October 07, 2016 - 7:00 AM
The NHL season begins with plenty to keep an eye on. Here are five compelling storylines to watch for in the 2016-17 campaign:
The Penguins won the Cup in June by playing hockey at a remarkable pace that left opponents dizzy.
Team North America was a hit at the World Cup of Hockey with the same up-tempo game. And it appears more clubs want to adopt that approach. The Stanley Cup-contending Tampa Bay Lightning already play that style, and some teams have hired new coaches promising to speed up the game, including Guy Boucher in Ottawa, Glen Gulutzan in Calgary, Jared Bednar in Colorado and Bruce Boudreau in Minnesota.
It is fun hockey to watch, but defence-first coaches are no doubt already plotting how to rein it in.
SUBBAN FOR WEBER
The Nashville Predators picked up a ton of speed in P.K. Subban in a straight-up swap with Montreal for bigger, defensively stronger Shea Weber.
Now the Preds have what could be the quickest, most entertaining and possibly deadliest defence pair in the league with Subban and Roman Josi.
Montreal got the leadership and toughness it was seeking in Weber.
How the two star defencemen and their teams do this season will at least begin to settle which of them won the trade.
Connor McDavid was limited to 45 games as a rookie last season but still put up 48 points.
An Art Ross Trophy as scoring leader is not out of the question for the 19-year-old prodigy. And that could signal the start of the Oilers on the path to being a league power again, built around an impressive core of young talent, not mention veteran free agent Milan Lucic, a potential linemate for McDavid.
The defence remains suspect, but they had the luxury of being able to trade former first overall pick Taylor Hall to New Jersey for well-regarded rearguard Adam Larsson.
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
There was top talent available at the draft in June and a handful of teams feel they got players who can step into the NHL.
It starts with Toronto's top pick Auston Matthews, who shone at the World Cup. Then there's second pick Patrick Laine with Winnipeg, surprise third pick Pierre-Luc Dubois with Columbus and fourth pick Jesse Puljujarvi with Edmonton. Throw in Matthew Tkachuk with Calgary and 23-year-old Hobey Baker Award-winner Jimmy Vesey signing with the New York Rangers and it could be a wild race for rookie of the year.
When Montreal collapsed last season it left all seven Canadian teams out of the playoffs.
With star goalie Carey Price back from injury, the Canadiens are the favourite to get back into the post-season. Winnipeg and Calgary are not far off. It isn't out of the question that, with McDavid, Edmonton may surprise. And perhaps Boucher will be the answer in Ottawa. Toronto is still rebuilding and Vancouver has a lot of question marks.
The troublesome point is that, even after off-season moves, none is lock. But surely they can't all miss out two years in a row. Or can they?
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016