With the excitement of the NHL offseason officially in the rearview mirror, it’s time to spew out some flagrant takes that will make people look like geniuses or total nitwits once the season plays out.
And today, we will break down the hottest of takes that will either age like fine wine or milk in the sun.
Just remember: everything that is said in this article will 100 percent happen. Let’s dive in.
5. Pittsburgh Claims the Metro
Starting things off, we have the NHL’s version of the Young Adult Dystopian Era. Pittsburgh dominated the NHL for over a decade and a half, winning three Stanley Cups with the two-headed monster of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. This team has always been a force to be reckoned with, but over the years, this team has aged like milk. They have the oldest core in the NHL with an average age of 31.3. After firing both Ron Hextall and Brian Burke this past offseason, they got hockey’s wonderboy in Kyle Dubas to take full control of the team.
What did Dubas do with the first year of control? He went all in, signing goaltender Tristan Jarry to a five-year, $5.375 million deal. He put up a -2.8 goals saved above expected along with a 2.90 goals against average. Dubas also traded for the Norris Trophy winner, Erik Karlsson. Dubas is taking a risk here, but it has the chance to pay off in a massive way. If this team can generate some offensive momentum and turn back the clock a few years, the sky is the limit.
4. Saros Says Sayonara
The Nashville Predators are one of the toughest teams to gauge this season. Stanley Cup winner Barry Trotz has officially taken over the reins of general manager after David Poile retired following a successful 26-year tenure with the organization. Trotz was able to obtain a mutiny of draft capital for fourth-liner Tanner Jeannot from the Tampa Bay Lightning, and after buying out Matt Duchene and trading Ryan Johansen, it seemed like this team was heading for a long-term rebuild.
However, the Predators also made noise in the free agent period, signing aging veteran Ryan O’Reilly to a four-year, $4.5 million deal. The Predators have one of the best goaltenders in the game in Juuse Saros, and should they start off slow, don’t be shocked if Saros becomes a major trade piece for a team trying to make a deep playoff run. Saros posted an incredible 46.7 goals saved above expected, along with 2.69 goals against average. Someone will pay for Saros, and if the price is right, expect the Preds to bite.
3. The Flames Reignite
It’s no secret that the 2022-2023 Flames season was an absolute disaster. After an intriguing offseason, the Flames brought in star forwards Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri, as well as defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, to help bolster an already experienced core. With a top goaltender in Jacob Markstrom and a weak Western Conference, their ceiling was a Stanley Cup appearance. Unfortunately, their floor was lower than the best analytics contested. The Flames were sloppy all season, finishing with a record of 38-27-17. Both Huberdeau and Weegar played well below expectations, with Huberdeau scoring 55 points in 79 games. This was his worst season since 2014-15 and was not what the Flames were hoping for when they traded the unicorn of hockey in Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers. Jacob Markstrom also played horrendously, with a goals saved above expected of -3.1 and a goals-against average of 2.92.
But there is some hope for Flames fans. After Brad Treliving decided to step away as general manager and head coach Daryl Sutter was relieved of his duties, the Flames looked lost. It is clear the organization is hoping a new system with head coach Ryan Huska and superstar rookie goaltender Dustin Wolf may be the answer this team desperately needs. And if this doesn’t convince you, maybe these simple words will: the 2023-24 season can’t be any worse, can it?
2. Miro Heiskanen Wins Norris
Welcome to the Miro Heiskanen fan page! Heiskanen managed to score 12 points in 19 games for the Dallas Stars, who made an impressive playoff run under head coach Peter DeBoer. During the regular season, Heiskenan finished 13th in the league for takeaways with 53 and 15th in the league for high-danger unblocked shot attempts with eight. He is one of the best two-way defenders, generating offensive momentum along with defensive pressure that few can replicate on the ice.
Heiskanen continues to be underrated, but after this season, he will get the respect he truly deserves. With a Stars team that managed to make it to the Western Conference finals just this past season, they are one of the scariest teams for the 2023-24 campaign, and it will be led by Heiskanen.
1. Arizona Makes the Playoffs
Yes, this is a take that will sink or swim. Arizona has been stuck in a five-year rebuild for almost a decade and a half now, and with the news of them not securing a new arena in Tempe, the future of the Coyotes looks dim. But what cures a sense of doubt in the National Hockey League? Winning. The Coyotes already have some pieces of a developing core, including an “underrated” star in Clayton Keller, upcoming rookie Logan Cooley, and a high-risk defensive pairing of Sean Durzi and Mathew Dumba.
Along with having a future to play for, the Coyotes also have the criminally underappreciated goaltender Karel Vejmelka defending the cage. Vejmelka finished the season with a goals saved above expected of 11.1 and a goals against average of 3.43. He performed above all expectations and will look to do the same in the upcoming season. This team has nothing to lose and does its best to shine for a hopeful fanbase.
Do you agree with our predictions? Do you have hot takes of your own? Leave a comment!
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