New Jersey Devils 2022-23 Season Preview

We are at the annual part of the year where we get hyped up about the Devils. They always seem to be a winner in the offseason, only for things to go completely wrong once the puck drops. Last year, it was some of the worst team goaltending we’ve seen in a long time. The expectations for New Jersey aren’t as high as in years before, but a season of health can do them wonders. They just have to execute.

Offseason additions: F Ondrej Palat, G Vitek Vanecek, D John Marino, F Erik Haula, D Brendan Smith, D Thomas Hickey (PTO), F Zach Senyshyn (PTO).

Offseason subtractions: F Pavel Zacha, D PK Subban, D Ty Smith, F Janne Kuokkanen, F Jimmy Vesey.


While injuries shortened in to just 49 games, Devils fans got the season they were waiting for out of Jack Hughes. In his third NHL year, Hughes scored 26 goals with 56 points, while finishing top-10 in Lady Byng voting. He’s a center, but you have to wonder how long Hughes will stay there for. He has a 35.4 percent face-off win rate in his career. He intermittently played with Jesper Bratt, who was the team’s best player all season long. He had 73 points in 76 games in a huge season that broke him free from the middle-six forward that he was before. In his sophomore season, Yegor Sharangovich scored 24 goals while adding 22 assists. Both Sharangovich and Hughes saw the effects of the team’s goaltending first-hand, with a goals against per 60 over four despite a solid-enough xGA/60.

Captain Nico Hischier was healthy last year after various injuries limited him to 21 games in 2020-21. The result was a career-high 60 points while playing top line minutes split between a seemingly infinite number of linemates. Obviously injuries could change things, but the Devils need to give him stability on his wings. Something to look for this year is how Ondrej Palat adjusts from the dominant Lightning to the Devils in his age-31 season. Palat had 49 points in 77 regular season games, but made his money in the postseason. Palat scored 11 goals with 10 assists for 21 points in 23 games as Tampa Bay went to the Cup finals once again. Dawson Mercer was well in the Calder race in the beginning of the season, but cooled off as Moritz Seider and Trevor Zegras ran away with the discussion. Mercer still finished with a very encouraging rookie campaign, scoring 17 goals with 42 points while playing in every game.

New Jersey is taking a gamble by trading Pavel Zacha, a key member of the team for the last few seasons, to Boston for Erik Haula. The Devils will be Haula’s seventh team, as the veteran is coming off one of his best seasons. He filled in for David Krejci on the Bruins’ second line, and scored 18 goals with 44 points. Behind Hischier and Hughes, his role will be diminished. But Haula brings two-way value that is ideal for a third line center. When the Devils bought low on Tomas Tatar before last year, there was hope that he could outperform the 30 points in 50 games that he had in 2020-21. However, he just matched it while playing in 26 more games. You could look at his on-ice shooting percentage to cope, as Tatar’s 6.86 was the second-lowest on the forward core to only Jimmy Vesey. After a tough 2020-21 in which he had just 11 points in 50 games, Andreas Johnsson had 17 points in his first 19 games. The rest of the year wasn’t as good, as he finished with 35 points in 71 games, scoring just four more goals after that initial hot streak.

If anything goes wrong, the Devils have the option of Alexander Holtz to play in the bottom-six. He had two assists in nine NHL games, with 51 in 52 AHL games. Until them, the fourth line will likely be a familiar mix of young players that the Devils have tried before. Jesper Boqvist had his best season yet, scoring 10 goals with 13 assists in 56 games. He doesn’t bring the size or physicality that his potential linemates have. Center Michael McLeod won over fifty-seven percent of draws, while producing 20 points and 145 hits in 77 games. After losing him the expansion draft, the Devils claimed back Nathan Bastian on waivers following 12 games in Seattle. Bastian scored 11 times in 60 games with 194 hits after he returned. We will have to see where Miles Wood fits in. He was limited to just three games last season after he scored 17 goals in 55 games the year before. Right now, it appears as if he will have to win out a spot. An intriguing option is Fabian Zetterlund, who had eight points in 14 NHL games last season. He dominated at the AHL level, scoring 24 goals with 52 points in 58 games.


The big splash of last offseason for New Jersey was signing defenseman Dougie Hamilton to a seven-year deal. His first year with the Devils was his age-28 season, and Hamilton had been nominated for the Norris Trophy in five consecutive seasons. In a year limited to 62 games, he was definitely disappointing. Hamilton had 30 points, while finishing fourth on the team’s defense in xGF%. He was lower than his partner, former Avalanche Ryan Graves. Taking on a bigger role after a trade to New Jersey, Graves blocked 135 shots with 28 points in his first year as a Devil.

When the Devils gave Jonas Siegenthaler a five-year contract extension this offseason, some understood the decision, while others were befuddled. The truth is that since coming over from Washington in 2020-21, Siegenthaler has been a fantastic defensive-defender. He limited opponents to a 2.17 xGA/60 at even strength last year, while no other defender on the team was under 2.5. In fact, he was the third-best defenseman with at least 500 minutes of ice time at even strength in xGA/60 relative to his teammates. Playing alongside him was Damon Severson, who enjoyed an offensive outburst. He tied his career-high in goals with 11, while setting a new high with 35 assists.

The Devils sent Ty Smith, who was once regarded as the future of the team’s blue line, to Pittsburgh for John Marino. He will likely see his role be diminished as the Devils are stronger on the right side of defense than the Penguins, but Marino has been a very good second-pairing player since debuting in 2019-20. The Devils won the draft lottery again this offseason and had the second overall pick, with which they selected Slovakian defender Simon Nemec. He’s not a lock to make the team, but Nemec has already played in the Olympics, and had 26 points in 39 games in Slovakia. He added 17 more points in 19 playoff games. Veteran Brendan Smith signed with the Devils after providing depth for the Rangers and Hurricanes over the past few seasons. He’s a big body who contributed 73 hits and eight points in 45 games for Carolina in 2021-22.


Seven different goaltenders had multiple starts for the Devils last year, and the highest save percentage among them was .902. That was held by veteran Jonathan Bernier, who missed most of the season with an injury. As of now, he is under contract but doesn’t appear to fit into the team’s plans. The team crucially needs Mackenzie Blackwood to live up to the hype he had when he was a second-round pick in 2015. Blackwood was limited to 25 games last year, and had a rough .892 save percentage and a 3.39 GAA. He had the sixth-worst GSAx in the league last year. Of the five guys worse than him, only Joonas Korpisalo had less games played. The Devils sent two draft picks to Washington for another pick and Vitek Vanecek at the draft. While he still was average at best, Vanecek would have been a huge upgrade for New Jersey last year. In 42 games for the Capitals, he had a .908 save percentage and a 2.67 GAA.

Projected Lines

Yegor Sharangovich – Jack Hughes – Jesper Bratt

Ondrej Palat – Nico Hischier – Dawson Mercer

Tomas Tatar – Erik Haula – Andreas Johnsson

Jesper Boqvist – Michael McLeod – Nathan Bastian

Extras: Miles Wood, Fabian Zetterlund

Ryan Graves – Dougie Hamilton

Jonas Siegenthaler – Damon Severson

John Marino – Simon Nemec

Extras: Brendan Smith

Mackenzie Blackwood

Vitek Vanecek

Nashville Predators 2022-23 Season Preview

Is there any proof that the Predators actually made the playoffs last season? The record books say so, but we can’t be so sure. With Juuse Saros injured, Nashville acted like a tune-up for the Avalanche to get ready for their deep run. No team wants that on their record. The Predators finally had offensive contributions, something that they have lacked throughout their short history. The offseason was headlined by the huge accomplishment of signing Filip Forsberg long-term. But can they be a legitimate contender while he is still in his prime?

Offseason additions: F Nino Niederreiter, D Ryan McDonagh, G Kevin Lankinen, F John Leonard, F Markus Nurmi, F Zach Sanford.

Offseason subtractions: F Luke Kunin, F Nick Cousins, D Philippe Myers, F Mathieu Olivier, G David Rittich, D Matt Benning, F Matt Luff.


The big problem with signing Forsberg is that he has missed games in each of the past five seasons. He played in 69 games in 2021-22 while setting career-highs in goals and assists with 42 of each. He led the team in goals for and expected goals for, while also having a solid xGA/60. The most important breakthrough for the team last year was Matt Duchene, who scored 43 goals with 43 assists after disappointing in his first two seasons with the club. While he only scored 11 goals, Mikael Granlund quietly had his best season since 2017-18 while acting as the playmaker for Forsberg and Duchene. Granlund set a new career-high with 53 assists, hitting the 60-point mark for the third time in his career.

Just as much as Duchene did, Ryan Johansen had to prove that he still had some game left after a terrible 2020-21. While he wasn’t a point-per-game player, Johansen scored 26 goals with 63 points. The former is tied for the second-highest in his career, while he missed his most points as a Predator by one. It felt like Eeli Tolvanen was on the verge of becoming a regular for years by the time he had 22 points in 40 games in 2020-21. However, the encouraging step for the now-23-year-old was canceled out by a lack of progress last year. In 75 games, he scored 11 goals with 12 assists, for just one extra point in 25 more games. Nashville got a pretty solid middle-six upgrade when they sent Luke Kunin to San Jose and signed Nino Niederreiter. The Swiss veteran was a key contributor to the Hurricanes last season, scoring 24 goals with 20 assists on the third line. Niederreiter was second on his team, who dominated opponents, in xGF%.

While he might not have been the oldest rookie to have a great season in 2021-22, Tanner Jeannot finished seventh in Calder voting after scoring 24 goals with 17 assists. He was always a physical presence, leading all forwards with 318 hits, and was third in the league with 130 penalty minutes. Jeannot played primarily with Yakov Trenin and Colton Sissons, the latter of which was nominated for the Selke. Sissons had 28 points, his most since 2018-19, while winning 55.7 percent of draws. Trenin scored 17 goals despite low expected goals numbers. The trio combined for almost 700 hits.

The only real lock for the fourth line right now is Philip Tomasino, the 24th-overall pick in the 2019 draft. While he didn’t blow anyone away, Tomasino had a solid rookie season, scoring 11 goals with 32 points in 76 games. He finished fifth among the regular forwards in goals for per 60, behind only the top line and Johansen, who also spent time on the first line. The time is now for Cody Glass, drafted sixth-overall in 2017. He had just one assist in eight games last season, but succeeded in the AHL. For the Milwaukee Admirals, Glass scored 14 goals with 62 points in 66 games. Former Canadien Michael McCarron took a ton of draws after mostly playing wing in the NHL. McCarron was an effective penalty killer in the 51 games that he played in, and scored seven goals (one short-handed). New Jersey native John Leonard came back from San Jose for Kunin after having two points in 14 games for the Sharks last year. The former UMass-Amherst star scored 17 goals with 32 points in 45 games for the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda. A more experienced option is Zach Sanford, who scored nine goals with 21 points in 80 games between the Senators and Jets last season. Sanford, most known for his goal in game seven of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, had a career-high 169 hits last season. Finnish import Markus Nurmi, a former sixth-round pick by Ottawa, is also in the fight for a role. He played in 56 games for TPS Turku in Finland, scoring 20 goals with 19 assists. In 18 playoff games, he had 19 points.


While he didn’t win the Norris Trophy because of the two-way game that Cale Makar brings, Roman Josi had an incredible 2021-22 season. The Nashville captain scored 23 goals with 73 assists for 96 points in 80 games. He led all defenders in points by 10, while also leading with 37 power play points. Only Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, JT Miller, and Jonathan Huberdeau had more points on the man advantage than Josi. He was a workhorse, averaging over six more minutes of ice time on average than his partner, Dante Fabbro. The 24-year-old had his best season yet, scoring 24 points in 66 games while also leading the d-core with a 53.05 xGF%.

At age 32, Mattias Ekholm isn’t the defensive stalwart that he used to be, but still is trusted by the Nashville coaching staff. He had 31 points with 96 blocked shots. It was his first full season without 100 or more blocks since 2013-14, his rookie year. A good case study for the effects of PDO would be Alex Carrier, who rode a 103.4 PDO to a 63.01 GF%. While the expected numbers don’t believe that it was legitimate, Carrier had 30 points with a 1.55 GA/60, which is a great rookie season.

While Nashville will likely be hurt down the line for taking on the last four years on Ryan McDonagh’s contract, they still will get a very solid defender. McDonagh was the backbone of a strong Tampa Bay defense, blocking 137 shots and was nominated for the Lady Byng Trophy. Many criticized the Predators for trading a second-rounder at the deadline for Jeremy Lauzon. Nashville apparently disagreed with them, extending the young defender for four seasons. Lauzon had 224 hits with seven points in 66 games split between the Predators and Kraken. If they want to crank up the physicality even more, they have Mark Borowiecki. The veteran had the most penalty minutes in the league with 151 in 57 games. Borowiecki added 196 hits and four assists.


The Predators definitely don’t make the playoffs last season if not for Juuse Saros. He finished third in Vezina voting with a .918 save percentage and a 2.64 GAA while playing in the most games. He finished ninth in GSAx and had a GSAA of 23.0. The depth chart behind him looks shaky, with Kevin Lankinen set to be the backup. Lankinen had a .891 save percentage and a 3.50 GAA in 32 games for Chicago last season. Only Philipp Grubauer had a worse GSAx.

Projected Lines

Matt Duchene – Mikael Granlund – Filip Forsberg

Nino Niederreiter – Ryan Johansen – Eeli Tolvanen

Tanner Jeannot – Colton Sissons – Yakov Trenin

John Leonard – Cody Glass – Philip Tomasino

Scratched: Zach Sanford, Michael McCarron

Roman Josi – Dante Fabbro

Mattias Ekholm – Alex Carrier

Ryan McDonagh – Jeremy Lauzon

Scratched: Mark Borowiecki

Juuse Saros

Kevin Lankinen

Montreal Canadiens 2022-23 Season Preview

Going into last season, the Canadiens felt like they had achieved the record for least enthusiasm from the public for a team that was coming off a Stanley Cup Finals appearances. Still, no one expected it 2021-22 to be as bad as it was. The Habs managed to finish worse than the Coyotes. However, they won the draft lottery and the Shane Wright sweepstakes… only to pick Juraj Slafkovsky first instead. The Slovakian forward dominated at the Olympics, and could start the season with the big club. But with a crowded forward room, the AHL is also a possibility to better his development. With a full season under Head Coach Martin St. Louis about to start, there is optimism that the franchise can take a leap forward.

Offseason additions: F Evgenii Dadonov, F Kirby Dach, F Sean Monahan, D Mike Matheson.

Offseason subtractions: D Jeff Petry, D Shea Weber (Contract), D Alex Romanov, F Ryan Poehling, F Mathieu Perreault, F Tyler Pitlick, F Cedric Paquette.


The Canadiens traded away Shea Weber, who will almost certainly never play again due to injuries, opening up the captaincy for Nick Suzuki. While most of the team struggled, Suzuki was their best player, setting career-highs with 21 goals and 40 assists for 61 points. He also has not missed a game in his three NHL seasons. Suzuki has developed into the franchise’s number one center, even if analytics don’t support him as much. The team collective improved after St. Louis took over, and there is no better example than Cole Caufield. He had just one goal and seven assists in 30 games until Dominique Ducharme was fired. After that? He played in 37 games, leading the team with 22 goals and 35 points. Power forward Josh Anderson scored 19 goals with 32 points in his second season with Montreal, along with 65 penalty minutes and 153 hits. Anderson and Suzuki were the only forwards on the team with over 1000 minutes of ice time at five-on-five, showing how hurt and inconsistent they were.

Brendan Gallagher has long been an analytical darling, and that didn’t change in 2021-22. But his production just wasn’t there. He played in 56 games, scoring just seven goals with 17 assists. Gallagher is still only 30, and had either been great or scored at a good pace in each of the prior four seasons, so don’t worry too much yet. One of the many reclamation projects on the team is Kirby Dach, the former third-overall pick who experienced the trauma of playing for the Blackhawks last year. Dach is only 21, but his numbers in the NHL have not been as good as expected. He played in 70 games last year, scoring nine goals with 26 points. Mike Hoffman’s first season with the Canadiens showed that he still has offensive value, but with weak defense. Hoffman contributed 15 goals with 20 assists, but had just a 2.12 xGF/60.

The Habs traded a first and a second-round pick to Arizona for Christian Dvorak before last season. With how bad they ended up being, Dvorak had to live up to that value and more. Unfortunately, he gave them third-line center production, which is really what he had always been with the Coyotes. Dvorak scored 11 goals with 33 points in 56 games. He was the team’s best offensive penalty-killer by goals against per 60. Montreal was the team to finally end up with Evgenii Dadonov, who the Golden Knights continuously tried to trade. He was actually one of Vegas’ best players last season, but the salary cap loomed large. Dadonov scored 20 goals with 43 points, finishing third and fifth on the team, respectively. Jonathan Drouin’s return to the NHL was disrupted by a wrist injury, as he played in just 34 games. Drouin was never a big goal scorer, but he had just six goals last year, with 14 assists. He played at a 48-point pace, which would have trailed just Suzuki for the team lead.

The Canadiens acquired a future first-round pick for taking on the contract of former Flames first line center Sean Monahan. While he is just three seasons removed from an 82-point year and two from a 48-point campaign, Monahan has fallen off a cliff. He scored just eight goals with 23 points in 65 games while dropping to the fourth line. He doesn’t have the physicality of a fourth-liner, but even his most recent production fits the role well. Montreal picked up Rem Pitlick off waivers early in the season, then gave him over 17 minutes of ice time on average. Pitlick rode a shooting percentage over 23 percent, leading to a total of 15 goals in 66 games for the Habs and the Wild. In 46 games for the Canadiens, he had nine goals with 26 points. Another one of the few Canadiens to take a step forward last season was Jake Evans, who scored 13 goals with 29 points in 72 games. His xGA/60 at even strength was the second-best on the forward core, behind only Artturi Lehkonen, who was dealt at the deadline. The odd-man-out seems like Joel Armia, who had a big 2019-20 but hasn’t produced much since. The six-foot-four winger had 104 hits with 14 points in 60 games last season. If Armia is out, then Paul Byron is left in a sticky situation. He could start the season on LTIR to make a roster space for Slafkovsky, or be an extra forward scratch. The two-time 30-goal scorer had just four in 27 games last year.


A complete overhaul of the defense has left in it a bit of a mess. After a year of Jeff Petry trade rumors, the Habs were able to get a legitimate player back for him in Mike Matheson. The concern with Matheson is that he didn’t really take off until he was traded to Pittsburgh, but he is a great skater with offensive talent. He set a career-high in points with 31 last season, and the Quebec native could be paired with another one in David Savard. A physical veteran defender, Savard racks up hits and blocked shots, but struggled in his first season with the club. With defense being his specialty, it was disappointing to see that he had a 3.15 xGA/60, the worst of the team’s six regular defenders.

The team missed Joel Edmundson last year, as he was limited to just 24 games. He had a 47.96 GF%, which was the best on the defensive core. However, he also had the worst xGF%. At the end of the season, Edmundson played with Justin Barron, a 2020 first-rounder who came over from Colorado for Lehkonen. Barron scored a goal with an assist in five games after the trade as a 20-year-old. He played in 43 AHL games, recording 20 points.

Another late-season prospect add who played in NHL games was Jordan Harris, a third-rounder in 2018 who signed with the team just before he could have become an unrestricted free agent. Harris scored a goal in 10 games after completing his fourth season at Northeastern University. Playing in 39 games, he scored five goals with 15 assists. The Habs took a flier on former Senator Chris Wideman after he lit up the KHL. The plan was for Wideman to be a third-pairing defender who could provide power play help, and he did exactly that. In 64 games, Wideman had 27 points, with 12 of his 23 assists coming on the man advantage. He was rewarded with a two-year extension. Until prospects like Mattias Norlinder and Kaiden Guhle are ready for a full-time role, the seventh-defender looks like it will be Corey Schueneman. The 27-year-old had six points in 24 games in his rookie season last year. He had 11 more points in 32 AHL contests.


With Carey Price set to go on long-term injured reserve after playing in just five games last season, the goalie situation in Montreal will stay with what it was for most of the year. Jake Allen actually had a positive goals saved above expected, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from how his final numbers ended up. In 35 games, he had a .905 save percentage and a 3.30 GAA. His backup, Sam Montembeault, had the seventh-worst GSAx in the league last season, at -14.52. He is young, but a 3.77 GAA is very concerning, especially in as large of a sample size as 38 games.

Projected Lines

Cole Caufield – Nick Suzuki – Josh Anderson

Mike Hoffman – Kirby Dach – Brendan Gallagher

Jonathan Drouin – Christian Dvorak – Evgenii Dadonov

Rem Pitlick – Sean Monahan – Jake Evans

Scratched: Joel Armia, Paul Byron

Mike Matheson – David Savard

Joel Edmundson – Justin Barron

Jordan Harris – Chris Wideman

Scratched: Corey Schueneman

Jake Allen

Sam Montembeault

Minnesota Wild 2022-23 Season Preview

Last year’s Wild team was easily the best in franchise history. They finished with 100 points for the fifth time, at 113. That was seven points more than 2016-17, the previous best regular season. Sadly, it ended like a lot of other Wild seasons, with a first-round exit. Salary cap issues made their team considerably worse in the offseason, as they had to part with one of their best players. But with over $5 million in space at the time being, it ponders the question, could they have kept Kevin Fiala?

Offseason additions: F Sam Steel, G Jonas Gustavsson, D Andrej Sustr.

Offseason subtractions: F Kevin Fiala, D Dmitry Kulikov, G Cam Talbot, F Nick Bjugstad, D Jordie Benn, F Nicolas Deslauriers.


Following a political scare in Russia, Kirill Kaprizov is back after a fantastic season. Many questioned Minnesota’s decision to give him a monster extension after his rookie season in a shortened season, but the team was quickly rewarded. Kaprizov scored 47 goals with 61 assists for 108 points. Kaprizov was top-five in both goals and points in the league. He played on the top line with two of the league’s surprise players. In his age-34 season, veteran Mats Zuccarello set a new career-high with 79 points in 70 games. Kaprizov and Zuccarello combined for 116 assists alone, with 29 of them coming on the man advantage. The goals on the line went to Kaprizov and center Ryan Hartman, who transitioned from bottom-six forward to top line center. Hartman scored 34 goals at age 27, and was definitely the most unpredictable thirty-plus goal scorer last season.

With Fiala traded to Los Angeles, the third line is certainly the second-best on the team at both ends of the ice. Marcus Foligno led the team with a 57.03 xGF% and a 1.82 xGA/60. He scored a career-high 23 goals on an inflated shooting percentage with 238 hits. Brady Tkachuk, Tom Wilson, and Tanner Jeannot were the only other players with at least 20 goals and 200 hits. Both Foligno and Joel Eriksson Ek have had some Selke hype over the past two seasons, with Eriksson Ek finishing fourth in 2020-21 and seventh last season. His offensive game kicked in for the first time, scoring 26 goals with 49 points in 77 games. Jordan Greenway only had 27 points playing on that line last year, but he had a team-high 68.6 GF%. Sure, a 104.8 PDO was extremely lucky, but the entire Wild team had some puck luck last year.

It will be very interesting to see how Matt Boldy plays in his sophomore season without Fiala. Boldy was dominant as a rookie in 47 games, doing enough to finish eighth in Calder voting. He scored 15 goals with 39 points, plus a 4.33 goals for per 60 minutes. Boldy’s primary center was Frederick Gaudreau, who can move to the wing. Gaudreau’s first year with Minnesota was his breakout season, scoring 14 goals with 44 points in 76 games. In his four years prior, he had 18 points in 108 games for Nashville and Pittsburgh. The threat to move Gaudreau to the wing is Marco Rossi, the 2020 ninth-overall pick who played in two NHL games last season. He played in 63 games at the AHL level after missing just about all of 2020-21 from a COVID-19 related issue. Rossi scored 18 goals with 53 points for the Iowa Wild.

Tyson Jost was involved in the rare player-for-player swap between two contending teams at the deadline when the Avalanche sent him to Minnesota for Nico Sturm. Neither player tore it up with their new team, with Jost having six points in 21 games. He had no points in the playoffs, while his team of six years went on to win the Cup. While he never lit it up in the AHL, Brandon Duhaime won a roster spot last season, and played in 80 games with 17 points. Duhaime had 122 penalty minutes with 201 hits, so his goal scoring wasn’t why he was in the lineup. Former Ducks’ first-round pick Sam Steel signed with the Wild this offseason after Anaheim non-tendered him. He had 20 points in 68 games in 2021-22. Steel is in a competition with Connor Dewar, who had 17 points in 19 AHL games. Dewar played in his first 32 NHL games, scoring twice with four assists. Kyle Rau, who played in five NHL games, dominated the AHL last season as well. In 55 games, he scored 25 goals with 53 points.


One of the three defensive captains in the NHL, Jared Spurgeon’s streak of eight consecutive seasons with triple-digit blocked shots was broken last season, in which he had 83 in 65 games. Spurgeon added 40 points, the second-highest of his career. The most indicative stat of his season was his average ice time. It was his lowest since his rookie season of 2010-11. The Wild got him a new partner at the deadline in Jacob Middleton, who had five points in 21 games. His 50.87 GF% after the trade was the second lowest on the defensive core, so he needs some time to adjust.

The best all-around line on the team consists of Matt Dumba and Jonas Brodin. Dumba was an offensive forced in 2017-18 and 2018-19, but hasn’t been able to produce since. He had 27 points in 57 games with 114 hits. Brodin is the best defensive defender on the team, with a 1.92 xGA/60 last season. He had a career-high 30 points and was nominated for the Lady Byng Trophy.

The Wild shockingly received offensive dominance from veteran Alex Goligoski. While he only had 30 points himself, he had a 4.31 GF/60. He was the only NHL defender over four with at least 1000 minutes of ice time. Calen Addison, who was a part of the Jason Zucker trade in 2020, was impressive in 15 games last year. Addison had four points with a 63.06 xGF%. That is higher than any other Minnesota defender, albeit in a small sample size. The emergence of Addison and last year’s acquisition of Middleton could move Jon Merrill to the seventh-defenseman role. Merrill has played for five teams in his career, with both his 69 games played and 20 points last year being career-highs. So were his 112 blocked shots.


The goalies were such an issue last season that the Wild traded for Marc-Andre Fleury midseason. While he was coming off a Vezina-winning season, Fleury’s overall numbers with Chicago and Minnesota were nothing special. He had a .910 save percentage in 11 regular season games after the deal before making it through just five playoff games until being replaced. Cam Talbot started that final game of the season, but was dealt this offseason to Ottawa for Filip Gustavsson. Minnesota gets more potential, as Gustavsson had a .933 save percentage in nine 2020-21 games. But in 2021-22, he had a rough 3.55 GAA and .892 save percentage in 18 games. That won’t play for a contender.

Projected Lines

Kirill Kaprizov – Ryan Hartman – Mats Zuccarello

Marcus Foligno – Joel Eriksson Ek – Jordan Greenway

Matt Boldy – Marco Rossi – Frederick Gaudreau

Sam Steel – Tyson Jost – Brandon Duhaime

Scratched: Connor Dewar, Kyle Rau

Jonas Brodin – Matt Dumba

Jacob Middleton – Jared Spurgeon

Alex Goligoski – Calen Addison

Scratched: Jon Merrill

Marc-Andre Fleury

Filip Gustavsson

Los Angeles Kings 2022-23 Season Preview

No team made a bigger leap forward than the Kings last year. They went from a rebuilding year that could have turned ugly to making the postseason with some help from a Vegas collapse and a weak Pacific Division. The Kings managed 99 points and took the Oilers to seven games in the first round. Now, with a new toy up front and everyone healthy, Los Angeles will look for the next step.

Offseason additions: F Kevin Fiala, F Nate Thompson (PTO).

Offseason subtractions: F Dustin Brown, F Andreas Athanasiou, D Olli Maatta.


As Anze Kopitar enters his age-35 season, the Kings have to hope that he can avoid the sharp decline from superstardom that other California stars like Patrick Marleau, Ryan Getzlaf, and Corey Perry had. Kopitar still led the Kings in points last season with 67, forty-eight of them being assists. Kopitar has a pair of Selke Trophies, a Lady Byng, and has always averaged at least 20 minutes of ice time, aside from 2014-15. The aforementioned shiny new toy is Kevin Fiala, acquired from Minnesota. The Wild lacked the cap space for him, so Los Angeles was able to swoop in and then extend him for seven seasons. Fiala is coming off a career season in which he scored 33 goals with 85 points in 82 games. Another player who had a career year was Adrian Kempe. Not only did Kempe score 20 goals for the first time, but he finished with 35. There were only five players with at least 35 goals scored and over 110 hits last season. They were Chris Kreider, Alex Ovechkin, Timo Meier, Filip Forsberg, and Kempe.

The Kings’ last offseason brought in key players for 2021-22 and beyond, although no one matches up to what Fiala has done for Minnesota. After the Canadiens perhaps underutilized Phillip Danault, he signed with the Kings to be their second-line center. Many in Montreal doubted his offensive prowess, but Danault scored 27 goals with 51 points last season. He also was eighth in Selke voting, finishing top-8 for the fourth year in a row. Following two tough seasons in a row, Viktor Arvidsson got back to where he was previously in his first season with Los Angeles. The undersized winger played in 66 games, scoring 20 goals with 49 points. He had the best xGF% on the forward core. The most used line last year consisted of Danault, Arvidsson, and Trevor Moore, so the expectation is that it will continue. Moore is coming off the best season of his career, scoring 17 goals with 48 points. He had the fifth-worst goals saved above expected in the league last year. That either means that Moore has a bad shot, or just got unlucky.

The player hurt the most by the acquisition of Fiala is Alex Iafallo, who will have to move from the top line to the third. Playing with Kopitar made sense for him, as Iafallo is a defensive forward who can chip in offensively. But a reduced role means that his 17 goals and 37 points from 2021-22 could be taking a drop. The guy with a ton of expectations this year is Quinton Byfield, the 2020 2nd overall pick who hasn’t been as good in his first two professional seasons as many hoped. He had six points in 11 AHL games, with 10 points in 40 NHL games. On the positive side, he had good defensive numbers in a bottom-six role. The Kings have so much young talent that has gotten stuck between the NHL and the AHL. Both Byfield and Gabe Vilardi are a big part of that group. Vilardi dominated at the AHL level last year, with 38 points in 39 games. But in just 25 NHL games, he had seven points. He scored 10 goals in 54 games the year before, so Vilardi can lock down a roster spot.

One of the players to break through from the tweener group last year was Blake Lizotte, who found a role as a fourth line center. Lizotte had 24 points in 70 games, with the third-best xGA/60 among Los Angeles forwards. The two guys better than him could be his linemates. After a successful AHL season in 2020-21, Arthur Kaliyev scored 14 goals in an 80-game rookie season. For how much his scoring ability was touted, seeing Kaliyev with a 7.2 personal shooting percentage is surprising. If the scouts are right on him, then look for a big jump in scoring this upcoming season. Carl Grundstrom played in 54 games last season at the NHL level, scoring nine goals with 134 hits. Despite his physicality, Grundstrom has just 56 penalty minutes in 129 career games, which is a positive. If the Kings don’t want discipline, then they can go with Brendan Lemieux instead. He had 97 penalty minutes with 122 hits in 50 games. Jaret Anderson-Dolan has 12 points in 50 career NHL games. He was one of the best players on the Ontario Reign (AHL) last season, scoring 24 goals with 47 points in 54 games. Other young forwards in the mix for a spot include Rasmus Kupari, Lias Andersson, Alex Turcotte, and Samuel Fagemo.


Drew Doughty had been very vocal about the narrative that he was declining, and he did prove people wrong in an injury-shortened season. Doughty played in only 39 games, but had 31 points with great underlying numbers at both ends of the ice. Doughty had a 55.43 xGF%, the second-best among Los Angeles defenders. The former Norris winner played primarily with Mikey Anderson in the left-hander’s second full season. Anderson, a former fourth-round pick, had eight points with 69 blocked shots and 133 hits last season.

The only two Kings defenders making over $3 million a season are Doughty and Matt Roy. Good goaltending luck and great defensive play led to Roy having a ridiculous 1.79 GA/60 last season. That was the third-best among defenders in the NHL (minimum 1000 TOI). Roy added 103 blocks and 124 hits to the pile. He was playing with the since-departed Olli Maatta and veteran Alex Edler, who was in his first of 16 seasons not with the Canucks. Edler only got into 41 games, but was very effective. He had 19 points with a team-leading 57.72 GF% and 57.12 xGF%. No other defender on the team was anywhere near Edler’s offensive production in xGF/60.

Not only did Sean Durzi make his NHL debut last year, but he cemented himself as a regular by playing in 64 games with a legitimate share of ice time. Durzi had 27 points with 121 blocked shots and played on both special team units. Former first-rounder Tobias Bjornfot played in a career-high 70 games, but had no goals with eight assists. In fact, he had the most total ice time for a player without a goal. Only three other players (Danny DeKeyser, Erik Brannstrom, and Matt Benning) had no goals and over a thousand minutes of ice time. It also doesn’t help that Bjornfot had a 47 xGF%, the worst among regular defenders on the team. He will be competing with Sean Walker for a spot. Walker missed all but six games with a torn ACL last season, but was a regular in the two years prior.


In 2020-21, the power balance in net looked like it was shifted away from Jonathan Quick, to Cal Petersen. That changed last year, as Quick finished 11th in goals saved above expected. He started 46 games with a .910 save percentage and a 2.59 GAA. Both were his best since 2017-18. Petersen was in negative territory after a 13th-place finish in 2020-21. He had a weak .895 save percentage while replicating his 2.89 GAA from the season before.

Projected Lines

Adrian Kempe – Anze Kopitar – Kevin Fiala

Trevor Moore – Phillip Danault – Viktor Arvidsson

Alex Iafallo – Quinton Byfield – Gabe Vilardi

Carl Grundstrom – Blake Lizotte – Arthur Kaliyev

Scratched: Brendan Lemieux, Jaret Anderson-Dolan

Mikey Anderson – Drew Doughty

Alex Edler – Matt Roy

Tobias Bjornfot – Sean Durzi

Scratched: Sean Walker

Jonathan Quick

Cal Petersen