The 5 Most Intriguing NHL Teams in the 2020-21 Season

Story posted 6 days ago in

With the NHL season is back, there is a lot of talk about which teams will surprise people this season. So, let's take a deeper dive into these teams.

1. Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers have two of the best players in the league in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisital. However, they haven't had the playoff success that many people thought they would have.

Last year, the Oilers lost in the qualifying round in four games to the 12th seed Chicago Blackhawks.

In the offseason, they added forwards Dominik Kahun, Jesse Puljujarvi, and Kyle Turris as well as defenseman Tyson Barrie.

Barrie was one of the biggest free agents and the Oilers desperately needed him as their defense was lackluster. Barrie will slot right next Oscar Klefbom to create a very solid top line defensive pairing.

The Oilers will need others besides McDavid and Draisital to help score. Look for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as well as Jesse Puljujarvi to help put the puck in the back of the net.

The Oilers need goalies Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen to step up and play well if they wanna make a deep run in the playoffs.

2. Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche are primed to take a deep run in this year's playoffs.

Colorado has an elite offense, led by one of the best players in the league in Nathan MacKinnon. Surrounding MacKinnon is Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. They also have Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky.

On defense, they have one of the best young players in the league in Cale Makar, who is must-see-TV. In the offseason, they traded for Devon Toews from the Islanders, a very solid defender. Ian Cole and Samuel Girard are also solid options on defense.

As for the goaltending, it is the weak point of their team. Phillip Grubauer and Pavel Francouz are solid, but they will need to step up in order for the Avalanche to bring home the cup.

3. Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs should be a team that is consistently fighting for the Stanley Cup. However, they always manage to lose in the first round of the playoffs.

The Maple Leafs have a big portion of their salary cap tied up to offensive superstars Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and John Tavares. Matthews, Marner and Nylander are all home grown players while Tavares was signed as a free agent.

Tavares has failed to live up to expectations so far, as he has not gotten the team past the first round of the playoffs and the fans are getting tired of seeing losing teams.

Toronto’s defense has been lackluster over the past few seasons. They signed T.J Brodie in the offseason to pair with star Morgan Rielly.

In net Freddie Anderson is great and plays almost every game.

4. New York Islanders

Speaking of John Tavares, the Islanders were the team who he spurned. However, since Tavares left, the Islanders have only gotten better due to head coach Barry Trotz. Trotz is the best coach in the league and last season led his team to the conference finals for the first time in 27 years.

The Islanders have arguably the best defense in the league, led by stars Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech. After trading Devon Toews in the offseason due to salary cap reasons, they will news rising star Noah Dobson to step up.

The problems for the Islanders fall on the offense as they lack help for superstar Mat Barzal.  Guys such as Jordan Eberle, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson Josh Bailey, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau will all need to step up this season.

Rising stars Anthony Beauvillier, Kieffer Bellows and Oliver Wahlstrom will all look to have  big impacts this season.

In net the Islanders have two excellent goaltenders in Semyon Varlamov and rookie Ilya Sorokin. Both Varlamov and Sorokin will look to lead the Islanders deep in the playoffs.

5. New York Rangers

The Rangers are one of the most exciting teams to watch this upcoming season. They have an explosive offense led by superstar Artemi Panarin. Alongside Panarin is star Mika Zibanejad, Ryan Strome and Chris Kreider.

The Rangers were extremely lucky and won the draft lottery in 2020 which allowed them to select a generational talent in  forward Alexis Lafreniere. The Rangers also have young star forwards in Kappo Kakko and Vitaly Kratsov.

The defense is extremely young led by Jacob Trouba, Adam Fox and K’Andre Miller. The defense is the team's weak point as guys such as Tony Deangelo and Jack Johnson are not very good.

They have great goaltending in young superstar Igor Shesterkin who will look to improve on his dominant rookie season.

 

Alex Rocco is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at afr5646@psu.edu.