Look at last season’s standings and try to guess what it will look like at the end of this season.
Every season since the NHL introduced the wild card format in 2013–14, five to seven teams have made the playoffs after failing to qualify the previous season (not including the 2019–20 through 2021–22 seasons due to the disruptions linked to COVID-19).
Five did it last season: the Golden Knights, Kraken, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders and Winnipeg Jets.
The Golden Knights won the Stanley Cup. The team they faced in the Stanley Cup Final? The Florida Panthers, who were nine points ahead of a playoff spot in late December, rallied to win the Eastern Conference’s second wild card and began an epic run.
The Devils improved by 49 points, the Kraken by 40, and each won a series. In their second season since joining the NHL as an expansion team, the Kraken came within one game of the Western Conference Finals, taking the Dallas Stars to Game 7 in the second round.
‘It’s really tight,’ said Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl said. “There are a lot of great teams. It’s really difficult but it’s fun.”
Who will take the big leap this season?
The Calgary Flames, who have a new coach in Ryan Huska? The Predators, who made major changes including a new coach (Andrew Brunette) and a new No. 1 center (Ryan O’Reilly) ?
“The league is so open,” said Forsberg, who reached the Cup final with the Predators in 2017, when they won the second wild card in the West. “You have to validate your ticket and you have as good a chance as anyone.”
The NHL has 210 third-period victories in 2022-23, after 220 in 2021-22. He could reach 200 in three consecutive seasons for the first time.
The League averaged 6.4 goals per game in 2022-23, the most since 6.5 in 1993-94. Her average could be at least 6.0 in three straight seasons for the first time since she did it in 26 straight seasons from 1970-71 to 1995-96.
Toronto Maple Leafs Center Auston Matthews scored 60 goals in 2021-22. Tanker Center Connor McDavid had 64 and the Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak 61 in 2022-23. The NHL could have a 60-goal scorer three seasons in a row for the first time since a 14-season stretch from 1980-81 to 1993-94.
McDavid had 153 points last season, the most since Penguins center Mario Lemieux had 161 in 1995-96. He could become the third player in NHL history to post consecutive 150-point seasons after Oilers center Wayne Gretzky (seven in a row from 1980-81 to 1986-87) and Lemieux (1987-88 and 1988- 89).
The NHL had 11 players reach 100 points last season. There could be back-to-back seasons of 10 with at least 100 for the first time since 1989-90 and 1990-91.
“What excites me this year is really a progression of what excites me over the last few years,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. “I think the game is in a really, really good place. I think the play on the ice and the skills of our players are at all-time highs.”
Contributed NHL Stats