Loading scores...
Andrei Vasilevskiy
Getty Images
The Week Ahead

Welcome Back!

by Michael Finewax
Updated On: September 29, 2019, 8:23 am ET

Welcome back! The hockey season is about to start on Wednesday and with a lot of leagues drafting this weekend, it’s another exciting time in hockey. There is so much to write about so I decided to look at each team’s lineup heading into the season. Enjoy the year.  

Editor's Note: If you're on the hunt for rankings, projections, strategy and advice on how to dominate your drafts, check out the all-new Rotoworld NHL Draft Guide. Now mobile-optimized with a new look and feel, it's never been easier to take our award-winning advice with you to your drafts for that extra competitive edge! Click here to learn more!

Don’t forget, for everything NHL, check out Rotoworld's Player News, and follow @Rotoworld_ HK and @mfinewaxhockey on Twitter.

WEEK OF OCTOBER 2-6

3 Games –Carolina, Dallas, Toronto, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Washington, Winnipeg

2 Games – Anaheim, Arizona, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Colorado, Columbus, Detroit, Edmonton, Florida, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Vancouver, Vegas

1 Game – Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia

Winnipeg plays all three games on the road.

INJURIES

Braydon Point is recovering from off-season hip surgery and should return by the end of October. (Click here to see the rest of the injury list.)

ANAHEIM

Games this week

vs. Arizona, vs. San Jose

Tired: None

Rested: vs. San Jose (Saturday)

Notes

The Ducks are entering the 2019-20 season without a lot of hope as they are turning the team over to their youth. They still have some veterans like Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Miller but Ryan Kesler is gone for the season and possibly his career. As well, they bought out long-time Duck Corey Perry who is now in Dallas. The Ducks will see how youngsters like Sam Steel, Maxime Comtois and Ondrej Kase play in a full NHL schedule. The Ducks have a good blueline led by Hampus Lindholm, Cam Fowler and Josh Manson but their real strength lies in goaltender John Gibson who was so good last season at the beginning of the year, that Anaheim actually was thought of as a playoff contender.  

ARIZONA

Games this week

@ Anaheim, vs. Boston

Tired: None

Rested: None

Notes

This is a big year in Arizona with high hopes as the team finally has an offensive leader in Phil Kessel. Kessel was acquired from Pittsburgh in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk who had a tough season in his only year in the desert. Kessel will make the power play better and help Clayton Keller harness his offensive potential. Look for Barrett Hayton to start the season with the Coyotes as the fifth overall pick from 2018 has had a very good camp. They will get a full season out of Nick Schmaltz whom they acquired last season from Chicago. He played only 17 games before suffering a knee injury that cost him the rest of the season but he had five goals and 14 points before the injury. Antti Raanta hopes to regain the net after playing only 12 games in 2018-19. He should be a 1 and 1A duo with Darcy Kuemper who shone while Raanta was gone.

BOSTON

Games this week

@ Dallas, @ Arizona

Tired: None

Rested: None

Notes

The Bruins went all the way to Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Final before succumbing to St. Louis. They will retain most of last season’s squad although UFA Marcus Johansson has moved on. The Bruins have one of the best top lines in the NHL, if not the best, in Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. Bergeron’s health is a bit of a concern as he has missed 35 games over the last two seasons. Boston has a solid blueline, led by Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy but don’t forget about ageless veteran Zdeno Chara. Boston has a very good goaltender in Tuukka Rask with the more than capable Jaroslav Halak as his backup. David Krejci had a career year in 2018-19 with 73 points but don’t expect that kind of production this season. Jake DeBrusk has shot at 30 goals after scoring 27 last season.

BUFFALO

Games this week

@ Pittsburgh, vs. New Jersey

Tired: None

Rested: vs. New Jersey (Saturday)

Notes

The Sabres have a new coach in Ralph Krueger after Phil Housley was let go at the end of the 2018-19 campaign. He has some great young talent to work with, starting with Jack Eichel who centers the top line with Jeff Skinner and Sam Reinhart on his wings. Victor Olofsson has been seeing first line action with Reinhart and Eichel and could be a nice sleeper. Expect to see second line center Casey Mittelstadt take a big jump forward in points after a 25-point rookie season as 40-50 points seems within his reach. Newcomers Marcus Johansson and Jimmy Vesey will help the offense. On the blueline, rookie sensation Rasmus Dahlin will look to improve on his 44-point season. He is a superstar in the making and is a big reason why Buffalo’s future is bright. He will be joined on defense by Rasmus Ristolainen, who is also a big offensive producer. Their goaltending is suspect with Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark and that could be their downfall this season.

CALGARY

Games this week

@ Colorado, vs. Vancouver

Tired: None

Rested: None

Notes

The Flames helped themselves immensely on Wednesday when they signed RFA Matthew Tkachuk to a three-year bridge deal. Calgary was the second-best team in the NHL during the regular season in 2018-19 but ran into the hot Colorado Avalanche who dismissed them in five games. Calgary has a new goaltender in Cam Talbot and he will likely back up David Rittich in net. Rittich played well for the most part last season but will need Talbot’s veteran presence to help. The defense is strong with Norris Trophy winner Mark Giordano leading the way. Add in Travis Hamonic, Rasmus Andersson, Noah Hanifin and T.J. Brodie and it is one of the best bluelines in the NHL.  The Flames are strong up front with the likes of Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm and Sam Bennett and dealt James Neal to Edmonton in the summer for Milan Lucic. Lucic will provide the Flames some grit and toughness on the third unit and should see some power play time.

CAROLINA

Games this week

vs. Montreal, @ Washington, vs. Tampa Bay

Tired: None

Rested: @ Washington (Saturday)

Notes

The Hurricanes play three games in four nights to start the NHL schedule and expect to see Petr Mrazek get a couple of starts with James Reimer making his Carolina debut in net as well.  The Hurricanes struggled last season at the start of the campaign but came on strong in the second half to make the playoffs. Carolina will rely on Petr Mrazek in net with James Reimer backing him up, but if either have trouble, expect to see Alex Nedeljkovic to get a shot. The Canes made a couple of deals, one getting Erik Haula from Vegas which will help their offense, while this week they dealt Justin Faulk to St. Louis for Joel Edmundson. Sebastian Aho signed an offer sheet in July with Montreal but Carolina matched and he is happy about that and he will be in Carolina for another five seasons. Nino Niederreiter will be in Carolina for a full season after a mid-season deal with Minnesota and Ryan Dzingel was their big off-season signing to provide more depth for their top-six.

CHICAGO

Games this week

@ Philadelphia

Tired: None

Rested: None

Notes

The Blackhawks only play once this week as they travel to Philadelphia where Robin Lehner, the current Vezina Trophy holder, will likely make his Chicago debut. Chicago was fortunate to get the third overall pick in the 2019 Draft and while Kirby Dach may not contribute this season, he is the future of the team. Patrick Kane had a great comeback season to finish third in NHL scoring and Jonathan Toews had a career year with 81 points. Expect a big regression from Toews but not from Kane. Chicago bolstered its defense in the off-season with the acquisitions of Olli Maatta and Calvin de Haan and added Alexander Nylander from Buffalo in exchange for young defenseman Henri Jokiharju. Duncan Keith lost his spot on the first power play to Erik Gustafsson and that was good as Gustafsson had 60 points last season. Corey Crawford will likely share the net with Lehner if he can remain healthy after two injured-plagued seasons.

COLORADO

Games this week

vs. Calgary, vs. Minnesota

Tired: None

Rested: None

Notes

The Avalanche snuck into the playoffs last season on the last weekend and then did their damage as they knocked off the Campbell Conference champion Calgary Flames in five games in the first round before dropping a seven-game series to San Jose. Colorado has one of the best lines in hockey with Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, but that line could be compromised this season as Rantanen is currently holding out as an RFA. The Avs dealt their top offensive defenseman Tyson Barrie to Toronto and picked up their second line center Nazem Kadri who should be able to return to the 30-goal mark. Rookie Cale Makar who had seven points in 10 playoff games, is expected to quarterback the power play and take the place of Barrie. Philipp Grubauer was great last season, especially near the end of the campaign and that allowed the Avs to let Semyon Varlamov to walk as a UFA.

COLUMBUS

Games this week

vs. Toronto, @ Pittsburgh

Tired: None

Rested: @ Pittsburgh (Saturday)

Notes

There are big changes in Columbus where the Blue Jackets lost Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel to free agency. They brought in Gustav Nyquist. All-in-all it is a huge loss for their lineup. On the positive side, the Blue Jackets still have an excellent defense, led by Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. The duo will be on the points on the first power play and with the second unit of Ryan Murray and David Savard, it gives Columbus a terrific top-four. Their offense has been damaged with the free agent losses but they still have Pierre-Luc Dubois, Cam Atkinson, rookie Alexandre Texier, Nick Foligno and Josh Anderson. Brandon Dubinsky is out indefinitely after suffering a wrist injury in training camp. The Blue Jackets goaltending is suspect after losing Bobrovsky with Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins the top two netminders.

DALLAS

Games this week

vs. Boston, @ St. Louis, @ Detroit

Tired: None

Rested: None  

Notes

The Stars play three games in four nights so expect to see Ben Bishop between the pipes twice with Anton Khudobin playing once. The Stars have high hopes for this season especially the way Bishop played last season and Khudobin is more than adequate as a backup. Dallas has a good blueline led by John Klingberg and a future Norris Trophy winner in Miro Heiskanen.  The forwards are led by Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov. The third member of the line, Jamie Benn, had a tough year in 2018-19 but hopes to bounce back. The Stars added free agent Joe Pavelski to the lineup and he will likely play alongside everyone’s pick as a sleeper, Roope Hintz. Corey Perry was also signed as a free agent and he will try and get his career back on track.

Michael Finewax

Michael Finewax is entering his 16th season as the Senior Hockey Writer and Editor for NBC Sports Edge. You can follow him on Twitter @mfinewaxhockey.