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 Metropolitan Division. Also, make sure you check out the previews for the Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions.
Before we begin, here's how each team finished last year:
HEAD COACH: Joel Quenneville (8th year)
GENERAL MANAGER: Stan Bowman (6th year)
AHL AFFILIATE: Rockford IceHogs
2014-15 GOALS LEADER: Jonathan Toews (28)
2014-15 ASSISTS LEADER: Marian Hossa (39)
2014-15 POINTS LEADER: Jonathan Toews (66)
2014-15 GOALTENDING LEADER: Corey Crawford (.924 SV%)
ADDITIONS: F Artemi Panarin, F Artem Anisimov, F Marko Dano, F Ryan Garbutt, F Jeremy Morin, F Viktor Tikhonov, D Trevor Daley
DEPARTURES: F Brandon Saad, F Patrick Sharp, F Kris Versteeg, F Antoine Vermette, F Brad Richards, D Johnny Oduya, G Antti Raanta
On defense, not much has change. Johnny Oduya left during free agency, and the team picked up Trevor Daley in the Patrick Sharp trade. Trevor van Riemsdyk and David Rundblad have experience under their belts after a deep run in the playoffs and will earn a bigger role with the team. Goaltending remains the same from the playoffs after an ugly split with Antti Raanta. Corey Crawford is the clear #1, while Scott Darling's end of last season helped him earn the backup spot. If a goalie goes down, Michael Leighton could reappear in the NHL.
AHLER TO WATCH: F Ryan Hartman - Hartman is a short forward, but like Danny Briere, don't let his size fool you. He finds his way into gritty areas and has solid hands to convert some opportunities. He was fifth on Rockford last year with 37 points.
PROSPECT TO WATCH: F Nick Schmaltz (North Dakota - NCHC) - Schmaltz is one of Chicago's better prospects. He has great hands and is a superb stick handler as a playmaker. He also has some unteachable qualities such as good instincts and patience as a playmaker.
HEAD COACH: Patrick Roy (3rd year)
GENERAL MANAGER: Joe Sakic (2nd year)
AHL AFFILIATE: San Antonio Rampage
2014-15 GOALS LEADER: Jarome Iginla (29)
2014-15 ASSISTS LEADER: Tyson Barrie (41)
2014-15 POINT LEADERS: Jarome Iginla/Gabriel Landeskog (59)
2014-15 GOALTENDING LEADER: Semyon Varlamov (.921 SV%)
ADDITIONS: F Carl Soderberg, F Blake Comeau, F Mikhail Grigorenko, F Mikko Rantanen, D Francois Beauchemin, D Nikita Zadorov, D Brandon Gormley
DEPARTURES: F Ryan O'Reilly, F Jamie McGinn, F Jordan Caron, D Jan Hejda
Two new guys come to Denver in Francois Beauchemin and Nikita Zadorov. Beauchemin comes from finishing up his second stint with Anaheim which he tied a career high in points with 48. He should be paired with Erik Johnson on the first unit. To complement Tyson Barrie, who scored 53 points last season, will probably be young Nikita Zadorov, who was the main piece in the O'Reilly trade to Buffalo. Zadorov has a ton of potential, and recorded 15 points in his rookie season with the Sabres. But the Avs will need to improve on defensive zone exits and offensive zone entries, as well as defending the rush and transition attacks. In goal, Semyon Varlamov was a Vezina Trophy finalist two years back, but groin injuries derailed most of last season. Reto Berra will be the backup, although the organization would rather prefer to have Calvin Pickard. The only problem is that Berra is under contract through next season.
AHLER TO WATCH: D Duncan Siemens - Siemens is a stay-at-home defenseman with a little nasty to him. Plus, he's learning under Avs great Adam Foote, which is really great for his development. But he's been developing slower than most prospects, which is a cause for concern. He tallied on six assists in 57 games with Lake Erie of the AHL last season. He's only played in one career NHL game, which was last season, but he hopes that he can get some time up with the big club this season.
PROSPECT TO WATCH: F Mikko Rantanen (TPS Turku - Finland) - Rantanen was the team's first round pick in this year's NHL Draft. With TPS Turku, he was second on the team with 28 points. He's a smooth skater who plays a quiet, but efficient, style of hockey. He won't be a highlight-reel player, but he'll certainly put up numbers, especially with his laser shot. He has the ability to read plays and is aided by his smooth hands.
HEAD COACH: Lindy Ruff (3rd year)
GENERAL MANAGER: Jim Nill (3rd year)
AHL AFFILIATE: Texas Stars
2014-15 GOALS LEADER: Tyler Seguin (37)
2014-15 ASSISTS LEADER: Jamie Benn (52)
2014-15 POINTS LEADER: Jamie Benn (87)
2014-15 GOALTENDING LEADER: Kari Lehtonen (.903 SV%)
ADDITIONS: F Patrick Sharp, D Johnny Oduya, D Stephen Johns, G Antti Niemi
DEPARTURES: F Shawn Horcoff, F Ryan Garbutt, D Trevor Daley, G Jhonas Enroth
Defense and goaltending problems were one of the main issues the team finished outside of the playoff picture last season. Trevor Daley was traded in the Patrick Sharp deal, and the team signed Johnny Oduya in free agency. He played about 20 minutes a night and was a mainstay on the penalty kill. John Klingberg will see increased minutes with the departure of Daley in his second season. Patrik Nemeth could also see more ice time. In goal, Antti Niemi was acquired in a trade with the San Jose Sharks for a 7th-round pick in the 2015 Draft. Him and last year's starter Kari Lehtonen have been among the league leaders in minutes played for the past six seasons. Both can be starting goalies, but it will be a huge challenge for head coach Lindy Ruff to keep both goalies happy and have the team winning.
AHLER TO WATCH: D Julius Honka - Honka is a slick, puck-moving defenseman. He's got a hard, accurate right-handed shot that is effective from the point and is great on the power play. He can dominate in offensive situations and understands positional play. The teen can also handle physical play, although he lacks bulk, and will also hit 100 games played in the AHL before he reaches 20. There's a bright future for this kid.
PROSPECT TO WATCH: F Denis Guryanov (Togliatti - Russia) - Dallas' first-round pick this year is a complete player without any obvious weaknesses and is one of the top talents from Russia. He tries to play both offense and defense and helping out his linemates. He's gifted with good size and skating and is willing to go to the front of the net and has a very hard shot.
HEAD COACH: Mike Yeo (5th year)
GENERAL MANAGER: Chuck Fletcher (7th year)
AHL AFFILIATE: Iowa Wild
2014-15 GOALS LEADER: Zach Parise (33)
2014-15 ASSIST LEADERS: Jason Pominville/Ryan Suter (36)
2014-15 POINTS LEADER: Zach Parise (62)
2014-15 GOALTENDING LEADER: Devan Dubnyk (.936 SV%)
ADDITIONS: F Ruslan Fedotenko, F Chris Porter, F Zac Dalpe, F Joel Eriksson Ek, D Mike Reilly
DEPARTURES: F Kyle Brodziak, F Matt Cooke, F Chris Stewart, G Josh Harding
The Wild have a very mobile blueline with guys such as Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Marco Sancella, Matt Dumba, and Jared Spurgeon. Scandella, Spurgeon, and Dumba combined for 28 goals last year. The team also signed highly touted college free agent Mike Reilly out of Minnesota. Before the start of last season, if people told you that Devan Dubnyk would be one of the league's best goaltenders, you would probably laugh. Well now he looks like to be the franchise goalie in Minnesota after last year which earned him the Masterton Trophy and was named a Vezina finalist. Now with a $26-million contract extension given to him, the pressure is on for him to perform as he did last season.
AHLER TO WATCH: D Gustav Olofsson - Shoulder surgery prevented the Swedish defenseman from playing last season in Iowa of the AHL. Now healthy, Olofsson is a lanky and mobile defenseman, like the current corp in Minnesota. He can join the rush and has a big rush, but he is viewed more as a stay-at-home defenseman.
PROSPECT TO WATCH: F Alex Tuch (Boston College - Hockey East) - Tuch is a junior at BC and played on the USA World Junior Championship team last winter. A big and strong power forward, he can be an effective two-way forward with the skill and size to collect points on a consistent basis.
HEAD COACH: Peter Laviolette (2nd year)
GENERAL MANAGER: David Poile (19th year)
AHL AFFILIATE: Milwaukee Admirals
2014-15 GOALS LEADER: Filip Forsberg (26)
2014-15 ASSISTS LEADER: Mike Ribeiro (47)
2014-15 POINTS LEADER: Filip Forsberg (63)
2014-15 GOALTENDING LEADER: Pekka Rinne (.923 SV%)
ADDITIONS: F Cody Hodgson, F Steve Moses, F Cody Bass, D Barret Jackman
DEPARTURES: F Matt Cullen, F Viktor Stalberg, F Mike Santorelli, F Rich Clune, F Taylor Beck, D Cody Franson, D Anton Volchenkov
Nashville replaces Cody Franson with Barret Jackman, which was their only major change from last season. Many of Nashville's defensemen will move the puck up ice and they look for any opportunity to do so. Roman Josi, who was brought up in regards to the Norris Trophy last year, Mattias Ekholm, and Seth Jones, along with one of the best overall defensemen in the game in Shea Weber. Pekka Rinne is back in his old form after many healthy issues plagues him for two years. He was runner-up to Carey Price for the Vezina Trophy last season and should be in the discussion for it again this season.
AHLER TO WATCH: F Kevin Fiala - Fiala is a very dynamic forward and has excellent balance and the ability to twist and turn at will. He rarely loses an edge while he's shifty on the ice. He also rarely turns the puck over, and is very tricky when he dangles. He is creative and loves to show it and also has an uncanny ability to determine when teammates are in close vicinity and feeds them the puck. He lacks a physical game and his defensive game is a work in progress.
PROSPECT TO WATCH: F Yakov Trenin (Gatineau - QMJHL) - Scouts fell in love with how he developed in just a year under coach Benoit Groulx. He went from a defensive failure to a penalty killer, and also maintained a great offensive output. He passing skills are elite in the CHL, but he also needs to work on his strength and conditioning.
HEAD COACH: Ken Hitchcock (5th year)
GENERAL MANAGER: Doug Armstrong (6th year)
AHL AFFILIATE: Chicago Wolves
2014-15 GOALS LEADER: Vladimir Tarasenko (37)
2014-15 ASSISTS LEADER: Alexander Steen (40)
2014-15 POINTS LEADER: Vladimir Tarasenko (73)
2014-15 GOALTENDING LEADER: Brian Elliott (.917 SV%)
ADDITIONS: F Troy Brouwer, F Kyle Brodziak, F Scottie Upshall, F Jordan Caron, D Andre Benoit, D Peter Harrold
DEPARTURES: F T.J. Oshie, F Marcel Goc, F Olli Jokinen, D Barret Jackman, D Zbynek Michalek
The defense takes a small toll in the departures of Barret Jackman and Zbynek Michalek. The team hopes that Robert Bortuzzo and the promotion of Petteri Lindbohm can replace Jackman's production. Kevin Shattenkirk went to his first All-Star Game and Alex Pietrangelo had his bright spots during last season. But the defense was not very dependent in transition last season, and injuries, including to Shattenkirk played a role. Brian Elliott and Jake Allen are back in goal for the Blues, which were one of three clubs to have two 20-win goalies. After Allen took over in the playoffs, he is expected to see more starts.
AHLER TO WATCH: F Ty Rattie - After Scottie Upshall signed a one-year deal with the team, Rattie was sent back down to Chicago of the AHL. He is adept at locating open ice in the attacking zone and is also the epitome of "nose for the net." He is not a powerful skater, but he is a versatile forward and is a consistent special teams player.
PROSPECT TO WATCH: F Robby Fabbri (Guelph - OHL) - A small player, Fabbri's talent and drive outweigh his 5'10" size. His competitive drive is through the roof, and that was showed in 2014 when he was one of Guelph's top forwards on the team's run to the Memorial Cup. His leadership skills and offensive abilities are first rate.
HEAD COACH: Paul Maurice (3rd year)
GENERAL MANAGER: Kevin Cheveldayoff (5th year)
AHL AFFILIATE: Manitoba Moose
2014-15 GOALS LEADER: Blake Wheeler (26)
2014-15 ASSISTS LEADER: Andrew Ladd (38)
2014-15 POINTS LEADER: Andrew Ladd (62)
2014-15 GOALTENDING LEADER: Ondrej Pavelec (.920 SV%)
ADDITIONS: F Alexander Burmistrov, F Matt Fraser
DEPARTURES: F Michael Frolik, F T.J. Galiardi, D Keaton Ellerby
Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers, and Jacob Trouba make up the best right side of any defensive corp in the league. The left side very similar, which includes the versatile Tobias Enstrom, Mark Stuart, and Ben Chiarot, who emerged from the AHL as a sturdy defenseman. Progress was made last season in their own zone. As for goaltending, Ondrej Pavelec continued to be inconsistent, but he did put up the best numbers in his career, which provides hope that he can finally be a #1. Michael Hutchinson took Pavelec's job for some time as a rookie and provides a viable backup option, and he could be the team's goalie of the future.
AHLER TO WATCH: G Connor Hellebuyck - Hellebuyck burst onto the collegiate scene for two seasons with UMass-Lowell, and won the NCAA's inaugural best goalie award. He went 28-22-5 and posted six shutouts last season in St. John's of the AHL, but he has the athleticism and physical attributes to be a successful goaltender.
PROSPECT TO WATCH: F Kyle Connor (Michigan - Big Ten) - Connor was the team's first round pick in this year's Entry Draft. The Wolverine commit is fast and has very nice hands. He was the top scorer in the USHL, and can skate fast and shoots even quicker. With Dylan Larkin turning pro early with Detroit, Connor will be play a big part with Michigan, and the Big Ten will see his talent on display.