The 2016-17 NHL season opened up last night and the three local teams get to raise the curtain tonight. Yes, Hockey season has finally arrived. It’s the 99th year the league has been in existence and the first year I’ll be commenting about the fastest game on the planet.
Here’s my prediction for the local squads. Don’t hate me.
The New York Rangers are coming off their biggest playoff disappointment in recent memory. New GM Jeff Gorton realized this team was getting older and needed an infusion of youth. Jimmy Vesey and Pavel Buchnevich might just be the answer. These new additions to the forward corps make the Rangers far more effective on offense and bolster both the penalty kill and the power play. In the above scenario, the Rangers could run and gun their way through the playoffs. If veterans Ryan McDonagh or the ageing Henrik Lundqvist don’t stay healthy, they won’t
The Rangers have a chance to capture a wild card spot in the Metropolitan division.
Last season the Isles won a playoff series for the first time since 1993. Three of the long-term Islanders who shared in that achievement were allowed to walk via free agency, and now the question is whether they are poised to take another step forward or stall. Andrew Ladd, P.A. Parenteau, Jason Chimera, are older additions, They have gotten older, not necessarily better, with the threat of a return to questionable goaltending -- a strength last year with Thomas Greiss ably backing up Jaroslav Halak -- lurking if they make the wrong move. This is John Tavares’ walk year.
The Islanders finish 3rd in the Metropolitan division.
The Devils surprised many with how competitive they were last season, better than most thought. Unfortunately the Devils did not do too much in the offseason, with one exception. Ray Shero traded defenseman Adam Larsson for winger Taylor Hall. Hall is one of the most talented offensive wingers in the world and a seemingly perfect fit for a Devils squad that put up some awful numbers in terms of offense and possession. They are set in net with 30 year old Cory Schneider back, but in front of him, the defense will keep them at the bottom of the division.
The Devils will be better, but miss the playoffs.
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