The NHL is due to come back in the next 2 weeks. Neither the NHL or NHLPA want to risk another lost season that would set the league back in all markets with many of the American markets struggling as it is to survive in the modern day NHL.
With the inevitable return of the NHL comes the question: Which teams have the advantage in a short season?
1. Edmonton Oilers
The young Oilers have speed to burn. All of their young core players have been playing in various pro leagues and are well prepared for the season to start. With the combination of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent Hopkins, Nail Yakupov and many other bright stars in the NHL, the immediate future of Oil Country is in good hands. The Oilers won’t travel as much being a western team within the Northwest conference and that will help when the playoffs come around in mid April.
2. LA Kings
The Kings are also a very young team hungry to repeat as NHL champions. They have a solid core of players. Goalie Jonathan Quick is one of the very best n the league. A solid defensive corp is led by Drew Doughty and the gritty Willie Mitchell. The Kings are loaded up front with all star calibre forwards Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Justin Williams. This group as a whole is tough as nails.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins
How can you leave out a team led by Sidney Crosby. The golden boy will have a chip on his shoulder this season with the labour stoppage as a relentless advocate for the NHLPA. Throw in Geno Malkin and you have 2 of the NHL premier players. The Pens will be able to score goals but can they keep them out? Goalie Mark Andre Fleury is in the prime of his career and the defence in front of him are an under-rated bunch even though all star Kris Letang looks like Paul Coffey out there most nights.
4. New York Rangers
No team in the NHL can outspend the Rangers. That is why they will always have a chance to win. They are the New York Yankees of the NHL. All that spending hasn’t translated into Stanley Cups though. A series of bad luck and bad contracts put the Rangers in a bad spot for years. Now they are clear from most of that and can focus on their re-tooled roster. Stealing Rick Nash from Columbus is one of the greatest coups of all time. Adding Nash to an already potent scoring attack with the likes of Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and Ryan Callahan will provide the Rangers a balanced offence. Standout goalie Henrik Lundquist will be back between the pipes trying to build off an MVP type of season last year.
5. Boston Bruins
No team in the NHL better exemplifies a balance between talent and toughness as the Bruins and no 2 players better illustrate this than Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic. The Bruins are a frustrating team to play against, they can score and then kick the s#*t out of you 5 minutes later. The games on the calendar vs the Bruins are the ones you don’t look forward to as an opponent. Young forward Tyler Seguin shows true promise and long term leadership qualities ala Steve Yzerman.