Now, all 30 teams start with a blank slate and aim to make it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and hope to hoist the Stanley Cup come June. Some teams have better odds than others, but in October, everyone's even.
The NHL's 98th season will open up on Wednesday, but Whiz Wit will give you a preview of all 30 teams in the league this week, with playoff, Stanley Cup, and individual award predictions. In this addition, we preview the Atlantic Division. Before we begin, here's how each team finished last year:
HEAD COACH: Claude Julien (9th year)
GENERAL MANAGER: Don Sweeney (1st year)
AHL AFFILIATE: Providence Bruins
2014-15 GOALS LEADER: Brad Marchand (24)
2014-15 ASSISTS LEADER: Patrice Bergeron (37)
2014-15 POINTS LEADER: Patrice Bergeron (55)
2014-15 GOALTENDING LEADER: Tuukka Rask (.922 SV%)
ADDITIONS: F Jimmy Hayes, F Matt Beleskey, F Zac Rinaldo, F Joonas Kemppainen, D Matt Irwin, G Jonas Gustavsson, GM Don Sweeney
DEPARTURES: F Milan Lucic, F Gregory Campbell, F Daniel Paille, F Reilly Smith, F Carl Soderberg, D Dougie Hamilton, D Matt Bartkowski, G Niklas Svedberg, GM Peter Chiarelli
On defense, Torey Krug will fill Hamilton's old spot with captain Zdeno Chara on the first pairing. Dennis Seidenberg will be out for about a month after undergoing surgery to repair on a herniated disk. Matt Irwin was brought on for depth and special teams purposes. Tuukka Rask's backup will be former Maple Leaf and Red Wing Jonas Gustavsson. He signed a one-year deal after joining the B's on a PTO. He replaces Niklas Svedberg, who signed with a KHL team over the summer.
AHLER TO WATCH: G Malcolm Subban - One of P.K.'s younger brothers (Jordan is with Vancouver), Malcolm might get the call as Rask's backup sometime in the season. Last year in Providence, he went 16-13 with a .921 save percentage in 35 starts as Jeremy Smith's backup. With the signing of Gustavsson, he might take the back seat for another season, with Jeremy Smith returning to Providence.
PROSPECT TO WATCH: D Jakub Zboril (Saint John - QMJHL) - Zboril was one of three consecutive 1st round picks in this year's entry draft, along with LW Jake DeBrusk and RW Zach Senyshyn. All three also failed their physicals in September, so there's some work with all three. The Czech national is a physical defenseman that can show off on offense as well.
HEAD COACH: Dan Bylsma (1st year)
GENERAL MANAGER: Tim Murray (3rd year)
AHL AFFILIATE: Rochester Americans
2014-15 GOALS LEADER: Tyler Ennis (20)
2014-15 ASSISTS LEADER: Matt Moulson (28)
2014-15 POINTS LEADER: Tyler Ennis (46)
2014-15 GOALTENDING LEADER: Jhonas Enroth (.903 SV%)
ADDITIONS: F Ryan O'Reilly, F Jack Eichel, F David Legwand, F Jamie McGinn, F Cal O'Reilly, F Jason Akeson, D Carlo Colaiacovo, D Cody Franson, G Robin Lehner, HC Dan Bylsma
DEPARTURES: F Cody Hodgson, F Mikhail Grigorenko, D Nikita Zadorov, D Andre Benoit, G Anders Lindback
On defense, the Sabres added Carlo Colaiacovo and Cody Franson to add to an alright top four that includes Zach Bogosian and Rasmus Ristolainen. In goal will be Robin Lehner, after going through Jhonas Enroth, Michal Neuvirth, and Anders Lindback last year. Lehner went 9-12-3 with a .905 save percentage in 25 games with the Senators, but was the odd man out after the emergence of Andrew Hammond late last year.
AHLER TO WATCH: D Mark Pysyk - Pysyk is definitely NHL ready, as he played in seven games with the big club last season, scoring two goals and one assist. With the late addition of Cody Franson, Pysyk might be headed back to Rochester, giving Matt Donovan the spot as the probable 7th defenseman. But if Pysyk continues to impress, he might be able to leapfrog Donovan and maybe Colaiacovo in earning some playing time.
PROSPECT TO WATCH: F Hudson Fasching (Minnesota - Big Ten) - We'll assume that Eichel and Reinhart make the team and stay with Buffalo for the entire season. Fasching has a sturdy frame, but he's learning to follow through big hits. He still has a couple of years left with the Golden Gophers to learn some more.
HEAD COACH: Jeff Blashill (1st year)
GENERAL MANAGER: Ken Holland (18th year)
AHL AFFILIATE: Grand Rapids Griffins
2014-15 GOALS LEADER: Tomas Tatar (29)
2014-15 ASSISTS LEADER: Henrik Zetterberg (49)
2014-15 POINTS LEADER: Henrik Zetterberg (66)
2014-15 GOALTENDING LEADER: Jimmy Howard (.910 SV%)
ADDITIONS: F Brad Richards, F Eric Tangradi, D Mike Green, HC Jeff Blashill
DEPARTURES: F Stephen Weiss, HC Mike Babcock
On defense, there's one change with the addition of former Capital Mike Green. Similar to Niklas Kronwall, he'll bring an offensive punch to the blue line. There's also young guys such as Danny DeKeyser and Jakub Kindl, but DeKeyser will start the season hurt with a foot injury. That will leave him out of play for the first month of the season. In net, there's a battle for the starting role between Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek. Howard went 23-13-11 with a .910 save percentage in 53 games last season. Mrazek went 16-9-2 with a .918 save percentage in 29 games, but he started all seven games in the team's first round exit to Tampa Bay in the playoffs. It sounds like both goalies will alternate starts unclear Blashill decides on a clear cut starter, but it looks very close.
AHLER TO WATCH: F Anthony Mantha - The 20th overall pick in 2013 has had an uphill battle from juniors to the pro ranks. He scored 33 points in 62 games with Grand Rapids in his first pro season last year, and will focus on bettering his game and hoping for a possible call up sometime this year.
PROSPECT TO WATCH: F Evgeny Svechnikov (Cape Breton - QMJHL) - Svechnikov was the team's first round pick in this year's draft, and he has a ton of upside on offense. He's seen as a Rick Nash-style power winger, with a big body with skill. He also played some center last year when Cape Breton needed a center late in the year.
HEAD COACH: Gerard Gallant (2nd year)
GENERAL MANAGER: Dale Tallon (6th year)
AHL AFFILIATE: Portland Pirates
2014-15 GOALS LEADER: Nick Bjugstad (24)
2014-15 ASSISTS LEADER: Jonathan Huberdeau (39)
2014-15 POINTS LEADER: Jonathan Huberdeau (54)
2014-15 GOALTENDING LEADER: Roberto Luongo (.921 SV%)
ADDITIONS: F Reilly Smith, F Corban Knight, D Cameron Gaunce, G Mike McKenna
DEPARTURES: F Brad Boyes, F Jimmy Hayes, F Scottie Upshall, F Tomas Kopecky, D Shane O'Brien, D Jesse Blacker, G Dan Ellis
The top four on defense stays the same, led by Calder winner Aaron Ekblad and Brian Campbell on the first pairing. Erik Gudbranson will be on the third pairing, while he will be paired with either Dylan Olsen, Alex Petrovic, or Steven Kampfer. In goal, Roberto Luongo will be the starter, while Al Montoya will be the backup for another season. The team brought in Mike McKenna to be the emergency goalie if someone gets hurt. He'll play in Portland.
AHLER TO WATCH: D Alex Petrovic - Assuming he'll start the year in Portland, he's been developed very slowly, but he's becoming a very good prospect for the Panthers. He's sure to make an appearance with Florida this year. He played in 33 games with the squad last year.
PROSPECT TO WATCH: F Lawson Crouse (Kingston - OHL) - Crouse was Florida's first round pick in this year's Entry Draft, and was ranked in the top ten before the draft. His offense is a question mark, but he is a good two-way power forward and is a great penalty killer.
HEAD COACH: Michel Therrien (4th year)
GENERAL MANAGER: Marc Bergevin (4th year)
AHL AFFILIATE: St. John's Ice Caps
2014-15 GOALS LEADER: Max Pacioretty (37)
2014-15 ASSISTS LEADER: P.K. Subban (45)
2014-15 POINTS LEADER: Max Pacioretty (67)
2014-15 GOALTENDING LEADER: Carey Price (.933 SV%)
ADDITIONS: F Alexander Semin, F Zack Kassian, T Tomas Fleischmann, D Mark Barberio
DEPARTURES: F Brandon Prust, F Manny Malhotra, F P.A. Parenteau, D Mike Weaver, D Sergei Gonchar
Montreal resigned their entire defensive core, including a six-year extension for Jeff Petry. P.K. Subban put up very good numbers offensively while also improving on defense. Subban and Petry will assume the shutdown role on the blue line, while the presence of Petry might let Subban join the rush some more. Andrei Markov will once again be a presence on the power play and will also help tutor Nathan Beaulieu on the second pairing. Dustin Tokarski is in the final year of his contract, as he will be the backup for Price.
AHLER TO WATCH: G Zach Fucale - Fucale will begin his pro career with St. John's after finishing his junior career with Quebec of the QMJHL. Fucale has been winning at every level and looks to follow in the footsteps of Carey Price. He could compete for Tokarski's backup spot next season with a very good campaign.
PROSPECT TO WATCH: F Nikita Scherbak (Everett - WHL) - Montreal's first round pick last year is very quick and crafty, which is good to have for a young forward. Now, he'll need to bulk up and add size. He's 6'1" and 174 lbs., which is light for an NHL player.
HEAD COACH: Dave Cameron (2nd year)
GENERAL MANAGER: Bryan Murray (9th year)
AHL AFFILIATE: Binghamton Senators
2014-15 GOALS LEADER: Mike Hoffman (27)
2014-15 ASSISTS LEADER: Erik Karlsson (45)
2014-15 POINTS LEADER: Erik Karlsson (66)
2014-15 GOALTENDING LEADER: Craig Anderson (.923 SV%)
ADDITIONS: F Eric O'Dell, D Mike Kostka
DEPARTURES: F David Legwand, F Erik Condra, D Eric Gryba, G Robin Lehner
On defense, you have probably the best defenseman in the league in Erik Karlsson. He can move the puck on offense and also be stingy on d. That's how he won his second Norris Trophy last year, and also has developed a solid chemistry with Marc Methot. A setback to Chris Phillips will put him on hold to start the season, which means that guys such as Cody Ceci, Patrick Wiercioch, Jared Cowen, and Mark Borowiecki will have to step up a little bit more early. And in goal, the story of the last couple of months of the season, Andrew Hammond, will start the season on the injured list with a groin injury. "The Hamburgler" will fight for the #1 spot with Craig Anderson, although a performance like he put up at the end of last season might give him the starting role for good.
AHLER TO WATCH: F Matt Puempel - Puempel's a natural scorer, and exchanged goals for assists last season in Binghamton. In 13 games with the adult Senators, he recorded two goals and one assist.
PROSPECT TO WATCH: D Thomas Chabot (Saint John - QMJHL) - The 18th overall pick in this year's Entry Draft makes very clever decisions with the puck and is also has a very good IQ. His 41 points last season were 5th best on the team and best for all defensemen.
HEAD COACH: Jon Cooper (3rd year)
GENERAL MANAGER: Steve Yzerman (6th year)
AHL AFFILIATE: Syracuse Crunch
2014-15 GOALS LEADER: Steven Stamkos (43)
2014-15 ASSISTS LEADER: Ondrej Palat (47)
2014-15 POINT LEADERS: Steven Stamkos/Tyler Johnson (72)
2014-15 GOALTENDING LEADER: Ben Bishop (.916 SV%)
ADDITIONS: F Erik Condra, F Tye McGinn, D Matt Taormina
DEPARTURES: F Brenden Morrow, D Mark Barberio
The defense remains intact, led by the top pairing of Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman. Hedman is quietly becoming one of the game's top defensemen. Jason Garrison and Braydon Coburn are a very good second pairing, while there are some questions with Matt Carle and Andrej Sustr. In goal, there are three capable goaltenders that the Lightning have. Ben Bishop is a sure #1 in this league, while Andrei Vasilevskiy is a future starter, but will be Bishop's backup once he return from vascular surgery in about 2-3 months. In his place will be Kristers Gudlevskis, who was very good in net while in Syracuse.
AHLER TO WATCH: D Slater Koekkoek - With Gudlevskis up with Tampa to start the season, the main focus in Syracuse is Koekkoek. The 10th overall pick in 2012 looks to rebound from multiple shoulder surgeries. In his first pro year in Syracuse, he scored five goals and 21 assists. A healthy Koekkoek would benefit the Lightning defensive corp if a d-man goes down.
PROSPECT TO WATCH: F Mitchell Stephens (Saginaw - OHL) - Tampa's second round pick in this year's Entry Draft is a headache for defensemen. He scored 48 points last season in the OHL, and he's alert, unafraid, and strong at 188 lbs.
HEAD COACH: Mike Babcock (1st year)
GENERAL MANAGER: Lou Lamoriello (1st year)
AHL AFFILIATE: Toronto Marlies
2014-15 GOALS LEADER: James van Riemsdyk (27)
2014-15 ASSISTS LEADER: Phil Kessel (36)
2014-15 POINTS LEADER: Phil Kessel (61)
2014-15 GOALTENDING LEADER: Jonathan Bernier (.912 SV%)
ADDITIONS: F P.A. Parenteau, F Daniel Winnik, F Shawn Matthias, F Nick Spaling, F Michael Grabner, F Brad Boyes, F Marc Arcobello, F Taylor Beck, D Matt Hunwick, D Martin Marincin, HC Mike Babcock, GM Lou Lamoriello
DEPARTURES: F Phil Kessel, F David Booth, F Colton Orr, F Frazer McLaren, D Eric Brewer, D Tim Erixon, IHC Peter Horachek, GM Dave Nonis
The defense will try to improve from a horrible 3.13 goals against average from last year, which ranked tied for 26th in the league. There's hope that captain Dion Phaneuf finally finds his game under Babcock, while young guys like Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner will continue to improve. Veterans Roman Polak and Stephane Robidas will provide leadership, and Matt Hunwick was brought on for depth. The goaltenders remain the same in Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer. Both have struggled in their time as Maple Leafs, which shows some concerns.
AHLER TO WATCH: D Stuart Percy - Percy's no-frills approach fits the NHL's structured game. He's a solid puck-moving defensemen with some offense in him. But he needs to bulk up in order to bettle handle some physical forwards in the NHL.
PROSPECT TO WATCH: F Mitch Marner (London - OHL) - Marner was the 4th overall pick in this year's Entry Draft, and has been compared to Patrick Kane and Claude Giroux. He's very dynamic and brilliant with the puck and finished second overall in the OHL with 82 assists and 126 points last season.