Hockey fans, it's that time of the year again! The NHL season is upon us. Training camps and pre-season games are in full swing.
Depending on where your loyalties lie, you’re either cautiously excited, have Stanley Cup-or-bust aspirations, or are completely loathing the upcoming season and gearing up for next year’s draft lottery.
Let’s help you gear up for the upcoming season with a few of the things we’re most excited about.
1. Familiar Faces In New Places
Erik Karlsson took his Norris Trophy to Pittsburgh to play with Sid, Geno, Letang, and Co. Alex DeBrincat got shipped out of Ottawa to Detroit where he’ll look to get the Red Wings over the hump and back into the playoffs. Pierre-Luc Dubois landed in Los Angeles and immediately received a huge new contract. Ivan Provorov (CBJ), Taylor Hall (CHI), Matt Duchene (DAL), Vladimir Tarasenko (OTT), Reilly Smith (PIT), Ryan Johansen (COL), and more will all look to gel in new homes.
Who will struggle? Who will find immediate success? Where will the pieces fit just right?
2. An Exciting Rookie Crop
Of course, this list begins with Connor Bedard, the #1 pick for Chicago who looks to jumpstart the rebuild for the Blackhawks, but plenty of others will look to push him for the Calder Trophy. Logan Cooley (ARI) may already have a goal-of-the-year candidate.
Other top picks, Leo Carlsson (#2, ANA) and Adam Fantilli (#3, CBJ) will also look to crack the opening night roster and contribute offensively throughout the year. Matthew Knies (LW, TOR), Luke Hughes (D, NJD), William Eklund (LW, SJS), and Brandt Clarke (LAK) will all look to make immediate impacts while others like Ryker Evans (D, SEA), David Jiricek (D, CBJ), and Matthew Coronato (RW, CGY) may get the chance to elevate themselves to the top of the class.
Meanwhile, the Buffalo Sabres search for a franchise goaltender may finally be at an end as rookie Devon Levi takes over between the pipes following a brilliant two seasons at Northeastern University.
3. Chasing Records
Sitting at 850 career points, Connor McDavid could realistically break into the 1,000-point club considering he put up 153 last season. Marc-Andre Fleury needs eight wins to surpass Patrick Roy and move into second all-time for goaltenders. Sid the Kid is on pace to enter the top 10 for career points, and teammate Evgeni Malkin is 29 goals shy of the prestigious 500 club. Meanwhile, 20 players are in range of attaining the silver stick for playing in 1,000 NHL games, including Fleury, who would be just the fourth goaltender to do so (after Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, and Patrick Roy).
And it won’t be this year unless he has an absolutely ridiculous season at age 38, but Alex Ovechkin’s chase of Wayne Gretzky’s career goal-scoring record is as compelling as they come. At the start of the season, he sits 72 behind The Great One’s benchmark of 894.
4. Young Teams Vying To Get Over The Hump
The Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, and Ottawa Senators each have exciting teams in place that look poised to end their respective playoff droughts (12, 7, and 6 seasons, respectively). Buffalo and Ottawa have potent offensive attacks while the Red Wings bring a more veteran, balanced approach after offseason maneuvers.
That first-round playoff atmosphere is electric when fanbases have had extended playoff droughts. Here’s hoping these post-season-starved franchises can make it this season, we’d love to see it!
5. Successful Seasons For AYCANE Ambassadors
We’re expecting big things from our NHL AYCANE ambassadors like Moritz Seider (DET) and Timo Meier (NJD). We know they’ve been putting in the extra work training this offseason (and doing it in AYCANE, of course) and we’re excited to see their hard work pay off individually and for their teams. Go get ‘em, boys!
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