NHL sharpens its skates

The NHL season is underway and it’s time to draw some early season conclusions and identify things to look out for as the season progresses.

First, youth is all the rage.

Everyone knows about Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid.  I was admittedly wrong about how soon Eichel would become a force, but other rookies around the league are proving to be future stars as well.  

Anthony Duclair and Max Domi (yes, his father is the beloved bruiser Tie Domi) have started off with chemistry that is usually only seen in linemates who have spent years together.  Not to mention the talent pouring out of the two of them has single handedly made Arizona Coyotes hockey relevant.

Also, around the league somehow Detroit has managed to continually find stars as Dylan Larkin looks NHL ready.  Artemi Panarin and Oscar Linderg deserve a mention as they have come out strong on their rookie campaign.

Second, while the season is still in its infancy, some teams will have work to do in order to fulfill expectations and prove that it’s not how you start, but rather how you finish.

The Canadiens look good this year. 

Carey Price has the potential to improve on his historic season last year and the offense looks to have finally clicked.

Winnipeg and Dallas improved — taking different approaches in the offseason — both teams are ready to contend.  However, they compete in the Central Division, arguably the league’s toughest division. Minnesota and Chicago won’t stay in the bottom half of that division.

We can look forward hopefully to a season long battle for supremacy in the Central between at least these four teams, if not six, with St. Louis and Nashville being contenders as well.

The Pittsburgh Penguins look to be pulling things together after starting winless in their first three games, despite making big moves in the offseason winning the sweepstakes for Phil Kessel.

In contrast, Anaheim just picked up their first win after being defeated in their first four games. They need to figure out their offense after scoring only one goal in the first four games. However they doubled that total in their first win Sunday night over Minnesota.

Boston has looked like a shell of their former self. It will be interesting to see if Boston can salvage this season and return to playoff contention or if they will enter the Auston Mathews, projected to be next year’s first pick, sweepstakes.

While I do not think Boston is that bad this season, Rask has not looked sharp, and Chara is rapidly becoming a trade prospect rather than a defensive centerpiece, while he still has some value around the league.

While the season is definitely young and the league will not finish the way it has started, these games and points still matter.