NHL Previews: Part 2

The weekly sports column from the 100 Mile Free Press

This is part two of my NHL previews and this time I will be going through the Dark Horses of the league. Teams in this category will most likely lose out in making it to the playoffs, though one or two might sneak in by the skin of their teeth, some may also do worse.

RELATED: NHL PREVIEWS: PART 1

Usually, the Edmonton Oilers would be in the No-Way Jose category, but that would be too easy. Connor McDavid, aka the best player not named Sidney Crosby, and Leon Draisaitl will be leaned on heavily to get stuff done as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan Strome and Kailer Yamamoto prove their worth.

The Arizona Coyotes by all rights belong on the first list as well, but it’s so hard not to cheer for the underdog especially if it’s a dog that likes to skate on ice in the desert.

The Coyotes have a great cast this season though, with a bunch of young talent the club has acquired through drafts such as sophomore Clayton Keller, 20-year-old blueliner Jakob Chycrun, Christian Dvorak and Dylan Strome.

Some of them still need to prove they belong in the show but the Coyotes have supplemented them with a strong supporting cast of vets

such as forward Michael Grabner and resigning their captain and arguably their best player, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and three-time Stanely Cup winner, Niklas Hjalmarsson.

Roberto Luongo may be injured, but the Florida Panthers should be okay with James Reimer and Michael Hutchinson between the pipes in his stead. Saying that though, it’s hard to gauge if they belong in this category or the can dos. With players like Aleksander Barkov, Mike Hoffman, Jonathan Huberdeau and Evgenii Dadonov, they have a lot of firepower. Their blue line looks a little weak with only an injury-prone Aaron Ekblad and ageing Keith Yandle of note. However, Jason MacDonald, an undrafted rookie, has certainly made an impression in his debut.

As of Oct. 10, the Buffalo Sabres are third in the Atlantic Division but their fans shouldn’t celebrate just yet. Some teams like Tampa Bay are just waking up. However, with Detroit, Montreal, Florida and Ottawa most likely down for the count the Sabres may actually have a decent year.

Off-season trades have definitely risen the stock of the team, with Jeff Skinner, Conor Sheary and free agent Carter Hutton joining the team, they are definitely for the better.


brendan.jure@100milefreepress.net

@BrendanKyleJure.

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