Over/Under Predictions for Every NHL Team’s Regular Season
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Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavidJeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Just how good do you think your favorite NHL team will be this season? We’d all be liars if we didn’t have a target point total in mind before the puck drops, but trying to nail down that end-of-season number makes for some tricky forecasting.
Fortunately, our friends at DraftKings were kind and wise enough to set the bar for our beliefs with their over/under marks for each team. Whether they’re too high or too low, the decision lies with us, the fans.
The beauty of over/under is it’s like making season predictions, but it’s so succinct it accurately zeros in our thoughts for the regular season ahead.
We’re going to use the numbers set by DraftKings and decide for ourselves whether we see each team going over or under that point total.
Anaheim Ducks: Over/Under 67.5 Points
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Trevor ZegrasAndy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images
Last Season: 58 points
The Anaheim Ducks were the worst team in the NHL last season and also the unluckiest because they didn’t win the draft lottery to pick Connor Bedard. They did get to pick Leo Carlsson, and he’s going to be a very good player—if not this season, then very soon down the road. Having him join Trevor Zegras, Troy Terry and Mason McTavish up front along with a healthy Jamie Drysdale on the blue line gives Anaheim fans hope for a better season.
Asking this team to improve by 10 points to go beyond 67.5 makes this the perfect bar to set because having a new coach and healthy players could signal the opportunity for a turnaround.
The Ducks should be better, but a lot of that will hinge on the defense and on John Gibson in goal. They added Radko Gudas and Ilya Lyubushkin on the blue line to make them harder to play against, as well as Alex Killorn up front. Is that worth five more wins? Yes, but barely.
Arizona Coyotes: Over/Under 74.5 Points
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Clayton Keller.Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images
Last Season: 70 points
Two things can be true: The Arizona Coyotes will be a lot more fun to watch this season, and they’ll still be a top contender for the No. 1 pick in the draft lottery.
Arizona added Jason Zucker in free agency to give the team more scoring up front, and it will have full seasons from young guns Dylan Guenther and Logan Cooley to take charge. Having those three join Clayton Keller and Matias Maccelli in the forward corps will give them a lot of options to create the best goal scored on any given night.
What the Coyotes are building is going to be fun, but it’s a gradual buildup, and they’re still lacking on the blue line. As good as goalie Karel Vejmelka has been for them, the Coyotes defense makes life a bit more difficult for him. They play hard, but they’re not going to be world-beaters just yet. A 75-point season makes for proper progression for them, and the Central Division is going to be weaker than last year.
Boston Bruins: Over/Under 101.5 Points
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Brad Marchand.Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Last Season: 135 points
No team took as many blows to their lineup as the Boston Bruins did. They lost Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci to retirement, and teams that lose their top two centers and make no moves to replace them don’t tend to recover from that very well.
Boston was incredible last season, and in order to soften the blow of losing Bergeron and Krejci, it will have to be a lot stouter defensively. Fortunately for the Bruins, they’ve got Jim Montgomery as their head coach. He’s the perfect guy to design a game plan to do just that.
They’ve still got David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy and Hampus Lindholm. They’ve also still got Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman in goal. The Bruins are not going to be as good as they were last season, but they’re still going to be good. They’re also like zombies. You might think they’re dead, but next thing you know they’re eating your brain and they’re deep in the playoffs.
Buffalo Sabres: Over/Under 92.5 Points
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Rasmus Dahlin.Michael Mooney/NHLI via Getty Images
Last Season: 91 points
The Buffalo Sabres are going to be one of the teams to watch this season. Their fun style of hockey powered by a bevy of goal scorers and young talent has them on the rise. With Tage Thompson, Rasmus Dahlin, Owen Power, Jeff Skinner and Dylan Cozens, among others, they’re going to be exciting.
They’re also going to be under pressure to break their 12-season playoff drought after they came two points short of snapping it last season. The Florida Panthers had the tiebreaker on them, and finishing one point back of the eventual Eastern Conference champions is a big enough carrot to dangle in front of this team.
They have questions, of course. Can the penalty kill improve? Can rookie Devon Levi be the savior in goal the Sabres have been waiting for since Ryan Miller was traded? Can they score goals by the bucketful again? You have to like their chances, although the Atlantic Division is going to be an absolute meat grinder. Can this team be two wins better than last season? Absolutely.
Calgary Flames: Over/Under 95.5 Points
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Jonathan Huberdeau.Terence Leung/NHLI via Getty Images
Last Season: 93 points
Even though it seems like everyone can’t wait to get out of Calgary, the Flames enter this season with a fascinating outlook. New head coach Ryan Huska will try to rejuvenate the Flames after Darryl Sutter nearly broke the entire organization.
They’ll need Jonathan Huberdeau to return to his Panthers production, and they’ll have to figure out what they can do to convince Elias Lindholm to stay in Alberta. Goalie Jacob Markstrom must return to his form from two years ago for them to hold it down, but if he can’t, one of Dan Vladar or rookie Dustin Wolf will have the chance to seize the net.
The Flames have so many questions and so many impending unrestricted free agents that a slow start could submarine their entire season. They could be better if things shake out well, but it feels like an uphill fight.
Carolina Hurricanes: Over/Under 109.5 Points
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Brent Burns.Josh Lavallee/NHLI via Getty Images
Last Season: 113 points
All the Carolina Hurricanes seem to do in the offseason these days is find a great player to sneak on the roster via trade or free agency and continue to build things up to be one of the beasts in the East.
This summer, they signed Dmitry Orlov to join their stacked defensive corps. They did so while trying to figure out what they’re going to do with Brett Pesce, who’s in the final year of his contract.
The Hurricanes forward group remained intact, and they added Michael Bunting to be a goal-scoring irritant and Brendan Lemieux to just be an irritant, period. They’re still a high-skill team that frustrates opponents to no end with their style of play, which makes life easier for returning goalies Frederik Andersen, Antti Raanta and Pyotr Kochetkov. An over/under of 109.5 is really high, but they did better than that last season, and there’s no reason to think they can’t do it again.
Chicago Blackhawks: Over/Under 71.5 Points
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Connor Bedard.Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images
Last Season: 59 points
The addition of Connor Bedard to the Chicago Blackhawks lineup is, by far, their biggest and best injection of talent. Watching his NHL career start in the Windy City is going to be appointment viewing—but he’s going to be really good while the ‘Hawks are still going to be pretty bad.
Yes, they added Taylor Hall, Corey Perry and Ryan Donato to give them some actual NHL-caliber players up front. They’ll also have some prospects to join Bedard (such as Lukas Reichel), but their defense is thin behind Seth Jones and Connor Murphy. They’re running it back in goal with Petr Mrázek and Arvid Söderblom, which means those guys are in for a hard time.
Chicago being really bad for another season is probably very OK as far as management is concerned. The team could find six or seven more wins this season in a weaker Central Division, but it’s hard to believe it’ll do that. At least Bedard will be fun to watch.
Colorado Avalanche: Over/Under 106.5 Points
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Cale Makar.Steph Chambers/Getty Images
Last Season: 109 points
I’ve been lukewarm about the Colorado Avalanche this offseason in the wake of Gabriel Landeskog having to miss out on another full season because of knee troubles. But Colorado’s done a lot to make up for that—to the point that I’m swinging back around to getting hyped about the Avs again.
As much as adding Ryan Johansen, Miles Wood and Ross Colton didn’t put me over the top, signing Tomas Tatar to a one-year deal sealed it. The Avs now boast a boatload of depth up front that can score and defend. Having those guys join Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen makes them look much nastier.
With Cale Makar, Devon Toews and Bo Byram on the back end with Alexandar Georgiev in goal, Colorado and Dallas will be in a street fight all season atop a weaker Central Division. The Avs can meet their 109 points from last year and get over the girthy 106.5 over/under set in front of them.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Over/Under 72.5 Points
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Johnny Gaudreau.Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images
Last Season: 59 points
The Columbus Blue Jackets had a real rough go of it last season, and injuries played a big part in that. Their defense was poor, their scoring was inconsistent and the goaltending was poor.
Their defense will be seriously different with Zach Werenski back from injury and 2022 first-round pick David Jiricek possibly cracking the lineup after a good season in the AHL. Mix in the additions of Ivan Provorov and Damon Severson via trade, and their blue line corps looks much better, even though there are still questions.
Drafting Adam Fantilli to join Johnny Gaudreau, Patrik Laine and Kent Johnson will go a long way to helping the offense, but they’re going to need a serious return to form from Elvis Merzlikins in goal to have a major improvement.
Are all those changes, along with Mike Babcock’s arrival as head coach, enough to get them at least seven more wins this season in a wicked Eastern Conference? This over/under is a real coin flip because they could land anywhere between 68 and 76 points and it wouldn’t be a surprise. Benevolence wins.
Dallas Stars: Over/Under 105.5 Points
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Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz. Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Last Season: 108 points
The Dallas Stars showed last season just how good they were and can be. They raced out early in the season thanks to goalie Jake Oettinger’s outstanding play. When he cooled off, Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz found their groove—all while Miro Heiskanen kept it steady as it goes on defense all year.
The Stars are absolutely dynamite, and the battle they’ll be in with Colorado atop the Central all season is going to be a lot of fun to watch. The rest of the teams in the division aren’t too impressive, which points toward the Avs and Stars being in a points race all year.
We’re taking the over emphatically despite the lofty target number.
Detroit Red Wings: Over/Under 85.5 Points
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Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images
Last Season: 80 points
Any day now, the Detroit Red Wings will be a true playoff threat, right? That’s what GM Steve Yzerman has been building toward the past few seasons by adding a host of veterans to the roster while their bevy of future prospects matured.
This summer, they added Alex DeBrincat to the forward group to find someone capable of scoring a lot of goals. J.T. Compher signed on to give them another strong two-way forward. They added veterans Shayne Gostisbehere and Justin Holl on defense to make the blue line stouter, but James Reimer backing up Ville Husso doesn’t answer a lot of issues with their goaltending depth.
Detroit’s going to make a sizable jump one of these days…right? Going up from 80 points should happen, but several other teams have been trying to climb out of the bottom part of the Atlantic Division and are also improving. They should be able to find three more wins, but it’s going to be tough.
Edmonton Oilers: Over/Under 106.5 Points
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Connor McDavid and Evander Kane.Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Last Season: 109 points
When a team has two of the best players in the NHL, picking the “over” feels like a no-brainer. The Edmonton Oilers have been nasty in the regular season the past couple of years thanks to Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. They score a ton of goals, and they help their teammates do the same.
The Pacific Division has a lot of questions. While the Oilers and Vegas Golden Knights are outstanding, and the Los Angeles Kings and Seattle Kraken showed a lot of growth last year, does anything really feel settled there?
The Kings got worse in goal, and you have to think the Kraken will be better. Meanwhile, Calgary is teeming with questions, Anaheim and San Jose are not good, and Vancouver makes us throw our hands up in the air and shake our collective heads.
This is the exact kind of situation the Oilers can and will take full advantage of when it comes to racking up wins. Their firepower is too much, and despite their own questions defensively, goals win games.
Florida Panthers: Over/Under 99.5 Points
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Matthew Tkachuk.Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
Last Season: 92 points
The Florida Panthers are going to be fascinating to watch.
They’ll be without Aaron Ekblad (shoulder) and Brandon Montour (shoulder) for the first part of the season, which changes how their entire game runs. Matthew Tkachuk is incredible, as is Aleksander Barkov. Sam Reinhart and Carter Verhaeghe provide a ton of offense themselves, while Sam Bennett hits anything that moves.
They should be very good, and even with Sergei Bobrovsky’s goaltending always being a mystery year to year, they’re a team that knows how to get things done. But losing two top defenders for a couple of months makes a 99.5-point target too tough in a wicked Atlantic Division that should be highly competitive.
But they’ll be back, and the Panthers play relentless hockey. Florida has all the feeling of being a team that’ll be right around the 100-point mark, give or take five points. We’re hedging a smidge lower.
Los Angeles Kings: Over/Under 100.5 Points
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Drew Doughty.Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Last Season: 104 points
Positives for the Los Angeles Kings: They can score goals with any line they put on the ice. Anze Kopitar never seems to lose a step, and now that he’s surrounded by the likes of Pierre-Luc Dubois, Kevin Fiala and Adrian Kempe, the offensive onslaught never ends. That’s a good thing because, hoo-boy, did they not do anything about their goaltending this summer.
L.A. watched Joonas Korpisalo sign with Ottawa and addressed that hole by signing 36-year-old Cam Talbot, formerly with the Senators. Talbot struggled last season and dealt with injuries, and while Pheonix Copley held it down well when Jonathan Quick struggled, you can’t help but think the Kings will need to outscore their goaltending issues this season.
That they put up 104 points last season despite having goaltending issues seems to show they can do it because they’re used to it. A target of 100.5 is another mark I’d run away from if I were to make a play, but there’s no option to back out here, baby. No guts, no glory…which incidentally should be the Kings’ motto with their goaltending.
Minnesota Wild: Over/Under 95.5 Points
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Kirill Kaprizov.Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images
Last Season: 103 points
It appears the people are not feeling the Minnesota Wild based on the 95.5 over/under target, but there’s something they have that a lot of teams don’t have: goaltending.
Filip Gustavsson was one of the best in the NHL last season, and, oh right, Marc-Andre Fleury shook off early season blahs to roar back to give the Wild strong netminding for the bulk of the season. Even though Minnesota’s season ended with a thud in the playoffs thanks to a first-round loss to the Stars, the Wild have still got a very good team with Kirill Kaprizov, Matt Boldy and Mats Zuccarello.
The Wild aren’t on the same tier as Dallas or Colorado in the Central Division, but they’re clearly the third-best team in that group. Maybe it’s a trap, but 95.5 feels easily attainable for the Wild.
Montréal Canadiens: Over/Under 70.5 Points
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Cole Caufield.Vincent Ethier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Last Season: 68 points
The Montréal Canadiens are certainly the weakest team in the Atlantic Division, but at some point, their host of young prospects will catch up to the world and find their way into the lineup. That’s when things will get fun.
Montréal had many injuries last season, most namely to goal-scoring maven Cole Caufield, team second-leading scorer Kirby Dach and top scoring defenseman Mike Matheson—among virtually everyone else. Only captain Nick Suzuki played in all 82 games, and he was very good despite losing oodles of his top teammates all season.
Ideally, the Habs won’t have everyone who slips on a sweater get hurt this season for long stretches. In addition, coach Martin St. Louis has shown he knows how to get the best from his young players.
Will Montréal be a playoff threat? Most likely not, but it can do better than 70 points even in a wicked division and conference.
Nashville Predators: Over/Under 86.5 Points
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Roman Josi.Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images
Last Season: 92 points
Raise your hand if you realized the Nashville Predators had more than 90 points last season.
Stop that, put your hand down, you only know they did because we wrote it right there.
Juuse Saros played the game on God mode late in the season to try to get Nashville to the playoffs while it was without Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg and after it traded Mattias Ekholm to Edmonton.
Saros makes a huge difference, and in a weak Central Division, he turns the Predators into a wild card capable of making prognosticators lose their mind.
Yes, the Preds traded Johansen and bought out Matt Duchene and replaced them with Ryan O’Reilly, Gustav Nyquist and Luke Schenn. The makeup of the team is different, and how that pays off on the ice remains to be seen. The roster doesn’t look impressive, and Nashville is relying on a lot of greener guys to play more minutes, but then there’s Saros in a weaker division…
Decisions are hard. With Forsberg back and new coach Andrew Brunette in charge, 86.5 feels prime for the picking.
New Jersey Devils: Over/Under 107.5 Points
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Jack Hughes.Andrew Mordzynski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Last Season: 112 points
It seems like it should be a slam dunk for the New Jersey Devils to eclipse 107.5 points. It’s a high over/under—second behind Carolina at 109.5—but did you watch the Devils last season? They were electric and dangerous in every game, and even with some apparent issues, they rolled to a second-place finish in the Metropolitan Division.
The Devils should be better this year. They’ll have Jack Hughes another year older and Nico Hischier another year wiser, and they’ll better at shutting down opponents. Timo Meier and Jesper Bratt are both locked in long term. They added Tyler Toffoli from Calgary and Tomas Nosek from Boston, and that’s just talking about their forwards.
Dougie Hamilton is a dominant defenseman, and John Marino showed how good he can be once again. Mix in Luke Hughes for a full season and perhaps Simon Nemec fresh out of the AHL, and it doesn’t much matter whether it’s Vitek Vanecek or Akira Schmid in goal.
The Devils are going to be awesome, and their head-to-head wars with Carolina and the New York Rangers are going to be treats. Topping 107.5 points will be a breeze.
New York Islanders: Over/Under 92.5 Points
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Ilya Sorokin.Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images
Last Season: 93 points
It’s hard to get overly excited about the New York Islanders, and that feels wrong because there is talent there. Ilya Sorokin is arguably the best goalie in the NHL. Bo Horvat and Mathew Barzal are joys to watch. Brock Nelson has emerged as a very good goal scorer, and Anders Lee is as heart-and-soul as it gets from a forward in the NHL. Mix in Noah Dobson’s superb playmaking on defense, and there are reasons to be hyped about them.
So why don’t they stir up any excitement? Is it the style of play? Was it yet another lackluster offseason? Is it that the bulk of their forward depth is better suited to deliver hits and slow the game down?
Or is it because their brand of hockey is best suited for the playoffs, and trying to do it for 82 games to just get there makes it more difficult to back them? Ah-ha, there it is. But they’re the ideal team to catch any of the other Metropolitan Division squads lacking. And are the Capitals, Penguins, Blue Jackets or Flyers catching them? No shot.
The Isles hitting somewhere in the area of 93 points again seems right, which makes the 92.5 over/under target really, really mean. If we could pick “push,” we would. Alas, if we’re picking 93, we’re picking the over.
New York Rangers: Over/Under 103.5 Points
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Igor Shesterkin and Artemi Panarin.Andrew Mordzynski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Last Season: 107 points
At first blush, 105.5 points for the over/under feels really high for the New York Rangers. After all, they’re in the same division as a couple of monster teams in Carolina and New Jersey, and they never play a regular game against their rival Islanders. That’s a lot of hard matchups mixed in with usually tough games against Pittsburgh, Washington and Philadelphia—regardless of how good those teams are.
But the Rangers are good, and they’re going to have serious motivation after losing in the first round to New Jersey. Artemi Panarin will be on a mission, as will Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. Adam Fox is one of the best defensemen in the NHL, and how he guides the team every time he’s on the ice is fun to watch. With Igor Shesterkin in goal, they have a chance to win every game based on his performance alone.
It will be very interesting to see how this team plays with new head coach Peter Laviolette at the helm. We know he can win, and we know how well he can guide teams to victory, but the Rangers are in a tough spot because of how good the competition is in the East.
An extended adjustment period with a new coach could be costly later in the season. They’re going to be very good, and if Shesterkin returns to Vezina form from two years ago…look out.
Ottawa Senators: Over/Under 90.5 Points
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Brady Tkachuk.Sarah Stier/Getty Images
Last Season: 86 points
There are a lot of reasons to be high on the Ottawa Senators. Brady Tkachuk is great. Tim Stützle is a skyrocketing talent. Thomas Chabot is dynamic on defense, as is Jakob Chychrun. Young star Jake Sanderson will be eager to silence a lot of critics after he signed an eight-year, $64 million extension this summer.
The Sens also committed long-term to Joonas Korpisalo in goal to help solve a position that’s given them headaches over the past few years. He was great in Columbus and Los Angeles last season, but they’ll need him to repeat that for years to come.
Their defensive depth beyond Chabot, Chychrun (who must stay healthy) and Sanderson is questionable, and they could stand to have a few more players emerge offensively. A healthy Joshua Norris would go a long way there, particularly after they traded Alex DeBrincat to Detroit. Another solid year from Claude Giroux and a comeback season from Vladimir Tarasenko would be huge, too.
This feels like a show-me season for head coach D.J. Smith and general manager Pierre Dorion with new ownership taking over. They’re making an aggressive push for the playoffs, and they’ve been a pain-in-the-butt team in the past.
The talent is there, but they have to prove it, and fast. Going for 90 points should be the low end of their expectations.
Philadelphia Flyers: Over/Under 76.5 Points
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Joel Farabee.Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images
Last Season: 75 points
The Philadelphia Flyers were not good last season, but it felt like they were better than expected. They had 75 points, which was roughly 15 more points than they should have had. Credit for that goes to head coach John Tortorella, who is able to stiffen up the most porous defenses and get his players to compete hard.
The Flyers should be getting Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson back this season, which could spark their offense. They also have some solid younger players like Travis Konecny, Morgan Frost, Owen Tippett and Noah Cates.
But this is a woefully thin team, and goalie Carter Hart, who played well last season, was overworked trying to keep the Flyers afloat.
The Flyers feel like they could go one of two ways. They might continue to be one of the hardest-working teams in the league and grind their way to another surprising finish, albeit out of the playoffs. Or Torts’ way of working the team and his not-so-kind hand wears everyone out, and the already broken wheels come flying off as they spiral off into the depths of the NHL standings.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Over/Under 97.5 Points
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Sidney Crosby.Jason Mowry/Getty Images
Last Season: 91 points
Acquiring Erik Karlsson has many people feeling good about the Pittsburgh Penguins rebounding from a disappointing season in which they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Adding a player of Karlsson’s caliber to a team with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Jake Guentzel should have people excited, because any penalty taken against the Penguins should turn into pain on the scoreboard. Adding Reilly Smith from Vegas along with Noel Acciari, Lars Eller and Matt Nieto up front and Ryan Graves from New Jersey on defense gives the Pens some much needed depth they sorely lacked last season, too.
What Pittsburgh needs most is Tristan Jarry both to return to top form he had early last season and to stay healthy. Injuries kept him from staying consistent last season and were a key factor to the Pens missing the playoffs.
They still aren’t terribly deep, but they addressed a lot of issues. They’re walking a high wire without a net, though, and 97.5 for an over-under feels high for a team that got older this summer. They’ll be fun to watch, but saying they’ll improve a lot is a harder sell to make.
San Jose Sharks: Over/Under 66.5 Points
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Tomáš Hertl.Kavin Mistry/NHLI via Getty Images
Last Season: 60 points
The San Jose Sharks adding Anthony Duclair, Mikael Granlund, Mike Hoffman, Filip Zadina, Jan Rutta and Mackenzie Blackwood and losing Erik Karlsson created a massive hole in one area and put a lot of Band-Aids elsewhere.
It’s hard to see how the Sharks will improve on their 60-point season last year. They still have Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture, and bringing in a prospect like William Eklund should be exciting, but this roster is otherwise bleak.
This should be the kind of season where a lot of young players get a long look at the NHL level, but it also might be the worst situation for them to be in. Even with a meager over-under of 66.5 points, that feels like a lofty bar to clear.
Seattle Kraken: Over/Under 94.5 Points
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Matty Beniers.Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images
Last Season: 100 points
This feels like the kind of thing where a salesperson would say something like, “Run, don’t walk, to pick the over on Seattle and never look back.”
The 94.5 mark for the Kraken to clear (or not) suggests oddsmakers believe their 100-point season last year overshot their expectations. It did, if we’re being honest, but when you look at how the Kraken produced and the depth of scoring they had, it was the kind of production that feels repeatable.
Do the Kraken have questions? Absolutely. Can Philipp Grubauer be the man all season and carry over his great play from the postseason? Can their defense remain strong with what looks almost like a no-name corps led by Vince Dunn? Will Shane Wright be a factor this season?
Those questions still need to be answered, but so much of the Kraken’s success comes from the system and the process they go about to get the job done. They play relentless over 200 feet, and every line can score.
Again: Run, don’t walk.
St. Louis Blues: Over/Under 86.5 Points
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Pavel Buchnevich.Joe Puetz/NHLI via Getty Images
Last Season: 81 points
After landing Kevin Hayes as a free agent this summer and having an outstanding draft, the Blues have endured a 180-degree turn when it comes to starting the season off on the right foot.
Vibes are important to understanding how a team will do, and the vibes are already way off for the Blues before camp even starts. Torey Krug recently picked up a foot injury and won’t be evaluated until Oct. 1, which will cut into his availability at the start of training camp. He missed 19 games last year, too.
Meanwhile, Kasperi Kapanen was accused of drunken driving in Finland. He later apologized for his lack of proper judgement.
The Blues had a rough season last year, which led to them trading UFAs-to-be Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko, all while they struggled to keep teams off the board and struggled to score themselves. With minimal improvements and a possible goaltending battle between incumbent Jordan Binnington and rookie Joel Hofer, everything feels off for St. Louis.
The Central won’t be a great division, but the Blues will be one of the teams contributing to the lack of strength. If they can equal the 81 points they posted last season, that would be a positive.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Over/Under 96.5 Points
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Steven Stamkos.Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images
Last Season: 98 points
The Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs last season after three consecutive Stanley Cup Final appearances. The thought of them heading into a new season well-rested and ready to go should make everyone around the league nervous.
The likely power vacuum that will arise from Boston coming back to earth should mean the other top teams in the Atlantic will rise to meet them in the standings. The Lightning should be one of the teams to take advantage of that.
They lost Alex Killorn to free agency and traded Ross Colton to Colorado, but they replaced him with Conor Sheary. Mikey Eyssimont showed during the playoffs he can be yet another steal for them to provide the kind of depth that drives opponents out of their minds.
But the Bolts are driven by Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman, among others. They’re backed by Andrei Vasilevskiy in goal, who seems poised for a big season now that he’s rested for the first time in years.
We’re bullish on the Lightning for all of these reasons. A battle atop the Atlantic with them heavily involved seems likely, especially with a 96.5 over-under to surmount.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Over/Under 106.5 Points
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Auston Matthews.Michael Chisholm/NHLI via Getty Images
Last Season: 111 points
If there’s one team in the league that celebrated the retirements of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci the most, it had to be the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Toronto has been perma-stuck in a battle with Tampa Bay in the first round of the playoffs. With Boston now in position to come back to the pack, the Maple Leafs have become the favorites to win the Atlantic.
Their second-round loss to Florida was a huge disappointment, and major changes were expected in the lineup. Instead, they parted ways with former general manager Kyle Dubas and replaced him with Brad Treliving.
The entirety of their “Big Four” players all stayed, and they added a metric ton of sandpaper, bringing in Max Domi, Tyler Bertuzzi and Ryan Reaves up front. Mix in puck-mover John Klingberg on defense, and you have a Leafs team that’s ready to be a lot more like the Bruins teams of the past.
The Leafs still have a bunch of questions, but they’re overflowing with elite scoring talent. Beating the 106.5 mark should be a breeze.
Vancouver Canucks: Over/Under 88.5 Points
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Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller. Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images
Last Season: 83 points
Few teams in the NHL were as dramatic as the Vancouver Canucks last season. Every other day, there seemed to be some kind of soap opera unfolding.
But once they parted ways with head coach Bruce Boudreau and brought in Rick Tocchet as his replacement, along with goalie Thatcher Demko’s return to health, that seemed to get Vancouver turned around. The Canucks finishing with 83 points was something of a miracle, but that set a bar for this year’s team that doesn’t look terribly different on paper.
Their top forward talent is great with Elias Pettersson and JT Miller, and Quinn Hughes is a superstar on defense. Demko is a top-tier netminder as well, but their overall depth is still weak. Still, there’s a lot of weakness around the Western Conference, and the Canucks’ best players can do a lot of good for them.
The catch here is the 88.5-point mark, as an 88-point season feels exactly appropriate. It bears watching how this team looks after a full camp with Tocchet and better health for everyone all around.
Vegas Golden Knights: Over/Under 103.5 Points
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Jack Eichel and Mark Stone.David Becker/NHLI via Getty Images
Last Season: 111 points
The bar is always going to be set high for the defending Stanley Cup champions. But considering the general lack of depth in the Western Conference and a Pacific Division that seems suspicious, picking the Vegas Golden Knights to surpass 103.5 points seems like almost too easy of a bet to make.
Picking the Knights to successfully navigate a Stanley Cup hangover seems particularly dangerous considering they play in Las Vegas. But if you watched enough of the Knights last season, you know how well they can play in the face of adversity.
They proved last season they’re built to win, and they were outstanding during the regular season. You don’t trip and fall into 111 points.
They’ll duke it out with Edmonton for the Pacific Division all year, but they should be favorites to win the Cup once again for good reason.
Washington Capitals: Over/Under 85.5 Points
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Alex Ovechkin.Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Last Season: 80 points
Last season felt foreboding for the Washington Capitals. They were bogged down by injuries all season, and even Alexander Ovechkin missed a few games with ailments late in the year.
All of those issues conspired to help the Caps crumble down the standings and miss the playoffs for the first time since 2006. All signs point toward saying the Caps are toast and will be for a while, but let’s look at things a little closer.
They didn’t have John Carlson and Tom Wilson for most of last season. Both players will be back and presumably 100 percent this year, as will Ovechkin. Nicklas Bäckström played well once he returned from hip surgery (21 points in 39 games), and a full season with him could see a bounce back of sorts for someone that will be pushing 36 years old.
But losing Dmitry Orlov is a tough blow, and all of their top players being above 30 years old makes it tough to be positive on them in totality. Ovechkin gunning for Wayne Gretzky’s goal record is going to be thrilling, but it’s hard to see this aged Caps roster with few prospects on the horizon being able to keep up, even to reach 85.5 points.
Winnipeg Jets: Over/Under 91.5 Points
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Connor Hellebuyck.Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images
Last Season: 95 points
Speaking of teams whose vibes are way off, there’s the Winnipeg Jets.
The talk all summer long has centered around whether they’ll be able to keep UFAs-to-be Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele beyond this season. Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff wants both players to stay focused on the season ahead as they kick off the year without new extensions, which makes it difficult to forecast how they’ll finish.
Both guys would be major trade candidates at the deadline if the Jets aren’t in a position to compete for the playoffs. But if they are in the hunt and hang onto them or sign them to extensions during the season, the chances of them meeting or beating 91.5 points rises dramatically, because both players are difference-makers.
The Jets are already heading into the season without Blake Wheeler after they bought him out, and they traded Pierre-Luc Dubois to Los Angeles for Gabriel Vilardi, Alex Iafallo and more. The Jets have a load of other talent with Kyle Connor, Josh Morrissey, Nikolaj Ehlers and Cole Perfetti, but the well is still not deep even after the Dubois trade.
Given how things ended last season with head coach Rick Bowness lambasting his team for losing to Vegas in the first round of the playoffs, it feels like a season of walking on eggshells awaits, which is never a good thing.
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