We now continue our series previewing the start of the 2022-23 NHL season. Last time out we looked at three non-playoff teams that are primed to make the postseason. It’s time to flip the switch and look at three playoffs teams that will miss the postseason.
We predicted that the Vegas Golden Knights, New York Islanders and Vancouver Canucks would all make the postseason in 2022-23. That means we have to take two teams from the West out and one team from the East. This was not an easy exercise.
The reason this was tough to do is because the Atlantic Division is more of a wildcard than many are giving credit for. The Ottawa Senators had an offseason to remember and are completely revamped up front with the additions of Claude Giroux and Alex DeBrincat.
Other teams like the Detroit Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres are going to be better than most anticipate. Plus it is hard to imagine any scenario that doesn’t see the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers finish in some order 1-3 in the Atlantic. That brings us to our first team out of the playoffs who made it last season.
The Bruins made it as a wildcard in 2021-22 and did take the Carolina Hurricanes the distance before bowing out. While they still have good pieces in place, they have a lot of questions and a tough division staring at them.
Jim Montgomery now runs the bench after the Bruins moved on from Bruce Cassidy. Pavel Zacha is the new player up front. David Krejci is back in town. They’re running most of the same roster back outside of that including in net with Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman expected to split playing time.
The question you have to ask yourself is, did the Bruins improve enough to jump into the top-three conversation? I’m not sure you can say that even despite having Patrice Bergeron back and Brad Marchand ready to lead them again.
Will the Bruins be in the hunt? Absolutely. If they do make it, it will be as a wildcard again. However given the strength in the Metropolitan Division, five teams could easily make the playoffs if we include the Islanders from our last piece. Those teams being the Rangers, Hurricanes, Penguins and Capitals. The Devils and Blue Jackets have improved too so don’t count them out yet either.
With some of their best players aging and questions in net in regards to how good they can be, the Bruins are the one team in the East we think fall just short by the time the season is over. They face an absolutely fascinating offseason in 2023 highlighted by David Pastrnak’s UFA status.
The Dallas Stars were a wildcard team in the West last season. It’s fair to wonder if circumstances (injures to the Golden Knights) had something to do with that.
Like the Bruins, you have to wonder how much the Stars improved in the offseason. They did add Mason Marchment from the Panthers up front. They also added defenseman Colin Miller on their blueline. Is that enough to maintain a playoff spot in a difficult Western Conference?
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The Stars still have yet to find an agreement with star Jason Robertson. Once that contract is signed, he will be expected to play a big role in helping them return to the playoffs. Securing Jake Oettinger to a new three-year deal certainly helps their case.
In the end, we think other teams are either better or have improved more and are primed to overtake the Stars this season. They’ll be in it until the end but will fall a little short due to their lack of firepower overall. Oettinger will have to steal multiple games to make the postseason.
We have to give credit where it is due. The Calgary Flames overcame two huge losses in Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk and were able to land Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar in a trade and Nazem Kadri in free agency.
However to expect them to repeat last season’s performance is a lot to ask. This is still a good team but we think they go through some regression back to the pack.
Having the Flames miss the playoffs is a bold prediction that can easily backfire especially if Huberdeau finds chemistry right away with his teammates. Their defense is still good and Jacob Markstrom can carry the load in net. This comes down to comparing the Flames and the Canucks.
Consider these questions. Who would you rather have in net, Markstrom or Thatcher Demko? Which team has the best defenseman on it? That is the Canucks and Quinn Hughes. And which team has the better forward depth? I’d rather have the Canucks headlined by centers J.T Miller, Elias Petterson and Bo Horvat but it is very close.
Landing Huberdeau eases the pain of losing Tkachuk. But losing Gaudreau for nothing can’t be ignored. That’s 115 points gone. The Flames are still a playoff contender but they have taken a step back. We think it’s enough of a step back that they miss out on the 2022-23 postseason. Those Canucks/Flames games should be fun to watch.
Which teams do you foresee missing out on the playoffs? Let us know in the comments or on social media. Stay tuned to our season preview series as we’ll turn our attention to the teams that are primed to surprise everyone in 2022-23.
Author’s note: I have a new Twitter handle. I am now @mark_scheig after my original account was compromised. Please make any necessary updates. As always, thank you for your continued support and following along.