Here is my season preview. It’s split into 3 parts. The Good! The Bad! The Chia!
We have Connor McDavid and he is awesome. Simply the best. I fully expect him to lead the league in at least 2 of the top 3 categories (Goals, Assists, Points) and maybe even all 3. I don’t think there is much debate he is the best player in the world today and I can’t wait to see him unleashed this year as he is poised to shoot more and is faster.
Leon Draisaitl is also a world class NHL player and this could be the year he finally reaches 82 points and carries his own line. He still has the most points of everyone in his draft class and continues to get bigger and better.
RNH is a world class player and very underrated. I’m convinced he belongs on every Top 6 in the NHL. He will be a fantastic LW on line 1. Also, if the big 2 get hurt, he’ll be a great Centre.
I think our best Plan A of making the playoffs is very simple. Connor needs to get 2 points a night (164 point season) with whomever is on his line. Leon needs to get 1 point a night playing far away from Connor (including Powerplay). This way, we always score 3 goals. The rest of the plan revolves around playing the trap and making sure we only allow 2 against. This enables us to win the majority of our games 3-2 and Bam! Playoffs.
The core of our Top 4 D - Nurse, Larsson and Klefbom are all healthy, young, signed to good contracts and one year older. This should mean they are all better. Same could be said for Matt Benning. Larsson was also an all star at the most recent World Championships and played tremendous.
Our battle for 6/7th Defender is excellent! We have at least 10 guys that are all very capable of playing 13 minutes a night without hurting the team - Gravel, Jerabek, Russel, Benning, Simpson, Lowe, Bear, Jones, Garrison and Bouchard would all be excellent 6/7 Dmen on most NHL playoff teams this season. Also, in about 3 years, I think Bouchard will be ready to be an elite Top 4 D in the NHL. 2 years from now we could have a Top 4 of Klef, Larsson, Nurse and Bouchard with no one making crazy money. Sekera and Russel would be eligible for buyouts and trades at this point as well. Maybe Bear and Jones will be able to take steps forward as well.
Our 4th line could be excellent! So could our 3rd. Guys like Lucic, Yamamoto, Puljujarvi, Caggiula, McLeod, Rattie, Strome, Aberg, Kassian, Reider and Brodziak have all the tools to be bottom 6 players on an NHL Playoff team. Our depth of bottom 6 players is amazing.
Our AHL prospects are looking good. Marody, Bensen, Bear and Jones all had strong camps. Chia has picked up several guys that are young and will compete well in the AHL. Some of them might get to the NHL and become regulars in a few year.
Our Draft this year yielded at least 2 very good Prospects. Evan Bouchard looks like he’ll be a star in a few years. Ryan McLeod looked great in Rookie and Training camp. He might be the steal of Round 2 and I would pencil him in as a starter for next season. Ostap Safin is going to powerhouse Halifax where he will get lots of time to develop his game.
Did anyone see Kailer Yamamoto in preseason? Even away from Drai and McDavid, he dominated a lot of periods. I don’t buy this ‘he needs to go the AHL to learn to play against men’. He will not get taller or bigger in the AHL. He already knows how to handle himself and could be the steal of his draft as well.
Chia signed Reider and Brodziak to very good deals. They should both add a little depth to our strong young core. Very good signing. Reider might end up being a steal if he stays in the Top 6.
We had a good draft the last 2 years and it might yield some solid players for us. Bensen, McLeod, Bouchard and Yamamoto currently all look like they can help the team out this year or next. The pipeline is growing. We might have a logjam next year of hungry, young and very talented players trying to crack the Top 6! Can you imagine Chia being fired and then the team takes off based on the players he drafted while destroying the current team?
We have about a dozen goalies in the pipeline now. A lot of them come highly rated and we only need 1 to become the goalie of the future.
We have brand new Assistant Coaches and they are all very good. Last years power play and penalty kill were terrible when it mattered. Assistants tend to run the special teams so fresh eyes and new ideas could really benefit us. Katz spared no expense in getting a very strong bench for the season.
Milan Lucic wants to be here, is in his usual tremendous shape and is ready to go. Sounds like a lot of his off ice distractions are settled as well. If someone could upset him before every game, he could get back to his 40 to 50 point self and really help the team this year.
Almost everyone not named Connor or Leon had a poor season. A lot of the players are due for a bounce back to their historical averages. Klefbom, Talbot, Larsson and Benning could all have a much stronger season. If Cam gets back to his .918 career average, we will be in great shape going forward.
We sizzled in the preseason. Just steamrolled the competition. I’m sure it’ll translate to regular season success.
That is the Good that I see for the upcoming season. Did I miss anything?