Finally the NHL season is here.
While there only being three games tonight, it's enough to have all hockey fans excited for the new season to begin. Teams and management have worked hard to adjust to the new cap and prepare their teams for a full regular season grind.
Toronto and Montreal kick off the night with the first puck drop and couldn't be more of a classic rivarly between the two Canadian teams. For Toronto, things are looking promising after the rebirth into the playoffs as opponents will take them a little more seriously. With the big acquisition of Bernier, Bolland, Raymond, and Clarkson (even though he is suspended for the first 10 games), retaining RFA's Kadri and Franson, and the extension of Kessel today, the upcoming season should be a good one for Toronto as they look to show everyone last year was not a fluke. Meanwhile, Montreal looks to build off their success as well as the big guns Subban and Price look to lead Montreal further into the playoffs. Personally, I am interested to see how my good friend Danny Briere fits in, as well as looking for Gallagher and Galchenyuk to avoid the sophomore slump. I expect Kadri to have a full breakout year this year for Toronto, and Galchenyuk to breakout for Montreal.
Chicago kicks off their banner raising night by taking on a tough Washington Capitals squad looking to start the season on a good note this year. While Washington made a key acquisitions with Grabovski and bringing rookies Tom Wilson and Connor Carrick, who I am both huge fans of, the big key for the Caps this year is how the goaltending holds up. I think this is the year Holtby really asserts himself as the true number 1 goaltender and becomes one of the stronger goalies in the Eastern Conference. Unlike the Caps however, Chicago barely made any changes, just resigning key parts, minus Dave Bolland. Chicago is making a strong case as a repeat team so it should be exciting to watch tonight. Breakout player for Chicago this year for me will be Brandon Saad, while I think Ovechkin will dominate for the Caps once again.
Finally, the arrival of the Winnipeg Jets in the Western Conference is here. The Jets are hoping the newly reduced travel schedule with a fresh start in a new conference brings the playoffs to the fans and organization as they open up in Edmonton against Dallas Eakins and the young but ever improving Oilers team. The Jets added on Frolik in the offseason along with Setoguchi and rookies Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba. Key for the Jets this year is secondary scoring and limiting the opposition with scoring chances. For Edmonton, a tough new coach Dallas Eakins looks to take the young guns to the playoffs and rid of the tag, rebuild. With the preseason revival of Smyth and Hemsky, the Oilers should fare decently until their two pivots, RNH and Gagner return from injury. This is the year I think Edmonton makes the push for the playoffs and becomes a legitimate buyer. Newly acquired defenseman and new captain Andrew Ference should lead this young team this season with superstars Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. My breakout player for the Jets this season will be Evander Kane, as he has all the tools to become a top tier power forward in the NHL. For Edmonton, I think Yakupov will breakout as he will have a much bigger role this season and receive top 6 minutes.
Can't wait for the puck to drop tonight and looking forward to watching the games!
Thanks for reading!