Every year, several NHL teams vastly improve from their previous record. This is due to a combination of free agent acquisitions and strong player/team development. With the offseason well under way, several candidates have emerged to be bounce back teams in the 2021-22 league year. Here are the top bounce back candidates from every division in the NHL.
Metropolitan: Philadelphia Flyers
The Metropolitan is a hard division to choose from with the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils on the rise too. But with the offseason the Flyers have had, it’s hard to believe they won’t improve this coming season. Defense was one of the Flyers biggest downfalls last season. They even led the league in total goals allowed, allowing more goals than lowly teams like the Devils and Sabres. This deficiency at defense was addressed heavily in the offseason for the Flyers.
The team added Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainen via trade, and signed Keith Yandle to a minimum deal. Those three players offer a combination of tougher defensive play and veteran leadership. They also swapped Jakub Voracek for Cam Atkinson, a move that should help their offensive aggressiveness. Their offseason improvements should have them looking more like the team that finished second place in the division in 2020.
Atlantic: Detroit Red Wings
The Atlantic division is one of the league’s strongest right now; five of the eight teams in that division made the previous postseason. The team that looks to be the most improved from the other three is the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings are still in the midst of a rebuild, but they should definitely improve from the 19 win team they were. General manager Steve Yzerman has acquired a number of immediate improvements this offseason to ensure this.
These acquisitions include defenseman Nick Leddy, forward Pius Suter and goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic. Top defenseman prospect Mortiz Seider is also going to debut with the team this year. They also have a full season of Jakub Vrana to look forward to, who was red hot after being traded from Washington. Couple all of this with their impressive first line, and the Red Wings seem bound to improve from last year.
Central: Dallas Stars
The Dallas Stars feel like a very obvious pick to bounce back from missing the playoffs last year. They missed qualifying for the playoffs by a mere four points this past year. And that was with a whopping 14 overtime losses. That was also with them missing Tyler Seguin for all but three games. With those two things combined, it was impressive the Stars were as close to qualifying as they were. But now Tyler Seguin is fully healthy, and a majority of last year’s core is set to return. The Stars have also added veteran experience in Ryan Suter, Michael Raffl and Braden Holtby. Altogether, there is little to no doubt that this team will rebound from a frustrating finish to last season.
Pacific: Los Angeles Kings
General manager Rob Blake believed that last year’s team could make the playoffs. While they didn’t do so then, the team has taken major steps towards doing so this season. They most notably made the move to acquire Viktor Arvidsson from the Predators, who will be a part of their top six. They also added to their depth by signing defenseman Alex Edler and center Phillip Danault. Adding to that is the expectation that top five picks Alex Turcotte and Quinton Byfield are going to be regular contributors. With an improved Cal Petersen and veteran Johnathan Quick guarding the net, this team seems bound to improve. The Kings will need strong performances from their defense and younger players to achieve Blake’s goal of making the postseason this time around.
Featured image courtesy of NHL
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