This series will highlight each division’s best cup contender, dark horse candidates, and tanker teams for the 2018-19 NHL season.
Cup Contenders: Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins
(Capitals)-The reigning Stanley Cup champions started off the season with a statement 7-0 blowout over Tuukka Rask and the Boston Bruins. With the roster still intact from last year, we will see how the Ovechkin’s Capitals respond to the infamous “Stanley Cup Hangover” and a coaching change from the familiar Barry Trotz (signed with Islanders in offseason).
(Penguins)– After losing to the eventual Champion Caps in a second-round OT bout, the Pittsburgh Penguins still harbor one of the most dangerous rosters in the NHL. As the Pens plan to dismember you with speed and skill, they also sustain incredible chemistry with one another. Look for Sid, Geno, Kessel, Letang, and Murray to make the playoffs and pursue their 3rd trophy in 4 years.
Dark Horse Candidates: Philadelphia Flyers, Colombus Blue Jackets
(Flyers)– It has been a long time since the Flyers have won a playoff series, and after 6 years, Dave Hakstol and Co. look to change that narrative. After a first-round shellacking from the high-octane Penguins last year, the Flyers come into the season with a roster often slipping under-the-radar. With a Top-6 containing Giroux, Couturier, Konecny
, Voracek, Patrick, and re-acquired James van Riemsdyk, the Orange and Black look to make some noise in the postseason. However, to return to the Cup Final for the first time since 2010, Brian Elliot and Neuvirth/Pickard/Hart need to pick up the pace.
(Blue Jackets)– The Colombus Blue Jackets are honestly a scary team and should be on everyone’s radar come April. This roster is bottom heavy, with serious players on defense (Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, Ryan Murray)
and in net (Bobrovsky, Korpisalo). Offensively, Russian superstar Artemi Panarin is the focal point of an offense with tremendous chemistry and depth. Watch out for the Jackets.
Tank or Bust: New York Rangers
(Rangers)– This lackluster roster gives you very little to be excited about. Look for the Rangers to battle for the No. 1 overall pick and find a cup-contender in need of some goalie help for Hank Lundquivst. Jack Hughes hopefuls? Yes.
Limbo Teams: Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders