Season Preview: Denver Nuggets
Quietly, the Denver Nuggets have turned into an offensive juggernaut led by a budding superstar in center Nikola Jokic.
With the NHL season set to start next Wednesday, it's already time to think about who are the top 10 teams in the NHL entering the 2018-2019 season. Which teams made the list?
10. Vegas Golden Knights: Despite making it to the Stanley Cup Finals last season, Vegas lost some key players in the offseason like James Neal and David Perron. Defenseman Nate Schdmit was suspended for the first 20 games of the regular season. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury may not have the same kind of season. The only thing going for the Golden Knights is that they play in a weak Pacific Division.
9. St. Louis Blues: The Blues made upgrades to the roster this offseason after missing out on the postseason last year, for the first time since 2010-2011. St. Louis has the talent to be a Stanley Cup contender. The additions of Ryan O'Reilly, Tyler Bozak, and David Perron will help this team. Injuries derailed this team last season and goaltender Jake Allen needs to be much better this season. Alex Pietrangelo is the leader of this team and the Blues have one of the best blue lines in the league.
8. Boston Bruins: The Bruins have a lot of talent returning this season, but the Toronto Maple Leafs got a lot better and Boston has questions at goalie. Is Tuukka Rask starting to fall off a cliff? Will Jaroslav Halak steal his job? They should dominate the bottom half of the Atlantic Division, but the Boston Bruins could have issues against the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Tampa Bay Lightning this season.
7. San Jose Sharks: Acquiring **defenseman Erik Karlsson in a trade boosted this team's chances to lift their first Stanley Cup come June. San Jose has only been to the finals once and that was back in 2016, where they lost in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Sharks have a good mixture of veterans and youth on the roster. They want to win a Stanley Cup for Joe Thornton before he possibly retires. San Jose has a very good goalie in Martin Jones. He doesn't get enough credit for what he does for this team.
6. Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins didn't make a whole lot of adjustments this offseason, but they are hungry for another Stanley Cup title. After being eliminated from the playoffs last May by the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh got an extra month of rest this offseason and it will help this team this season. The Pittsburgh Penguins will have one of the best offenses in the league this season and all four lines can put the puck in the back of the net at anytime. Goaltender Matt Murray needs to have a bounce back season and the defense needs to be strong, especially Kris Letang.
5. Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning were one win away from reaching the Stanley Cup Finals last season. They have been to the Eastern Conference Finals for the past three-out-of-four seasons. Tampa Bay needs to stay healthy again this season. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy can take over a game at any instant with his athletic ability. J.T. Miller and Ryan McDonagh were signed to contract extensions in the offseason. The Tampa Bay Lightning will be a dangerous team once again this season and they had the best record in the eastern conference last season.
4. Nashville Predators: After winning the Presidents' Trophy last season, Nashville thought they had the best chance to hoist the Stanley Cup, but the Presidents' Trophy curse struck the Predators. They lost in seven games in the second-round against the Winnipeg Jets. Goaltender Pekka Rinne did not look sharp at all and he needs to be sharp out of the gate. Goaltender Juuse Saros will be waiting just in case. The blue line is what makes this team roll, along with solid goaltending. The offense needs more play makers other than Filip Forsberg.
3. Toronto Maple Leafs: The John Tavares era will be an interesting one in Toronto. He signed a seven-year deal worth $11 million per season in the offseason. Auston Matthews, Mitchell Marner, Zach Hyman, Nazem Kadri, William Nylander, and Patrick Marleau are some of the key players on offseason as well. Frederik Andersen needs to be sharp in net this season. The defense is a big question mark. The Maple Leafs could be the best in the league this season. Mike Babcock is also one of the best coaches in the game.
2. Winnipeg Jets: The Jets will prove that their success last season was no fluke. They have one of the best goal scorers in the league in Patrik Laine and one of the best goalies in the league Connor Hellebuyck. The Winnipeg Jets present an interesting challenge for opponents. They are a rare breed of speed and physicality on offense and defense. Blake Wheeler led by example last season and he will again this season.
1. Washington Capitals: The Capitals won it all for the first time last season and they will look to do it again this season. In order for them to do that, the Washington Capitals will have a different head coach behind the bench. Todd Reirden will be the new head coach this season after Barry Trotz decided not to come back despite winning the Stanley Cup last season. Washington basically has its entire roster back this season. The biggest question mark will be will Braden Holtby get the backup goalie support he needs?