By Max Ferguson, Staff Writer
NHL players have taken the ice for another thrilling year of hockey! This offseason brought a wave of excitement to the sport with an outstanding draft class, as well as some big signings.
One rookie is being hyped up as this generation’s Sidney Crosby. Connor Bedard was selected first overall by the Chicago Blackhawks as an eighteen-year-old. Even before he made it to the league, scouts were hyping him up as a generational prospect. Before the NHL, he spent three years in Canadian Junior League hockey before declaring for the draft. He quickly became the league’s scoring leader for the 2022-23 season. This statistic included a short break from playing in the season when he went to compete in the World Junior Hockey Championships where he had a hat trick against Germany and took home the gold. In doing so, he broke Matt Barzal’s scoring record for Canada, as well as won IIHF’s Man of the Year Award. With accolades like his, it was inevitable that he’d get drafted.
The hype became believable when Bedard faced off against the legend himself, Sidney Crosby, on opening night. The Blackhawks beat the Penguins 4-2 and Bedard managed to tally an assist in his NHL debut. It is exciting to see what the new face of the NHL will do with what will hopefully be a storied career. However, the Blackhawks were given the first-round pick for a reason. They’ll need to make some transactions or simply work harder to surround Bedard with the talent he needs to win games.
Another promising rookie is Cole Caulfield who went fifth overall to the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal’s extremely animated fanbase has already taken a liking to Caulfield as the new face of their franchise. They have chants for him that rival the creativity of English Premier League teams. If anything, the love that Montreal has shown to their newest draft pick will certainly motivate him to work harder to give fans a season worth enjoying. In the coming years, expect Caulfield to add another Stanley Cup to Montreal’s grand total of 22, more than any other NHL franchise. The Habs have a vision of long-term growth. Their 8-6 record shows that they are not in a “win now” framework. Montreal seems to be laying down the framework for another major run at Lord Stanley like in years past. Be on the lookout for any transactions the Canadiens may make in the future.
Another team in a similar situation is the New Jersey Devils. Jack Hughes was the first-round pick in 2019. Since being drafted, he has proved himself to be a formidable leader for the club. Yet, they still face the woes of lackluster outcomes. They are maintaining a winning record. However, Jack Hughes is currently out on injury. Hopefully, they can maintain or improve their record until his return to the ice.
The most sound overall team so far seems to be the Boston Bruins at 11-1 on the season. No other team has fewer losses thanks to solid players at every position. From seasoned veterans like Charlie Coyle to young bucks like Charlie McAvoy, the Bruins have talent every which way that will most certainly carry them to an exciting playoff appearance. Their record is impressive, but it seems that they are not adequately tested in the Atlantic Division. The only team that comes close is the Florida Panthers with a 9-4 record, and the two teams have yet to play each other. Out-of-division games will be the best indicator of the Bruins’ performance this season. If they continue to thrive in non-divisional games against tough opponents, expect them to be battling for the cup at the end of the season.
Only a month has passed in this NHL season and there is much more hockey left to play. From now until the playoffs, so much can happen. This NHL season ought to be one of the most exciting in years thanks to a breath of new life into the sport.