Colorado reigned supreme in the National Hockey League (NHL) in 2021-22, decimating Nashville, St. Louis, Edmonton, and two-time defending champion Tampa Bay on a dominant run to the Stanley Cup. With the league’s best roster, and most players just starting to hit their prime, the Avalanche are the clear favorite to defend their title this season.
Standing in their way are several contenders — especially out East, where the Lightning look to reign supreme for the fourth straight year. Things won’t be easy for Tampa, especially with Toronto and Florida maturing and ready to rule the Atlantic Division. Carolina, New York, and even Pittsburgh are all Cup contenders in the Metropolitan Division and all could help prevent another Lightning finals coronation.
Behind Colorado, the contenders out West are more muddled. In the Central Division, both St. Louis and Minnesota are dangerous squads that excel in most facets of the game. Meanwhile, the Pacific Division is wide open, but it seems like Edmonton might finally be ready to assert control on the back of their superstars.
The puck drops soon and hockey fans are ready for what should be a terrific 2022-23 season. Here are my predictions for all 32 NHL teams written in 32 words or less.
Predicted standings (overall NHL standings in parentheses):
- Tampa Bay Lightning (2)
- Toronto Maple Leafs (4)
- Florida Panthers (6)
- Boston Bruins (11)
- Ottawa Senators (20)
- Detroit Red Wings (22)
- Buffalo Sabres (25)
- Montreal Canadiens (32)
- Carolina Hurricanes (3)
- New York Rangers (9)
- Pittsburgh Penguins (10)
- Washington Capitals (14)
- New York Islanders (19)
- New Jersey Devils (21)
- Columbus Blue Jackets (23)
- Philadelphia Flyers (29)
- Colorado Avalanche (1)
- St. Louis Blues (5)
- Minnesota Wild (8)
- Nashville Predators (15)
- Dallas Stars (17)
- Winnipeg Jets (23)
- Chicago Blackhawks (30)
- Arizona Coyotes (31)
- Edmonton Oilers (7)
- Calgary Flames (12)
- Vegas Golden Knights (13)
- Los Angeles Kings (16)
- Vancouver Canucks (18)
- San Jose Sharks (26)
- Anaheim Ducks (27)
- Seattle Kraken (28)
32 NHL team previews in 32 words or less:
- Colorado Avalanche (2021-22 Record: 56-19-7; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 1st Central Division)
With stars Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon, and Mikko Rantanen, the defending champs are loaded and favored to repeat. Concern lies with its goaltending, with Alexandar Georgiev as the new starter.
- Tampa Bay Lightning (2021-22 Record: 54-21-7; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 1st Atlantic Division)
Back-to-back-to-back finalist Tampa Bay is still loaded. Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos provide plenty of offense. Defenseman Viktor Hedman and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy are the backbone of an elite defense.
- Carolina Hurricanes (2021-22 Record: 54-20-8; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 1st Metropolitan Division)
Carolina is solid on defense, in goal, and has a ton of depth. The Hurricanes’ only weakness is a lack of scorers beyond Sebastian Aho, and that is a nagging postseason concern.
- Toronto Maple Leafs (2021-22 Record: 51-21-7; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 2nd Atlantic Division)
Offensively, Toronto can score at will, with stars like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and William Nylander. Embattled goaltender Matt Murray replaces Jack Campbell, but is it an upgrade?
- St. Louis Blues (2021-22 Record: 49-22-11; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 2nd Central Division)
St. Louis emerged as one of the NHL’s best offensive teams, featuring sniper Vladimir Tarasenko and young stars Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou. Jordan Binnington is now the unquestioned starter in net.
- Florida Panthers (2021-22 Record: 58-18-6; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 3rd Atlantic Division)
Florida rolled to the NHL’s best record last season but fizzled in the playoffs. The Panthers retooled, and Matthew Tkachuk added a lot of grit to this already super-talented squad.
- Edmonton Oilers (2021-22 Record: 49-27-6; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 1st Pacific Division)
Edmonton took a huge step forward in last year’s playoffs. The Oilers are finally building a supporting cast around superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and that makes Edmonton postseason dangerous.
- Minnesota Wild (2021-22 Record: 53-22-7; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 3rd Central Division)
A salary cap crunch handicaps the Wild, but superstar Kirill Kaprizov will always give Minnesota reason for hope. The Wild need goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to be stellar to contend in the Central.
- New York Rangers (2021-22 Record: 52-24-6; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 2nd Metropolitan Division)
Goaltender Igor Shesterkin carried the young Rangers to a surprising Eastern Conference Final berth last season. Shesterkin and two-way standout defenseman Adam Fox, lead one of the league’s best up-and-coming teams.
- Pittsburgh Penguins (2021-22 Record: 46-25-11; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 3rd Metropolitan Division)
Pittsburgh returns Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang alongside superstar Sidney Crosby to pursue another title. With Tristan Jarry’s inspiring play in goal, the aging Penguins are confident they can still contend.
- Boston Bruins (2021-22 Record: 51-26-5; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 4th Atlantic Division)
Veterans Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci return for one last postseason run. The aging Bruins are banged up but have an elite one-two punch of Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark in net.
- Calgary Flames (2021-22 Record: 50-21-11; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 2nd Pacific Division)
Calgary had a tumultuous offseason, losing Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau. Adding cup-winner Nazem Kadri, plus former Florida standouts Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar, should help the Flames retool and contend.
- Vegas Golden Knights (2021-22 Record: 43-31-8; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 3rd Pacific Division)
Injuries torpedoed Vegas’ 2021-22 playoff hopes, and the Golden Knights will again be without goaltender Robin Lehner this season. Veterans like Alex Pietrangelo must lead a quick turnaround for this sinking franchise.
- Washington Capitals (2021-22 Record: 44-26-12; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 4th Metropolitan Division)
Ageless Alex Ovechkin’s quest for 800 goals will be a fun storyline for the aging Capitals, who fashion themselves contenders. Defense and goaltending concerns linger, but Washington will be formidable.
- Nashville Predators (2021-22 Record: 45-30-7; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 4th Central Division)
Nashville’s elite players, defenseman Roman Josi, goalie Juuse Saros, and forward Matt Duchene ensure that the Predators will compete. Per usual, Nashville needs its secondary support to go deep in the playoffs.
- Los Angeles Kings (2021-22 Record: 44-27-11; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 4th Pacific Division)
The Kings are one of the NHL’s best young teams. Veterans Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, and goaltender Jonathan Quick lead a young core bolstered by the addition of sniper Kevin Fiala.
- Dallas Stars (2021-22 Record: 46-30-6; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 5th Central Division)
Young goaltender Jake Oettinger broke out last year and inspires hope for the veteran-laden Stars. Dallas’ next generation is taking over, and sniper Jason Robertson is a big reason for optimism.
- Vancouver Canucks (2021-22 Record: 40-30-12; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 5th Pacific Division)
With a talented young team, Vancouver seems overdue for a turnaround. How many more chances will its core of Brock Boeser, Elias Petterson, and Quinn Hughes be given to contend?
- New York Islanders (2021-22 Record: 37-35-10; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 5th Metropolitan Division)
Predicted as a contender, the Islanders collapsed after a terrible start and never recovered last season. New coach Lane Lambert leads a veteran squad, but little has changed roster-wise. That is concerning.
- Ottawa Senators (2021-22 Record: 33-42-7; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 5th Atlantic Division)
Ottawa failed to gain any ground last season but had arguably the NHL’s best offseason. Adding forwards Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux, plus goaltender Cam Talbot signals Ottawa’s intention to contend now.
- New Jersey Devils (2021-22 Record: 27-46-9; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 6th Metropolitan Division)
Poor goaltending prevented a playoff berth in New Jersey, but the Devils seem refreshed. Young talent like Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, and Jesper Bratt lead a fun team with lots of potential.
- Detroit Red Wings (2021-22 Record: 32-40-10; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 6th Atlantic Division)
Detroit features some of the best young talent in the NHL, and Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider are the real deal. The Red Wings aren’t playoff-worthy yet, but optimism is high.
- Winnipeg Jets (2021-22 Record: 39-32-11; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 6th Central Division)
Recently Winnipeg was in the argument as Canada’s best team, but those days are gone. Can new coach Rick Bowness get more from the Jets, led by Blake Wheeler and Pierre-Luc Dubois?
- Columbus Blue Jackets (2021-22 Record: 37-38-7; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 7th Metropolitan Division)
Columbus made one of the surprise off-season acquisitions, signing sniper Johnny Gaudreau. The Blue Jackets are slowly starting to build a quality squad around top defenseman Zach Werenski and sniper Patrik Laine.
- Buffalo Sabres (2021-22 Record: 32-39-11; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 7th Atlantic Division)
For the first time in forever, the Sabres appear headed down the right track. While Jack Eichel is gone, Buffalo has talented youngsters like Rasmus Dahlin, Tage Thompson and Peyton Krebs taking over.
- San Jose Sharks (2021-22 Record: 32-37-13; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 6th Pacific Division)
With Evander Kane gone, plus a new coach and general manager, San Jose finally has a needed new direction this season. The Sharks will continue in mediocrity without a further roster overhaul.
- Anaheim Ducks (2021-22 Record: 31-37-14; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 7th Pacific Division)
Anaheim surprised last year, but the Ducks continue to turn over the squad while building for the future. The biggest question is whether goaltender John Gibson will stick around for the rebuild.
- Seattle Kraken (2021-22 Record: 27-49-6; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 8th Pacific Division)
The expansion Kraken disappointed in year one and desperately need more offense. Philipp Grubauer must be better in goal, and Seattle needs scorers. The growth in Seattle will be slow to come.
- Philadelphia Flyers (2021-22 Record: 25-46-11; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 6th Metropolitan Division)
2022-23 could get ugly in Philadelphia as new coach John Tortorella attempts building a new winning culture. Already injury-riddled, the Flyers must decide which players they want for the long haul.
- Chicago Blackhawks (2021-22 Record: 28-42-12; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 7th Central Division)
In full tear-down mode, it will be a long season in the Windy City. The question is whether stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will stay here through Chicago’s painful rebuild.
- Arizona Coyotes (2021-22 Record: 25-50-7; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 8th Central Division)
The Coyotes feature one of the league’s worst rosters, but at least have prospects to start building a future. Fans will see a lot of losses in Arizona’s tiny, hopefully temporary, rink.
- Montreal Canadiens (2021-22 Record: 22-49-11; 2022-23 Predicted Finish: 8th Atlantic Division)
Just a year removed from an appearance in the finals, Montreal is miles from contending again. At least the Canadiens have fun players like Nick Suzuki and Cole Caulfield to build around.