As the NHL’s regular season starts in a couple days, fans cannot wait for the adrenaline rush hockey competition that lies ahead. Hockey fans across the world will tune in this Tuesday for the opening slate games. Let’s look into which team will rise as division winners for the upcoming 2023-24 NHL season. Below, we will analyze each division of the Eastern and Western Conference of the NHL to determine which teams are most likely to come out on top.
Atlantic – Toronto Maple Leafs
After the Presidents’ Trophy winner Boston Bruins’ captain Patrice Bergeron and veteran David Krejci both retired, the division is up for grabs. Let’s not count out the Florida Panthers who shocked the world last year, reaching the Stanley Cup with an upset over the Bruins in the first round. The Maple Leafs are a team that struggles mightily in the playoffs every year with game seven curses. Acquiring Tyler Bertuzzi and star players like Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews and William Nylander will make them a tough team to beat. However, the tides have begun to shift, and with young teams like the Panthers and juggernaut rivals with Tampa Bay and Boston, this division will be tough and up for grabs in April. The Maple Leafs dynamic offense and emerging defense make them strong contenders to secure the division.
Metropolitan – Carolina Hurricanes
Last season, the Philadelphia Flyers were a laughingstock after head coach John Tortorella banned screens from players mid game to analyze which play, they were making errors. The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins did challenge the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes a little bit last year. The Devils quickly improved with Jack Hughes and a young defensive core. Carolina has proven every year that they can win the division. The Rangers haven’t faced a lot of adversity, and it isn’t sustainable to rely on Chris Kreider to score 50 goals. The Hurricanes faced a lot of injuries and still made it far but got upset by the Panthers. Sebastian Aho and Jesperi Kotkaniemi will be key forwards for the Hurricanes this year. This year will look a lot different for the Hurricanes after acquiring Dmitry Orlov. With all the moves the Hurricanes made and with sustainable goaltending and defense makes them strong contenders.
Central- Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche had key departures and star players Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar were injury prone last year. The Dallas Stars made a run last year against the Avalanche in the playoffs but fell short. Using the skills of No. 1 overall pick Connor Bedard, the Chicago Blackhawks will also have a shot to win any game they play. The Minnesota Wild are a tough team to play. Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets will provide good matchups for Colorado but expect the division to come down wire to wire for Colorado and Dallas.
Pacific- Edmonton Oilers
The Vegas Golden Knights are the defending Stanley Cup Champions. Despite that fact, this is the Edmonton Oilers year with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. With arguably the best one-two punch in all the NHL, this duo will be a tough task for the division. The Seattle Kraken are no team to mess around with as they shocked the world last year making it to the second round of the playoffs in their second year as an NHL franchise. Edmonton and Calgary are a great rivalry for the hockey world, but Calgary, Vancouver Canucks and St. Jose Sharks are in basically a rebuild mode. The Anaheim Ducks have struggled but this is the year the Oilers could make a run for the Stanley Cup.