NHL season preview: Which teams could dethrone Avalanche in 2022-23?

The Colorado Avalanche travelled to a Stanley Cup last season, going 16-4 in the playoffs. No group actually put a scare into the Avs, so the concern now is whether anybody can hang with them next season.

The Avalanche did lose some essential gamers in the offseason, consisting of forward Nazem Kadri and goaltender Darcy Kuemper. Colorado has a lot of skill to get rid of those departures, however the group may be more susceptible in 2022-23, even if it’s not by much.

Still, the list of groups that might actually take the Avalanche to the wire in a seven-game series stays fairly brief. In the Western Conference, just a couple of groups stand apart as hazards to Colorado’s crown. There are more groups in a deep Eastern Conference, however the Avs would not see them up until the Stanley Cup Final.

With the Avalanche set to hang a banner on opening night, here is the list of groups that might dismiss them with among their own in 2023.

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It’s quite fantastic that the Flames lost Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk in the exact same offseason and are still atop this list. That’s a testimony to the work basic supervisor Brad Treliving performed in the offseason, and the case might be made that Calgary is even much deeper than in 2015, when it won the Pacific Division with 111 points. The Flames included among the very best playmakers in the league in Jonathan Huberdeau, and a currently strong protective group got another leading-pairing defenseman in MacKenzie Weegar. To top everything off, the Flames signed Nazem Kadri to include a mix of offense and snarl to its leading 6. Add Jacob Markstrom in web, and the Flames have a dish for offering the Avalanche a great deal of problem next season.

The Oilers do have enigma when comparing with the Avalanche, and those were on display screen in the short playoff series in between the 2 groups last season. I question if the defense is strong adequate or deep enough to hold back the elite firepower at the top of the Colorado lineup, and it’s reasonable to question how Jack Campbell will fare in net after his second-half collapse in 2021-22. Having stated all that, the Oilers have Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Having the very best gamer on the planet and another top-10 center can cover a great deal of defects. Flanking them, the Oilers have efficient scoring wingers like Evander Kane and Zach Hyman. With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as a third-line center, it’s not impossible to believe that Edmonton might win a high-scoring series versus the Avs, as long as Campbell beats the duo of Alexandar Georgiev and Pavel Francouz.

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The Wild have the opposite issue of the Oilers, however they might challenge the Avalanche in their own method. Outside of super star winger Kirill Kaprizov, it’s difficult to see precisely where the offense will originate from in Minnesota, however that might not matter if nobody can score on the Wild. Last season, Minnesota was among the greatest protective groups in the NHL, which should not alter in 2022-23. With gamers like Jared Spurgeon and Matt Dumba blazing a trail, the Wild have a deep protective corps. Plus, the line of Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson Ek, and Marcus Foligno quit simply 5 objectives in 430 minutes together at five-on-five. If Marc-Andre Fleury can come anywhere near his Vezina Trophy kind, Minnesota has the pieces to restrict any offending attack, even that of the Avalanche.

It’s difficult to score objectives and win video games when you do not have the puck on your stick, and the Hurricanes may be the very best group in the NHL when it pertains to playing avoid their challengers. Last season, the Hurricanes regulated 56.22% of the shot share, 54.95% of the anticipated objectives share, and 57.78% of the real objectives at five-on-five, per Natural Stat Trick. All of those numbers ranked in the leading 5 of the league, and Carolina included some veteran skill in the offseason. Defenseman Brent Burns and center Paul Stastny will include some excellent depth to a currently packed lineup, and when Max Pacioretty gets healthy midway through the season, the Hurricanes will be an extremely harmful group. We’ll see whether Freddie Andersen can duplicate his exceptional 2021-22 project in between the pipelines. If he can, Carolina can beat any group in the league in a seven-game series.

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I hope it’s possible for me to type this Stanley Cup Final series into presence since the Panthers and Avalanche would place on rather a program. Florida did go shopping out Jonthan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar, however it may’ve deserved it to land Matthew Tkachuk. With his mix of offending ability, protective expertise, and perseverance, there are extremely couple of wingers like Tkachuk. It will be intriguing to see precisely what they make with Tkachuk, however if the Panthers slot him on a line with Aleksander Barkov, that may immediately end up being the very best line in hockey. The loss of Weegar does harm Florida’s defense, however Aaron Ekblad offers the group an authentic No. 1 defenseman. As with numerous other groups on this list, goaltending would be the huge concern in a series versus the Avalanche. Luckily for the Panthers, Colorado has some issues of its own at the position.

With all due regard to Jordan Binnington and the St. Louis Blues, the Lighting most likely offered the Avalanche their most significant test in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. That might not be stating much thinking about how Colorado steamrolled its method to a banner, however Tampa lacked star center Brayden Point for much of the series. Even though the Lightning’s core is aging, the group is still in the running for another Stanley Cup. The lineup, both in regards to high-end skill and depth, compares positively to a huge bulk of the league. The problem for the Lightning will be returning to the Stanley Cup Final for a 4th successive season, however I stated the exact same feature of 3 successive looks, and we saw how that went.

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Don’t laugh. Stop it. As somebody who anticipated that the Maple Leafs would lastly break through in the playoffs in 2015, I simulate this lineup. How could you not? Auston Matthews is coming off a Hart Trophy season in which he scored 60 objectives, however he is far from alone in a stacked forward group. Mitchell Marner is a top-five winger in the league, William Nylander is an underrated playmaker, and John Tavares has a lot of video game left in the tank. Michael Bunting, Alex Kerfoot, and Calle Jarnkrok likewise supply depth that a lot of groups would enjoy to have. That offers the Leafs a lineup that can score with the Avalanche, and they are much better on defense than they get credit for. If Toronto can leave its own method the preliminary of the playoffs, this group has what it requires to go the range.

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