov
Gurainov—Hintz—Pavelski
Robertson—Faksa—Glendenning
Kiviranta—Comeau—Raffl

Heskinanen—Suter
Lindell—Klingberg
Sekera—Hakanppa

Holtby
Khudobin

Injured— Ben Bishop


4 -- WC -- Minnesota Wild

Extending Kirill Kaprizov is a big move in the State of Hockey, but their time to win is short and now. From August


4 — Minnesota Wild

The culture shock is still ongoing in the Wild. Bill Guerin is bringing the right changes in Minnesota, and wrongly wasn’t voted in GM of the Year. The moves made in Minnesota may be as controversial as they get, but this team is continuing the trend positively. The only big question right now is the future of Calder winner Kirill Kaprizov.

Additions — Dimitry Kulikov, Jon Merrill, Alex Gologski,

Subtractions — Ryan Suter, Carson Soucy, Zach Parise

Potential Starting Lineup

Kaprizov—Eriksson Ek—Zuccarello
Fiala—Bjugstad—Greenway
Gaudreau—Sturm—Hartman
Foligno—Rask—Rau

Brodin—Dumba
Gologski—Spurgeon
Kulikov—Merrill

Talbot
Kahkonnen


3 -- Winnipeg Jets

This team looks to be a strong force in the Central. From August:


3 — Winnipeg Jets

After shocking Canada in the postseason, this team is continuing their upward trend. The defense has gotten to the best positioning its been in since the dominate right handed side a few years ago. In years past, their right side was Dustin Bufuglien, Tyler Myers, and Jacob Trouba. The Jets new 2021-2022 left defensive trio is Josh Morissey, Brendan Dillon, and Nate Schmidt. And if Schmidt plays the right like he usually does, then it would be Logan Stanley. The goaltending is already a fortress, but they can contend in the West and in the Cup.

Additions — Nate Schmidt, Brendan Dillon, Riley Nash,

Subtractions — Mason Appleton, Laurent Brossoit, Matthew Perrault, Marko Dano, Jordie Benn, Tucker Poolman, Nate Thompson, Derek Forbort,

Potential Starting Lineup

Connor — Schiefle—Wheeler
Dubois—Stastny—Ehlers
Vessalainen—Lowry—Guatafsson
Harkins—Copp—Nash

Morissey—Pionk
Dillon—Schmidt
Stanley—DeMelo

Hellybuck
Comrie


2 -- Chicago Blackhawks

Signing Erik Gustafsson last minute from the Islanders' training camp will make them a stronger team this season, adding to the acquisitions of Kharia, McCabe, Jones and Jones, Johnson, and Fleury. From August:


2 — Chicago Blackhawks

The most improved and added to team in the NHL without a doubt is the magic of Stan Bowman in the year of 2021. The cap magic, draft capitol, and veteran exile has lead to a mass change in ChiTown. Elite defenseman and Veznia caliber goaltending have been added for pieces and nothing in the same breath. They are now in a new window of opportunity to win a cup, and that is before stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane step away from the game.

Additions — Tyler Johnson, Marc-Andre Fleury, Seth Jones, Caleb Jones, Jake McCabe, Jurajhi Kharia

Subtractions— Vinnie Hinistroza, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, John Quenneville, Nikita Zadarov

Potential Starting Lineup

DeBricant—Strome—Kane
Borgstrom—Toews—Nylander
Kharia—Johnson—Connolly

Jones—Jones
De Haan—Murphy
Beaudin—Mitchell

Fleury
Lankianen


1 -- Colorado Avalanche

Nate MacKinnon will miss the start due to being COVID positive, but the depth and add of Jack Johnson will keep them in the top 3 all year in the overall standings.


1 — Colorado Avalanche

The President’s Trophy winners of last year, and the runner ups for this year. The Avs had to make some tough decisions, but rebounded to near perfection. The new number one may be better than the old number one, even though he was the Veznia finalist in 2021; the youth is replacing the veteran depth; and the defense was shaken by the threat of the Kraken. The only question is when they hoist the Stanley Cup.

Additions — Ryan Murray, Darcy Kuemper, Darren Helm, Stefan Matteau, Dylan Sikura, Kurtis MacDermid, Ronald McKeown,

Subtractions— Jonas Donskoi, Ryan Graves, Phillip Grubauer, Matt Calvert, Pierre-Edourd Bellemare, Connor Timmins, Liam O’Brien, Brandon Saad, Carl Soderberg, Devan Dubynk, Adam Werner, Patrick Nemeth, Mike Vecchione, TJ Tynan,

Potential Starting Lineup

Landeskog—MacKinnon—Rantanen
Jost—Kadri—Kaut
Helm—Compher--Matteau

Toews—Makar
Murray—Girard
MacDermid—Johnson

Kuemper
Francouz


Pacific

8 -- San Jose Sharks

This team a weak team in a weak division, and is still an old team for whatever reason.
From August:


The hunters are the hunted. The boat anchor contracts and controversy around this team keeps this team presenting them from contention. The Sharks are close to the cap, but do not have the team or goaltending in the now to get even remotely close to win many games this year. The biggest worry is how many players go the longer they keep their problems.

Additions — Nick Bonino, James Reimer, Adin Hill, Nick Merkley

Subtractions — Alexander True, Ryan Donato, Martin Jones, Josef Kosenar, Marcus Sorensen, Christian Jaros

Potential Starting Lineup

Kane—Couture—Meir
Nieto—Hertl—LaBanc
Cogalino—Bonino—Barbanov
Balcers—Merkley—Gambrell

Vlasic—Karlsson
Ferraro—Burns
Smiek—Meloche

Hill
Reimer


7 -- Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks are young and close, but not close enough. From August:


7 — Anahiem Ducks

The Mighty are rising again, and it is in the youth movement. The young core is being built in Trevor Zegas up front; Jamie Drysdale on the backend; and John Gibson in their prime in between the pipes. The veteran leadership is there between Ryan Getzlaf, Adam Henrique, and Jakob Slifverberg.

Additions — Greg Pateryn, Buddy Robinson, Danny O’Regan,

Subtractions — Haydn Fleury, Ryan Miller, Danton Heinen, David Backes, Carter Rowney,

Potential Starting Lineup

Henrique—Getzlaf—Slifverberg
Comtois—Zegras—Steel
Jones—Lundstrom—Volkov
Milano—Grant—Deslauriers

Fowler—Manson
Lindholm—Shattenkirk
Larsson—Mahura

Gibson
Stolarz


6 -- Vancouver Canucks

Adding Alex Chassion is a good move, but the offense is weaker after losing depth and injured reserve takes out the roster. Petterson signed short term is not good for the Canucks. Losing Juolevi is a major mistake. From August


6 — Vancouver Canucks

The boat anchor swapping has gone on in Vancouver for a bit due to lackluster management decisions during Free Agent Frenzy. They added a franchise defenseman from five years ago, with a superstar winger to get rid of bad contracts and top futures. The question in Vancouver is how the changes help the young core of the roster. Elias Petterson and Quinn Hughes have yet to be sign, but the Canucks rearranged the roster and bought out and eliminated their 2020 transactions.

Additions — Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Connor Garland, Tucker Poolman, Jaroslav Halak, Jason Dickinson

Subtractions— Loui Erikkson, Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, Nate Schmidt, Braden Holtby, Jake Virtanen, Kole Lind, Alexander Edler

Potential Starting Lineup

Miller—Petterson—Boeser
Hoglander—Horvat—Garland
Pearson—Dickinson—Bailey
Motte—Sutter—MacKewen

Hughes—Myers
Ekman-Larsson—Hamonic
Juolevi—Poolman

Demko
Halak


5 -- Calgary Flames

A physical team got dirtier with adding Erik Gubdransson.


5 — Calgary Flames

Identity crisis is in full heat in Western Alberta with this squad. A team looking to add players to their coaching system, while the whole current roster doesn’t fit the mold. Superstars could be moved between now and the trade deadline in Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan , and Matthew Tkachuk. Daryl Sutter is an elite coach, and has won cups, but is he past his prime, and did the former Canucks in Chris Tanev and Jakob Markstrom make the right decision to join them? Additionally, they maybe lost the best player in the expansion draft in captain Mark Giordano to the Seattle Kraken. The former Norris winner will leave a massive hole in Calgary’s playoff hopes.

Additions — Blake Coleman, Kevin Gravel, Trevor Lewis, Nick DiSimmone, Nikita Zadarov, Daniel Vladar, Tyler Pitlick, Adam Werner, Andy Welinski,

Subtractions — Mark Giordano, Alex Petrovic, Derek Ryan, Michael Stone, Spencer Foo, Buddy Robinson, Zac Rinaldo, Josh Levio, Domink Simon, Nikita Nestsrov, Artoym Zagidulin, Jokaim Nordstrom

Potential Starting Lineups

Gaudreau—Monahan—Lindholm
Tkachuk—Backlund—Coleman
Mangipanie—Dube—Ritchie
Lucic—Pitlick—Lewis

Hanifin—Tanev
Kylington—Anderson
Zadarov—Welinski

Markstrom
Vladar


4 -- LA Kings

Losing Quinton Byfield to injury hurts for the whole season, but the veterans will temper the kids' expectations. From August


4 — Los Angeles Kings

Rob Blake, Luc Robatallie, and the rest of the Kings management believe now is the opportunity for this team to contend for the Cup for the first time in eight years. The core is aging and diminishing in Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown, and Jonathan Quick. Adding the prime players they did brings separation between the youth of this team and the veterans. The Kings also have developed the best prospect pool in the entire National Hockey League, with centers Quinton Byfield and Alex Turrcotte; winger Arthur Kayliev; and defenseman Brandt Clarke being the top kids of note. Are the bad contracts going to cost the Kings the postseason?

Additions — Viktor Arvidsson, Phillip Danault, Alexander Edler, Brayden Burke, Vladimir Tkachev, TJ Tynan, Garrett Sparks,

Subtractions — Kurtis MacDermid, Matt Luff, Troy Grosnick, Tyler Steenbergen, Mark Alt, Mikey Eyssimont, Drake Rymsha, David Brickley,

Potential Starting Lineups

Iaffalo—Kopitar—Brown
Athansiou—Danault—Arvidsson
Grundstrom—Kempe—Viladri
Lemieux—Lizzote—Wagner

Edler—Doughty
Maatta—Roy
Wolainin—Walker

Petersen
Quick


3 -- Seattle Kraken

Adding Alex Barre-Boullet is a great add to this team, but COVID is hurting this team early without several key players.


3 — Seattle Kraken

What else is cracking in the league besides the expansion and cap management of the Seattle Kraken? Ron Francis and David Hakstol built a cap smart team, taking youthful prospects over salary cap complications. The Seattle Kraken took 30 players from the 31 teams, as Vegas was exempt from the expansion draft.

Draft Selections
Anaheim— LD Haydn Fleury
Arizona— C Tyler Pitlick
Boston— LD Jeremy Lauzon
Buffalo— RD Will Borgen
Calgary— LD Mark Giordano
Carolina— C Morgan Geekie
Chicago— LW John Quenneville
Colorado— RW Jonas Donskoi
Columbus— LD Gavin Bayreuther
Dallas— LD Jamie Oleskiak
Detroit— LD Dennis Chokowski
Edmonton— RD Adam Larsson
Florida— G Chris Dreidger
Los Angeles— RD Kurtis MacDermid
Minnesota— LD Carson Soucy
Montreal— RD Cale Fleury
Nashville— LW Calle Jarnkrok
New Jersey— C Nathan Bastian
NY Islanders— RW Jordan Eberle
NY Rangers— C Collin Blackwell
Ottawa— G Joey D’Accord
Philadelphia— LW Carsen Twarynski
Pittsburgh— LW Brandon Tanev
San Jose— C Alexander True
St. Louis— LD Vince Dunn
Tampa Bay— LW Yanni Gourde
Toronto— C Jared McCann
Vancouver— RW Kole Lind
Washington— G Vitek Vancek
Winnipeg— C Mason Appleton

Additions — Phillip Grubauer, Alexander Wennberg, Jaden Schwartz, Antoine Bibeau, Marcus Johansson, Connor Carrick, Luke Henman

Subtractions— Gavin Bayreuther, Tyler Pitlick, Kurtis MacDermid, Vitek Vancek,

Potential Starting Lineups

Schwartz—Wennberg—Eberle
Jarnkrok—Blackwell—Donskoi
Tanev—McCann—Johansson
Twarynski—Bastian—Geekie

Giordano—Larsson
Oleskiak—Soucy
Fleury—Fleury

Grubauer
Dreidger

Injured— Yanni Gourde


2 -- Edmonton Oilers

McDavid. Drasatil. This team will be a playoff team with these two alone. From August


2 — Edmonton Oilers

The Oil is getting hotter and hotter in Western Alberta, and the opportunity is opening up more and more for the Oilers to win the Cup now. Connor McDavid, Leon Drasatil, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are all locked in and are closing in on their prime years. The defense has become a revolving door, but with new leadership and experience back there; the goaltending is the only weakeness.

Additions — Zach Hyman, Duncan Keith, Derek Ryan, Warren Foegle, Brendan Perlini, Tim Soderlund, Cody Ceci

Subtractions — Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear, James Neal, Adam Larsson, Adam Cracknell, Kevin Gravel, Dimitry Kulikov, Jokaim Nygard, Alex Chassion, Tyler Ennis, Gaeten Haas, Anton Slepyshev, Dominik Kahun, Patrick Russell, Alan Quine, Theodor Lennstrom

Potential Starting Lineup

Drasatil—McDavid—Hyman
Foegle—Nugent-Hopkins—Puljujarvi
Perlini—Turris—Yamamoto
Shore—Ryan—Kassian

Nurse—Barrie
Keith—Ceci
Russell—Koekkoek

Smith
Koskinen

Injured— Oscar Klefbom


1 -- Vegas Golden Knights

This year's President Trophy winner.


1 — Vegas Golden Knights

Revenge is a dish best served cold, and Vegas has an angry roster on their hands. Player turnover is at an all time high. Fell just short of the President’s Trophy to Colorado. Upset by Montreal in the Stanley Cup Semifinals. The franchise heartbeat was dealt for nothing. This team will win the President’s Trophy for the first time in franchise history in 2022. It was a down year for Alex Piterangelo, and I think this team will be winning a lot of hardware with a full 82 game season with him on the roster. Robin Lehner now has the keys to the house in the blue crease. His prime is here, and he can carry a team deep. Only question in Vegas is the strength of their depth, and both center and defense. Both will be needed to win in the playoffs, but it seems missing on the current construction.

Additions— Nolan Patrick, Brett Howden, Evgeni Dadanov, Sven Baertschi, Laurent Brossoit,

Subtractions— Cody Glass, Marc-Andre Fleury, Nick Holden, Nick DiSimmone, Ryan Reaves, Mikael Hakkarainen, Reid Duke, Tomas Jurco, Carl Dahlstrom, Dylan Sikura, Jimmy Schuldt, Oscar Dansk, Thomas Nosek, Tyler Goulbourne,

Potential Starting Lineup
Marchessault—Karlsson—Smith
Paccioretty—Stephenson—Stone
Janmark—Patrick—Dadanov
Carrier—Howden—Roy

Theodore—Piterangelo
McNabb—Martinez
Hague—Whitecloud

Lehner
Brossoit


Wacky Predictions Across the League

ANA -- Trevor Zegras will be a Calder Trophy finalist; finishing third; and being ahead of his other two American counterparts
ARI -- Ghost will lead the team in scoring in a rebound year.
BOS -- Taylor Hall will have a Buffalo season in Boston without KrejciBUF -- At 32nd, they will not draft first overall, and keep Jack Eichel.
CAR -- DeAngelo does not last the season
CGY -- Gaudreau will move for the same price as Hall
CHI -- A second round trip is ahead for them, with Lankinen as their number one.
COL -- They lose to Tampa in the finals.
CBJ -- Korpisalo extends despite the Jackets in a rebuild
DAL -- The veterans use all 4 goalies in 20 games each
DET -- Greiss will play like the starter
EDM -- Hyman finishes the season in the bottom 6
FLA -- Spencer Knight will win the Calder.
LAK -- Dustin Brown joins Jeff Carter in Pittsburgh at the trade deadline
MIN -- Acquire Jack Eichel at the draft
MTL -- Caufield will be the Habs top point and goal scorer alongside Suzuki for 82 healthy games
NSH -- Rittich plays 40 games
NJD -- Jack Hughes scores 80 points
NYI -- Sorokin will oust Varlamov as the starting goalie
NYR -- Kakko will outscore Lafreniere in the Big Apple
OTT -- Brady Tkachuk signs on the last day
PHI -- Cam Atkinson explodes with a 40 goal season
PIT -- Fleury returns home
SEA -- Alex Wennberg scores 40 like Karlsson in Vegas' first season
SJ -- Evander Kane does not skate a game in the NHL
STL -- First team to fire their coach
TBL -- Win three cups in a row
TOR -- Kase and Bunting score 25 goals each with Toronto
VAN -- Fire their GM and not the head coach
VGK -- Theodore and Piterangelo are Norris finalists with Makar
WSH -- McMichael becomes the number one center before the Olympic break
WPG -- They will have the most points on a Canadian team.

Trophy Picks

I am going to stick with my August predictions, for the exception of Knight for Calder after Byfield got injured.

Presidents Trophy — Vegas Golden Knights
Prince of Whales Trophy — Tampa Bay Lightning
Clearance Campbell Trophy— Colorado Avalanche
Hart Memorial Trophy— Connor McDavid
Ted Lindsay Trophy — Connor McDavid
Rocket Richard Trophy— Alex Ovechkin
Norris Trophy— Cale Makar
Veznia Trophy — Robin Lehner
Jack Adams Trophy — David Hakstol
GM of the Year — Stan Bowman
Calder Memorial Trophy—Spencer Knight
Stanley Cup Trophy— Tampa Bay Lightning
Mark Messier Leadership Award— Nathan MacKinnon
Frank J Seleke Trophy — Sean Couturier
Bill Masterton Trophy—Jack Eichel
King Clancy Trophy— Sidney Crosby
Calder Cup Champion — Hershey Bears


Thoughts on the upcoming season?


More is coming!
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