The Oilers, the Blackhawks and Jets are among the teams to watch in the NHL
Photo: Paul Vernon, Associated Press
The Blackhawks have been very active during the off-season.
A few hours before hosting the NHL draft, the Chicago black hawks have revamped their training.
Disappointed with the early elimination of his team, general manager Stan Bowman has exchanged Artemi Panarin in return of Brandon Saad, got rid of the defender Niklas Hjalmarsson and, a little later, was being repatriated by Patrick Sharp. The Blackhawks have been particularly active during the off-season and they will be one of the most interesting team to follow during the first weeks of the new season in the NHL. Here are some other teams to watch.
Hurricanes de la Caroline. The Hurricanes would probably have participated in the series for the first time since 2009, had it not been for the weakness of the team in front of the net. The former reservist in Blackhawks Scott Darling will have the task to fill this gap this season.
Darling has never been a starting goalkeeper regular in the NHL so far in his career, but he hopes to be the next Cam Talbot — a former reservist with the New York Rangers, who has made his niche as the starting goalkeeper for the Edmonton Oilers.
The Hurricanes have also repatriated Justin Williams, who helped the team to win the Stanley cup in 2006. He will have the task of supporting a young group of attackers.
20-year-old Sebastian Aho may be one of the next stars of the NHL having amassed 49 points last season. Jeff Skinner already has a role as a veteran despite his 25 years and has established a top staff last season with 37 goals. Head coach Bill Peters hopes to see his group go to the next level and qualify for the playoffs.
Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers have made a return in the series last spring and they are already among the favorites to win the Stanley cup, after being eliminated in seven games by the Ducks of Anaheim in the second round.
Connor McDavid is the main source of hope in Edmonton, who has established himself as one of the best players in the world last season by winning trophies, Hart, Art Ross and Ted Lindsay.
However, in order to win a first Stanley cup since 1990, the Oilers will need another good season from the goalie Cam Talbot, who has played 73 games last season behind a defensive sometimes uneven. Leon Draisaitl will also need to continue to support McDavid.
Dallas Stars. If a team has been more active than the Blackhawks during the off-season, it may be the Dallas Stars.
The Stars have got a new keeper # 1 (Ben Bishop), two strikers of quality (Alexander Radulov, Martin Hanzal) and a dependable advocate (Marc Methot), in addition to hiring a new head coach in Ken Hitchcock. The Stars are hoping to make a return in the playoffs and maybe go a round or two.
The spotlight will be on the new stars of the team. Radulov has left the Montreal canadiens to affix his name to a contract of five seasons and 31,25-million. For his part, Bishop arrives in Dallas after a campaign disappointing with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
After having amassed 30 points less than the previous season, the Stars hope to see Hitchcock right the ship.
The Winnipeg Jets. In the six seasons since their return to Winnipeg, the Jets have participated only once in the playoffs. The team is counting on several young attackers talented — including Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers — and the pressure begins to increase in Manitoba, while the lovers want to get back in the series.
The situation in front of the net remains a question mark despite the arrival of Steve Mason. Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson have not been able to impose itself as the solution to the last season, and Mason has enjoyed a career in the teeth of a saw since his arrival in the NHL. However, the emergence of new young elements such as Kyle Connor, and Nic Petan could help the Jets to reach the next level if the veterans continue their good work.