One quick thought on every NHL team starting the new year
We are nearing the halfway point of the NHL season, so let's check in with a quick thought on every team so far.
The calendar has rolled over to 2024 which means we are closing in on the halfway point of the 2023-24 season. So let’s take a quick stroll around the NHL and share one quick thought (or a couple) on what we have seen or what we should expect from every team in the league.
Anaheim Ducks. Leo Carlsson may not have been the consensus pick at No. 2, but they may have hit a home run with him. His recent injury is a downer and takes away a bright spot from the season but he looks legit.
Arizona Coyotes. This is the most interesting team the Coyotes have had in more than a decade. There is some real talent here and finally — finally! — a light at the end of the tunnel. I expected a little more from Logan Cooley at this point, especially given his start, but I still think he has a shot to be a cornerstone player. The wild card here for this team is if Connor Ingram keeps playing the way he has.
Boston Bruins. I had low expectations for them coming into the season and then they stormed out to a 14-1-3 start. I do think there are some cracks here that are not getting a lot of attention. Specifically as it relates to their scoring depth and their centers. They went more than a month where they were a .500 team before getting on another roll over the past four games.
Buffalo Sabres. There is no bigger disappointment in the NHL for me. The biggest disappointment of all is that one of the most exciting and highest scoring teams in the league a year ago has been painfully bland and ordinary this season. The whole vibe has changed and it just looks to be more of the same thing we have seen from the Sabres for more than a decade.
Calgary Flames. What do you do with Jonathan Huberdeau if you are the Flames? That is not only turning out to be a disaster of a contract, it might be the worst contract in hockey right now. It is not just that his offense is disappointing and not returning to his peak level. He is simply a bad player right now and not helping the team in any way.
Carolina Hurricanes. It is imperative that Pyotr Kochetkov grabs a hold of the goaltending job and runs with it because the other internal options are not great and the trade market is shockingly thin.
Chicago Blackhawks. Connor Bedard is everything they could have hoped he would be. The rest of the team is everything they hoped it would not be.
Colorado Avalanche. Nathan MacKinnon just keeps getting better. He is having his best season yet and on pace for more than 132 points entering play on Thursday. They could still use an upgrade at No. 2 center and need Alexandar Georgiev to get back on track in goal. The fact those flaws exist and the team is still this good is a testament to both the overall strength of the roster and the overall dominance of MacKinnon.
Columbus Blue Jackets. I don’t know how you bring general manager Jarmo Kekalainen back.He has spent big money in an effort to try and win, has failed miserably, and gave the organization a black eye with the entire Mike Babcock fiasco. At least Adam Fantilli looks great.
Dallas Stars. If Jake Oettinger gets his act together this is the best team in the Western Conference, I think. Even with him playing far below expectations they are still one of the best teams in the Western Conference.