Since late June, fans have been eagerly anticipating the start of the 2017 NHL season. With regular season play beginning on Oct. 4, here is a brief look at what’s in store for the 2017-18 season.
In the 2016-17 season, fans saw the Pittsburgh Penguins defeat the Nashville Predators in six games to win their second consecutive Stanley Cup, their third in the last nine seasons. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and company gave a strong performance, given the absence of several core players during the regular and postseason. During the offseason, they lost some aging forward, but also added some grit, bringing in Ryan Reaves. Going into the season, they are the favorites to win a third straight Stanley Cup Championship.
There were a few notable transactions during the offseason throughout the league. Most notably, skilled winger Artemi Panarin signed with the young and gritty Columbus Blue Jackets. In exchange, the Chicago Blackhawks brought back scoring winger Brandon Saad. Saad won two titles in 2013 and 2015 with the Hawks alongside fellow superstars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
The success of the younger teams will be the biggest stories heading into the regular season. The Edmonton Oilers look to build off their success from last season after being eliminated in the Western Conference Semifinals by the Anaheim Ducks. Scoring champion Connor McDavid, fresh off his 12-year $100 million contract extension, hopes to lead his team even further into the postseason. The Toronto Maple Leafs will be trying to mesh their rebuild with some more wins this season and brought in veteran Patrick Marleau to do just that. Last year was a huge step for Toronto, as they were able to take their series against the Washington Capitals to six games, before a game six overtime elimination. Young guns Auston Matthews, Mitchell Marner and William Nylander all recorded over 50 point seasons in their rookie years, and hope to progress even more so this season.
The New York Rangers have a lot to look forward to coming into this season. The Blueshirts were able to land one of the biggest free agents this offseason, signing Connecticut native Kevin Shattenkirk. The right-handed defenseman will log some big minutes alongside captain Ryan McDonough. The New York Islanders hope to bounce back after missing the playoffs a season ago. Their main concern looming this season will be attempting to sign their franchise player, John Tavares. At almost a point-per-game pace, Tavares has enjoyed a very successful career so far in the NHL. Over the offseason, the Islanders traded for winger Jordan Eberle, who they hope can bring some more offense to a team that struggled to score last season. The New Jersey Devils finished amongst the bottom in the league standings last season. Those struggles produced a first overall pick in Swiss forward, Nico Hischier. Hischier is a very dynamic two-way center who the Devils believe will be a cornerstone for their franchise in the years to come.
Players around the NHL are itching to get back on the ice and compete for a Stanley Cup title. The upstart Vegas Golden Knights will look to make some noise in their inaugural season, while the Capitals finally look to win a Stanley Cup in the Ovechkin era. The season cannot start soon enough and it is looking to be an extremely exciting one.
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