We are one month into the 2016-17 NHL season and already there are a few team surprises and disappointments. Let’s look at who has surprised and disappointed thus far.
Top Four Surprising Teams
The Oilers have been so bad for so long that hockey fans forget that they were once a league dynasty. However, their treasure trove of young talent is finally putting it all together led by Connor McDavid and backstopped by former Rangers backup goalie Cam Talbot. This team might not win the Cup this season but Oiler fans should expect to be rejoicing in multiple Cup winners in the years ahead.
New York Rangers
After a disappointing 2015-16 season, many experts predicted the Rangers to be a fringe playoff team this year. However, a few shrewd offseason moves, which have yielded a greater than expected return, have the Rangers back near the top of the Conference. Rookie free-agent prize Jimmy Vesey has joined the squad along with Adam Clendening, Brandon Pirri, and Mika Zibanejad to inject youth and speed into an aging team. Veteran goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist remains the wall in net that any team with Championship aspiration needs. If everyone stays healthy the Rangers could be hoisting their first Cup since 1994.
The Senators are off to a fast start led by defenseman Erik Karlsson. The addition of Derick Brassard from the New York Rangers in exchange for forward Mika Zibanejad has added ice and locker room leadership to the team. The trade so far has been a win-win for both teams. Goaltender Craig Anderson has been solid in net backstopping the quick start by the Senators.
The Canadiens are off to the fastest start of all teams. 9 – 0 – 1 through the first ten games of the season they are the most surprising team. Many pundits had them missing the playoffs altogether. With World Cup of Hockey goaltender Carey Price in net and defenseman Shea Weber, who came over in a trade for P.K. Subban with the Nashville Predators, dominating the ice, the Canadiens are poised for a deep playoff run.
Top Four Disappointing Teams
New York Islanders
The Islanders make our list simply because they have one of the league’s top players in John Tavares and World Cup of Hockey standout Jaroslav Halak in net. These two men need to step up their game and the put the team on their backs or fall into the category of ‘over rated’.
No team has been a bigger disappointment than the Nashville Predators. Picked by many hockey experts to hoist the Cup at the end of these season the team currently sits near the bottom of the Conference, placing only ahead of the young Arizona Coyotes. The trade of Shea Weber for P.K. Suppan has blown up in their face as they badly missing the leadership of Weber.
If not for the horrid start by the Predators, the Dallas Stars would be the biggest disappointment of the season thus far. The pundits who did not pick the Predators to advance to the Cup finals had the Stars there instead. Sitting at .500 as we go to press, the Stars’ roster is stacked with all-world talent including Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza, Tyler Sequin, and Patrick Sharp. Their backstops Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen are solid. The Stars roster resembles a world all-star team. Get it together Dallas.
It was tough to put the Kings on the list especially since they lost their goalie Jonathan Quick. But, they are currently out of the playoff picture and someone had to round out the list. With a sub .500 record the Kings need their team leaders Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty to rally the troops and pick up the offense to replace the downgrade in net.