NHL Power Rankings: Top storylines for 2021-22 NHL season (Part 2)

In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we continue counting down the 30 biggest storylines to watch across the league for the 2021-22 season.

We are looking at 10 storylines each Monday until the start of the season. We continue today with storylines 20-11, including looks at the Philadelphia Flyers, Montreal Canadiens, the top rookies, pending free agents, the salary cap, and new Stanley Cup contenders.

[You can read Part 1 here]

What stories make the list this week?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

20. The Philadelphia Flyers offseason. Now this is the type of offseason you expect from the Flyers. Big moves! Bold moves! Maybe even crazy moves! The trades for Ryan Ellis and Cam Atkinson have the potential to be huge additions, but the Rasmus Ristolainen trade is a little difficult to figure. Do they think they can turn his career around? Of course, all of these moves will be rendered pointless if Carter Hart does not play better in goal this season.

19. What do the Montreal Canadiens do for a repeat? The Canadiens shocked the NHL by making a stunning run to the Stanley Cup Final. Carey Price found the fountain of youth and helped lead them to upsets over Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vegas before running into the Tampa Bay Lightning buzzsaw.

They are bringing back a very different roster, however. Phillip Danault and Jesperi Kotkaniemi are gone, Tomas Tatar left in free agency, Shea Weber will not play this season, while Mike Hoffman, Christian Dvorak, and David Savard join the team. They are also getting Jonathan Drouin back after he missed most of the 2020-21 season and all of the playoffs. They also have potential breakout seasons for Nick Suzuki and Cole Caulfield to look forward to. But is this roster good enough to even get back in the playoffs in a tough division?

18. The salary cap situation in the NHL. We are still looking at a situation in the league where salary cap increases are going to be minimal in the coming years. There are obvious ramifications for contending teams close to the cap and with pending free agents to sign. It could also make more players available in trades and allow teams with excess salary cap space to utilize that in trades.

17. Potential unrestricted free agents. A lot of significant players are entering the final year of their contracts this season with Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Alexander Barkov, Filip Forsberg, Tomas Hertl, John Klingberg, Johnny Gaudreau, Morgan Rielly, Ryan Pulock, Patrice Bergeron, Claude Giroux, Mattias Ekholm, P.K. Subban, Marc-Andre Fleury, Darcy Kuemper, and Mika Zibanejad leading the way. Many of those players will re-sign with their current teams. Some might even retire (Fleury? Bergeron?). But there are a few players that they could end up changing teams, including Forsberg, Hertl, Gaudreau, and maybe even Rielly.

16. The rookie of the year race. Always one of the more intriguing individual award races because it highlights new stars coming into the league. This year’s favorites have to include Caufield in Montreal, Spencer Knight in Florida, Moritz Seider in Detroit, Quinton Byfield in Los Angeles, and Vasili Podkolzin in Vancouver.

[NHL Power Rankings: Calder Trophy candidates for 2021-22 season]

15. Can Islanders break through to the Stanley Cup Final? It has been three decades since the New York Islanders played in a Cup Final, but they are getting closer every year. They just can not seem to get over the final hurdle that is the Lightning, having lost to them two years in a row in the Eastern Conference Final/Semifinal round. They are bringing back mostly the same roster, but will have a full season of Kyle Palmieri, a returning Anders Lee, and the offseason additions of Zach Parise and Zdeno Chara. Not to mention one of the league’s best coaches and a sensational goalie duo with Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin.

Their regular season performances never look impressive. But they are probably one of the last teams you want to see in a best-of-seven series in the playoffs.

14. New York Rangers changes. The Rangers’ rebuild was not going fast enough for ownership, so a lot of changes were made this offseason in the front office, coaching staff, and even on the roster. Chris Drury takes over for Jeff Gorton in the GM chair, Gerard Gallant replaces David Quinn behind the bench, and the team attempted to get tougher this offseason by trading Pavel Buchnevich, while also acquiring Ryan Reaves, Patrik Nemeth, and Barclay Goodrow. It is the Tom Wilson impact. The Rangers can say it is not all about Wilson all they want, but it is pretty clear that is what this is about. Is that the right step for a team that has a Hart Trophy candidate (Artemi Panarin), a Norris Trophy-winning defender (Adam Fox), and an impressive collection of young talent? We are about to find out.

In the end, though, the success or failure of this season will depend on the development of Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko, Vitali Kravtsov, and Igor Shesterkin. If that quartet becomes impact players, the Rangers will be very good. If they do not, the Rangers’ rebuild will remain stuck in neutral.

13. Panthers becoming a Cup contender. This might be the first time ever that the Florida Panthers are entering a season with real, championship level expectations. This is a really good roster with a couple of All-Stars at the top of it (Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau) coming off the best regular season in franchise history They also added Sam Reinhart to the mix this offseason. If Spencer Knight can take over the goaltending job and play to his potential this could be a sleeper Cup team.

12. Can Avalanche get through Second Round ceiling. On paper the Colorado Avalanche might have the best team in the NHL. They are loaded from top to bottom with a deep, talented group of forwards, an excellent defense with young stars, and a strong goalie with the offseason addition of Kuemper. They have been Cup contenders and favorites for a couple of years now. But they remain stuck in the Second Round, having lost their three years in a row.

When a team like this can’t get through a particular round, or can’t take that next step, it is easy to get frustrated and think that some kind of change needs to happen. We heard it constantly with the Washington Capitals and how they needed to change and who they needed to trade. We heard it all the time with the Lightning. Eventually talent breaks through and wins. The Avalanche have the talent to get there. They just need to be patient and stick with the process and talent they have. It is championship caliber, and still has its best days ahead of it.

11. Can the Oilers finally take advantage of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. McDavid and Draisaitl are the two best offensive players in the world. They are both league MVPs, winning the award in three of the past five seasons. Most teams will go decades, maybe even their entire existence to this point, without getting one player like this, let alone two of them together at the exact same time. You can not waste that luck. The Oilers are wasting it. Badly.

They made some significant changes this offseason with the additions of Zach Hyman, Warren Foegele, Duncan Keith, and Cody Ceci. But even with that depth still looks suspect, as does this defense (largely due to the changes there with an aging Keith and Ceci replacing Ethan Bear and Adam Larsson), and they are counting on a 39-year-old Mike Smith to have another strong year when he has only had one good season in the past three seasons. Still a lot that can go wrong here, even with two megastars at the top of the lineup.

New York Rangers: 2021-22 NHL Season Preview

The 2021-22 NHL season is coming and it’s time to take a look at all 32 teams. Over the next month we’ll be examining best- and worst-case scenarios, looking at the biggest questions, breakout candidates, and more for each franchise. Today, we preview the New York Rangers.

2020-21 Season Review

• Record: 27-23-6 (60 points); fifth place in East Division
• Postseason: Missed playoffs. Drafted Brennan Othmann with the 16th pick.
• Offensive leader: Artemi Panarin (42 games, 17 goals, 41 assists).

• Free Agent Additions: Barclay Goodrow (trade from Lightning), Ryan Reaves (trade from Golden Knights), Patrik Nemeth, Dryden Hunt, Sammy Blais (trade from Blues), Jarred Tinordi.
• Free Agent Subtractions: Pavel Buchnevich (trade to Blues), Tony DeAngelo (buyout), Colin Blackwell (Kraken expansion draft), Phillip Di Giuseppe (Canucks), Brendan Smith (Hurricanes), Brett Howden (trade to Golden Knights).

Biggest question for Rangers

• Did they lose their wits chasing grit?

Did the Rangers abruptly fire Jeff Gorton and make other key front office changes because of the Tom Wilson – Artemi Panarin incident? Was countering Wilson the guiding light during Chris Drury’s first offseason as Rangers GM?

Ryan Reaves said that he wasn’t acquired because of Tom Wilson — at least not directly. Even Tom Wilson himself insisted it wasn’t all about him.

Sometimes people want to ignore the elephant in the room. Sometimes they’re stubborn, or in denial, about obvious truths. Especially when one person seems to leave you wildly flustered, and possibly overreacting.

[PHT’s offseason trade tracker]

Wilson-related or not, the Rangers sacrificed skill for grit before the 2021-22 season. Maybe losing Pavel Buchnevich will make sense in the long run. But next season? It sure feels like a painful subtraction, and maybe even an unforced error.

When the Lightning traded for Barclay Goodrow, it was part of a series of moves to go over the top. That was already a stacked team, one that forged a historic regular season. The Rangers, meanwhile, haven’t truly made the playoffs since 2016-17.

(No, you should not count getting squashed like a bug during the 2019-20 Qualifying Round.)

So, was this team already skilled enough to focus so much on sandpaper? It seems dubious. Then again, Gerard Gallant worked wonders in Vegas, and sometimes that team got a bit fixated on ferocity.

What’s the salary cap situation?

Even during a genuine rebuild, the Rangers weren’t shy to spend big money on big names. They’re still the Rangers, after all.

Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba combine for about $19.6M in cap hits through 2025-26. Maybe the Rangers should have traded Chris Kreider. Instead, they kept him on a deal that could get scary ($6.5M AAV through 2026-27). Igor Shesterkin could end up being better than a $5.67M goalie. With just 47 games of NHL experience, Shesterkin still counts as a leap of faith.

That’s already a lot of money for a team that hasn’t delivered yet. And things could get even more expensive for the Rangers after the 2021-22 season. (Or there could be some agonizing losses.)

Ryan Strome ($4.5M) and most importantly, Mika Zibanejad ($5.35M) are both 28-year-old centers entering contract years. Two different players, sure, but both present the Rangers with riddles to solve.

[PHT’s 2021 NHL Free Agent Tracker]

Adam Fox was already surging toward a big payday. He’s 23, a right-handed defenseman, and just won a Norris Trophy. Mix in a sometimes-outrageous offseason of spending on defensemen, and ominous music plays for the Rangers’ salary cap. Fox merely being an RFA gives the Rangers a key advantage, but Cale Makar‘s $9M seems like a reasonable placeholder. If maybe an optimistic one.

Fox isn’t the only young player the Rangers need to leave room for.

Kaapo Kakko enters a contract year, while Alexis Lafreniere has two years left on his rookie contract.

Overall, the Rangers need to get the balance right. If they sign both assuming too much growth, they could get burned. If they wait too long, Kakko and Lafreniere could drive up their value. There are worse problems to have, but these are challenges nonetheless.

The Rangers approach the tougher stages of a rebuild. Will they turn young prospects into stars, ideally on team-friendly contracts? Can they support that young talent with savvy additions? Chris Drury has his work cut out for him.

Breakout Candidate

• Kakko/Lafreniere

All but the most patient observers would admit that there have been some disappointments with both prospects so far.

In the cases of both Kakko and Lafreniere, they were hyped as very NHL-ready prospects. Instead, each player has struggled with immediate jumps to the big time.

Those stumbles aren’t the end of the world. Thanks to having two seasons in the NHL, Kakko serves as the best reminder to be patient.

Consider his Evolving Hockey Player Card from 2019-20, which was concerning even with caveats for young players:

Kakko Evo Player Card 2019-20 New York Rangers: 2021-22 NHL Season Preview
via Evolving Hockey

Yikes, right? Then, in 2020-21, Kakko looked like a player who could really gain steam.

Kakko player card Evo New York Rangers: 2021-22 NHL Season Preview
via Evolving Hockey

Frankly, if I were running the Rangers, I’d be tempted to extent Kakko before he surges to another level. (If he’d listen to offers right now, of course.)

With some prospects, people picture too much growth. They assume a 25-year-old player has more runway than maybe they actually do. But Kakko (20) and Lafreniere (19) are both indeed in the age ranges where players can take big leaps.

Don’t be surprised if both do so. Maybe the Rangers are assuming too much, but betting in young players is better than hoping aging veterans can hold on.

Bonus points if other young players come through for the Rangers in 2021-22, too. Ideally, Vitali Kravstov isn’t just learning from Ryan Reaves …

Best-Case Scenario for 2021-22 Rangers

Gallant represents a huge coaching upgrade. Panarin – Zibanejad tear it up, and stay healthy. Their defense improves, and Shesterkin cleans up the rest. Kakko, Lafreniere, and others flourish. The Rangers become dangerous, and in a hurry.

Worst-Case Scenario for 2021-22 Rangers

That fixation on feistiness leaves the Rangers with more fights and hits, but the same middling standings results. Kakko and Lafreniere stagnate. Gallant’s system can’t overcome limitations on defense beyond Fox and a few others. Things fall apart, and management takes all the wrong lessons from that collapse.

PointsbetNew York Rangers’ Stanley Cup odds

+2200 (PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

New York Islanders 2021-22 NHL Season Preview

The 2021-22 NHL season is coming and it’s time to take a look at all 32 teams. Over the next month we’ll be examining best- and worst-case scenarios, looking at the biggest questions, breakout candidates, and more for each franchise. Today, we preview the New York Islanders.

2020-21 Season Review

• Record: 32-17-7 (71 points) fourth place in Eastern Division
• Postseason: Lost in Conference Final in seven games to Tampa Bay Lightning
• Offensive leader: Mathew Barzal (55 games, 17 goals, 28 assists, 45 total points)

• Free Agent Additions: Richard Panik (trade with Detroit Red Wings), Zach Parise, Zdeno Chara
• Free Agent Subtractions: Nick Leddy (trade with Detroit Red Wings), Andrew Ladd, Jordan Eberle (Seattle Kraken), Travis Zajac (retirement)

Biggest question facing the New York Islanders?

• Will Zach Parise and Zdeno Chara have enough left to help put them over the top?

The Islanders are bringing back largely the same roster from the past couple of seasons, and it is a roster that has had its share of success. While the regular season results have not always been great, they have been good enough to get in the playoffs, and once they get to the playoffs they have caused havoc for almost every team in the Eastern Conference.

Since the start of the 2019 playoffs they have won five postseason series and 28 total playoff games, the second most in the league behind only the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning, of course, being the team that has stood between them and the Stanley Cup Final the past two seasons.

This Islanders roster doesn’t have a ton of star power beyond Mathew Barzal, but it also does not really have a weakness. Every line can contribute. There are no true liabilities on defense. Both goalies are sensational when healthy.

But they still just need a little more to get by teams like the Lightning. Their biggest offseason moves saw them bring in Zach Parise and Zdeno Chara. If this was 2016 those additions would seem significant. Now? It is a matter of whether or not they can fit into complementary roles and make an impact. The Islanders do not need them to be superstars. But anything they have left could be potentially significant. Add in a full season of Kyle Palmieri, the return of a healthy Anders Lee and it is a fairly deep roster.

What’s the salary cap situation?

The Islanders are pressed against the upper limits of the salary cap, even after shedding Andrew Ladd’s salary to Arizona.

They do not have any really mega contracts, but they have a lot of significant contracts in the $5-8 million range.

Ryan Pulock is going to need a new deal after this season as a pending unrestricted free agent, while Mathew Barzal only has two years left on his current bridge deal before he is due a mega contract. So there is some work to be done here and not a lot of long-term flexibility under a mostly flat cap.

Breakout Candidate

Oliver Wahlstrom

Wahlstrom did not have a huge role with the Islanders for most of the 2020-21 season, but he did show a ton of promise and make quite an impact when he got an opportunity. Despite playing just 12 minutes per game he still scored 12 goals in 44 games and posted strong possession numbers in his first real taste of NHL action. He is still only 21 years old and is the best young player on the team outside of Barzal and has a real chance to be a top-line scorer given his talent and shot. A breakout season from him could be a game-changer for an Islanders team that needs another impact player.

Best-Case Scenario

At this point we should know what to expect from this Islanders team. They are going to get strong goaltending, they are going to be tough to score against, and they are going to frustrate a lot of teams on their way to 3-2 and 3-1 wins. The best case is that they keep doing what they do, get back in the playoffs, get a breakout from Wahlstrom, Parise and Chara find the fountain of youth, and they finally get the best of Tampa Bay in a seven-game series. This is a Stanley Cup contender. The expectation should be to go far.

Worst-Case Scenario

If anything happens to the goalies, injury or sudden lack of performance, that would be a problem for a team that is fairly dependent on them. They do not score a ton of goals and while they are great at limiting chances, they do have a tendency to give up a fair number of shots. Any slip in goaltending could be the difference between home ice in the playoffs or an earlier than expected playoff loss. It is hard to envision this team missing the playoffs at this point, but it is a competitive division with a lot of really good teams that are not separated by much.

PointsbetNew York Islanders Stanley Cup odds

+2000 (PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.)

New Jersey Devils 2021-22 NHL Season Preview

The 2021-22 NHL season is coming and it’s time to take a look at all 32 teams. Over the next month we’ll be examining best- and worst-case scenarios, looking at the biggest questions, breakout candidates, and more for each franchise. Today, we preview the New Jersey Devils.

2020-21 Season Review

• Record: 19-30-7 (45 points) seventh place in Eastern Division
• Postseason: Did not qualify for playoffs; Drafted Luke Hughes with the No. 4 overall pick
• Offensive leader: Pavel Zacha (50 games, 17 goals, 18 assists, 35 total points)

• Free Agent Additions: Dougie Hamilton, Tomas Tatar, Ryan Graves (trade with Colorado), Jonathan Bernier
• Free Agent Subtractions: Nick Merkley, Will Butcher

Biggest question facing the New Jersey Devils?

• Are the offseason additions enough to put them into playoff contention?

Since reaching the 2011-12 Stanley Cup Final the New Jersey Devils have been taken up residence near the bottom of the NHL standings. They have qualified for the playoffs just one time in the past nine years, and have finished in last place in their division four different times. A couple of years ago they had a big offseason that was highlighted by the addition of a big-name defenseman (P.K. Subban) and a couple of other additions that would hopefully get them back closer to the playoffs.

It did not work out at all. They tried it again this offseason.

The Devils made one of the biggest free agent signings of the summer when they signed Dougie Hamilton to a seven-year, $63 million contract.

[Related: Every free agent signing by all 32 NHL teams]

They also attempted to bolster their defense with a trade for Colorado’s Ryan Graves, while also signing Jonathan Bernier to split goaltending duties with Mackenzie Blackwood.

At forward, Tomas Tatar joins what is one of the youngest forward groups in the league to hopefully give some offensive support to franchise players Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier.

Individually, all of those moves are solid and should make the Devils a better team. Especially the additions of Hamilton, Graves, and Bernier when it comes to goal prevention.

What’s the salary cap situation?

The Devils enter the season with more than $12 million in salary cap space and only two long-term commitments on their books: Hischier, who is signed for six more years at $7.25 million per season, and Hamilton who is starting his seven-year, $63 million contract.

Other than that? No other player on the roster is signed more than two years down the road, while P.K. Subban ($9 million) is the only other player on the roster with a salary cap hit more than $5 million. His contract expires after this season.

So for now they have a lot of room and even more money coming off the books (Subban) this offseason.

They do, however, have a significant number of restricted free agents that are going to require raises very soon, including Miles Wood, Jesper Bratt, Pavel Zacha, and the most significant of them all, Jack Hughes.

As of now they are projected to have roughly $35 million in salary cap space to work with next offseason, so they should have enough room to get all of those contracts taken care of and still make more additions to the roster. So the cap situation is very good.

Breakout Candidate

• Jack Hughes

It has to be Hughes. He took a major step forward in year two, but it was not quite a breakout season. That is still ahead for him, and it could happen this season. And by breakout we do not just mean showing more improvement from year two to year three, we mean legitimate breakout to superstardom. He nearly doubled his offensive output (on a per game basis) from year one to year two, and perhaps most importantly took a major step forward in terms of controlling the game. During his rookie season the Devils attempted just 45 percent of the total shot attempts when Hughes was on the ice during 5-on-5 play. In year two, that number skyrocketed to 55 percent, on a team that did not typically control possession. All of the ingredients are there for a true breakout season for Hughes.

Best-Case Scenario

If the Devils are going to make the playoffs a few things have to go right. For starters, Hughes has to have that breakout year. They need a full, healthy season from Nico Hischier. They also need a couple more young players to step forward (Yegor Sherangovich, Zacha, Bratt, Michael McLeod). With improved defensive play due to the additions of Hamilton, Graves, and a full season of Jonas Siegenthaler, as well as the goaltending performing to expectations, there could be a path for this Devils team to compete for a wild card spot. On paper they are not quite at that playoff level just yet, but they should be getting closer.

Worst-Case Scenario

Honestly, it would probably just be more of the same where they struggle to make progress and finish another year at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division. That happens if nobody other than Hughes makes a big jump forward and the goaltending does not shine. The disappointing thing for Devils fans is a finish near the bottom of the division and outside of the playoffs is probably the most likely outcome, even if the team does improve. It is simply a matter of them being in a tough division full of contenders. The Devils are young, they have talent, they improved the roster. But are they better than Carolina? Washington? The Islanders? A healthy Penguins team? The Flyers? Even the Rangers? Tough division to be in.

PointsbetNew Jersey Devils Stanley Cup odds

+6000 (PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.)

Nashville Predators 2021-22 NHL Season Preview

The 2021-22 NHL season is coming and it’s time to take a look at all 32 teams. Over the next month we’ll be examining best- and worst-case scenarios, looking at the biggest questions, breakout candidates, and more for each franchise. Today, we preview the Nashville Predators.

2020-21 Season Review

• Record: 31-23-2 (64 points) fourth place in Central Division
• Postseason: Lost in first round in six games to the Hurricanes
• Offensive leader: Roman Josi (48 games, eight goals, 25 assists, 33 total points)

• Free Agent Additions: Cody Glass (trade with Vegas), Philippe Myers (trade with Philadelphia), David Rittich
• Free Agent Subtractions: Ryan Ellis (trade to Philadelphia), Calle Jarnkrok (Seattle Kraken), Pekka Rinne (retirement), Erik Haula, Viktor Arvidsson (trade to Los Angeles)

Biggest question facing the Nashville Predators?

• What is their overall direction?

It is not really a question of an individual player or position, but a big picture outlook and what this team is hoping to accomplish in the short-and long-term. Nothing about their offseason approach seems to suggest they believe they are a contender right now. If they did, they would not have traded Viktor Arvidsson for draft picks. They would not have traded Ryan Ellis for two young players. They would not be entering the season with more than $10 million in salary cap space.

This is a team that has been trending in the wrong direction for a couple of years now, and as recently as the halfway point of this past season looked like a team in desperate need of a total rebuild. Then Juuse Saros started to play out of his mind and carried the team to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, pretty much by himself.

If they are going to rebuild, they need to commit to that. If they want to contend, they need to act like it. Being stuck in the middle with a “competitive rebuild” does not do anybody any favors and only pushes the next window for contention further down the road. No team wants that.

What’s the salary cap situation?

The Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen contracts are not giving them a great return on their investment at the moment (more than $8 million per season each), and Roman Josi makes $9 million against the cap. Those are three significant contracts taking up space, and even with that the Predators still have more than $10 million in salary cap space this offseason.

Filip Forsberg‘s contract is up after this season so a decision needs to be made there, and a couple of other players will be due raises as restricted free agents (specifically, Luke Kunin). Finding a way out of Duchene and/or Johansen’s contracts would be helpful, but the salary cap situation is fairly manageable right now.

Breakout Candidate

• Cody Glass

Glass is one of the players acquired in the three-team Ryan Ellis trade, and he is getting a fresh start with the Predators. He showed a lot of potential in parts of two seasons with the Golden Knights and produced respectable numbers given his lack of ice time and limited role. The talent is there, and he should get an opportunity on a Nashville team that says it is looking to get younger.

Eeli Tolvanen is another player worth watching. The Predators have been waiting for him for a couple of years now and he showed signs of breaking out in his first full season. So while the long-and short-term future looks unsettled with this team they do have a couple of young players worth keeping an eye on.

Best-Case Scenario

It all revolves around Saros being able to duplicate his 2020-21 performance and play not only like a franchise goalie, but also one of the best goalies in the world. That is what got Nashville in the playoffs, and that is what it will need again. Without Ellis the defense is definitely taking a hit, and Pekka Rinne is no longer there to share the workload. All of that puts even more pressure on Saros. If Saros can play at a high level, and they get a boost from a healthy Forsberg, and maybe some big steps forward from Glass and Tolvanen they might have a shot to be a playoff team. Making the playoffs and a First-Round exit might be this team’s ceiling right now.

Worst-Case Scenario

They have had lousy special teams for two years now and lack impact players beyond Forsberg and Josi. If Saros regresses even a little bit it is going to expose all of the flaws that were hidden in the second half of last season. This is a tough division with Colorado, St. Louis, Dallas, and Minnesota at the top, and what should be an improved Chicago team all competing for playoff spots. Nashville does not have much margin for error here. Most goaltending dependent teams do not.

PointsbetNashville Predators Stanley Cup odds

+6000 (PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.)

Montreal Canadiens 2021-22 NHL Season Preview

The 2021-22 NHL season is coming and it’s time to take a look at all 32 teams. Over the next month we’ll be examining best- and worst-case scenarios, looking at the biggest questions, breakout candidates, and more for each franchise. Today, we preview the Montreal Canadiens.

2020-21 Season Review

• Record: 24-21-11 (59 points) fourth place in North Division
• Postseason: Lost Stanley Cup Final in five games to Lightning
• Offensive leader: Tyler Toffoli (52 games, 28 goals, 16 assists, 44 points)

• Free Agent Additions: David Savard, Christian Dvorak (trade with Arizona), Mike Hoffman, Mathieu Perrault
• Free Agent Subtractions: Jesperi Kotkaniemi (Hurricanes offer sheet), Tomas Tatar, Phillip Danault

Biggest question facing the Montreal Canadiens?

• Have they done enough to replace what they have lost?

The Canadiens stunned the hockey world this postseason by going on a shocking run all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, beating Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vegas along the way. Carey Price played a huge role in that, but a couple of the players that contributed are no longer going to be around this season. Phillip Danault, a consistent Selke Trophy contender, is now in Los Angeles. Tomas Tatar did not play much in the playoffs but has been the Canadiens’ leading scorer the past three seasons, is now in New Jersey. Jesperi Kotkaniemi is a Hurricane after signing a restricted free agent offer sheet. They will also be without veteran defender Shea Weber, whose career seems to be in jeopardy at this point thanks to injuries.

[Related: Every free agent signing by all 32 NHL teams]

That is a lot of talent either leaving or not being available.

There is also the inevitable regression that might come from a player like Tyler Toffoli who had a career year.

Hoffman can score goals, but they might lose a little on the defensive end with him. Dvorak might be a short-term upgrade over Kotkaniemi, but he does not have the long-term upside. Weber to Savard is a pretty big downgrade on the blue line.

Then there is the fact they are going from the North Division back to an Atlantic Division with Tampa Bay, Boston, Toronto, and Florida. Finishing above fifth place is going to be a real challenge.

What’s the salary cap situation?

The Canadiens are pressed right up against the upper limits of the league salary cap and have a lot of long-term contracts on the roster. They will get some relief with Weber going on LTIR, but beyond that they do not have a lot of flexibility in future seasons while players like Nick Suzuki and Alexander Romanov are restricted free agents after this season (and Cole Caufield in two years).

They have 11 players signed for at least the next three seasons, with eight of them counting more than $4 million against the salary cap. Most of those players are in their late 20s or 30s. That includes the $18 million they have committed to Price (34) and Weber (36).

Breakout Candidate

• Cole Caufield

The obvious breakout candidate here. We only saw Caufield for 30 games last year (10 regular season, 20 playoffs) but they were very exciting. He scored eight goals and 17 total points in those games, which comes out to a 22-goal, 45-point pace over 82 games. Not bad for a 20-year-old in his first taste of NHL action.

He is one player on this team that has game-breaking ability and superstar potential. He can be a one-man highlight reel when he is on the ice and should be considered one of the early favorites for the Calder Trophy.

Best-Case Scenario

If Carey Price and Jake Allen give them quality goaltending they are going to have a chance to compete every night, and there is a solid core of forwards in place here. Suzuki and Caufield taking big steps forward will be the biggest X-factor here, as will the return of Jonathan Drouin. Brendan Gallagher is one of the most underrated players in the league and an elite play driver, so you know his line will perform, but they also need Toffoli to duplicate his 2020-21 performance and for Josh Anderson to find some consistency. Making the playoffs in this division is going to be tough, and expecting a repeat of last year’s playoff run is expecting way too much, but they should be competitive.

Worst-Case Scenario

While Price is clearly still capable of putting the team on his shoulders and carrying it for long stretches of time, he does not do that as consistently as he once did. If the goaltending is not there for this team, it is going to make it awfully difficult to stay competitive in that division. Even with young talent like Suzuki and Caufield at the top of the roster.

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Los Angeles Kings: 2021-22 NHL Season Preview

The 2021-22 NHL season is coming and it’s time to take a look at all 32 teams. Over the next month we’ll be examining best- and worst-case scenarios, looking at the biggest questions, breakout candidates, and more for each franchise. Today, we preview the Los Angeles Kings.

2020-21 Season Review

• Record: 21-28-7 (49 points); sixth place in West Division
• Postseason: Missed playoffs, drafted Brandt Clarke with eighth pick of 2021 NHL Draft.
• Offensive leader: Anze Kopitar (56 games, 13 goals, 37 assists).

• Free Agent Additions: Philip Danault, Viktor Arvidsson (trade from Predators), Alexander Edler.
• Free Agent Subtractions: Kurtis MacDermid (Kraken expansion draft), Matt Luff (Predators).

Kings’ biggest question

• Too much too soon?

No, the Kings didn’t totally mortgage their future this offseason. They didn’t spend a massive amount of money and/or draft capital to add a huge contract, like the Blackhawks did with Seth Jones. Their bolder moves aren’t so big that they’d necessarily sink their rebuild.

Even so, the Kings made the sort of moves that signaled they’re heeding Drew Doughty‘s advice about being more competitive in 2021-22.

The aging curve indicates that both Viktor Arvidsson and Philip Danault are exiting their peak years, both at age 28. No, that doesn’t mean that they’ll turn into pumpkins in a year. A heady player like Danault, in particular, might age gracefully.

The best bet is that they’ll deliver their best results in the next year or two, though, and it’s fair to wonder if the Kings are really in a good position to reap such opportunities in 2021-22 (or even 2022-23?).

[PHT’s offseason trade tracker]

Danault and Arvidsson are worthy upgrades, but if the Kings truly make a leap in 2021-22, it will be thanks to growth from younger players. If the 2021-22 Kings seek more dramatic growth, they’ll need Quinton Byfield, and maybe some others (Gabriel Vilardi? Alex Turcotte? All of them?) to take big steps. Frankly, that might also hinge on someone like Lias Andersson seizing the opportunity.

(Truly, it could be a training camp to watch.)

Would those additions really just translate to a Kings team that’s too good to get one more great pick, but too bad to really make an impact in 2021-22? There are genuine concerns that Los Angeles jumped the gun. Maybe they should’ve just waited for the 2022 offseason’s versions of Arvidsson and Danault, instead?

What’s the salary cap situation?

It’s sobering that the Kings are allotting the same amount of cap space ($21 million, per Cap Friendly) for Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar that the Oilers are paying for Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

If you haven’t checked up on Doughty and Kopitar in the last, oh, three years … well, let’s just say there’s a gap. Actually, a gulf might be a more appropriate word for it. Chasm?

At least some of the Kings’ tougher contracts are expiring somewhat soon. It’s a bit surprising that Jonathan Quick‘s $5.8 million remains on the books, but that dissolves after the 2022-23 season. Kopitar’s $10 million ends one year later, after the 2023-24 campaign. Relief is staggered, as this is the final year of Dustin Brown costing $5.875 million per season.

With Doughty, the Kings merely must hope that he’s worth closer to his bloated $11 million cap hit. For two straight seasons, Doughty’s contract ranked as the absolute worst in the NHL, according to Dom Luszczyszyn’s metrics (sub. required).

You can debate if it’s actually the worst, but if you’re in that discussion, you’re a problem for your team either way. The 31-year-old’s $11 million cap hit runs through 2026-27. With a no-movement clause, Doughty’s contract is scary, especially for a team that hopes to move this rebuild along.

(Frankly, there’s an argument the Kings should’ve ignored Doughty’s calls for improvement, and instead tried to nudge him out the door. There were also arguments about whether they should’ve signed him to another contract — even before his decline became so profound.)

[PHT’s 2021 NHL Free Agent Tracker]

Beyond that lingering Doughty headache, the Kings’ slate is fairly clean for a team that gave key Stanley Cup-era players big contracts.

Ultimately, the key will be to time second contracts right. First and foremost, the Kings need to develop prospects like Byfield, Brandt Clarke, and Arthur Kaliyev properly. Saving money even beyond those gimme rookie contracts could really give them a competitive advantage. (When the Kings won their first Stanley Cup, Jonathan Quick carried a $1.8 million cap hit, Kopitar cost $6.8 million per year, and Doughty’s AAV was merely $7 million.)

The slate would’ve been even cleaner without Danault, Arvidsson, Matt Roy, and Sean Walker on the books, but maybe various windows will line up in a way that makes it all worth it for Los Angeles?

Breakout Candidate

• Quinton Byfield

By most accounts, it was a bumpy 2020-21 season for the second overall pick of the 2020 NHL Draft. Being limited to a single assist in six NHL games tells just part of Byfield’s story.

Really, the Kings should be careful here. The smarter long-term play might not be to rush him.

Even so, there’s that undeniable, siren-like temptation of watching Byfield blossom up close. Few players his size can move so well, and bring such skill to the table. At times, a lack of polish can show. The sky sure seems like the limit for a towering center who barely turned 19. Considering the developmental obstacles of this COVID era, it might also just be wise to keep such an important prospect closer.

If Byfield doesn’t break through, there are plenty of other candidates. For the most part, it seems like Vilardi put injuries behind him. Kaliyev’s mix of scoring and inexperience could be enticing, but it might also make for a short leash. It’s unclear if the Kings will see the benefits as soon as 2021-22, but their much-hyped prospect pool is shimmering with depth and potential.

Best-Case Scenario for 2021-22 Kings

During stretches of even these troubled times, the Kings have occasionally been subtly competent. Not always, but often enough to plant a seed of hope. If the Kings see huge growth from younger players, show courage in letting Cal Petersen being their go-to goalie, and Arvidsson returns to a first-line level, they could make some noise in a paltry Pacific Division. As great as it is to pile up prospects, you have to get to winning at some point. The best version of the 2021-22 Kings could make the playoffs, and then possibly pull off an upset or two.

Threading the needle between being competent and also winning the 2022 NHL Draft Lottery would be neat, too.

Worst-Case Scenario for 2021-22 Kings

That “too much, too soon” question still lingers. The worst-case scenario would involve the Kings having a fairly miserable season, but keeping their heads above water enough not to get that one extra blue-chip draft prospect. If they linger in the playoff bubble, they might flinch at chasing a few extra wins. If there are teams that would cough up something for Brown and Quick at the deadline, the Kings should do it, even if it ruffles a few feathers. Meandering in the middle would translate to missing both birds with that one stone.

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James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

NHL Power Rankings: Top storylines for 2021-22 season (Part 1)

In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we begin counting down the 30 biggest storylines to watch across the league for the 2021-22 season.

We will look at 10 storylines over the next three Mondays, counting down toward the NHL’s biggest storylines.

We begin today with Nos. 30-21 including the Devils, Elvis Merzlikins, the Stars, divisional alignments, and the return of fans.

What stories make the list this week?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

30. Devils taking another shot. Say this for the Devils: They are not afraid to try. A couple of years ago they were one of the NHL’s busiest teams and attempted to load up with big acquisitions like P.K. Subban, Nikita Gusev, and Wayne Simmonds coming into join Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, and top pick Jack Hughes. It did not really work. At all. And a lot of the players from that team are now gone. But armed with a ton of salary cap space this offseason the Devils were again fairly busy, making one of the biggest free agent splashes of the summer with Dougie Hamilton while also adding Tomas Tatar, Ryan Graves, and Jonathan Bernier to the roster.

Will that be enough to make a difference in a tough Metropolitan Division? A lot will depend on how big of a jump they can get from Hughes, Hischier, and Mackenzie Blackwood in goal.

[Related: Every free agent signing by all 32 NHL teams]

29. Elvis Merzlikins wants to win Vezina. The Blue Jackets were rocked by tragedy this summer when goalie Matiss Kivlenieks died in a fireworks accident on July 4. Goaltender Elvis Merzlikins credited Kivlenieks for saving his life during the incident and has made it his goal to win a Vezina Trophy in his friend’s honor.

“I don’t want to make any promises, but I can tell you … my plan is to win a Vezina Trophy,” Merzlikins told The Athletic earlier this offseason. “I’m gonna win a … Vezina for him. We can’t make promises because this is hockey and we don’t know how the season can go, but this is my goal. I believe I’m going to reach it.”

Merzlikins is also honoring Kivlenieks with a new mask design.

28. Old division alignments and playoff format. After a one-year break the NHL is returning to its normal divisional alignments and playoff format for the 2021-22 season. That means no more all-Canadian division, the return of the wild cards, and no more play-in rounds.

The 2019-20 playoff format and the 2020-21 season produced some wildly unexpected results that almost certainly would have never taken place in a normal season, from the Blackhawks’ appearance in the 2020 postseason to the Canadiens’ stunning run to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. The only major change taking place this season is the Coyotes shifting from the Pacific to the Central Division and being replaced out west by Seattle. That is bad news for Arizona (the Central is far tougher) and good news for a Kraken team trying to make an immediate impact in the NHL.

NHL Power Rankings
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27. What direction are the Canucks going? One of the more confusing teams in the NHL right now. They have a sensational young core to build around and they did make some intriguing additions this offseason with Jason Dickinson and Conor Garland, as well as the arrival of Vasili Podkolzin. But the defense still has some major questions, and the depth is still a question. They play in the weakest division in the NHL which should give them a shot at the playoffs, but their ceiling still seems to be a mystery as does their overall plan.

26. Can Dallas rebound? The Stars were knocking on the door of the Stanley Cup during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 postseasons, even reaching the Cup Final in 2020. And then things fell apart this past season with a fifth place finish in the modified Central Division, keeping them out of the playoffs entirely. Injuries played a huge role in that as Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov both missed almost the entire season, completely robbing them of a significant portion of their offense. They lost 14 games in overtime or shootout (most in the NHL) and missed the playoffs by four points.

The defense is there, they have the goaltending, and they are getting back a healthy Seguin and Radulov. The playoffs should be the expectation at a minimum. 

NHL Power Rankings
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25. Hurricanes goalie swap. The biggest question with the Hurricanes always seems to be their goaltending situation. Last year they had one of the top team save percentages in the league and a Calder Trophy finalist in Alex Nedeljkovic. They responded this offseason by completely swapping their goalies, trading Nedeljkovic, letting Petr Mrazek walk, and bringing in Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta.

It was not that long ago that Andersen and Raanta would have been one of the NHL’s best goalie duos. But are they still capable of that level of play? The Hurricanes are a Cup contender, and the play of Andersen and Raanta will play a big role in what they are capable of. 

24. Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith in Pittsburgh. With Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang another year older the Penguins window for contention is inching shut. They are not in a position to waste any of their remaining seasons. The 2020-21 season has the feeling of a missed opportunity given the way they lost in the playoffs with Jarry completely melting down in the playoffs. Instead of making changes to the position, or bringing in somebody to push Jarry, they are sticking with the same goalie duo that was not good enough a year ago. The good news is Jarry can not possibly play as poorly as he did in the playoffs over a full season. He will be better. He is capable of being better. But how much better will he be, and will it be good enough?

23. Robin Lehner takes over as No. 1 in Vegas. It seems this is the result the Golden Knights have wanted since acquiring him at the 2020 trade deadline. They made him the starting goalie that postseason, re-signed him to a massive contract that offseason, and seemed prepared to move on from Marc-Andre Fleury right then and there. Even though Fleury came back and reclaimed his starting job and won his first ever Vezina the Golden Knights still dumped him in a salary cap clearing trade, leaving Lehner is the unquestioned starter in Vegas. The Fleury-Lehner duo was the league’s best, and now it all falls on Lehner as he takes over for the most popular player on the team. On a Cup contender that is a lot of pressure and attention.

22. What is the future of the Wild? The Wild emerged as one of the league’s most exciting teams during the 2020-21 season, due in large part to the arrival of Calder Trophy winner Kirill Kaprizov. But contract talks with him have been slow, while the Wild are set to begin a three-year stretch where buyouts leave them with a significantly reduced salary cap number compared to the rest of the league. Can they get Kaprizov signed? Can they build a competitive around him? Are they positioned to be contenders for the long-term, and how does the front office juggle the salary cap situation?

21. Fans back in most buildings. While some buildings had fans for a portion of the 2020-21 season, and some even at full capacity, that should be more of the norm across the league this season. It will be a drastic change after having no fans in the bubble and no fans (especially in Canada) around the league for most of the 2020-21 season.

Detroit Red Wings 2021-22 NHL Season Preview

The 2021-22 NHL season is coming and it’s time to take a look at all 32 teams. Over the next month we’ll be examining best- and worst-case scenarios, looking at the biggest questions, breakout candidates, and more for each franchise. Today, we preview the Detroit Red Wings.

2020-21 Season Review

• Record: 19-27-10 (48 poionts) seventh place in Central Division
• Postseason: Did not qualify for playoffs; drafted Simon Edvinsson No. 6 overall
• Offensive leader: Filip Hronek (56 games, 2 goals, 24 assists, 26 points)

• Free Agent Additions: Nicky Leddy (trade with Islanders), Pius Suter, Alex Nedeljkovic (trade with Hurricanes), Carter Rowney, Mitchell Stephens
• Free Agent Subtractions: Jonathan Bernier, Richard Panik (trade with Islanders)

Biggest question facing the Detroit Red Wings?

• Is Alex Nedeljkovic the answer in goal?

It was a bit of a surprise when the Carolina Hurricanes traded Calder Trophy finalist Alex Nedeljkovic to the Red Wings this offseason. They had been looking for a long-term answer in goal for years, and given the way Nedeljkovic played during the 2020-21 season he seemed like he could have been the guy. But they traded his restricted free agent rights to the Red Wings who promptly re-signed him to a two-year, $6 million contract.

The question is what sort of player are the Red Wings getting?

If they get the Nedeljkovic of last season they are getting a legitimate starting NHL goalie that could fill that position for the foreseeable future and eliminate a need from the checklist.

[Related: Every free agent signing by all 32 NHL teams]

The concern, though, is that his 2020-21 performance is the first time Nedeljkovic has ever really played at anything close to that level. Was it an outlier? Or just a goalie that took some time to develop? This season should give us a little bit of an answer to that question.

What’s the salary cap situation?

The Red Wings have significant amounts of salary cap space given the combination of a younger roster, almost no long-term commitments, and no significant contracts. The only player on the roster that makes more than $6 million against the salary cap is Dylan Larkin at $6.1 million. They also have a lot of money coming off the books after this season. Salary cap space is the least of the Red Wings worries right now.

Breakout Candidate

Moritz Seider

When the Red Wings drafted Seider two years ago it was seen as a bit of a reach and probably not worth the spot. A lot can change in two years, and now Seider is one of the top prospects in the NHL and looks ready to make the leap to the NHL and make an impact. He was named the SHL’s defenseman of the season during the 2020-21 season and should be on the radar for the Calder Trophy this season. The Red Wings need impact players to build around, and Seider has as much potential to be that as any other player in their system right now.

Best-Case Scenario

This still is not going to be a playoff team. Not with that roster. Not in this division. But they can take some steps. The ideal situation for the Red Wings this season is that Nedeljkovic proves he can be a consistent starting goalie in the NHL and they see significant progress from players like Filip Zadina, Filip Hronek, Jakub Vrana, and Seider. The playoffs are still an unrealistic expectation right now, but this many years into a rebuild there should be some progress toward that.

Worst-Case Scenario

It would be a lack of progress and another finish near the bottom the league standings. This still is not a particularly deep roster but there are some players that need to start establishing themselves as core building blocks. The worst case scenario would be a lack of progress on that front. It would be Nedeljkovic failing in his new role, Zadina not progressing, Vrana not playing like he did after the trade last year, and all of it adding up to another awful year in the standings.

PointsbetDetroit Red Wings Stanley Cup odds

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Dallas Stars 2021-22 NHL Season Preview

The 2021-22 NHL season is coming and it’s time to take a look at all 32 teams. Over the next month we’ll be examining best- and worst-case scenarios, looking at the biggest questions, breakout candidates, and more for each franchise. Today, we preview the Dallas Stars.

2020-21 Season Review

• Record: 23-19-14 (60 points); fifth place in Central Division
• Postseason: Did not qualify for playoffs; drafted Wyatt Johnson in first round of draft
• Offensive leader: Joe Pavelski (56 games, 25 goals, 26 assists, 51 points)

• Free Agent Additions: Ryan Suter, Luke Glendening, Michael Raffl, Braden Holtby
• Free Agent Subtractions: Jason Dickinson (trade to Vancouver Canucks), Jamie Oleksiak (Seattle Kraken)

Biggest question facing the Dallas Stars?

• How much of a difference will a healthy Tyler Seguin make?

Not to mention a healthy Alexander Radulov as well. The biggest issue for the 2020-21 Stars was the fact their two most dangerous offensive players — Seguin and Radulov — were limited to just 14 total man games for the entire season. Radulov played 11 games, Seguin played three games, and they played exactly zero games together.

Over the three years prior to that those two were by far the most productive players in the Stars’ lineup and a major part of their offense. Take them away and what was an already thin offense gets even thinner.

[Related: Every free agent signing by all 32 NHL teams]

There should be little doubt that those injuries kept the Stars out of a playoff spot. They fell just four points shy while losing 14(!) games in overtime or a shootout, the most in the NHL. Given how good Seguin and Radulov are, and how good they have been in overtime for the Stars in recent years, it is not a stretch to think that their presence could have made a difference in a handful of those games. Not to mention any other game over the course of the season.

What’s the salary cap situation?

It is extremely tight, and while they do have a lot of money coming off the books after this season there are a lot of players they are almost certainly going to want to re-sign. That includes Radulov, Joe Pavelski, and defenseman John Klingberg.

Pavelski’s age (he will be 38 next season) might push him out the door which could clear $7 million in cap space, but you have to figure Klingberg and Radulov will be priorities given their production and importance to the lineup. The Stars have three NHL caliber goalies under contract with Holtby, Ben Bishop, and Anton Khudobin, with the latter two signed through the end of next season at a combined salary cap hit of over $7 million each year. With the presence of Jake Oettinger in the system it stands to reason that one of those two could be traded to create even more space.

Along with the unrestricted free agents, they also will have to deal with significant raises for Jason Robertson and Denis Gurianov after this season. They have a lot of significant contracts to take care of over the next year and limited salary cap space to make it work.

Breakout Candidate

• Denis Gurianov

Maybe you want to say that his breakout season already happened (he did score 20 goals as a rookie and has been one of the more efficient 5-on-5 goal scorers in the league so far in his career) but there still seems to be another level he can reach. Whenever he is on the ice good things seem to happen for the Stars and he always seems to be at the center of it. The Stars’ top players are starting to get older, but with Gurianov, Roope Hintz, Miro Heiskanen, and Jason Robertson they do have another wave of potential impact players coming along.

Best-Case Scenario

The best-case scenario is that the return of a healthy Seguin and Radulov make a significant difference in all of those one goal games, Robertson repeats his great rookie season, and players like Gurianov, Hintz, and Heiskanen all take big steps forward. If that happens, combined with the level of goaltending they should be able to get behind what should be a strong defense, this could be a playoff team and one that could do some damage when it gets there. Between 2018-19 and 2019-20 the Stars won more playoff games than any team in the NHL and were knocking on the door of the Stanley Cup. Injuries derailed their chances a year ago and held them back.

Worst-Case Scenario

The worst-case scenario would be that a lot of the players they are counting on start to show their age, slow down, and do not make the type of impact that is expected. Seguin, Pavelski, Radulov, Jamie Benn, Ryan Suter, and the goalies are all over the age of 32, while the roster itself has 12 players over the age of 30 (and a couple of 29 year olds as well). Eventually those players will start to slow down. It is an older team overall and while it is a group that has had recent success, it is not a roster that has much margin for error. A mediocre offense and any kind of a slip up in goal could lead to a repeat of the 2020-21 season instead of the 2019-20 season.

PointsbetDallas Stars Stanley Cup odds

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