Around this time last year, I pitched a story for theScore that was fairly well received – Season in a sentence: 1 positive storyline for every NHL team. Since I can’t quit hockey writing, here’s an update for 2018-19 as my contribution to season preview content on the world wide web.
But first, a prediction: Your favourite team likely won’t win the Stanley Cup. Sorry.
Ducks: To this day, when I think of the Ducks, Paul Kariya is the first player that comes to mind, and on Oct. 21, his No. 9 will be retired. He was one of my favorite players back in his day, and I had the great fortune to cover part of last year’s Hockey Hall of Fame induction festivities, where he finally got the recognition he deserves. Kariya forever.
Coyotes: This may become a theme (see Vegas), but I’ll definitely be rooting for Alex Galchenyuk to succeed now that he’s free to run wild in the desert. Coyotes were hot to end last season, and have a shot at making the playoffs. New blood is good!
Bruins: As an old dad who has followed this team since the 80s and benefited personally from a great 2017-18, I can’t remember a time I was so excited about a group of young, fun, talented prospects set to take over this team. And that’s on top of my love for mainstays like Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Krejci. But the most positive thing about this team these days is the immortal captain’s Instagram account, which is quite literally everything.
Sabres: Jack Eichel + Rasmus Dahlin = enough said. Also, please take care of precious hockey boy Jeff Skinner, Buffalo.
Flames: The perseverance of players like Derek Ryan is inspiring. I love to see undrafted veterans get a shot after plying their trade in the minors and overseas for so long.
Hurricanes: Dougie Hamilton won’t let hockey culture get him down.
Blackhawks: The Blackhawks ended up giving us one of the best stories of last season, courtesy of emergency backup goalie Scott Foster. I’m no Chicago hockey fan, but I always root for the little guys, so I’m all for Alex DeBrincat making an even bigger name for himself after falling in his draft year.
Avalanche: Colorado could build on last year’s playoff season AND end up with the first overall pick at the 2019 Draft, namely Jack Hughes. It does not get more positive than that.
Blue Jackets: I was a big fan of watching the Coyotes a couple years ago when Max Domi and Anthony Duclair were impressing as rookies. Both have since moved on, and the latter signed a “show me” 1-year, $650K deal with Columbus this summer. It looks like he might play with former Bruin Riley Nash, who did not look out of place playing with Marchand and Pastrnak last season. Go get ’em, fellas.
Stars: It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Tyler Seguin, and the Stars dropped THE coolest contract extension tweet I’ve ever seen.
Hockey needs more fun, and Dallas brings it on and off the ice.
Red Wings: Detroit seems to have lucked out in the Draft once again, watching Filip Zadina drop to No. 6 this past June. The hurt that comes with seeing Henrik Zetterberg hang up his skates could be lessened with a Calder-worthy season from this kid.
Oilers: We are all blessed every time Connor McDavid takes to the ice.
Panthers: It’s kind of absurd how much we don’t appreciate Aleksander Barkov. The freshly-minted Florida captain is low key one of the best all around players in the league, and should be a perennial Selke finalist.
Kings: Sticking with last year’s because it’s awesome. Jaret Anderson-Dolan is a long shot to crack the Kings’ roster, but inspires at any level by bearing the surnames of his two mothers on the back of his jersey and being committed to fighting homophobia in sports.
Wild: It’s still odd to think about Eric Staal not playing for Carolina, but the 33-year-old scored 42 goals for a Minnesota team not really known for offensive dominance. It would be cool to see him keep rolling in a contract year and get more suitors as a UFA this time around.
Canadiens: I’ve become a huge Carey Price admirer in recent years and can’t imagine what he’s thinking as the best player on a team that’s traded other core guys in some sort of retooling effort. He deserves better, and hopefully the rest of the Habs steps up to his level.
Predators: Roman Josi’s response to a teammate being suspended for domestic violence was admirable.
Devils: “Boyle is at his second camp with the Devils as a Masterton winner and a cancer survivor. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel with treatments for his 3-year-old son Declan, who has undergone multiple procedures for an arteriorvenous malformation in his jaw” (via Abbey Mastracco). This remains my favorite story in the NHL, hands down.
Islanders: John Tavares is gone, and this is Mathew Barzal’s team now. Also, while I don’t agree with Robin Lehner’s politics, I have a huge amount of respect for his willingness to be open about his addiction and bipolar diagnosis.
Rangers: This is basically a copy/paste from the Canadiens storyline, just replace Price with Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers have 1 forward signed past 2019-20, and this team is clearly in a rebuild as the aging goaltender continues to sit on his throne with as much grace and handsomeness as ever. Long live the King.
Senators: “We’re a team.”
Seriously though, Craig and Nicholle Anderson are the salt of the earth and I hope the Sens do right by them. I had to add the story of Craig’s new pads after learning about it after originally posting this. From Craig Medaglia:
“So I had the company send me a blank template and I printed off 3 or 4 copies and my wife decided to make it a project for her and the kids,” he continued. “She starts drawing the pads, Levi was just colouring over everything but Jake took some interest in it. He really put some time into his design and came up with these cool pads.”
Anderson sent his son’s design off to the manufacturer to have it digitized and was thrilled with the end result.
“We didn’t tell him that we were doing it,” Anderson said about using Jake’s design. “He was super excited when they arrived.”
Flyers: Since 2010-11, only 1 player has recorded more points that Claude Giroux, and his name is Sidney Crosby. He willingly shifted to the wing last season, allowing Sean Couturier to emerge as a force to be reckoned with at both ends of the ice. What a guy.
Penguins: Please never change, Phil Kessel.
Sharks: Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns play on the same team, giving Joe Thornton an excellent shot at winning a Cup. It’s a good time to write for a Sharks blog.
Blues: After a devastating season-ending knee injury, my boy Robby Fabbri is back and ready to break out. Nothing but love for Guelph Storm alumni.
Lightning: Steve Yzerman has always been one of my favourite hockey people, and I greatly respect his decision to step back from GM duties to spend more time with his family. If this his last year with the Lightning, let it be one where his hard and savvy work is rewarded with a championship.
Maple Leafs: Love them or hate them, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
Canucks: When I was working at theScore, I rarely looked forward late night shifts featuring Vancouver games … until Brock Boeser came along.
Golden Knights: Similar to the Coyotes, the trading of Max Pacioretty to Vegas opens the door for me to root for the former Canadiens captain. Keep those smiles coming, Patches.
Capitals: Washington wowed us all with their Stanley Cup celebrations, and hopefully the hangover has passed. Next step will be watching new dad Alex Ovechkin and Co. raise the banner and receive their rings, and hopefully others will join Devante Smith-Pelley and Brett Connolly in not going to the White House.
Jets: Patrik Laine lost 14 pounds in the offseason by cutting candy out of his diet. Methinks he’s going to be breaking some water bottles in the coming months.
Puck drops for real in 2 weeks. Let’s hockey together, friends.