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The NHL season kicks off tonight and will be a full 82-game season. The Seattle Kraken will debut as the latest expansion team. The last expansion team was the Vegas Golden Knights and they made it to the Stanley Cup in their first season.
A big question mark on the season is the Winter Olympics – which could change up the schedule if NHL players participate.
The NHL returns to its standard conference/ division format – getting rid of the All-Canadian North Division from last year. The Coyotes will move from the Pacific Division to the Central so the Kraken can join the Pacific.
The 2022 NHL All Star game is scheduled for February 4-5. If the Olympics take place, the All Star game will be a real long break with the season restarting on the 24th. If the NHL does not participate in the Olympics, the second half schedule will be redone.
Target Field will host the Winter Classic this year. So Maxy’s Wild will host the Blues on January 1, 2022. The Nissan Stadium in Nashville will also host a game between the Predators and the Lightning. See, the NHL knows how to do these big games – unlike the fucking NFL.
March 21 will serve as the NHL’s trade deadline with the playoffs slated to begin May 2nd. The top 8 teams from each Conference will make the playoffs.
We will cover season win totals and some other picks on a future show but I can give you my playoff list.
In the East, I like Florida, the Islanders, Carolina, Toronto, Tampa, Washington, Boston and Philadelphia to make it. In the West, I have Vegas, Colorado, Minnesota, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Dallas, Chicago and Seattle – making it as the 8th seed.
I have Florida winning the Atlantic, the Islanders winning the Metropolitan, the Avalanche winning the Central and the Golden Knights winning the Pacific.
I have Vegas winning the Presidents’ Trophy with 113 total points – edging out the Avalanche with 112 points. I am not hating on Tampa like I did last season – but I’m also not super high up on them.
So that’s it. The 2021-2022 Degens primer.
I’m looking forward to making some salty picks and going head to head with the Hockey Guru. I’m still focusing in on expected goals and PDO as my primary metrics and if you remember, I made a lot of money last season in the first half. Be interesting to see how that model plays out this year.
NHL Key Player Moves
Boston Bruins – Tuuka Rask might retire and Jeremy Swayman is the Bruins’ future goalie. To help this season they signed Linus Ullmark a veteran who has spent most of his career with the Buffalo Sabres.
Carolina Hurricanes – Alex Nedeljkovic could not come to an agreement so was traded to the Red Wings. So Carolina picked up Frederik Andersen from the Maple Leafs
Colorado Avalanche – Resigned Gabriel Landeskog to an 8 year deal.
Dallas Stars – The Wild bought out Ryan Suter and Dallas grabbed him up. He had an off year last year but if he can get things right, it will be a good grab for the Stars.
Edmonton Oilers – Signed Zach Hyman away from the Maple Leafs. Hyman will provide some depth and partner well on the Connor McDavid line. The Oilers also got Tyson Barrie from Toronto.
Los Angeles Kings – Signed Phillip Danault away from the Canadiens. It was a 6-year, $33 million deal – which is a risk on a player coming off a down year.
New Jersey Devils – Signed Dougie Hamilton away from the Hurricanes. Hamilton was probably the best free agent (non-goalie) out there and definitely the top defenseman.
Seattle Kraken – The new franchise brought in Jaden Schwartz. The 29-year old forward has put up some good numbers in the past with the Blues. But the big get was Philipp Grubauer from Colorado. He was the crown jewel of the free agent class and probably sets up the Kraken to have a good inaugural season.
Vegas Golden Knights – Kept Alec Martinez to a 3-year, $15.75m deal. Martinez is coming off a very good season and should be a key player in Vegas’ playoff run this year.
Washington Capitals – Brought back Alex Ovechkin (shocker).