The exciting conclusion – part 3 of 3 – The Contenders!
10. New Jersey
Key: B-, Core: B, Depth: B, Offense: B+, Defense: B-, Goaltending: A, Salary cap: A-, Prospects: B, Gallant Grade: C+, Hoover Grade: B
Getting Raanta with a $5 million contract was a big move for the Devils this off-season. It gives them top end goalie pairing, and the existing core has developed nicely. Patrick Kane, 2nd overall to the Devils in the 2007 NEFHL draft, has emerged as one of the league's best players and will be a key to the Devil's success.
Key: B+, Core: A-, Depth: B-, Offense: A-, Defense: B, Goaltending: B, Salary cap: C+, Prospects: B+, Gallant Grade: A-, Hoover Grade: B+
Tired of being a pretender, Chris has added a ton of talent this off-season. It started with Eichel, then the major additions of Josi and Krug from Ottawa. They've continued to setup the team, moving the overpaid Kopitar. They've moved up into the contender category in a hurry! Big climber this season.
Key: B+, Core: A-, Depth: A, Offense: A, Defense: C+, Goaltending: A-, Salary cap: C+, Prospects: A-, Gallant Grade: B+, Hoover Grade: A-
The Hawks have a nice blend of players. Hertl emerges as a top end scorer, while Dougie Hamilton remains one of the most valuable defensemen in the league. Chicago's offense and depth should help give them quite a few wins this season as they continue to be a force in the Western Conference. The recent addition of Dadonov was not considered into the ranking; however, the addition was considered as part of the Hoover Grade.
Key: B, Core: A-, Depth: A-, Offense: A-, Defense: B+, Goaltending: A-, Salary cap: C+, Prospects: A-, Gallant Grade: A, Hoover Grade: A-
JD consistently runs one of the best franchises in the league, and Calgary will be a major contender once again this season. There are no major gaps. They have a great group of defensemen. Adding Scheifele was a key move to add a top end two way forward and will be a key part of their roster this season.
Key: A-, Core: B+, Depth: B+, Offense: B, Defense: A, Goaltending: B, Salary cap: B, Prospects: A, Gallant Grade: B+, Hoover Grade: A-
Last season's President Trophy winners and GM of the year lose some of their lustre from last season. They kicked off their off-season with a huge splash, adding Seguin and Ellis from Washington. With that trade they were very tight against the cap and they've cleared some space by moving out higher paid players like Duchene, and bringing in cheaper depth UFAs like Bortuzzo and Nielsen. All in all a good transformation, and the Canucks will remain competitive - hard not to with Hall and Seguin as your 1-2 punch down the middle.
Key: A, Core: A, Depth: A, Offense: A, Defense: A, Goaltending: B-, Salary cap: C-, Prospects: C+, Gallant Grade: A, Hoover Grade: A+
The cup champs drop Kadri like the dead weight he is and casually scoop up Patrice Bergeron at a steal of a deal in free agency. Bergeron adds star power to a loaded lineup. Toronto is in a good position for a repeat with a well balanced roster.
Key: A-, Core: A, Depth: A, Offense: B+, Defense: A+, Goaltending: B+, Salary cap: B+, Prospects: B-, Gallant Grade: A-, Hoover Grade: A
Gotta be honest, feel kind of guilty having my own team this high, but if it’s what the ratings suggest I’m going to buy into that theory. I showed we were serious about winning when we moved a major futures package for elite center Jonathan Toews. Free agent signings of Boyle and Schenn give excellent depth, and makes us a very tough team to play against. With Rantanen and Aho on the last years of their sub million dollar ELCs, this will be an important year for the Flyers to capitalize on their contracts. We have some cap room and prospect depth to add as the season wears on.
Key: A, Core: A, Depth: A-, Offense: A+, Defense: B, Goaltending: A+, Salary cap: B, Prospects: C-, Gallant Grade: A, Hoover Grade: A
Sly's Stars stepping up into the discussion as a top team! Lots of high end scorers, elite goaltending, elite defenseman, and overall great talent. The big trade for them this off-season was moving Malkin for Ben Bishop – a fantastic move for the Stars! Bishop is on a discount of a deal as top rated goalie in the league. Will be doing their best to take the Western Conference, particularly as they have some cap room to add.
Key: A+, Core: A+, Depth: A+, Offense: A, Defense: A+, Goaltending: A, Salary cap: F, Prospects: F, Gallant Grade: A+, Hoover Grade: A
The Avs made some moves to add some key UFAs this off-season, but then traded them for futures. Maybe they ended up ahead. Moving McDavid for Matthews was a bold move, showing they are clearly going for a cup THIS season. No question this is a top team and does not have any major holes. Could use some veterans in their lineup - a Joe Thornton or Zdeno Chara type would be a perfect pickup for this roster if they can fit in their salaries.
Key: A+, Core: A+, Depth: A+, Offense: A+, Defense: A, Goaltending: A, Salary cap: C, Prospects: A, Gallant Grade: A+, Hoover Grade: A+
Florida has a ridiculously good roster. They have star players in every position. They have no holes. They have top end depth, top end offensive players, and top end defensive players. Offseason acquisition of Brent Burns gives them a true two-way beast on the back end. They can likely add with their good depth, high end prospect pool, and have some cap wiggle room. Cup favourite!