30 Paragraphs About 30 Teams: A Thinking Fan's Guide To The NHL Season

The following is excerpted from the team chapters of the excellent Hockey Prospectus 2013-2014, by the authors of Hockey Prospectus. Buy the PDF for $14.95 or order the printed book from Amazon.

Atlantic Division

Boston Bruins: There is no question that Patrice Bergeron’s game is complete; the marvel is more about how he plays it at an elite level. We created the Do-It-All Index two years ago as an objective way to find the league’s most complete players. We chose 10 categories, and for each player, we awarded one point for every area where they were above the league average—an index like this can be designed to add an objective element to virtually any analysis. Over the past five years, Bergeron has been awarded an average of 8.6 out of 10 on the Do-It-All Index, a close second to Rangers captain Ryan Callahan for the highest total. Only Joe Pavelski, Ryan Kesler, David Backes, Jason Pominville, and Mike Richards have an average of at least 8 out of 10 over the same period. However, none of these complete players produce at a level as high as Bergeron. (Robert Vollman)

VUKOTA projection: 97 points (3rd)

Ottawa Senators: Craig Anderson’s rise from journeyman backup goalie to Olympic starter candidate has been stunning. Leading the league in both save percentage and goals against average, there are nonetheless some folks who would place an asterisk next to those marks, as he missed 18 games with a severe high ankle sprain. Nevertheless, after any goaltending season with such extreme rate stats, regression will be inevitable. Prior to last year, Anderson had been a perfectly average starter since signing as a free agent with Colorado in 2009. At his best, his GAA had been nearly a full goal higher than it was in his recent watershed season. Further, both of his backups (Ben Bishop and Robin Lehner) put up comparable numbers in Ottawa, which leads us to believe that, much like Dave Tippett’s vaunted goalie-stat inflating system in Phoenix, Paul MacLean’s coaching may also be conducive to his goaltenders outperforming their inherent skills. (Ryan Wagman)

VUKOTA projection: 96 points (5th)

Montreal Canadiens: Since returning from a potentially career-ending injury caused by the brute force of Zdeno Chara and a naked stanchion, Max Pacioretty has seen his game reach new heights. Four seasons ago, at the age of 21, he was so ineffective—a fact borne out by traditional and advanced stats—that some considered the former first rounder to be a bust. Habs management had him start the 2010-11 season in the AHL, and that seemed to trigger his latent talent. Upon his return, the New Canaan, Connecticut native put up numbers that would not look out of place on the second line. The past two seasons have seen Pacioretty elevate his game to the point where he is now an unquestioned top line forward. Unlike some others, much of the one-time Michigan Wolverine’s possession skill is of his own making, having led the Canadiens in shots on goal and missed shots for each of the past two seasons. Still only 24 years old, improved production on the power play is all that separates Pacioretty from leaguewide recognition. (Ryan Wagman)

VUKOTA projection: 95 points (8th)

Toronto Maple Leafs: With neither James Reimer nor Jonathan Bernier having proven that they can shoulder the full load across a regulation NHL season, why not have them share the burden? Assuming that their skill levels are defined by their previous performances (not a bad assumption), the Leafs will certainly have a strong goalie tandem as suggested by their new President and CEO, although probably not one of the best in the NHL; VUKOTA expects the Toronto goalies to place 19th in GVT. Considering that Reimer and former colleague Scrivens were the fifth-most productive duo last year per GVT, Leiweke needs to be correct, or else, instead of having the big trade serve as an upgrade, it will actually be a step backwards for the franchise. (Ryan Wagman)

VUKOTA projection: 93 points (10th)

Tampa Bay Lightning: After being a top-five possession club in 2010-11, the Lightning dropped all the way to 20th in Fenwick Close the following season, controlling only 48.3% of unblocked shot attempts in five-on-five close game situations. They scored more goals per game at even strength, but they were producing five less shots per game than the previous season, while allowing two more per game at the other end. To add salt to the wound, they received abysmal goaltending, with a team save percentage of only .892, and only .903 at even strength. That is enough to knock any team out of contention, and their slide continued into 2012-13. (Corey Sznajder)

VUKOTA projection: 92 points (12th)

Detroit Red Wings: Given the almost prohibitive cost of acquiring defensemen these days—either through free agency or trades—Detroit has decided instead to make their big moves up front. They are gambling that the addition of two-way veterans Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss, and the possible healthy return of Mikael Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi, will make up for the lack of offensive support from the point. As for the blueline, Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson will have a full season to prove themselves as a legitimate top pairing. Since Detroit has opted against bringing back Ian White, it will be Kyle Quincey and Jakub Kindl given first chance to establish themselves as top-four defensemen, which will allow the likes of Danny DeKeyser, Brendan Smith, and Brian Lashoff to continue to develop on the third pairing. The Wings are taking an awfully big gamble by not investing in another top-four defenseman or two, one that may bite them one year later than expected. (Robert Vollman)

VUKOTA projection: 88 points (23rd)

Buffalo Sabres: Arguably the worst player on the 12th place Sabres, Tyler Myers could be tabbed as the player most responsible for the team coming up short of the playoffs. Despite All-Star caliber tools and size, the former Calder Trophy winner has not lived up to the bar set during his first two seasons. There are serious concerns about his drive and maturity, and whether he will ever develop any edge to his game. However, if he grows up, and comes up with some grit, Myers could evolve to become one of the league’s best. Unfortunately, the probability of that scenario coming to pass has dropped every year. (Matthew Coller)

VUKOTA projection: 86 points (27th)

Florida Panthers: Last season was business as usual for Marcel Goc, one of the NHL’s most consistently overlooked contributors. He played a ton of brutally tough minutes at even strength, was Florida’s top penalty killing option, and he still managed to nearly break even in possession while scoring at his usual pace of about 40 points per 82 games. Unfortunately, the problem for two-time German Olympian is that he is never able to play anything close to 82 games, for one reason or another. In 2012-13, it was the lockout. In previous years, it has been a run of injuries that has allowed him to top 70 games just three times in eight seasons. (Adam Gretz)

VUKOTA projection: 80 points (30th)

30 Paragraphs About 30 Teams: A Thinking Fan's Guide To The NHL Season

Metropolitan Division

Pittsburgh Penguins: While both great players, they are not equals. Evgeni Malkin is a fantastic offensive talent, and clearly stands shoulder-to-shoulder with today’s great scorers. Sidney Crosby, on the other hand, is the captain and first line center for a reason. He consistently scores at a much higher rate than Malkin (or anyone else), and so do his linemates. He does so while handling the truly difficult assignments, against the top opponents, and in both zones. That is why Crosby’s teams have had success at every single level—whether it was Rimouski Oceanic in the QMJHL, the 2005 Canadian World Junior team, Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics, or the Pittsburgh Penguins themselves. There really is no shame in being considered slightly worse than Crosby, but it is time for this particular debate to end. (Robert Vollman)

VUKOTA projection: 101 points (1st)

New York Rangers: It is not often that you see two head coaches swap teams like Alain Vigneault and John Tortorella did this offseason. In both cities, the spotlight will be on player usage, which was the key to Vigneault’s success in Vancouver, and may also decide his fate in New York. If he does construct an offensively-tilted top line like in Vancouver, will it be with Derek Stepan, Brad Richards, and Mats Zuccarello, or will he turn to young Chris Kreider or former Blue Jackets Rick Nash and Derick Brassard? No matter who he selects, how well they handle their new roles—and how well the likely tough minutes line of Brian Boyle, Derek Dorsett, and possibly Dominic Moore handles theirs—will decide whether the Rangers finally fulfill their potential as a top contender, or remain as a bubble team. (Robert Vollman)

VUKOTA projection: 97 points (2nd)

Philadelphia Flyers: Overall, three I’s stand out as the main culprits for the goaltending failures of the Philadelphia Flyers: Inconsistency, Impatience, and Inefficiency. Save for their two seasons outside of the playoffs, their regular season goaltending has been roughly average. Yet in Philadelphia’s six post-lockout playoff appearances, only twice have the team’s goalies performed at or above their regular season ESSV%. In three of their playoff failures, the goaltenders saw a significant decline of anywhere from .20 to .35 in percentage points. That is not just a slight drop-off in play; it is a freefall. Inconsistency. Secondly, if a team budgets too much cap space to their netminders, it comes at the expense of additional resources for the rest of the roster—resources whose contributions are widely considered to be much more stable and predictable than those of goaltending. Flyers management went from being predictably underwhelmed by the performances of bargain netminders like Leighton and Boucher to wildly overcommitting on Bryzgalov. Impatience and Inefficiency. There had to be a middle ground, especially when it was unclear who they were bidding against with Bryzgalov— whether it was waiting on Bobrovsky and/or going with a cheaper and better veteran option (like Tomas Vokoun, for instance). (Erik Yost)

VUKOTA projection: 94 points (9th)

Washington Capitals: The ability to create offense goes beyond just scoring goals, as players who can register a high number of shots per game are also valuable because shots and chances are what ultimately what lead to goals. Ovechkin has been the best player at doing this since he entered the league, and while his goal scoring had gone down prior to last year, he was still getting his chances while putting the puck on net at a pretty high rate. Players who are able to do that will not stay cold forever, and Ovechkin was finally rewarded for his efforts more often in the second half of the year. That said, there are some signs that Ovechkin is declining. He has been a subpar possession player in each of the last two seasons, showing that he has not been driving the play at even strength as much as he used to. Given that last year was probably an aberration, the days of him racking up 50-60 goals in a season might be a thing of the past. However, Ovechkin is still one of the most dangerous offensive players in the league, someone who can make an impact whenever he is on the ice. He has also been able to produce on the power play despite his even strength numbers declining, which should help him remain a very effective player for the projectable future. (Corey Sznajder)

VUKOTA projection: 91 points (14th)

Carolina Hurricanes: There are some indications that Jordan Staal is due for a better season in 2013-14. For instance, it is doubtful that Carolina’s goalies will stop only 87.7% of the five-on-five shots they see when Jordan is on the ice this year, which will help his plus/ minus. He also shot at only 8.8% percent last season, which was his lowest conversation rate since 2007-08, when he scored only 12 goals in 82 games. Given that Jordan is a close-range shooter—with an average shot distance of less than 30 feet over the last five seasons— he should find the back of the net more often. Jordan had a down year in terms of even strength production and counting stats, but his territorial performance was as superb, and he will play a huge role for the Canes as they move to a tougher division. Those who are obsessed with plus/minus as a legit statistic will tell you that he struggled in a bigger role, but his ability to dictate play at even strength against the opposition’s best says otherwise. Jordan is one of the best two-way centers in the NHL, and the Hurricanes should be glad that they traded for him, because he already has an impressive resume at 24, and his best years are yet to come. (Corey Sznajder)

VUKOTA projection: 91 points (15th)

Columbus Blue Jackets: So is Sergei Bobrovsky the league’s best goalie? No, probably not—it is most likely Henrik Lundqvist. However, Bobrovsky certainly appears to be a top-10 goalie, and that is all Columbus really needs from him in order to make the postseason. If they are mistaken, and he is more of a league-average netminder—which is probably the worst-case scenario—they are only paying him big bucks for two more years, not six more years like the statistically-similar Mike Smith, five more years like Carey Price, or (ouch) nine more years like Jonathan Quick. Getting a top-10 goaltender without the risk of a long-term deal was an excellent move for the Blue Jackets, and they can always lock “Bob” up if he competes for the Vezina once again. (Robert Vollman)

VUKOTA projection: 91 points (17th)

New Jersey Devils: Believe it or not, but Martin Brodeur had an even strength save percentage around league average, at .919. What dropped the future Hall of Famer’s overall save percentage to .901—his worst since his first NHL “season” of four games in 1991-92—was a penalty kill that occasionally thought that covering the slot was unimportant. In any case, it is difficult to imagine Brodeur will return to his legendary form at age 41. With Cory Schneider now in the fold, it is not even a guarantee that Brodeur will play very much. He missed significant time last year due to back spasms, making it his fourth season with some kind of injury out of the last five. All legends come to an end someday, and it appears that Brodeur could spend 2013-14 as a backup for the first time in 20 years. (John Fischer)

VUKOTA projection: 90 points (19th)

New York Islanders: Given his preferential usage, his immediate supporting cast, and the lower quality of the team around him, Tavares should have been able to dominate Relative Corsi, especially compared to players on teams like Pittsburgh and Chicago. In terms of Adjusted Corsi, which attempts to take player usage into account (offensive zone starts, and quality of both competition and teammates), Tavares’ +5.1 dropped him to fourth on the team, trailing Toews’ +6.0 (tops in Chicago), and well back of Crosby’s +14.0. Perhaps all this analysis of goal and shot differentials is missing the real reason for Tavares’ inclusion among the Hart finalists. While a player as talented as Tavares would no doubt be capable of shutting down top lines and killing penalties, that is not how he is currently being used. Tavares is being used exclusively to generate offense, pure and simple. It is on that basis alone that he should be judged—but unfortunately, he just does not measure up. (Robert Vollman)

VUKOTA projection: 89 points (22nd)

30 Paragraphs About 30 Teams: A Thinking Fan's Guide To The NHL Season

Central Division

Chicago Blackhawks: Although the Brian Campbell move and the ascendancy of those “cheap five” contributors (Bryan Bickell, Viktor Stalberg, Andrew Shaw, Brandon Saad, Marcus Kruger) are not directly causational, we applaud Bowman for turning a net negative into an overwhelming positive. Without that move, almost certainly he would have had to excise even more of his core. Proving that his capology skills were not a one-time skill, the GM celebrated his second Cup victory by beginning the process anew, trading Bolland and his $3.4 million cap hit for draft picks, while walking away from Stalberg and other secondary contributors. What seems like endless roster churn is actually a continuous move away from the middle classes that muddle up so many other rosters—marginal or negative value at costs that dwarf the production. By finding young and cheap talent good enough to handle the bottom-six forward roles, or the third defensive pairing, or even backup goaltending, Chicago can reward their core and remain Cup contenders for a long, long while. (Ryan Wagman)

VUKOTA projection: 97 points (4th)

St. Louis Blues: One day, people will stop referring to Alex Pietrangelo as a future Norris Trophy winner. The question is whether that will be achieved by simply removing the “future” prefix, or whether his skills will plateau, with the former fourth overall draft pick simply emerging as a run-of-the-mill number one defenseman. In what was a down year for the blueliner, he was still one of the top 10 defensemen in the game; the defensive component of his GVT was second to only Andy Greene in New Jersey. Did we mention that he also excels at some of the grit measurements that defensive enthusiasts love? Pietrangelo was among league-leading blueliners in both blocked shots and takeaways. If the fact that he has missed only four games over the past three seasons while logging first pairing minutes is any indication of his durability, then what we have here is an elite defenseman. (Ryan Wagman)

VUKOTA projection: 96 points (6th)

Dallas Stars: Jamie Benn’s season represents a textbook example of the limitations of the plus/minus stat. There is no question that Benn’s -12 rating was poor; in fact, it was the lowest mark on the Dallas squad. But when we look deeper, we begin to see the reason for this blemish, and it has less to do with the emerging star than with circumstances beyond his control. In the preceding season, when he finished at +15, his good fortune on offense was more than enough to offset the relatively poor play of the goalies behind him, who only saved 90.4% of even strength shots against with Benn on the ice. The resultant 1013 PDO was well above average, but primed for regression, which he experienced. His teammates’ scoring percentage dropped by 1.6% with Benn on the ice, while his netminders had a dreadful .881 save percentage behind him, tied for 11th worst among regular forwards. With regression set to boomerang again, and the Stars under new management, expect to be hearing more positive things about Benn, especially if he returns to the wing, where his lack of faceoff ability will be less of an issue. (Ryan Wagman)

VUKOTA projection: 92 points (11th)

Winnipeg Jets: Instead of being in a division with Tampa Bay and Florida, which are actually the two furthest NHL cities from Winnipeg, the Jets are grouped with teams located in their same time zone. Instead of being an average of 1,400 miles from their divisional opponents, they are now an average of 900 miles away. The farthest team in Winnipeg’s new Central Division (Dallas, 1,180 miles) is actually closer than the closest team in their old Southeast Division (Washington, 1,250 miles)! Not only is Winnipeg’s travel better, but also almost everyone else’s is worse, making Winnipeg’s improvement relative to the league even greater. Will this reduced travel translate to greater success on the ice? That is probably too much of a leap, considering that their new division should be stronger than the old Southeast. (Brian Macdonald)

VUKOTA projection: 88 points (24th)

Colorado Avalanche: Even during his peak production years, Paul Stastny was never a huge goal scorer. He tallied most of his points as a playmaker, setting up linemates like Milan Hejduk and Ryan Smyth (back when they were still productive NHL forwards). In 2012-13, however, his teammates simply stopped scoring with him on the ice. The Avalanche scored on just 6.5% of their even strength shots with Stastny on the ice, the lowest rate of his career. In 2011-12, it was 7.5%. In three of the previous four years, that rate was over 10.0%. One of the biggest drains on that number this past season was forward David Jones (who was traded to Calgary this summer in a deal that sent Alex Tanguay back to Colorado), a player who had one of the worst individual shooting seasons for a forward in recent NHL history. Did Stastny suddenly forget how to make plays and set up his teammates? Not likely. The combination of being asked to play an increasingly difficult defensive role and some poor shooting luck from his linemates were two of the biggest culprits behind his down year. (Adam Gretz)

VUKOTA projection: 88 points (25th)

Nashville Predators: Even among his detractors, there is still absolutely no question that Rinne is consistently a top-10 goaltender, at the very least. Over these past five years, his .928 save percentage ranks eighth, and is nine points better than the backup goalies Nashville has used, such as Dan Ellis and Anders Lindback. His 59.4% Quality Start percentage is 10th among netminders with at least 100 starts, and he leads the entire pack in shutouts, with 30. All that being said, even the best goaltenders are inconsistent, making the goalie market inherently inefficient. Highly-paid goalies are not necessarily going to contribute much more than an average-paid goalie over any one individual season. The extra money saved by not paying for an elite goalie could theoretically go towards acquiring a player who really does represent a significant upgrade, such as defensemen like Weber and Suter, who most definitely will be better than a $3.0 million defenseman in virtually every single year. (Robert Vollman)

VUKOTA projection: 87 points (26th)

Minnesota Wild: The main benefactor of the Zach Parise signing was always going to be Mikko Koivu, who was expected to center Minnesota’s prize acquisition on the team’s top line. Sure enough, skating with Parise, his 19.8 Relative Corsi was best on the Wild and top 20 among all NHL skaters—though unfortunately, the Wild captain scored only at adequate levels at even strength (1.87 ESP/60) and on the power play (3.92 PPP/60). The Finnish Olympian and World Championship winner also won faceoffs at a 54.0% clip, spearheading one of the NHL’s strongest teams on the draw, and he was one of two team forwards to average more than 20 minutes per game. (Erik Yost)

VUKOTA projection: 83 points (29th)

30 Paragraphs About 30 Teams: A Thinking Fan's Guide To The NHL Season

Pacific Division

Edmonton Oilers: It was a breakthrough season for the 21-year old Taylor Hall—despite missing three games, he finished ninth in NHL scoring and second only to Patrick Kane in Western Conference point totals. It was so good that he missed out on being named to the end-of-the-season All-Star team only due to a bravura performance from Alex Ovechkin that compelled the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association to name the Washington Capitals captain both the league’s best right wing and second-best left wing. If not for such a “historic achievement”, Hall would have earned his first nod to the all-NHL squad. He is an emerging superstar, and legitimately one of the best players in the league today. VUKOTA is bold enough to project Hall as a top-five NHL player for 2013-14. (Jonathan Willis)

VUKOTA projection: 95 points (7th)

Phoenix Coyotes: It is vital that Phoenix does not miscalculate on goaltending. Last year, the team finished 21st in the league in both goals scored and shot prevention, and under Tippett, the team has never finished in the top 10 in either category. A team save percentage of over .920 is crucial to compensate for the team’s shortcomings throughout the rest of the roster, and if Mike Smith cannot deliver at that level (or better), then his team is likely looking at an extended postseason drought. Both Smith’s history and his historical comparables suggest it is a poor bet to expect him to sustain that level of play over the duration of his deal, although Coyotes fans will be hoping that, like his goalie coach Sean Burke, he will be one of the few who defy the odds. (Philip Myrland)

VUKOTA projection: 91 points (13th)

Los Angeles Kings: Do Dustin Brown’s consistently elite penalty-drawing talents justify his hefty new contract? For that, we need to know what a power play is truly worth. After all, a power play is not only the opportunity to score, but it can also kill two precious minutes, negate an opposing power play, change momentum, or force the other team to change its pace. The lower bound of the value of a power play is simply the team’s penalty-killing percentage multiplied by the number of extra power plays. In Brown’s case, that equals the Kings’ 19.9% power play percentage, multiplied by his 13.9 net power plays more than an average player would have earned. It works out to just under three goals, or one point in the standings, or about one million dollars. His 48-game adjusted cap hit was just over $1.5 million dollars above league minimum, meaning Brown had to contribute very little extra to earn his current salary. So is Dustin Brown worth his new $5.9 million cap hit? By pure GVT, he is worth almost $4.5 million per season, but his penalty drawing alone is worth about $1.6 million over a full season. Add it up, and you get $6.1 million, a little more than the seemingly steep $5.9 million cap hit he carries. Even when considering only this one Moneypuck contribution, Brown still appears to be worth his hefty new deal—at least for now. (Robert Vollman)

VUKOTA projection: 91 points (16th)

Anaheim Ducks: Twenty years ago, Teemu Selanne shocked the hockey world by scoring 76 goals in his rookie season, and he has spent his entire career being one of the most electrifying forwards in the league. A 600 goal-scorer and a 10-time All-Star, Selanne is a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame, but his career is not over yet. Every summer, hockey fans wait to hear news of whether or not “The Finnish Flash” will make his return. He has decided to, in late August, and announced that it would be his final NHL season. Selanne has shown that if you can skate well, and stay in good condition, playing into your forties is very possible—given elite talent to begin with. Still, his age has started to show a bit. The former Winnipeg Jet was sub-zero in terms of possession, and he saw his even strength minutes reduced a little. Regardless, the five-time Olympian still produced at a fringe top-six rate, and his return will give the Ducks a big morale boost. (Corey Sznajder)

VUKOTA projection: 91 points (18th)

San Jose Sharks: San Jose’s chances of winning a Stanley Cup with Joe Thornton are far from over, as revealed by a new statistic called Passes. Just as shots can be used to measure whether a goal scorer is putting the puck on net, the Passes statistic reflects whether the playmakers are making the passes that result in those shots. Not currently included in the NHL’s scoresheets, we have instead devised an estimate for passes based on a player’s primary assists in each manpower situation, and the team’s shooting percentage with them on the ice. Over the past three seasons, Thornton’s passing rate has been insanely consistent, exactly 3.71 for the first two years, and up to 3.77 last season. In fact, Thornton’s 3.72 passes per game over this period ranks fifth in the NHL. Combine that playmaking skill with his durability (he has missed just four games since the 2004-05 lockout), and he ranks third in overall passes with 782, behind only Henrik Sedin and Claude Giroux, both of whom have 878. Only two other players, Henrik Zetterberg and Eric Staal, are over 700. (Robert Vollman)

VUKOTA projection: 90 points (20th)

Vancouver Canucks: If the Canucks hope to avoid a rebuild cycle entirely, they would be best served by Luongo retiring in the summer of 2017, having just turned 38. Up to that point, he should have provided the team with strong goaltending, and while the cap penalty for the next five years would pose a small problem, as shown in Table 2, it would be low enough to not be crippling, especially against a higher salary cap. If Luongo stays with the team longer, the likelihood of a full-scale demolish-and-rebuild process is increased. The composite model suggests that 2017-18 is likely to be Luongo’s last year as a league-average goalie; if he sticks it out to 2018-19, Vancouver will probably either be spending more than $5 million in cap space on a backup goalie, or have a starter who is a liability to the team. Either way, contending will be difficult under that scenario, while Luongo’s retirement would impose its own cap problems. (Jonathan Willis)

VUKOTA projection: 89 points (21st)

Calgary Flames: Calgary’s prospect pipeline is heavy on forwards, and light on defensemen. The big league roster has capable blue-liners in Mark Giordano and Dennis Wideman, but they will both be in their thirties by the start of the season; among younger defensemen, only T.J. Brodie has shown an ability to excel in the majors. In net, the Flames’ best bet at a high-end contributor is Karri Ramo, a 27-year-old who has been one of the KHL’s most dominant goalies over the last three seasons, posting save percentages of .925, .925, and .929. That is why it makes sense for the Flames to spend a season or two rebuilding. They have a good group of young prospect forwards, but they do not have a first overall talent; on defense, and in net, they lack high-end prospects and young players. Teams have won in the past without an elite goaltender or defenseman (the latter is rare, but the Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup in 2006 with Bret Hedican as their top rearguard), but even if everything goes right, this is a team that could use one or two top players added to the mix. (Jonathan Willis)

VUKOTA projection: 83 points (28th)


Excerpted from Hockey Prospectus 2013-2014, which can be purchased as a PDF or a book. The almanac was written by Tom Awad, Matthew Coller, John Fischer, Adam Gretz, Brian Macdonald, Philip Myrland, Corey Pronman, Ryan Schwepfinger, Timo Seppa, Corey Sznajder, Robert Vollman, Ryan Wagman, Jonathan Willis, and Eric Yost, and edited by Timo Seppa and Ryan Schwepfinger.