Training camp officially starts 4 weeks from today! With summer (mostly) mercifully over and most of the dust for the off-season settling, here’s an important question for each team to answer for the 2018-19 season.
Anaheim Ducks: With the entire (aging) core coming off a fifth straight 100+ point season, how can they find the extra gear to get over the playoff hurdle?
Arizona Coyotes: Is this finally the year for a young team to leave the cellar behind and make a run at a playoff spot?
Boston Bruins: Can a good team in a division of giants find a way to likely have to beat both of them in the playoffs?
Buffalo Sabres: Talent has been infused and first overall pick Rasmus Dahlin is on the scene, can Buffalo stay competitive past Christmas for the first time in a long time?
Calgary Flames: By adding James Neal, Elias Lindholm, Derek Ryan and Noah Hanafin is it possible that Canada’s best two teams will both be in the West?
Carolina Hurricanes: Is Peter Mrazek and the hope Scott Darling bounces back enough to finally solve the goalie dilemma?
Chicago Blackhawks: Can the hands of time be reset for their group to contend again?
Colorado Avalanche: Will other lines step up to help Nathan MacKinnon’s?
Columbus Blue Jackets: How will the ticking time bomb known as the Artemi Panarin expiring contract be resolved, and how will they let it affect their 2018-19 outlook?
Dallas Stars: Why isn’t anyone talking about how Tyler Seguin is going to be an unrestricted free agent next summer?
Detroit Red Wings: Going on year 3 of the playoff drought, how much longer will they wander the desert and is it as long as it appears to be at this point?
Edmonton Oilers: How in the world are the squandering the best years of Connor McDavid and they’re really not going to play Ty Rattie as his right wing, right?
Florida Panthers: Will the Mike Hoffman drama hurt or help propel a team on the upswing back into the playoffs?
Los Angeles Kings: Is Ilya Kovalchuk going to be a re-invigorated player after his hiatus to the KHL (ala Jaromir Jagr or Alex Radulov) or will he show his age (35)?
Minnesota Wild: What’s the next step for a consistently good but not great team with no real hope for a breakout really going to be?
Montreal Canadiens: Can Carey Price (who has played <60 games in two of the last four years) regain health, play .930% goalie again and cover up a lot of management’s inefficiencies from recent years?
Nashville Predators: How does last year’s President Trophy winners bounce back from a second round exit?
New Jersey Devils: After a quiet summer, why didn’t Ray Shero look to make external upgrades for a team that seemingly needed it?
New York Islanders: Can a team apply to get a conditional #1 overall pick when a #1 overall pick in his prime leaves via free agency? No? Well, doesn’t hurt to ask.
New York Rangers: With a somewhat veteran team and a number of fairly useful players, can a hockey team actually rebuild effectively without totally stripping down?
Ottawa Senators: At this point, how can they manage to bungle up the Erik Karlsson situation? (And...why does everyone feel like they will end up doing the exact opposite?)
Philadelphia Flyers: Year 44- what will it be that holds them back; the coach, the goalies or some unholy combination of both?
Pittsburgh Penguins: How will Matt Murray fare after a tough season?
San Jose Sharks: Can Evander Kane prove to be the missing ingredient after all these years?
St. Louis Blues:Will reinforcements Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, Tyler Bozak and Patrick Maroon get STL back to the playoffs?
Tampa Bay Lightning: Can the team that seemingly “has it all” actually take that next step?
Toronto Maple Leafs: How will adding John Tavares affect the whole dynamic of the team, East Conference and league as a whole?
Vancouver Canucks: What direction will a seemingly directionless team veer for this season?
Vegas Golden Knights: Can lightning strike twice or will the expansion team come back to earth?
Washington Capitals: What’s in store for an encore when the team that never could do it finally did it?
Winnipeg Jets: What will happen in a strong division for a strong team looking to get past a tough Nashville squad again?
It will be interesting to see how all these questions play out, some successfully but some not so successfully for the teams as the prepare to navigate another season.