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, Metropolitan, and Central Divisions.
Before we begin, here's how each team finished last year:
HEAD COACH: Bruce Boudreau (5th year)
GENERAL MANAGER: Bob Murray (8th year)
AHL AFFILIATE: San Diego Gulls
2014-15 GOALS LEADER: Corey Perry (33)
2014-15 ASSISTS LEADER: Ryan Getzlaf (45)
2014-15 POINTS LEADER: Ryan Getzlaf (70)
2014-15 GOALTENDING LEADER: Frederik Andersen (.914 SV%)
ADDITIONS: F Carl Hagelin, F Chris Stewart, F Shawn Horcoff, F Brian McGrattan, F Mike Santorelli D Kevin Bieksa, D Joe Piskula, G Anton Khudobin
DEPARTURES: F Matt Beleskey, F Kyle Palmieri, F Emerson Etem, D Francois Beauchemin, D James Wisniewski
Hampus Lindholm looks to make the transition to a high-caliber #1 defenseman this season, after Francois Beauchemin left for Colorado. He is replaced with former Canuck Kevin Bieksa. Meanwhile, Cam Fowler hopes to continue his impressive play after the very successful 2015 playoffs with Simon Despres, while Sami Vatanen and Clayton Stoner look to be another pairing. Frederik Andersen is the team's starter, while Anton Khudobin was acquired from Carolina to be his backup. John Gibson, who many people thought would be the starter, is in San Diego of the AHL keeping himself fresh.
AHLER TO WATCH: F Nic Kerdiles - Kerdiles is a good prospect who plays with maturity beyond the years. He's more of a two-way forward than purely an offensive scorer, but he also has a good motor and likes to throw his body.
PROSPECT TO WATCH: D Jacob Larson (Frolunda - Sweden) - Larson has all of the tools for him to be an effective modern-day defenseman. He's smart, mobile, and can transition the puck to start a rush. He does need to bulk up.
HEAD COACH: Dave Tippett (7th year)
GENERAL MANAGER: Don Maloney (9th year)
AHL AFFILIATE: Springfield Falcons
2014-15 GOALS LEADER: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23)
2014-15 ASSISTS LEADER: Sam Gagner (26)
2014-15 POINTS LEADER: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (43)
2014-15 GOALTENDING LEADER: Mike Smith (.904 SV%)
ARRIVALS: F Antoine Vermette, F Steve Downie, F Boyd Gordon, F Brad Richardson, F John Scott, D Zbynek Michalek, D Nicklas Grossmann, D Stefan Elliott, D Derek Smith, G Anders Lindback
DEPARTURES: F Sam Gagner, F Lauri Korpikoski, F Martin Erat, F Mark Arcobello, D John Moore, D Brandon Gormley
The MVP of this team is arguably Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He led the team in goals and points, and is also an important part on the blue line. Zbynek Michalek and Nicklas Grossmann help the Coyotes with tough play in their own end of the ice. Mike Smith hopes to bounce back from a horrendous season, while Anders Lindback is ready for action whenever he is needed as the new backup.
AHLER TO WATCH: F Henrik Samuelsson - Samuelsson struggled this year in training camp, so there is some work for him to do. He's a big, powerful winger with some physical attributes. He also has good hands and can handle the puck with confidence while on the rush. A high IQ also helps.
PROSPECT TO WATCH: F Dylan Strome (Erie - OHL) - Strome was Arizona's 1st round pick and 3rd overall in the 2015 Entry Draft for a reason. He's a type of center that NHL teams drool about when trying to build their team, as he has the size, smarts, and talent to be a force in the league. He'll take on a bigger role in Eries sans Connor McDavid.
HEAD COACH: Bob Hartley (4th year)
GENERAL MANAGER: Brad Treliving (2nd year)
AHL AFFILIATE: Stockton Heat
2014-15 GOAL LEADERS: Jiri Hudler/Sean Monahan (31)
2014-15 ASSISTS LEADER: Jiri Hudler (45)
2014-15 POINTS LEADER: Jiri Hudler (76)
2014-15 GOALTENDING LEADER: Jonas Hiller (.918 SV%)
ARRIVALS: F Michael Frolik, D Dougie Hamilton, D Jakub Nakladal
DEPARTURES: F Brian McGrattan, D Raphael Diaz, D David Schlemko
On defense, the Flames made a splash when they acquired 22-year-old Dougie Hamilton from Boston. Hamilton joins captain Mark Giordano, Dennis Wideman, and T.J. Brodie as Calgary defensemen that had over 40 points last season, while Kris Russell delivered 34 points. It's common to have two capable starting goalies on your roster, but Calgary has three talented keepers in Jonas Hiller, Karri Ramo, and Joni Ortio. Luckily, when one goalie starts to get cold, another goalie goes in and stays in there for some time.
AHLER TO WATCH: F Emile Poirier - Poirier is a speedy offensive forward that has some awkward skating. He has great hands and a very accurate shot and can make plays at top speed as well. He plays with plenty of confidence in his abilities and can create offensive chances when none appear to exist.
PROSPECT TO WATCH: D Oliver Kylington (Farjestad - Sweden) - Kylington is a very swift skater and has a nimble first step that gets into high gear very quickly. He's very good at avoiding checks or drawing penalties when he was the puck, but he still is a work in progress for the Flames.
HEAD COACH: Todd McLellan (1st year)
GENERAL MANAGER: Peter Chiarelli (1st year)
AHL AFFILIATE: Bakersfield Condors
2014-15 GOAL LEADERS: Jordan Eberle/Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (24)
2014-15 ASSISTS LEADER: Jordan Eberle (39)
2014-15 POINTS LEADER: Jordan Eberle (63)
2014-15 GOALTENDING LEADER: Ben Scrivens (.890 SV%)
ARRIVALS: F Connor McDavid, F Lauri Korpikoski, F Mark Letestu, D Andrej Sekera, D Eric Gryba, D Griffin Reinhart, G Cam Talbot, G Anders Nilsson, HC Todd McLellan, FM Peter Chiarelli
DEPARTURES: F Boyd Gordon, F Derek Roy, F Matt Fraser, F Steve Pinizzotto, D Martin Marincin, G Viktor Fasth, HC Todd Nelson, GM Craig MacTavish
Edmonton went on to add Andrej Sekera and Eric Gryba, as well as acquiring Griffin Reinhart from the New York Islanders. The team hopes that Sekera can chew up a large chunk of minutes per game, while there's hope that Justin Schultz can rebound after taking a step backward. The team did take a step forward with the acquisition of former Rangers goalie Cam Talbot. The Oilers sent Ben Scrivens down to Bakersfield of the AHL, and it looks like Anders Nilsson will be Talbot's backup. Can Talbot put up numbers similar to what he did last season when Henrik Lundqvist was hurt?
AHLER TO WATCH: D Darnell Nurse - Nurse, who's uncle is Donovan McNabb, is a big, mobile, gifted blue liner who reminds people a lot of Chris Pronger in his style of play. In Sault Ste. Marie of the OHL, he was a leader in the team's turnaround to a championship contender. He continues to add bulk and strength to his NHL frame.
PROSPECT TO WATCH: D Ethan Bear (Seattle - WHL) - With many of Edmonton's top prospects either with the big club or in Bakersfield, Bear is finishing up his junior career this season. He was Edmonton's fifth round pick this year and was ranked 97th amongst North American skaters in the Central Scouting final rankings.
HEAD COACH: Darryl Sutter (5th year)
GENERAL MANAGER: Dean Lombardi (10th year)
AHL AFFILIATE: Ontario Reign
2014-15 GOALS LEADER: Jeff Carter (28)
2014-15 ASSISTS LEADER: Anze Kopitar (48)
2014-15 POINTS LEADER: Anze Kopitar (64)
2014-15 GOALTENDING LEADER: Jonathan Quick (.918 SV%)
ADDITIONS: F Milan Lucic, D Jamie McBain, D Christian Ehrhoff, G Jhonas Enroth, G Peter Budaj
DEPARTURES: F Justin Williams, F Jarred Stoll, F Mike Richards, D Slava Voynov, D Andrej Sekera, D Robyn Regehr, G Martin Jones
The defense suffered a blow early last season when Slava Voynov was suspended indefinitely for domestic abuse. He eventually missed the entire season and will probably spend the near future in the KHL in Russia. Along with the retirement of Robyn Regehr and departure of Andrej Sekera, the defense needed some new bodies. Enter nomad Christian Ehrhoff, who signed a one-year deal with the Kings in late August after spending last season in Pittsburgh. Norris Trophy finalist Drew Doughty led the league last year in total ice time, and Jake Muzzin looks to add to last year's breakthrough season. Both blueliners combined for 87 points last season. Alec Martinez and the continued development of Brayden McNabb will help the Kings as well. With Martin Jones off to San Jose, LA brought in Jhonas Enroth to back up starter Jonathan Quick, who started 72 games last season. But with a 2-7 record in shootouts last year, Quick will have to improve in order for the Kings to get two points in OT.
AHLER TO WATCH: F Justin Auger - Auger is most notable for his tremendous size and puts his good body to use and also has strong puck possession skills. His size is his strength, and he needs to develop his defensive-zone game with his limited offensive ability.
PROSPECT TO WATCH: D Erik Cernak (Kosice - Slovakia) - Cernak played an important role in Slovakia's run to a bronze at the world juniors in January. A physical presence in front of the net, Cernak has a right-handed shot from the blueline that he loves to use and is also a heavy checker. He's improving on his decision making on the ice, but he can do everything above average and also is willing to give up his body and block shots.
HEAD COACH: Peter DeBoer (1st year)
GENERAL MANAGER: Doug Wilson (13th year)
AHL AFFILIATE: San Jose Barracuda
2014-15 GOALS LEADER: Joe Pavelski (37)
2014-15 ASSISTS LEADER: Joe Thornton (49)
2014-15 POINTS LEADER: Joe Pavelski (70)
2014-15 GOALTENDING LEADER: Antti Niemi (.914 SV%)
ADDITIONS: F Joel Ward, D Paul Martin, G Martin Jones, HC Peter DeBoer
DEPARTURES: F John Scott, D Matt Irwin, D Taylor Fedun, G Antti Niemi, HC Todd McLellan
The defense adds a veteran defenseman in Paul Martin, who will be a part of the penalty kill as he has his entire career. It might take some time for him to adjust to the West after playing the past decade in the East. Brent Burns is expected to have another strong showing on offense, while Marc-Edouard Vlasic remains the team's most reliable defenseman. Justin Braun will look to bounce back from a sub-par season. Martin Jones was the team's biggest acquisition after trading Antti Niemi away to Dallas. Jones was Jonathan Quick's backup in Los Angeles, but his numbers (16-11-2, 1.99 goals against average, .923 save percentage) are very impressive. But can he sustain starting an entire season? Alex Stalock is waiting for his chance to shine as well.
AHLER TO WATCH: D Mirco Mueller - Mueller played for San Jose last season in 39 games and recorded a goal and three assists. But injuries hindered his rookie year and he was sent down to AHL Worcester. He'll start the season with the San Jose Barracuda in the AHL and the big two-way defenseman with high potential hopes to improve some parts of his game, such as skating and offensive play. He plays a technically sound game, block shots very well, and possess a good first pass that can start the transition game.
PROSPECT TO WATCH: F Timo Meier (Halifax - QMJHL) - Meier was the ninth overall pick in the 2015 Entry Draft. He's big, skilled, and dangerous in the offensive zone with a pro-caliber shot. He's best when playing along the boards in the offensive zone, and finished second in the CHL last season with 10 game-winning goals.
HEAD COACH: Willie Desjardins (2nd year)
GENERAL MANAGER: Jim Benning (2nd year)
AHL AFFILIATE: Utica Comets
2014-15 GOALS LEADER: Radim Vrbata (31)
2014-15 ASSISTS LEADER: Daniel Sedin (56)
2014-15 POINTS LEADER: Daniel Sedin (76)
2014-15 GOALTENDING LEADER: Ryan Miller (.911 SV%)
ADDITIONS: F Brandon Sutter, F Brandon Prust, F Blair Jones, D Matt Bartkowski, D Taylor Fedun, G Richard Bachman
DEPARTURES: F Nick Bonino, F Zack Kassian, F Brad Richardson, F Shawn Matthias, D Kevin Bieksa, D Frank Corrado, G Eddie Lack
The defense saw Kevin Bieksa, who was demoted to the third pairing, get traded to Anaheim for a second-round pick. In comes Matt Bartkowski to be paired with Luca Sbisa on the final pairing. Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, Dan Hamhuis, and Yannick Weber remain a solid top four in the Pacific. The defense was embarrassed against Calgary in the playoffs, especially against the forecheck and down low. Eddie Lack was traded to Carolina for Sutter, so Jacob Markstrom will be the team's new backup. Ryan Miller will still man the crease for the Canucks.
AHLER TO WATCH: F Hunter Shinkaruk - Shinkaruk is a tenacious forechecking winger with great hands after he rebounded from surgery. He is offensively skilled and is willing to pay for price to score goals, which has taken his toll on his body at times. He reads the puck well and distributes the puck to his teammates effectively.
PROSPECT TO WATCH: G Thatcher Demko (Boston College - Hockey East) - Demko is one of the best goaltending prospects in the nation. He plays with calm and maturity that is rare for a young goalie of his age. He relies on technique and positioning, using his large frame and good lateral movement to make it a challenge for shooters to find openings in the net. He's displayed decent puck handling skills as well, but needs some polishing before he's ready to go.