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Jeff's 2022-23 NHL Eastern & Western Conference Spotlight Teams


By: Jeff Hochman
Date: Oct 10, 2022
   
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Jeff's 2022-23 NHL Eastern Conference Spotlight Team


Ottawa Senators (2021-22: 33-42-7, 73 points)


The Senators are on the cusp of making the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Las Vegas agrees, increasing their point total 12.5 points from last season's total. Ottawa acquired a plethora of players that should help the offense and blue-line quite a bit. Alex DeBrincat accumulated 78 points (41 goals, 37 assists) in 81 games for the Chicago Blackhawks last season. He has increased his point total in three straight seasons and is on the verge of stardom. Aside from bolstering their forwards with a former second-round pick of the Blackhawks, the Senators rolled out the red carpet for veteran Claude Giroux. The seven-time All-Star brings in a veteran presence and proven leader in the locker room. His career numbers of 923 points (294 goals, 629 helpers) in 1018 games is hard to ignore. Tim Stutzle (58 points) looks to be on the verge of breaking out after accumulating 29 points two seasons ago. Look for another jump in production with all of that talent around him. Mathieu Joseph had 12 points in just 11 games after being traded to Ottawa last year. He was caught in a numbers game in Tampa Bay and wasn't given many opportunities to play. That will change in Ottawa and Joseph could be a nice sleeper in fantasy. A healthy Shane Pinto will add an additional scoring punch after playing just five games last season.


The defense has the potential to be much improved. I see more depth on their blue-line than any of the previous three years under head coach D.J. Smith. The 4th-year head coach has a history of improving in year four. The biggest acquisition on defense was Goalie Cam Talbot. With the Minnesota Wild, Talbot was 32-12-4 with a 2.76 GAA, and .911 save percentage in 48 starts. Backup Anton Forseberg had similar numbers for the Sens last season. He went 22-17-4 with a 2.82 GAA and .918 save percentage in 46 starts. Having a veteran goalie in Talbot should take pressure off Forsberg, who is more than capable of improving with another year of experience. I think Cam Talbot will start at least 60 games this season. Thomas Chabot is entering his sixth full season in Ottawa and takes up a lot of space on the blue-line. Jacob Larsson is a solid addition on defense after spending his first five seasons in Anaheim. The Ottawa Senators should be a fun group to watch this season. I am expecting the Senators to be in the playoff hunt all season long. They also have a very rich farm system with numerous players ready to contribute if they get the call from the AHL.


Ottawa Senators Best Bet: Over 85.5 points


Ottawa Senators Preferred: Make Playoffs +220




Jeff's 2022-23 NHL Western Conference Spotlight Team


Edmonton Oilers (2021-22: 49-27-6, 104 points)


The Edmonton Oilers played their best hockey after head coach Dave Tippett was terminated on February 10, 2022. Jay Woodcroft took over and the team went 26-9-3 with improved play across-the-board. Edmonton got swept by the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Finals. They will be on a mission this season. The Oilers have a dynamic one-two punch with the likes of Connor McDavid (44 goals, 79 assists) and Leon Draisaitl (55 goals, 55 helpers). A full season with forward Evander Kane and blue-liner Ryan Murray will be noticed immediately. There is a lot of size and skill on the blue-line. Evan Bouchard had a breakout season with 43 points (12 goals, 31 assists) in 81 games after accumulating just six points in 21 games across his previous two NHL seasons. If Philip Broberg can make a similar jump (1 goal, 2 assists in 23 games), the sky is the limit on defense.


Another year in Woodcroft's system can only help. Jack Campbell will take over in goal after his solid regular season in Toronto last year. Jack went 31-9-6 with a 2.64 GAA and .914 save percentage in 47 starts. He did not have a great postseason which is why the Maple leafs moved on. I think he's an upgrade between the pipes and Mike Smith is a solid backup. Jack Campbell has increased his win total in three straight seasons which bodes well for the Oilers this season.


Edmonton had a +143 shot differential and +38 goal differential last season. They were ranked No. 8 in Face-off win percentage. I would expect all of those stats to improve. This is a team that will make a serious run to the Western Conference Finals once again. With most teams, they will need to avoid significant injuries. Although, Edmonton has a lot of young talent in the AHL that could make it to the big club at some point this season. I think the experience Edmonton gained from last year's run will benefit this team in 2022-23.


Edmonton Oilers Best Bet: Over 103 points


Edmonton Oilers Preferred Bet: Win Pacific Division (+240)


Twitter: @jhsportsline
 

  Jeff Hochman
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