The start of the NEFHL season certainly has seen its fair share of surprises when looking at the standings. At this point, teams have played between 8-12 games each, so the sample size is rather small and will certainly change quite a bit by the time game #82 rolls around in April 2020.
In reviewing both the Hoover Rankings as well as Gallant’s Grades (?), there are some clear over-achievers and definite disappointments.
The biggest disappointment is no doubt the Philadelphia Flyers. In both rankings, the Flyers sit no less than 21 spots lower than anticipated. With players such as Aho, Rantanen, Toews and Getzlaf, the team will no doubt see a measure of success as the season continues but you can’t help but sense there may be some urgency on the part of the Flyers to right the ship sooner than later.
The Montreal Canadiens are currently sitting in 30th, a familiar spot for the team in recent years, however they had overhauled their team in the off-season and looked to make some noise this season. Again, it is early, but the team bulked up with Radulov, Hornqvist, Pavelski, Koivu, Ryan, Byfuglien and Klingberg leading the charge. Veteran goalie Craig Anderson also mans the goal.
Defending champions Toronto Maple Leafs have been hampered by injuries, especially to goaltender Vasilevskiy. The team let JT Miller, the Conn Smythe winner, and Zdeno Chara go and brought in Patrice Bergeron. Toronto certainly has some talent in their lineup, time will tell if they’re able to gel together sooner than later.
Other teams who have seen double-digit drops include the Calgary Flames, New Jersey Devils, St Louis Blues Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers.
On the flip side, several teams have seen early season success. Buffalo, Nasville, Boston, Washington Minnesota and Pittsburgh have all exceeded expectations early on, with the latter 4 teams sitting in the top 10. Each team added some important pieces in the off season and it has paid off to date.
One more time, it is too early to start planning any parades. It’ll be interesting to see how teams perform from here as there are bound to be waiver pick ups, free agent signings and trades (especially the panic-filled ones) coming over the next few weeks.