| The Detroit News
Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News previews the NHL season with a look at the top players, championship contenders and more.
Hart Trophy candidates
Connor McDavid, Edmonton: This one is easy, McDavid is always among the viable candidates. He’ll be tested in the tough Canadian Division, though.
Auston Matthews, Toronto: The pieces appear to all be there, and Matthews is at the point of his career where he’s ready to lead and dominate.
Brayden Point, Tampa: The hockey community got to see how good Point really is in last season’s playoffs. This is a big-time hockey player.
Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton: All Draisaitl did last season was win the Hart Trophy (most valuable player).
Connor McDavid, Edmonton: Most exciting player around.
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado: If not McDavid, MacKinnon is the most exciting around.
Ryan O’Reilly, St. Louis: Always formidable, O’Reilly has developed into a force with the Blues.
Brayden Point, Tampa: Dominant at both ends of the rink, and has knack for big time goals.
Roman Josi, Nashville: The reigning Norris Trophy winner is still getting better.
Alex Pietrangelo, Vegas: It’ll be weird not seeing Pietrangelo in a Blues’ uniform. But he’ll be just fine in Vegas.
Victor Hedman, Tampa: The backbone of a Lightning core that has been championship quality for many years.
Seth Jones, Columbus: Jones might be ready for serious Norris Trophy consideration this season.
Charlie McAvoy, Boston: With Zdeno Chara leaving, McAvoy becomes the man in Boston. And he’s ready for the challenge.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa: Was outstanding in Tampa’s Cup run last season.
Carey Price, Montreal: Price could be even better with a quality back-up now.
Tuukka Rask, Boston: Don’t be surprised if Rask returns this season with a chip on his shoulder, after opting out of playoffs in summer.
Robin Lehner, Vegas: Lehner has really emerged last two seasons, and could be pivotal difference in Vegas.
Jordan Binnington, St. Louis: Has a Stanley Cup on his resume, but Binnington slipped in the playoffs last season.
Alexis Lafreniere, N.Y. Rangers: The No. 1 overall pick is in a perfect spot to excel.
Tim Stuetzle, Ottawa: Some scouts feel Stuetzle is better than Lafeniere.
Bowen Byram, Colorado: Another in a long line of elite Avalance prospects.
Coaches on the hot seat
Jeff Blashill, Detroit: The Red Wings need to show continued improvement, development during this long rebuild.
Bob Boughner, San Jose: The Sharks have a star-studded, aging roster. And they’re under pressure to win.
David Quinn, N.Y. Rangers: The pressure is always there in New York, but this roster is probably a year away from playoff contention.
Tampa Bay: The defending Stanley Cup champions remain awfully good.
Philadelphia: Perfect mix of veteran stars and rising young stars.
Washington: The addition of Zdeno Chara emboldens a veteran roster.
Colorado: The Avalanche have an emerging lineup that might be a year away.
Vegas: The future is now for this salary cap-strapped roster.
Toronto: This might finally be the right mix the Leafs have been waiting for.
Carolina: If goaltender Petr Mrazek can raise his game in the playoffs, the Hurricanes might be awfully dangerous.
Pittsburgh: Can the Penguins swipe one more Stanley Cup with their aging core?
Detroit: The Red Wings won’t be historically bad, as a year ago. But they’ll struggle in a tough division.
Chicago: The Wings might actually be better than Chicago, whose roster looks depleted.
Anaheim: The rebuild isn’t going well for the Ducks.