Having lost a second Captain in two years, and with some of the tightest financial restrictions of any club in the NHL, Ottawa enters the 2014/15 season in a somewhat strange position.
Many consider the Senators to be closer to the lottery draft than the play-offs. With talent on the roster, and a young core, does the organisation seek to make a return to the post season? Or should they turn their attention to Messrs McDavid and Eichel?
After a sluggish start under new coach Alain Vigneault, the Rangers went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final last season.
Can the blue shirts repeat that feat? Or go one better this season?
Having one of the worlds best goaltenders certainly doesn’t hurt…
Vancouver avoided another long winded goaltending controversy this week, waiving Jacob Markstrom and in doing so clearing the way to send him to the AHL.
The 24-year old was drafted 31st overall by Florida in 2008, with the Panthers pegging him as their future #1. Despite numerous opportunities to take the reigns, the young Swede was never able to convert a promising AHL career in to anything substantial in the NHL, and he was traded to Vancouver last season as part of the deal that took Roberto Luongo back to the Sunshine State.
With Ryan Miller joining the Canucks this summer, the organisation had three netminders competing for two spots. Miller starts the season as #1, and Eddie Lack impressed last season despite the circus that went on around him. As a result, there was little room for Markstrom heading in to the new campaign.
Given his difficulties over the past few seasons, and the clubs goaltending situation, sending Markstrom down is the right choice for everyone.
After making a long overdue return to the play-offs in 2013, the Islanders came back to Earth with a bump last season – finishing bottom of the Metropolitan Division with one of the worst defensive records in the league.
With the move to Brooklyn now imminent, and a change of ownership coming, the pressure on General Manager Garth Snow and Head Coach Jack Capuano has been ramped up this season – but after a summer of (largely) positive moves, and with a bevy of top prospects in the system, there’s plenty to be optimistic about on Long Island.
Without the clubs most famous face for the first time in 20 years, New Jersey are heading in a somewhat strange direction.
With multiple veterans signed to professional try out contracts and an ageing roster seemingly blocking any serious progress for some of their prospects, New Jersey seem to be lingering awkwardly around the play-off bubble.
The danger is it might leave them on the outside looking in, and without a decent draft pick – so what is the plan in New Jersey? Is this a last throw of the dice for Lou Lamoriello’s collection of old warriors? Or a season too far – simply delaying a major overhaul for the three time Stanley Cup winners.
Nashville missed the play-offs for the second straight season last year, costing long time coach Barry Trotz his job.
Now with a new coach at the helm, and their star netminder healthy again, Nashville enters the new season full of hope.
But in a tough Division, do the Predators have enough to make it back to the post season?
Canada’s sole representative in last years play-offs, Montreal might be the only flag bearer for hockey’s homeland again this season.
Whilst others undergo journeys of self discovery or rebuilds; Montreal seem to have found their groove over the past two seasons.
With one of the best goaltenders in the world, and perhaps the most dynamic D man in the game today, Les Habitants have the back bone to be a perennial play-off team for years to come.