We’re a mere two days away from the start of the 2017-18 NHL season. Here are some thoughts on what the upcoming season will bring for the Eastern Conference.
Tampa Bay Lightning
When Steven Stamkos tore his meniscus in his left knee last November, many thought the season was over for the Lightning. Much to everyone’s surprise, and thanks to two players who stepped-up, Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman, the team surprised everyone and… well, they came really close to making the playoffs. Now, with Stamkos back and playing like he was injury free last year (at least he was during preseason), what oh what will the Lightning do this season?
Toronto Maple Leafs
Ahh, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Another team that stood no chance at success last season but managed to surprise everyone when they grabbed the last Eastern Conference wild card spot. Can this young team do it again or did they just get lucky last season?
New York Rangers
Well, the team picked up Lias Andersson 7th overall in the 2017 NHL draft thinking he would be the center the team needed, but they ended up shipping him back to Sweden because, well, he wasn’t what they hoped for. No literally, the team sent him to play for Frolunda where he can gain some more professional experience before coming back to them in the NHL. That leaves Filip Chytil, another 18-year old. In other words, the team has potential but I can’t see them going to far this season.
And The Others?
The rest of the Eastern Conference? I’m also not really expecting anything unusual from teams like the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins. The Boston Bruins? Well, the Bruins will most likely be plagued by their aging players, Chara, Bergeron, and Krejci, and their inexperienced younger guys who, like Lias Andersson, seem to need more time.