OHL preview: Who will rule in 2014-15

Ryan Kennedy
Peterborough's Nick Ritchie (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

If you hadn’t been beaten over the head with the news already, the top prospect in the NHL draft this year is Connor McDavid of the Ontario League’s Erie Otters. But will the stellar center’s team win the title? He’ll have to do a lot, since there’s no guarantee left winger Andre Burakowsky will be back in town – the Swede could go to the Washington Capitals or even the American League. Similarly, Kingston may get Sam Bennett back, but he might end up in Calgary, while Darnell Nurse could be in Edmonton. But even without Nurse, the Soo Greyhounds will be strong. I surveyed a group of experts to find out how strong, then added a player to watch on each team.

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THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: New York Rangers

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The New York Rangers around the Prince of Wales Trophy. (Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)

2013-14 record: 45-31-6

Acquisitions: Ryan Malone, Kevin Hayes, Lee Stempniak, Matt Lombardi, Nick Tarnasky, Cedrick Desjardins, Mike Kostka, Dan Boyle, Tanner Glass, Steve Kampfer, Matt Hunwick

Departures: Darroll Powe, Justin Falk, Brian Boyle, Brad Richards, Stu Bickel, Benoit Pouliot, Anton Stralman, Derek Dorsett

Top five fantasy players: Martin St-Louis, Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello, Rick Nash, Chris Kreider

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: A Rangers team that gave the Kings a modicum of resistance before falling in five games in the Stanley Cup final suffered some losses – and made some gains – over the summer. Read more

THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: Montreal Canadiens

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P.K. Subban and the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

2013-14 record: 46-28-8

Acquisitions: Joey MacDonald, To Gilbert, Jiri Sekac, Manny Malhotra, P-A Parenteau

Departures: Ryan White, Devan Dubnyk, Brian Gionta, Thomas Vanek, Josh Gorges, Daniel Briere, Louis Leblanc

Top five fantasy players: Max Pacioretty, P.K. Subban, Tomas Plekanec, David Desharnais, Alex Galchenyuk

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: Last season, an inspired playoff run was derailed in the Eastern Conference final by an injury to superstar goalie Carey Price. In 2014-15, the Habs are hungry to go further, and they’ve got the talent to do it. Price is their most crucial player, but just behind him in the importance department is P.K. Subban, fresh off signing an eight-year, $72-million contract extension. Read more

THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: Minnesota Wild

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Minnesota Wild. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

2013-14 record: 43-27-12

Acquisitions: Justin Falk, Jordan Schroeder, Joel Rechlicz, Stu Bickel, Thomas Vanek, Brett Sutter

Departures: Jake Dowell, Nate Prosser, Dany Heatley, Clayton Stoner, Steve Kampfer, Cody McCormick, Matt Moulson

Top five fantasy players: Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Mikko Koivu, Thomas Vanek, Mikael Granlund

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: It was a slow, steady progression for Minnesota last season, from 94 (pro-rated) points to 98 points, from a No. 8 seed to a No. 7 seed, from the first round of the playoffs to the second. None of it was a fluke. The Wild own one of the NHL’s elite farm systems, and it was only a matter of time before the young guns made significant impacts at the NHL level. Blueliner Jonas Brodin did it in 2012-13, and last season was Mikael Granlund’s turn to break out. He’s matured into a legit top-two center, and he’s nowhere near his ceiling. Charlie Coyle looks like a handy power forward and Nino Niederreiter, a high-end prospect acquired from the Islanders, scores in the clutch and hits like a truck. Bruising blueliner Mathew Dumba could make a leap this season, too. Read more

THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: San Jose Sharks

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San Jose Sharks (Getty Images)

2013-14 record: 51-22-9

Acquisitions: John Scott, Tye McGinn, Taylor Fedun

Departures: Brad Stuart, Martin Havlat, Dan Boyle

Top five fantasy players: Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: Had San Jose closed out Los Angeles in Game 4, 5, 6 or 7 of their opening round series, the landscape would look a lot different in California. The Kings would be the ones regrouping from a first-round loss and Stanley might have found a summer home farther up the coast. But the Sharks again couldn’t execute that springtime killer instinct, and they still come across as an aging group of pretenders. That said, San Jose has young cornerstones in Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl and has already started the transition to building around them instead of 35-year-olds Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. The team has the utmost faith in GM Doug Wilson and coach Todd McLellan, and those two men have a ton of faith in a roster that saw just cosmetic changes made to it. Read more

THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: Washington Capitals

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Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

2013-14 record: 38-30-14

Acquisitions: Kris Newbury, Tim Kennedy, Chris Conner, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, Justin Peters

Departures: Tyson Strachan, Mikhail Grabovski, Joel Rechlicz, Jaroslav Halak, Tom Poti

Top five fantasy players: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Joel Ward, Mike Green, Marcus Johansson

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: A leaky defensive team went out and made big moves to rectify the situation, beginning with the hiring of coach Barry Trotz, the former Nashville bench boss. He’s been teaching staunch systems for years, and his new troops in Washington are intrigued by what he can instill. He’ll have a couple new assets on the back end in free agents Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen, who both swung over from Pittsburgh. So right off the hop, the Capitals are much deeper on defense, with Karl Alzner, John Carlson and Mike Green still in the fold. Read more

THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

2013-14 record: 29-45-8

Acquisitions: Greg Zanon, Willie Mitchell, Al Montoya, Dave Bolland, Jussi Jokinen, Shawn Thornton, Derek MacKenzie

Departures: Peter Mueller, Scott Clemmensen, Tom Gilbert, Jesse Winchester, Matt Gilroy

Top five fantasy players: Nick Bjugstad, Aleksander Barkov, Jussi Jokinen, Brian Campbell, Jonathan Huberdeau

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: The Panthers will have a full season with Roberto Luongo as their starter and Al Montoya as their backup, which alone will give them a huge boost. Last season’s combination of Tim Thomas, Scott Clemmensen and Jacob Markstrom was awful and cost the Panthers plenty of games and goals against. Read more

THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: Dallas Stars

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The Dallas Stars. (Photo by Glenn James/Getty Images)

2013-14 record: 40-31-11

Acquisitions: Patrick Eaves, Ludwig Karlsson, Jason Spezza, Anders Lindback, Ales Hemsky

Departures: Dustin Jeffrey, Alex Chiasson, Alexander Guptill, Nicholas Paul, Chris Mueller, Toby Peterson

Top five fantasy players: Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky, Alex Goligoski

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: Dallas had a good thing going and got even better this off-season. The 2013-14 campaign was a resounding success, as new GM Jim Nill, new coach Lindy Ruff and newly acquired sniper Tyler Seguin helped the Stars end a five-season playoff absence. Read more