The beginning of the 2023-24 season is correct across the nook, and it comes with a considerable amount of pleasure.
Final season, groups just like the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs have been anticipated to contend for the Stanley Cup popping out of the East. Nevertheless, each groups bumped into the buzzsaw often known as the Florida Panthers, who made all of it the best way to the Stanley Cup Remaining for simply the second time in franchise historical past. Florida returns the majority of its roster in 2023-24, so one other postseason run could possibly be within the playing cards. However, the East is extraordinarily deep heading into the upcoming marketing campaign.
This is a breakdown of the Jap Convention as we enter the 2023-24 season.
Can the Panthers make one other deep Stanley Cup run?
The Panthers did the unthinkable as they reached the Stanley Cup Remaining regardless of barely making the postseason. It was the approaching out social gathering for star ahead Matthew Tkachuk, who registered a career-high 109 factors (40 objectives and 69 assists). It was a efficiency that made Tkachuk a Hart Trophy finalist, and he may’ve taken dwelling the award if it wasn’t for a superhuman yr from Oilers star Connor McDavid.
The Panthers return the vast majority of their core from a season in the past, together with Aleksander Barkov, Carter Verhaeghe and Sam Bennett. The most important query mark shall be in internet as Sergei Bobrovsky will look to place an entire season collectively. If Florida will get a robust yr from Bobrovsky, it is extraordinarily doable the franchise could make one other Stanley Cup cost.
Can the Lightning survive with out Vasiilevskiy?
Final week, Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy underwent again surgical procedure and can miss not less than the primary two months of the 2023-24 season. Dropping Vasilevskiy is large, however the greater difficulty is the Lightning do not have a ton of confirmed expertise that may change him. At present, Jonas Johansson and Hugo Alnefelt are the 2 choices behind Vasilevskiy who’re set to play in his absence. Johansson, 28, has hung out with the Avalanche, Panthers and Sabres, recording a 3.35 profession goals-against-average. However, Alnefelt has only one profession NHL recreation below his belt, as he performed a interval in 2021-22 towards the Panthers and allowed three objectives throughout that span.
It is seemingly the workforce will pursue an out of doors choice to assist fill the void till Vasilevskiy is again. Brian Elliott was Vasilevskiy’s backup in 2022-23 and remains to be a free agent. Maybe the Lightning make a name to deliver Elliott again into the fold. No matter what course they go, it will be value watching to see if the Lightning can maintain their heads above water whereas Vasilevskiy is on the shelf.
May this lastly be the Maple Leafs’ yr?
The Maple Leafs have been labeled as a Stanley Cup contender for a number of years, however they’ve had an inclination of getting eradicated within the opening spherical of the postseason. Nevertheless, Toronto lastly shifted its fortunes final season because the workforce defeated the Lightning to get out of the primary spherical for the primary time since 2004. The Maple Leafs noticed their Stanley Cup aspirations come to an finish within the subsequent spherical, nonetheless, as they have been bounced by the Panthers.
It ended up being a really eventful offseason because the Maple Leafs landed winger Tyler Bertuzzi on a one-year deal to play alongside Auston Matthews. Talking of Matthews, Toronto lastly inked its star middle to an enormous four-year contract extension. The Maple Leafs additionally signed ahead Max Domi, who ought to slot into one of many wing spots on their third line. Contemplating the expertise the Maple Leafs have been ready so as to add, this can be a workforce that might actually make a deep run on the Stanley Cup.
Altering of the guard for the Bruins
For such a very long time, the Bruins relied on veteran forwards like Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, however each introduced their respective retirements through the offseason. Bergeron was the heartbeat of the franchise, and he actually helped set the desk for the Bruins defensively. Now the Bruins will transfer ahead with gamers like Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy main the cost.
Final yr, the Bruins had probably the most historic common season in NHL historical past to the tune of 135 factors. Regardless of the sensational common season, although, the Bruins have been eradicated by the Panthers within the opening spherical of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Bruins did not make many strikes within the offseason except for a reunion with an growing older Milan Lucic. That is seemingly nonetheless a playoff workforce, however it’s actually doable Boston will not be fairly as profitable this common season in comparison with the final.
Hurricanes have loaded up for Stanley Cup chase
The Hurricanes had one of many extra eventful offseasons of any workforce throughout the league. The workforce landed winger Michael Bunting on a three-year deal, whereas additionally signing star defenseman Dmitry Orlov to a two-year deal. Bunting has been a productive objective scorer as he is tallied 112 factors (46 objectives and 66 assists) during the last two seasons. In the meantime, Orlov is coming off of a robust season splitting time between the Capitals and Bruins, and he now provides the Hurricanes an outstanding prime pairing with offensive-minded blue-liner Brent Burns.
Including a ton of expertise is large after Carolina managed to succeed in the Jap Convention Remaining even with out forwards Max Pacioretty and Andrei Svechnikov. Each Pacioretty (Achilles) and Svechnikov (knee) have been misplaced for the yr down the stretch, and the Hurricanes did not precisely have the offensive firepower they’re accustomed to. If the Hurricanes can keep wholesome, that is actually a workforce with the flexibility to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup after beefing up their roster over the summer time.
Acquisition of Erik Karlsson makes the Penguins a contender
The Penguins had made the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 16 consecutive seasons, however that streak lastly got here to an finish after they missed the postseason in 2022-23. Pittsburgh handled a number of injured checklist stints when it got here to goaltender Tristan Jarry, they usually discovered themselves attempting to seize one of many remaining wild-card spots late within the season.
After lacking the playoffs a season in the past, the Penguins made an enormous splash over the summer time after they acquired star defenseman Erik Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks in a three-team commerce. The again finish was an enormous space of focus for the workforce all through the offseason. Along with Karlsson, the workforce additionally signed Ryan Graves away from the Devils on a six-year deal. Together with Kris Letang, the Penguins now have a much-improved defensive core, and Karlsson must also give them an enormous increase offensively. Contemplating Sidney Crosby remains to be enjoying at an elite stage, the Penguins may doubtlessly have another Stanley Cup run in them.
Devils able to take the following step
The Devils have spent the final a number of years constructing their roster round a younger core that features the likes of Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt and Nico Hischier. The workforce even made a daring transfer to amass star ahead Timo Meier from the Sharks on the 2023 commerce deadline. The workforce defeated the Rangers within the opening spherical of the postseason, and it bought some much-needed playoff expertise.
Meier is again within the fold, whereas the workforce additionally acquired veteran winger Tyler Toffoli from the Flames within the offseason. The Devils prime six group of forwards could possibly be among the many finest the Jap Convention has to supply, they usually’ve now had an expertise that might assist them take their recreation to the following stage. The most important query mark stays in internet with the workforce nonetheless having Vitek Vanecek and Akira Schmid within the fold. Schmid fully shifted the workforce’s collection towards the Rangers final season, and he could possibly be able to take an enormous leap if he wins the beginning job. The Devils undoubtedly have the potential to come back out of the East if they’ll capitalize on their potential.
Can the Rangers reply after their early postseason exit?
The Rangers have been a workforce that loaded up for a run on the Stanley Cup through the 2022-23 marketing campaign. The workforce acquired veteran forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane on the commerce deadline, they usually did not have to surrender a ton to get them. Even with these added items, New York was eradicated in Spherical 1 by the Devils, leaving the franchise trying to find solutions.
The workforce made a head teaching change after they changed Gerard Gallant with Peter Laviolette. The Rangers did add veteran winger Blake Wheeler to their roster on a really workforce pleasant one-year deal, whereas deciding towards bringing again Kane and Tarasenko. It is a number of the identical items enjoying in entrance of 2022 Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin. It’s going to be attention-grabbing to see if Laviolette finally ends up getting extra out of this group. Commerce deadline offers may by no means be dominated out in terms of the Rangers, so it could possibly be a piece in progress.