New Faces in New Places as NHL Camps Start
By Scott Lowe
MyHockeyRankings.com (Newsday Photo)
We’re less than a month out from the puck dropping on the 2019-20 NHL season. Have you been able to keep up with all of the league’s off-season comings and goings?
There’s always a big flurry of activity around July 1 for the official start of free agency and a lot of media coverage for a week or so around that time, too. But the moves continue throughout the summer and even into September as teams add depth, move contracts, acquire assets for players who aren’t in their plans and prepare for training camps.
With NHL training camps literally right around the corner, let’s a look at many of the new faces that will be in all of the teams’ camps this month courtesy of trades and free-agent signings and discuss each team’s prospects for the coming year. Some of the big names who moved will be familiar to just about everybody, but most of the names on this list are depth players or younger players with potential and limited NHL experience.
Blake Pietila – F – From New Jersey
Nicolas Deslauriers – F – From Montreal
It was an interesting offseason for Anaheim, with longtime top-six forward Corey Perry moving on to Dallas, ironically to join former rival Joe Pavelksi who left San Jose for the Lonestar State. Deslauriers has 49 points in 317 career NHL games, but had just five points and was -12 in 48 contests for the Canadiens last year. He’s a fourth liner at best, and every team needs those. The aging Ducks won just two of 21 games at one point last year, which led to head coach Randy Carlyle getting the boot.
Maybe a new coach, Dallas Eakins, and the guy many think is the best goalie in the world between the pipes in John Gibson, gives them a shot to make the playoffs in a weak Pacific Division? Oh, and they still have Ryan Getzlaf. Stranger things have happened.
Aaron Ness – D – From Washington
Beau Bennett – F – From St. Louis
Phil Kessel – F – From Pittsburgh
Dane Birks – D – From Pittsburgh
Carl Soderberg – F – From Colorado
Arizona appeared to be an up-and-coming team the second half of last season, finishing just four points behind a strong Colorado club in the quest for the playoffs. Scoring has been an issue with the ‘Yotes, and they hope to have solved that problem by adding sniper Phil Kessel. If Kessel is happy and energized, he’s one of the most electrifying players in the league, and you would have to think that having him last year would have put them over the hump. He has at least 20 goals in 11 straight seasons, and Arizona has been lacking a 30-goal scorer for many years. Big, strong and skilled newcomer Carl Soderberg comes with an edge and is a natural center who may shift to wing. He played all 82 games and notched 49 points for Colorado last year.
Brett Ritchie – F – From Dallas
Par Lindholm – F – From Winnipeg
The Bruins appear to be one of the most complete teams in the NHL and ready to possibly take the next step after advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals. They did lose Marcus Johansson, a key playoff contributor who was picked up at the trade deadline, and playoff contributor Noel Acciari to Buffalo and Florida, respectively. Fortunately or unfortunately, the Bruins’ fate likely rests on the shoulders of Tuuka Rask, who has a love-hate relationship with the fans in Beantown. If he plays like he did last spring, Boston should be as good as anyone despite not making any big moves in the offseason.
Marcus Johansson – F – From Boston
Jean-Sebastien Dea – F – From Pittsburgh
Andrew Hammond – G – From Columbus
John Gilmour – D – From N.Y. Rangers
Curtis Lazar – F – From Calgary
Henri Jokiharju – D – From Chicago
Jimmy Vesey – F – From N.Y. Rangers
Colin Miller – D – From Vegas
Every year it looks like the Sabres are ready to become a playoff team, and every year they disappoint. Then they are very active in the offseason in hopes of taking that next step. Will this be the year? Johansson appears to be a great signing at a very good price – a speedy, skilled player who can put the puck in the net and should be good for 50-plus points. Jimmy Vesey also appears to be a good addition coming over from the Rangers. Add them to a core that includes Jack Eichel, who appears poised to move into the NHL’s elite forward group, Sam Reinhart, Jeff Skinner and Rasmus Dahlin and Buffalo appears ready to make some noise under new coach Ralph Krueger. Last year’s fast start showed what the group is capable of, but they need to find a way to seal the deal and finish strong.
Cam Talbot – G – From Philadelphia
Milan Lucic – F – From Edmonton
Another enigma that always seems to be on the verge of breaking through to the next level, Calgary took a step back last year. The Flames hoped that bringing in perennial 30-goal scorer James Neal to go along with superstar Johnny Gaudreau would make the difference last season, but Neal fizzled and was moved to Edmonton for Milan Lucic, who was a disappointment there for several years. Calgary hopes a change of scenery will return Lucic to the player he used to be who could put up points and get under opponents’ skin. The Flames could use a little grit to ease the tough-guy burden that has fallen on Matthew Tkachuk, who is more valuable on the ice than in the penalty box. Cam Talbot was brought in to replace Mike Smith and steady the goaltending, and with a strong forward group that includes Sean Monahan (82 points), Elias Lindholm (78 points) and Tkachuk (77 points), there appearss to be good reason for optimism in Calgary.
Jake Gardiner – D – From Toronto
Anton Forsberg – G – From Chicago
Ryan Dzingel – F – From Columbus
James Reimer – G – From Florida
Erik Haula – F – From Vegas
Gustav Forsling – D – From Chicago
Patrick Marleau – F – From Toronto
Carolina was one of the great stories of the 2018-19 season. Any team that can anger Don Cherry and upset the defending champs in the playoffs will win just about anyone over. But this bunch of jerks didn’t stand pat. They lose the leadership of Mr. Game 7 and team captain Justin Williams, who stepped away from the game a few weeks back, but the recent addition of Jake Gardiner will help what already was an underrated defensive unit as we wait to see how the Justin Faulk contract situation plays out. Skill, scoring, veteran leadership and top-nine depth comes in the form of Patrick Marleau and Ryan Dzingel. It appeared as though Sebastian Aho might be headed out the door to Montreal, but his re-signing solidified the Canes as a playoff contender. If Petr Mrazak can take on a larger role in goal and perform at the same level, the Hurricanes should be knocking on the playoff door again in the always-tough Metropolitan Division.
Robin Lehner – G – From N.Y. Islanders
Ryan Carpenter- F – From Vegas
Zach Smith – F – From Ottawa
Alexander Nylander – F – From Buffalo
Andrew Shaw – F – From Montreal
Aleksi Saarela – F – From Carolina
Calvin de Haan – D – From Carolina
John Queeneville – F – From New Jersey
Olli Matta – D – From Pittsburgh
Times have changed. The Blackhawks used to just reload instead of rebuilding and always seemed to find the players they needed in the offseason to maintain their place as a Stanley Cup contender. The formula hasn’t worked as of late, although after playing bad enough in the first half last year to get head coach Joel Queeneville canned, Chicago played at nearly a 100-point pace over the season’s second half, giving their fans hopes that with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane still around a return to the playoffs is just around the corner. In the spirit of reviving the glory days, gritty leader Andrew Shaw was brought back in the offseason, and solid defensive depth was added in playoff-tested veteran Olli Matta and Carolina’s Calvin de Haan. Vezina-finalist Robin Lehner also was brought in to solidify a shaky goaltending situation, so there appears to be no reason the Hawks can’t make a return to prominence – or at least a return to the postseason. Talented youngsters Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome should continue to improve, and Chicago hopes its history of developing young players into stars rubs off onto newcomer Alex Nylander.
Valeri Nichushkin – F – From Dallas
Andre Burakovsky – F – From Washington
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – F – From Vegas
Joonas Donskoi – F – From San Jose
Nazem Kadri – F – From Toronto
Calle Rosen – D – From Toronto
Kevin Connauton – D – From Arizona
A dangerous team a year ago, the Avalanche appear to be even more lethal now with the additions of Andre Burakovsky and Nzam Kadri. A big junior scorer who showed flashes of brilliance in Washington – especially during the team’s Stanley Cup run – Burakovsky by all accounts has top-six talent but never really got the chance to play a top-six role in D.C. This could be his breakout opportunity as he will be surrounded by all kinds of talent. Kadri is a proven NHL-level scorer and pain in the butt who should be a great addition to a team that could use a little grit if he can avoid crossing the line. Joonas Donskoi is another talented player who can play up-and-down the lineup, and Pierre-Edouard Bellelmare is a solid fourth-line character guy with Stanley Cup Finals experience. Colorado looks to be a strong contender to play deep into the spring.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Gustav Nyquist – F – From San Jose
Wow. From Cup contender to … we’re not really sure. This team cannot possibly be better after adding a middle-six guy in Nyquist and losing players like superstar Artemi Panarin, yearly Vezina contender Sergei Bobrovsky, Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingle. The Jackets went all-in at the trade deadline and buried the NHL’s best team after squeaking into the playoffs last year. And although the cupboard is far from bare, with top-tier D-man Seth Jones and all-star Cam Atkinson still improving up front, it would seem to be a stretch to think Columbus will be a playoff team this year.
Detroit Red Wings
Valterri Filppula – F – From N.Y. Islanders
Patrick Nemeth – D – From Colorado
Adam Erne – F – From Tampa Bay
The Red Wings steak of making the playoffs every year for about two decades is fading fast in the rear-view mirror. A couple of year out of the mix and some veterans feeling their age and moving on has left Detroit in a bit of a pickle. Word has it that young talent is in the pipeline, and budding young superstar Dylan Larkin appears ready to take on a leadership role. But with the lone addition of any consequence being blast-from-the-past forward Valterri Filppula, it appears as though the Wings will again be on the outside looking in.
Andrej Sekera – D – From Edmonton
Joe Pavelski – F – From San Jose
Corey Perry – F – From Anaheim
Ryan Hartman – F – From Philadelphia
Dallas was very close last year, pushing the eventual champs to the limit in the playoffs. The Stars were so close that they were able to convince the faces of two separate Pacific Division franchises, Corey Perry and Joe Pavelski, to come on over to make a run for the Cup. With Ben Bishop standing tall – literally – in goal on a nightly basis and superstar-caliber players Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn already in place, Dallas looks to be a team to be reckoned with into May and maybe beyond.
Riley Sheahan – F – From Florida
Josh Archibald – F – From Arizona
Mike Smith – G – From Calgary
Thomas Jurco – F – From Chicago
Markus Granlund – F – From Vancouver
James Neal – F – From Calgaary
Edmonton, Edmonton, Edmonton. How much young talent has passed in and out of your doors over the past 10 years? Enough to contend for a few Stanley Cups, perhaps? Apparently not. The Oilers once again look to retool after another difficult year and hope to make a playoff push with the player many feel to be the best in the world at this point, Connor McDavid. They hope to have solidified the goaltending situation by bringing in tested vet Mike Smith from Calgary and are banking that perennial 30-goal guy James Neal will return to form after a rough go with the Flames. Added depth comes in the form of Markus Granlund, Riley Sheahan and Josh Archibald, who may possibly be the types of glue players the Oilers have been missing. On paper it looks like Edmonton should be a playoff contender, but doesn’t it always look that way?
Brett Connolly – F – From Washington
Noel Acciari – F – From Boston
Anton Stralman – D – From Tampa Bay
Sergei Bobrovsky – G – From Columbus
Scott Darling – G – From Carolina
The Panthers are the chic pick to jump from also-rans to contenders this year after luring Sergei Bobrovsky south from Columbus, adding steady D-man Anton Stralman and bringing in two glue guys with experience making deep runs in the playoffs in Brett Connolly and Noel Acciari. Don’t forget the biggest acquisition of all – Stanley Cup-winning head coach Joel Queenevile. On top of that you’ve got talented and now-experienced forwards Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Vincent Trocheck as well as strong defensemen Aaron Ekblad and Mike Matheson. While experience-wise a deep playoff run may be a stretch, on paper this team appears poised to compete for an invite to the postseason dance.
Los Angeles Kings
Joakim Ryan – D – From San Jose
Anze Kopitar says he likes the Kings’ core. Okay, they probably are all great guys, but despite having a little remaining Stanley Cup-winning experience and one of the top goalies of the past decade in Jonathan Quick, it would be a stretch for this group to make the playoffs this year after really not adding much of anything to last year’s disappointing team.
Nick Cousins – F – From Arizona
Ben Chiarot – D – From Winnipeg
Phil Varone – F – From Philadelphia
Riley Barber – F – From Washington
Keith Kinkaid – G – From New Jersey
Montreal made an offeseason splash by trying to sign RFA Sebastian Aho away from Carolina, but apparently the Habs botched that deal as they have so many personnel decisions in recent years. That said, the Canadiens are excited about their young prospects and feel they are a playoff team after improving by 25 points last season and missing out on the postseason by just two. Dustin Byfuglien’s Winnipeg defense partner Ben Chiarot came over this summer help bolster the defensive corps, Carey Price is still Carey Price as long as he’s healthy and Shea Weber compares favorably with just about any D-man in the league when at 100 percent. Can those guys stay healthy? That’s a huge question. Brendan Gallagher has led the team in scoring in the past two seasons and brings and edge as does Max Domi, who was acquired last season. Tomas Tartar put up career numbers a year ago, and the team hopes 15th overall draft pick Cole Caufield can make an impact soon. Montreal also has 2017 first-round picks in center Nick Suzuki and Ryan Poehling on the roster from the Max Pacioretty trade.
Gabriel Dumont – F – From Ottawa
Luke Johnson – F – From Chicago
Mats Zuccarello – F – From Dallas
Ryan Hartman – F – From Philadelphia
Fedor Gordeev – D – From Toronto
Minnesota missed the playoffs for the first time in seven years last season thanks to one of the lowest-scoring attacks in the league, a middle-of-the-road defensive unit and inconsistent goaltending. Injures didn’t help, and some folks expected head coach Bruce Boudreau to be shown the door, but instead the Wild brought in a new heneral manager Bill Guerin. The Wild felt they had a playoff-capable roster last season, so they chose to add just a few key pieces to the puzzle this year in forward Mats Zuccarello from Dallas and forward Ryan Hartman from Philadelphia. Zuccarello figures to man a top-line wing alongside Jason Zucker and Eric Stall, with seasoned-veteran Zach Parise anchoring the second line. New-acquisition Hartman should help give the Wild a formidable fourth line. Minnesota’s defense is anchored by veteran top-pairing D-man Ryan Suter and should be steady if Mathew Dumba can return to the form that saw him score 22 points in 32 games before suffering an injury and Jared Spurgeon continues to develop. Devin Dubnyk has had an up-and-down career, but showed a few years ago that he is capable of carrying a team a long way on his back when hot.
Tyler Ennis – F – From Toronto
Ron Hainsey – D – From Toronto
Ryan Callahan – F – From Tampa Bay
Artem Anisimov – F – From Chicago
Nikita Zaitsev – D – From Toronto
Connor Brown – F – From Toronto
Michael Carcone – F – From Toronto
A rough season led to the Sens cleaning house at the trade deadline, but young prospect Brady Tkachuk is still in the fold, and the team is hoping to reap the benefits of the deadline and offseason deals in the near future. Moves were made to bring in a solid nucleus of new players to help change the culture. Ron Hainsey, Tyler Ennis, Nikita Zaitsev and Connor Brown are players who were brought in from Toronto and figure to play large roles. Skilled forward Artem Anisimov came over from Chicago, and heart-and-soul forward Ryan Callahan was sent to Ottawa from Tampa Bay. Last season’s acquisition of goalie Anders Nilsson and skilled young forward Anthony Duclair help make the outlook much better this season and Hainsey should help promising young defenseman Thomas Chabot continue to develop. This is not a playoff team in 2019-20, but is much closer than it was this time last year.
Matt Duchene – F – From Columbus
Steve Santini – D – From New Jersey
Jeremy Davies – D – From New Jersey
Connor Ingram – G – From Tampa Bay
The Preds always seem to be in the thick of Stanley Cup-contender talk, and this year should be no different even though they parted ways with high-flying defenseman P.K. Subban. They made a splash with the off-season signing of Matt Duchene, which should help an offense that needed another playmaker, and you can’t count out a team with players like Roman Jossi, Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis and Dante Fabbro on the back end. Don’t forget that Nashville has a very deep – if not spectacular – group of forwards led by Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, Kyle Turris, Nick Bonino and Mikael Granlund. If Duchene can add much-needed offensive punch, Nashville should be competitive with any team in the West.
New Jersey Devils
Nikita Gusev – F – From Vegas
Wayne Simmonds – F – From Nashville
P.K. Subban – D – From Nashville
John Hayden – F – From Chicago
The Devils are one of the popular selections to turn things around with the additions of all-star-caliber players Wayne Simmonds and P.K. Subban during the off-season to a club that already had Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, Kyle Palmieri and Tavis Zajac. Add top draft pick and potential generational talent Jack Hughes to the equation along with a solid defensive group that includes Andy Greene, Damon Severson and Sam Vatanen, and you have a team that looks ready to compete for a postseason berth. Will Cory Schneider be able to carry fairly young team through some inevitable breakdowns and hard times? The answer to that question will go a long way to determining how far the Devils can go this year.
New York Islanders
Derick Brassard – F – From Colorado
Semyon Varlomov – G – From Colorado
One of the surprise teams from a year ago, the Islanders finished in second place in the competitive Metropolitan Division and will remain in contention for a playoff appearance this season despite the loss of Vezina-finalist Robin Lehner and forward Valterri Filppula. Key forward Anders Lee re-signed, and head coach Barry Trotz is one of the best in the business. Semyon Varlomov was brought in from Colorado to replace Lehner, and Derick Brassard should be able to fill Filppula’s skates and bring an edge that will serve the team well in the Metro. Matthew Barzal, Jordan Eberle, Lee, Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey give the Islanders a formidable top six, while Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck form one of the top fourth lines in the NHL. Trotz’s defense-first system should help make the defensive corps, look and play better than it really is.
New York Rangers
Jacob Trouba – D – From Winnipeg
Artemi Panarin – F – From Columbus
Adam Fox – D – From Carolina
The Rangers made the biggest off-season splash by bringing in high-flying Aretmi Panarin as a free agent from Columbus. They also secured the rights to RFA Jacob Trouba from Winnipeg and traded for the rights to Harvard All-America defenseman Adam Fox from Carolina to solidify their defense for the foreseeable future. This may not a playoff team this year, but with Hall of Famer Henrick Lundqvist still in net and a stable of young and talented forwards stepping into the lineup, the Rangers certainly have put their rebuild on the fast track.
Nate Prosser – D – From Minnesota
Kurtis Gabriel – F – From New Jersey
Kevin Hayes – F – From Winnipeg
Tyler Pitlick – F – From Dallas
Justin Braun – D – From San Jose
Matt Niskanen – D – From Washington
The Flyers filled the void left by the deadline deal that sent Wayne Simmonds packing by signing top-six power forward Kevin Hayes from Winnipeg in the offseason after trading for his rights. Veteran Stanley Cup-winner Matt Niskanen was brought in to mentor a young and talented group of blue liners that will be backstopped by Carter Hart, who came out of nowhere to take over starting netminder duties a year ago. With names such as Giroux, van Riemsdyk, Couturier and van Riemsdyk filling top-six forward roles, if Hart can play like he did as a rookie and the defense continues to mature, Philly has a real shot to make a playoff push in 2019-20.
Andrew Agozzino – F – From Colorado
David Warsofsky – D – From Colorado
Brandon Tanev – F – From Winnipeg
Alex Galchenyuk – F – From Arizona
Pierre-Olivier Joseph – D – From Arizona
Dominik Kahun – F – From Chicago
The Penguins are aging; there’s no doubt about that. But even though it seems like Evgeny Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang have been around forever, each one is either 32 or 33 years old with several very strong seasons still ahead of him. Matt Murray has won Stanley Cups, so even with more erratic play on his part the past couple years, he’s battle tested when it counts the most. Jake Guentzel has emerged as an elite forward, and the Pens got younger at forward by moving enigmatic Phil Kessel to Arizona for Alex Galchenyuk and signing Brandon Tanev. Add in Nick Bjugstad and Patric Hornqvist, and there is more than enough firepower up front and veteran experience on the back end for Pittsburgh to return to the playoffs. But after being swept in last year’s first round by the Islanders it appears as though the Pens are not the juggernaut we have come to expect.
Saint Louis Blues
Nathan Walker – F – From Washington
Andreas Borgman – D – From Toronto
The Blues lost local St. Louis-hero Patrick Maroon from their Stanley Cup-winning club, but for the most part figured they didn’t need to fix what wasn’t broken. After becoming the second straight franchise to win its first Cup with a remarkable run from last place to the title during the season’s second half, St. Louis will find out just how hard it is to repeat. Making the task less daunting is the fact that pretty much all the key players from the championship team have returned, including Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Bozak, Jaden Schwartz, Alexander Steen, Vladamir Tarasenko, Jay Boumeester, Carl Gunnarson, Colton Parayko and Alex Pietrangelo. There is no stronger defensive group in the NHL, and plenty of firepower returns up front. The big question is whether Jordan Binnington, the unknown career minor leaguer who came out of nowhere to lead the team’s resurgence last year, is the player we saw in 2018-19 or the guy who couldn’t stick in the NHL before that.
San Jose Sharks
Dalton Prout – D – From Calgary
San Jose lost its captain, Joe Pavelski, from a team that came within a whisker of advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals last season. One of the team’s all-time greats and its heart and soul, Pavelksi will be sorely missed, and that hole was not filled since only Calgary D-man Dalton Prout was signed in the offseason. Prout was a role player who appeared in 20 games with the Flames a year ago, so he does not figure to be the missing ingredient for a franchise that is always in the mix but never seems to get over the hump. One key will be goalie Martin Jones, who was oft-maligned during the regular season last year, but came up huge during the postseason. Jumbo Joe Thornton re-signed for at least one more go-round. This is a quality team that should easily make the playoffs out of a weak Pacific Division, but without a replacement for Pavelksi and some others lost to free agency, repeating last year’s trip to the conference finals seems unlikely.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Pat Maroon – F – From St. Louis
Kevin Shattenkirk – D – From N.Y. Rangers
Curtis McElhinney – G – From Carolina
Luke Schenn – D – From Vancouver
Mike Condon – G – From Ottawa
Marek Mazanec – G – From Toronto
The rich get richer. The best team in the regular season by miles a year ago took steps to rectify its stunning first-round playoff exit by adding veteran two-way defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk after his release by the New York Rangers and signing St. Louis hometown Stanley Cup-hero Pat Maroon as a gritty depth forward. Bringing in a veteran presence like Shattenkirk on the blue line and a veteran glue forward like Maroon fresh off a championship will only make the league’s best nucleus that much stronger. Coming into the season with a chip on their shoulder won’t hurt either as the Lightning figure to be the odds-on-favorite to capture the Cup in 2019-20.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Cody Ceci – D – From Ottawa
Nick Shore – F – From Calgary
Kevin Gravel – D – From Edmonton
Kenny Agostino – F – From New Jersey
Jason Spezza – F – From Dallas
Jordan Schmaltz – D – From St. Louis
Tyson Barrie – D – From Colorado
Alex Kerfoot – F – From Colorado
Ben Harpur – D – From Ottawa
Aaron Luchuk – F – From Ottawa
More upheaval in Toronto as frustrating bad-boy Nazim Kadri was shipped to Colorado with defenseman Tyson Barrie among others coming back to the Leafs. Another deal brought solid two-way D-man Cody Ceci and some depth guys over from Ottawa, and top-six forward Jason Spezza brings scoring and veteran leadership to an already-deep group of talented, young forwards. Often-criticized defenseman Jake Gardiner also moved on, and forward Mitch Marner’s status remains unresolved. There always seems to be drama in Toronto that affects what happens on the ice, but the additions of Barrie, Ceci and Spezza should make the Leafs better. Marner is looking for in the neighborhood of $11 million and the Toronto reportedly has about $7.5 million available. This is a playoff team without him, but a true contender if he re-signs.
Michael Ferland – F – From Carolina
Oscar Fantenberg – D – From Calgary
Jordie Benn – D – From Montreal
Tyler Myers – D – From Winnipeg
J.T. Miller – F – From Tampa Bay
Vancouver’s new additions make the Canucks a better team than the one that missed the playoffs a year ago, but it seems doubtful that they are the type of players that will get the franchise back into the playoff mix this year. There is young talent in the fold, however, so the team may not be that far away. Elias Pettersson led all rookies in points (66) las season, Brock Boeser had a career-best 56 points and Bo Horvat also had a career year with 61 points. Jacob Markstrom and Thatcher Demko give the Canucks a bright future in goal. This will be a fun team to watch, but it is likely a year away from playoff contention.
Vegas Golden Knights
Garret Sparks – G – From Toronto
Nicolas Roy – F – From Carolina
Vegas didn’t really do much in the offseason, but pulled off the trade deadline blockbuster deal for Mark Stone that makes the Golden Knights a popular choice to compete for another Western Conference title. With Stone, William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, Paul Stasny and Max Pacioretty are 5/6 of a top six as deep as any in the league, while Brayden McNabb, Nate Schmidt, Shea Theodore and Deryk Engelland anchor a defense that is more than adequate. In goal, Marc-Andre Fleury just seems to get better with age. This team should play into May barring a rash of injuries.
Brendan Leipsic – F – From Los Angeles
Richard Panik – F – From Arizona
Garnet Hathaway – F – From Calgary
Radko Gudas – D – From Philadelphia
The Capitals were not pleased with their fourth-line play just a season removed from watching guys like Chandler Stephenson and Devante Smith-Pelly help lead the team to a Stanley Cup. Enter Brendan Leipsic and Garnet Hathaway, who figure to team with Stephenson or Nic Dowd to form a very formidable fourth line in D.C. this year. Richard Panik was brought in to solidify what should be one of the NHL’s best third lines as the Caps decided it was time to move on from enigmatic young forward Andre Burkovsky. Panik is likely to skate with trade-deadline acquisition Carl Hagelin and Lars Eller on the third line while the top-six names still remain the same and are as strong as any in the NHL. Radko Gudas was acquired to be a younger, more mobile version of retired D-man Brooks Orpik, but the veteran Cup winner’s leadership and mentorship will be missed on the blue line. Still, the Caps are as solid as any group in the league on paper and should contend for an Eastern Conference title again.
Gabriel Borque – F – From Colorado
Mark Letestu – F – From Columbus
Nathan Beaulieu – D – From Winnipeg
Neal Pionk – D – From N.Y. Rangers
First and foremost, the Jets need to figure out the plan for re-singing Patrick Laine. One of many still-unsigned young RFA’s, Laine reportedly wasn’t happy for most of last year and saw his goal total dip from 44 to 30 in his sophomore campaign. Winnipeg was considered a Stanley Cup contender and turned out to be one of the NHL’s biggest disappointments after an early playoff exit – albeit at the hands of the eventual champs. While it’s possible that if Laine really was a problem in the locker room and his absence could help that situation, it’s hard to believe the Jets would be better off without one of the game’s rising young stars in its lineup. None of the offseason acquisitions really push the team closer to winning the Stanley Cup. The Jets are still a solid playoff contender with the likes of Dustin Byfuglien, Blake Wheeler, Mark Schiefele, Bryan Wheeler, Nikolaj Ehlers and Dmitry Kulikov on the roster, but not having Laine would likely scratch them from any list of Stanley Cup Contenders.
Training Camp Invitees
In addition to players picked up via free agency and offseason trades, so menotable players recently were invited to team training camps: