Devon LeviBen Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images
Boston Bruins: Milan Lucic
I know, I know, and trust me: I didn’t think Lucic would be my Bruins player to get excited about when they brought the 35-year-old bruiser back this offseason. I found myself questioning why they were doing that, though I ultimately arrived at: “Well, why not?” He’s not expected to play a huge role, and the Bruins needed to replace some bottom-six players they had to get rid of, such as Nick Foligno.
I thought that would be that and I wouldn’t pay the situation much more thought going forward. But I’m only human, I grew up a Bruins fan, and I’m not afraid to admit something as unexpected as it was feral took over when Lucic donned that spoked B for the Bruins’ preseason game Tuesday.
Folks, Milan Lucic is a Boston Bruin. Again. And I, for one, could not be more excited about his incoming 4:13 time on ice average.
Buffalo Sabres: Devon Levi
No pressure, but the Sabres’ 21-year-old rookie goalie could be the final piece needed to end Buffalo’s league-longest playoff drought. He entered Buffalo’s net at the end of last season and immediately impressed with a 5-2-0 record and .905 save percentage.
Levi, who won the Mike Richter Award twice as the nation’s best goalie while playing for Northeastern in college, has been consistent throughout his career. He excelled under pressure for team Canada at the 2021 World Juniors with a .964 save percentage through seven games.
It looks like the Sabres are giving him a full vote of confidence as they didn’t seek out a proven NHL goalie on the market, and I’ve enjoyed watching him at Northeastern so much that I’ll do the same.
Detroit Red Wings: Alex DeBrincat
Do I think DeBrincat will come in and be the best player on this burgeoning Red Wings roster? No, and that would be a bad sign if he did. It’s Moritz Seider szn, with a dash of Lucas Raymond.
Do I think DeBrincat will come in and make Seider szn, along with everything else, a heck of a lot easier? Indeed. Between the cheap-ish hometown deal, the opportunity to play for a team better suited for him and the spunky winger with a million goals still left in him ready to unleash, I’m pumped for this change of scenery. Not to mention the impact he could have on Raymond, should they play on the same line.
Florida Panthers: Spencer Knight
Panthers 2019 first-round pick and potential No. 1 goalie Spencer Knight has been open about his experience entering the NHL Players Association’s assistance program and dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
“There’s nothing to hide,” Knight told the Miami Heraldon Monday, after his first live game action since Feb. 18. “I think I’ll become a better person and player from it, and hopefully if there’s someone out there hearing my story, hopefully it helps them, too.”
Not even the Panthers expected Sergei Bobrovsky to go on the tear he did to bring Florida to the Cup Final, and who knows what that means headed into 2023-24. But the Panthers didn’t have to make any drastic changes to their roster this offseason, and they’re adding a potentially elite goalie who the entire league will root for.
Montreal Canadiens: Future Considerations
I mean, the Alex Newhook signing was low-key stupendous, and the Cole Caufield extension is exciting. But let’s keep our eyes on the prize here.
Ottawa Senators: Jake Sanderson
Eight years and $64.4 million later, and it’s time for Sanderson to become the player all Senators fans know he can be, the one that will push this team to perennial playoff status.
Ottawa looks well-rounded headed into 2023-24, especially with the injury bug swatted. The team has forward depth led by Brady Tkachuk, Vladimir Tarasenko (remember, he signed there!) and Claude Giroux.
Defense is going to be an even more eventful top-pairing battle, with Jakob Chychrun, Thomas Chabot and Sanderson. What excites me the most about Sanderson is the internal competition on defense and how the contract extension paired with some healthy competition could elevate his game.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Tanner Jeannot
This offseason was a tough pill that can’t be sugarcoated for the Lightning, and now you’ve got public Steven Stamkos contract talk. There’s not much exciting newness to go around, here, and that’s fine. But Jeannot has much more to give than displayed with the Lightning last season. Him at his best could really spark Tampa.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Tyler Bertuzzi
Bertuzzi to the Leafs might be the best need-fulfillment move of the offseason. Not only is Bertuzzi tough and hard to play against, but he’s also the type of clutch player the Leafs could never have too many of come playoff time. It’ll be so fun to watch him play virtually anywhere in this lineup, but the thought of him and Auston “New Contract” Matthews tearing it up together is especially pleasing.
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