NHL training camps open next week, the preseason kicks off Sept. 24 and regular-season games are coming Oct. 7. After a long summer, the wait for the 2022-23 season is almost over.
Has your team addressed all it needed to during the offseason? What concerns remain? To find out, The Athletic asked the reporters who know the teams best what the biggest question is facing each heading into training camp.
Here’s what they said.
Can Mason McTavish follow in Trevor Zegras’ footsteps? Zegras was the Calder Trophy runner-up to Detroit’s Moritz Seider and the Ducks’ first finalist for the award since Bobby Ryan in 2009. McTavish, 19, could very well be in the Calder conversation this season, too, after in the past year becoming the youngest Ducks player to score in his NHL debut, powering Hamilton to the Memorial Cup title game, and making a game-saving play that’s the stuff of legends at the world juniors while captaining Canada to the gold medal. Next thing on the to-do list is locking down a spot with the Ducks.
How well will Clayton Keller recover? On a team with lots of hope for the future but facing a grim present in 2022-23, the Coyotes have one legitimate star forward: the shifty Keller, who was in the midst of a career year (28 goals in 67 games) when he broke his leg near the end of the regular season on March 30 and was given a four-to-six month recovery timeline. With the Coyotes set to play 20 of their first 24 games on the road, they need Keller to be healthy and in good form by the Oct. 13 opener against Pittsburgh to have any hope of being remotely competitive.
How do they stay competitive with Matt Grzelcyk, Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy unavailable? Marchand and McAvoy are among the best at their positions. Grzelcyk is an excellent defender and puck mover. With their No. 1 left wing and two top-four defensemen recovering from offseason surgeries, the Bruins will be in an early dogfight to stay in the race — all while adjusting to new coach Jim Montgomery. They’ll need Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci to be their usual selves as top-two centers. But Bergeron is 37. Krejci is 36 coming off a year in Czechia.
How quickly can the youngsters develop? All of the micro questions surrounding the Sabres lead back to the macro question of how quickly their young talent will develop. Owen Power, Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka are three rookies who should occupy roles ranging in significance. Peyton Krebs and Dylan Cozens are 21-year-olds expected to make a jump. Both could potentially play in the top six. In net, Eric Comrie will likely handle the biggest NHL workload of his career. What the Sabres get from those players will determine how quickly the team can climb the standings.