Breaking down Canada's NHL teams for the season
By The Associated Press
LAST SEASON: 44-28-10, 98 points. Finished second in Atlantic Division, lost to Pittsburgh Penguins in Eastern Conference final.
COACH: Guy Boucher (second season, fifth NHL season)
LOST: D Marc Methot
PLAYER TO WATCH: Defenseman Erik Karlsson is a brilliant player but he's coming back from a left foot injury.
OUTLOOK: Playoff bubble team. The Senators had a negative goal differential last season, were weak in puck possession wand had below-average special teams. Craig Anderson was sensational in goal despite challenging circumstances last year, but his numbers have bounced to some degree from year to year. What happens to the Senators if the 36-year-old is merely ordinary?
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
LAST SEASON: 40-27-15, 95 points. Finished fourth in Atlantic Division, lost to Washington Capitals in first round.
COACH: Mike Babcock (third season, 15th NHL season)
PLAYER TO WATCH: Auston Matthews. The Calder Trophy winner as rookie of the year, the Scottsdale, Arizona, native is still getting better and is among the league's best.
OUTLOOK: Should make the playoffs. Beyond their youth, the Maple Leafs will be relying heavily on Frederik Andersen to be a consistent presence between the pipes.
LAST SEASON: 47-26-9, 103 points. Won Metropolitan Division, lost to New York Rangers in first round.
COACH: Claude Julien (first full season, 15th NHL season)
PLAYER TO WATCH: Drouin. The spotlight is on the French-Canadian forward who's shifting to center after Montreal sent its top defensive prospect, Mikhail Sergachev, to Tampa Bay for Drouin.
OUTLOOK: Should make the playoffs. The Habs signed Alzner for five years and extended franchise cornerstone Carey Price in goal for eight. Drouin, who is just 22, has star potential and the ability to replace lost firepower after Radulov left for Dallas. With Price, the Canadiens have a chance to make noise in a relatively punchless East.
LAST SEASON: 40-35-7, 87 points. Finished fifth in Central Division, missed playoffs.
COACH: Paul Maurice (fifth season, 20th NHL season)
LOST: RW Drew Stafford
PLAYER TO WATCH: Patrik Laine. A 36-goal scorer as a rookie, the flashy Finn is still trying to work on his all-around game, but his offensive punch is Teemue Selanne-esque.
OUTLOOK: Playoff bubble team. It's hard to win without consistent goaltending, and the Jets are betting on Mason to solve those woes behind a talented group which includes Calder trophy runner-up Laine, Mark Scheifele and 21-year-old Nikolaj Ehlers. The Jets also hope hidden talents like Kyle Connor and Jack Roslovic make the leap alongside Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler and Dustin Byfuglien.
LAST SEASON: 47-26-9, 103 points. Finished second in Pacific Division, lost to Anaheim Ducks in second round.
COACH: Todd McLellan (second season, ninth NHL season)
ADDED: RW Ryan Strome, F Jussi Jokinen
PLAYER TO WATCH: Connor McDavid. The reigning Hart Trophy as NHL MVP and Art Ross Trophy winner as leading scorer is perhaps the best player in hockey.
OUTLOOK: Capable of a deep playoff run. The Oilers locked up their two biggest talents in the summer, signing McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to eight-year deals. The captain is already a sure thing and now the expectations are there for Draisaitl. Above all, the Oilers need Cam Talbot to offer another stellar year between the pipes, especially if he's asked to play 73 games again.
LAST SEASON: 45-33-4, 94 points. Finished fourth in Pacific Division, lost to Anaheim Ducks in first round.
COACH: Glen Gulutzan (second season, fourth NHL season)
PLAYER TO WATCH: Smith. The Flames have some incredible talent up front, but their season rides on the goaltending of Smith, who came over in a trade from Arizona.
OUTLOOK: Should make the playoffs. Smith is the latest hopeful in goal, with the 35-year-old arriving by trade one year after Calgary landed Elliott to do the same. He should bring stability behind a defense that added Hamonic to top stalwarts Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton and T.J. Brodie. The offense is hoping Johnny Gaudreau bounces back with a big year and that the superb trio of Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik delivers again.
LAST SEASON: 30-43-9, 69 points. Finished last in Pacific Division, missed playoffs.
COACH: Travis Green (first season, first NHL season)
PLAYER TO WATCH: Henrik and Daniel Sedin. The Sedin twins say they want to win in Vancouver, and although that's not likely to happen, the Swedes can still play.
OUTLOOK: Playoffs will be a stretch. Green will be counted on to ignite a stagnant offense while bringing along the likes of Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser and Olli Juolevi. The Sedins are in the final year of their respective contracts and are unlikely to leave - unless, perhaps, a Cup opportunity elsewhere comes along.
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Updated October 3, 2017