Minnesota Wild 2016-17 season preview

 If you look at the Minnesota Wild\’s off-season they didn\’t do too much. They did sign C/LW Eric Staal. But in Staal\’s 20 game run with the Rangers last season, he only had 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists) and he\’s not the 100 point player he was 10 years ago. They also signed D Victor Bartley but he\’ll be lucky to make the team. Justin Fontaine left and is now on a PTO with Dallas. Chris Stewart is back after being with Minnesota for a part of 2014-15 then playing with Anaheim for 2015-16.  Former first round pick Joel Eriksson Ek has a chance at making the team this year. Defenseman Ryan Suter leads a relatively young defensive core but Suter isn\’t young but is still a very good defenseman. In net is Devan Dubnyk but the question is who will be backing him up. They re-signed Darcy Kuemper but they also signed Alex Stalock. Personally, I think they will dress Kuemper on opening night but new head coach Bruce Boudreau will decide. In the first round of the 2016 NHL draft, Minnesota drafted C Luke Kunin with the 15th overall pick. With captain Mikko Koivu at age 32 and at the end of his prime, Kunin is another center behind Eriksson Ek and Mikael Grandlund.The Wild\’s projected lines look like this:
 Zach Parise- Eric Staal- Nino Niederreiter
 Mikael Grandlund- Mikko Koivu- Charlie Coyle
 Jason Zucker- Erik Haula- Jason Pominville
 Zac Dalpe- Joel Eriksson Ek- Chris Stewart
 On defense is:
 Ryan Suter- Jared Spurgeon
 Marco Scandella- Jonas Brodin
 Mike Reilly- Matthew Dumba
 Devan Dubnyk and Darcy Kuemper are in net. D Nate Prosser, D Christian Folin and G Alex Stalock are scratched.
 Finally, for my prediction, the Minnesota Wild, a contending team, will make the playoffs in 2016-17.

Los Angeles Kings 2016-17 season preview

 The Los Angeles Kings made a lot of signings this off-season. But they did not make a major signing, which isn\’t so bad since they already have all-stars Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Jeff Carter and Jonathan Quick. Even though they didn\’t sign a big free agent, they lost one when Milan Lucic left for Edmonton this off-season. They lost forward Kris Versteeg (who\’s on PTO with EDM) but replaced him with the signing of Teddy Purcell. They also lost defensemen Jamie McBain (ARI), Luke Schenn (ARI) and Jeff Schultz (ANA). They did sign C Michael Latta, D Zach Trotman and D Tom Gilbert. C Anze Kopitar is undoubtedly a top 5 center in the game and D Drew Doughty won the Norris trophy for best defenseman. In net is Jonathan Quick who is always in the running for the Vezina trophy for best goaltender. After backup goalie Jhonas Enroth went to Toronto, the Kings signed G Jeff Zatkoff after he won the Stanley Cup with the Penguins. The Kings didn\’t have a first round pick in the 2016 NHL draft after trading it away. The Kings\’ projected lines look like this:
 Tanner Pearson- Anze Kopitar- Dustin Brown
 Marian Gaborik(hurt)- Jeff Carter- Tyler Toffoli
 Teddy Purcell- Nic Dowd-  Dwight King
 Kyle Cliffard- Andy Andreoff- Trevor Lewis
 On defense is :
 Alec Martinez- Drew Doughty
 Jake Muzzin- Zach Trotman
 Brayden McNabb- Matt Greene
 Jonathan Quick and Jeff Zatkoff are in net. Michael Latta and Tom Gilbert are scratched.
 For my prediction, the Los Angeles Kings, a powerhouse in this decade, will make the playoffs and go to the conference finals.


Florida Panthers 2016-17 season preview

 The Florida Panthers team from their last game of 2015-16 to today is totally different. They lost forwards Jiri Hudler (DAL), Teddy Purcell (LAK), Quinton Howden (WPG) and Dave Bolland (ARI). They added Jared McCann, Jonathan Marchessault and Colton Sceviour to fill in those spots. Defensemen Dmitry Kulikov (BUF), Brian Campbell (CHI) and Erik Gudbranson (VAN) are all gone and Keith Yandle and Jason Demers are in. A questionable move was signing G James Reimer to a 5 year deal. Reimer will backup up Roberto Luongo who at age 37 will slowly decline. Reimer was signed to replace Al Montoya, who went to Montreal but Reimer is definitely an upgrade for Florida. Florida\’s superstar Aaron Ekblad, is young (20) and is an amazing defenseman especially for his age. Also, the ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr is returning again this year and we still wonder how long he can play for. In the first round of the 2016 NHL draft, the Panthers selected C Henrik Borgstrom with the 23rd overall pick. It\’s odd that they picked a center when they have Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad and Vincent Trocheck all age 24 and below. A notable thing that Florida did this off-season was change logos. The question is will the new logo mean success? The Panthers\’ projected lines look like this:
 Jonathan Huberdeau- Aleksander Barkov- Jaromir Jagr
 Jussi Jokinen- Vincent Trocheck- Reilly Smith
 Jonathan Marchessault- Jared McCann- Logan Shaw
 Shawn Thornton- Derek MacKenzie- Colton Sceviour
 On defense is:
 Keith Yandle- Aaron Ekblad
 Jason Demers- Alex Peteovic
 Mark Pysyk- Michael Matheson
 Roberto Luongo and James Reimer are in net. Steven Kampfer and Jakub Kindl are scratched. Nick Bjugstad is injured.
 For my prediction, a new logo means success for Florida and they will make the playoffs in 2016-17.

Edmonton Oilers season preview

Like all of the NHL teams, the Edmonton Oilers saw free agency as a way to improve their team. But unlike some teams, Edmonton was thinking bigger. That\’s why they signed LW Milan Lucic to a 7 year deal. Lucic is a perfect scoring/tough guy to go along with the newly-named captain Connor McDavid. Lucic can\’t only protect McDavid but he can score too. Lucic only has to drive to the net to get a pass from McDavid and score. The Oilers made a questionable trade in the offseason when they traded LW Taylor Hall to the Devils in exchange for only D Adam Larsson. The Oilers did badly need a guy like Larsson but they could\’ve gotten a lot more besides Larsson. The depth in their defensive core was hurt when Nikita Nikitin (KHL) and Adam Clendening (NYR) both left. They signed D Mark Fraser but he\’s not going to really fill those spots. They signed depth forward Taylor Beck and F Kris Versteeg is on a tryout to improve offensive depth but Edmonton doesn\’t need that too much. Goalie Cam Talbot isn\’t good enough to be a starter but Edmonton has him playing as their starter. They signed backup Jonas Gustavsson to a one year deal. In the 2016 NHL draft, the Oilers selected RW Jesse Puljujarvi with the 4th overall pick. While the Oilers could have used D Olli Juolevi, Puljujarvi is a steal at no. 4. While playing with McDavid and Lucic is uncertain, this kid has a future playing with C Leon Draisaitl. The Oilers projected lines look like this:
Milan Lucic- Connor McDavid- Jordan Eberle
Benoit Pouliot- Leon Draisaitl- Nail Yakupov
Patrick Maroon- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins- Jesse Puljujarvi
Anton Lander- Mark Letestu- Zack Kassian
On defense is:
 Oscar Kleftbom- Adam Larsson
 Andrej Sekera- Darnell Nurse
 Griffen Reinhart- Brandon Davidson
   Cam Talbot and Jonas Gustavsson are in net. LW Tyler Pitlick and D Mark Fayne are scratched. C Matt Hendricks and D Andrew Ference are injured.
   Finally, for my prediction, the Edmonton Oilers, a team on the rise, won\’t make the playoffs in 2016-17.

Detroit Red Wings 2016-17 season preview

 It is never easy to lose a franchise icon, but that\’s what happened when C Pavel Datsyuk announced that he will play the remainder of his career in the KHL. Even if Datsyuk makes a return to the NHL, Arizona will be his home due to the Red Wings\’ trading Datsyuk\’s contract away at the draft. Captain Henrik Zetterberg is still playing but at age 35 there\’ a big question if he can still produce in his last years. Besides Datsyuk, Detroit didn\’t lose too much. Brad Richards retired but they signed Steve Ott to replace him. D Kyle Quincey went to New Jersey but they didn\’t seem to be in an urge to find another defenseman. Datsyuk\’s \”replacement\” was Frans Nielson who signed a deal to be the team\’s second line center behind either Zetterberg or Dylan Larkin. When Minnesota bought out LW Thomas Vanek, the Red Wings signed him to a one year deal to possibly be a third line winger. The defensive core is shaky led by an aging Niklas Kronwall. They re-signed Danny DeKeyser who may play on the top pairing. In net is Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard. It\’s still questionable who will take over as the starting goalie but it seems like Mrazek will be the starter. In the Datsyuk trade, Detroit moved back from having the 16th overall pick in the NHL draft to the 20th. They then drafted D Dennis Cholowski. Detroit needed a defenseman and they got one in Cholowski. The Red Wings\’ projected lines look like this:
 Justin Abdelkader- Dylan Larkin- Tomas Tatar
 Henrik Zetterberg- Frans Nielson- Gustav Nyquist
 Thomas Vanek- Darren Helm- Riley Sheahan
 Teemu Pulkkinen- Steve Ott- Luke Glendening
 On defense is:
 Niklas Kronwall- Danny DeKeyser
 Jonathan Ericsson- Mike Green
 Brendan Smith- Alexey Marchenko
 In net is Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard.  Drew Miller is scratched. Johan Franzen, Tomas Jurco and Joe Vitale are injured.
 Finally, for my prediction, the Detroit Red Wings, a team that has been successful for the last 25 years, will not make it to the playoffs in 2016-17.