Hockey is back tomorrow! And with a new season, so comes boundless optimism, because even though your team was out of the play-off race by March last year, this is a whole new season, with unlimited possibilities. So here's one reason to be excited about every NHL team.
Montreal: PK Subban. He is one of the most exciting players in the league, and when he is on his game is possibly the best defensemen in the world.
Toronto: Last year's Leafs provided vindication to advanced stats geeks everywhere. In reaction to this, new team president Brendan Shannahan brought in stats-friendly wunderkind Kyle Dubas as an advisor. It remains to be seen though if traditionalist head coach Randy Carlyle can adjust to this new way of thinking.
Ottawa: This is really a brand new Sens. After Alfredsson left last year, and Spezza got traded to Dallas in the off-season, this is the first time since before colour television that Ottawa will start the year without either player on their roster. Sure, old hands Phillips and Neil are still around, but this team belongs to Erik Karlsson now, let's see how he runs with it.
Boston: A perennial powerhouse like the Bruins do not need much help getting buzz around them, I would not expect that to change this year since on paper Boston has the most solid line-up in the league top-to-bottom.
Florida: Roberto Luongo by himself has the potential to drag almost any team to the playoffs, and if he succeeds the Panthers are easily top-3 in "what do we throw on the ice to celebrate during the playoffs?"
Tampa Bay: If Steven Stamkos can't get you excited then I have no idea what will. Also they play in place that is now called the Amalie Arena.What the fuck is an Amalie?
Buffalo: I'm gonna be honest, I'm not sure there's a lot to be excited about here. And I mean the Sabres, although that same statement could apply to the city of Buffalo.
Detroit: Is this the year the Babcock-Holland success-fest finally comes stumbling to a halt? That the longest play-off streak in North America reaches its inevitable eventual conclusion?
New York Rangers: Ryan McDonagh, a partcipant in perhaps Glen Sather's greatest trade-fleecing, has been named captain. McDonagh is amazing. Let's all pause and consider how good Montreal could have been with both Subban and McDonagh.
New York Islanders: The Islanders have not yet managed to translate their years of high picks and abundant youthful talent into any success, but if John Tavares can regain the form he had before getting injured last year, and the supporting pieces come together, this should be an exciting young team to watch.
New Jersey: With the departure of the legendary Martin Brodeur, and with a lineup low on star power, these are uncertain times in the swamp. But New Jersey boasts a number of strong supporting pieces, and with some of that Lou Lamoriello magic who knows what could happen.
Pittsburgh: I sometime feel like the management in Pittsburgh is playing a great practical joke, and they laugh like crazy behind all of our backs about how they've stockpiled the two greatest offensive talents on the planet and then surrounded them with what amounts to about an old rocking chair, aa handful of donkeys on ice skates, and the perpetually confused expression of Pascal Dupuis. Still though, Malkin and Crosby!
Philadelphia: This team is pretty much Claude Giroux and the scotch tape holding together pieces of Steve Mason. But if Giroux plays the way he did in the second half of last season, after being inexplicably left off of Canada's olympic team, then they have a shot.
Columbus: After years of being a punch line, new GM Jarmo Kekalainen last year seemed to start down the path of building a strong hockey foundation in Ohio's capital. The Ryan Johansen contract dispute probably did not help this cause, but the Jackets are a team seemingly headed in the right direction.
Washington: At this point no one knows if Alex Ovechkin will ever regain his early-career form. I am either naïve or a true believer, because every year I expect it to happen, and this year is no different.
Carolina: There's some metaphor about how, like their namesake, the Hurricanes arose out of nowhere, crashed hard into land/won a Stanley Cup (OK, it's not the greatest metaphor...), and then disappeared again. Also, if anyone on this team is still healthy by December then maybe they will be OK.
Winnipeg: The common line on the Jets is that the fans, who were oh so exuberant upon their return, will at some point start to lose patience and that this is a put-up-or-shut-up season. I am not sure I buy that, because what else are you going to do in Winnipeg in January if you are not cheering on the Jets. But this is one of the hardest teams to predict, if it all comes together they are easily a playoff team, if the wheels come off again Evander Kane will be on his way out by the trade deadline.
Chicago: How many years can you be a great team for before the salary cap bites you? Apparently we are about to find out.
Dallas: At this point I will be personally disappointed if the Stars do not score 5 goals a game. I mean, look at that sexy powerplay unit.
Minnesota: So you can't buy chemistry, but at some point the Wild have to click, right?
Colorado: Last year's trendy dark horse pick came through, now let's see if they take the next step.
St Louis: So the Blues very quickly went from two A-list goalies to none. Regardless, the depth everywhere else on the ice is insane, and if I had to pick a cup favourite today then they'd certainly be in the mix.
Nashville: So when I typed this list up, I was missing a team, and I couldn't for the life of me remember who it was. Spoiler Alert: it was the Predators. That being said, I actually have high hopes for the Preds this year, seeing as they have what should be one of the best defensive corps in the league.
Anaheim: Teemu Selanne is one of the all time greats, but at this point in their careers swapping Ryan Kesler into his spot is certainly an upgrade. And won't it be fun to watch Kesler line up across from Dustin Brown during the Battle of California rivalry games.
LA: Shhhh! No one say the D word. (And by that I mean "dynasty", not "Daryl Sutter's Frowny Face")
Arizona: Hey folks from Tucson, here's your chance! If you always wanted a pro hockey team to call your own, but were discouraged since the Coyotes had Phoenix in the name, well that serious problem has been solved and this franchise has absolutely zero bigger problems to be worrying about.
San Jose: Always the hare, never the tortoise. It's seemingly the safest bet in hockey that the Sharks will have a great regular season and then crash in the playoffs. And last year's crash was glorious indeed. Still though, they are certainly a Cup contender on paper.
Calgary: Online bookmaker Paddy Power is giving 100/1 odds on the Flames winning the Cup. They are giving 80/1 odds on Arnold Schwarzenegger being the Republican nominee for president in 2016.
Edmonton: How many first round draft picks does it take to screw in a lightbulb? A hell of a lot less than to make you hockey team any good apparently. But at some point they have to have too much talent to keep doing this badly, right?
Vancouver: Some would say that the most exciting thing for the Canucks these days is their new head coach's mustache. Other far more (implausibly) optimistic people would say that maybe Radim Vrbata is the perfect complement for the Sedins, and Ryan Miller is the anchor they need in net, and some of the young guns will break out, and that this could be the year! Well, probably not, but getting rid of the two of the three angriest people in British Columbia has to have some positive impact right?