It is officially the beginning of hockey season. With NCAA hockey starting with exhibition games this weekend, the National Hockey League (NHL) is getting ready to make their official 2017-2018 season debut, as well. The NHL preseason schedule is underway, and the regular season is just around the corner.
With the start of a new NHL season come new players and new line combinations. With the most recent NHL draft in June, there will be plenty of new faces. The No. 1 draft pick in this year’s draft was Swiss forward Nico Hischier, who played for the Halifax Moosehead in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The 6-foot-1-inch, 176 pound center skated with his new team, the New Jersey Devils, for the first time on Saturday, Sept. 16 when the team had their first training camp practice.
The next big player to watch is the second overall draft pick from this year, Nolan Patrick. The 19-year-old center, from Winnipeg, Manitoba didn’t seem to have a problem with the new setup when his Philadelphia Flyers took on the New York Islanders on Sunday. The rookie was teamed up on a line with Oskar Lindblom and fellow Canadian, Travis Konecny. The game was the first time the three had worked together.
So now, who are the teams to watch? According to Yahoo Sports, the Pittsburgh Penguins are favorites to win the cup again for a third straight season. The new 2018 Stanley Cup odds reveal the Penguins at 7-1. Their odds have dropped since the summer. The team with the next best odds are the Chicago Blackhawks and Connor McDavid’s Edmonton Oilers, at 12-1. McDavid, who became the youngest captain in NHL history at 19, is clearly the go-to for the Oilers, being the league’s reigning MVP and scoring champion. The team with the worst odds is obviously the newcomers, the Vegas Golden Knights, their odds being set at 200-1.
According to NHL Writers, McDavid’s Oilers are predicted to win the Pacific Division, as long as McDavid can stay healthy. For the Central Division, the Dallas Stars are predicted to win. With former UMaine standout, Ben Bishop, in net for the Stars, they’ll have a good chance to win a lot of games. In the Metropolitan Division, Sidney Crosby’s Penguins are predicted to win, followed by none other than Alexander Ovechkin’s Washington Capitals. Their rivalry will forever be entertaining. In the Atlantic Division, sorry Boston fans, but the Bruins are predicted to finish fifth, with the Tampa Bay Lightning predicted to win the division.
So, there you have it. With there being 82 games, players are bound to get hurt and trades are bound to be made. Throughout the playoffs, upsets will occur. Take top-seeded Chicago, for example, who got swept by the Nashville Predators four straight games in the first round of the playoffs last year. Therefore, it is really hard to predict who is actually going to take home the prestigious Stanley Cup this season.