With the 2015-16 NHL betting season just barely underway, each team has several questions to answer. Here is the top question for each team.
Is the blue line experienced enough for the Ducks to run at the Cup? Their goalie (Frederik Andersen) is pretty good, but three of their four starting defensemen are under 25 years old.
Can Mike Smith remember how to stop the puck? He had his worst year in Arizona last season.
Can the defense measure up? They don’t have the same blueliners they had in their 2011 Cup run.
Is Robin Lehner worth that first-round draft choice Buffalo had to give up to get him? He has not played more than 36 games in any season so far.
Should they have added more players to solve their possession problems? They did sign Dougie Hamilton and Michael Frolik, both known for possession.
Can Jordan Staal be a force after a year of dealing with a fractured fibula?
How will the salary cap-mandated roster changes influence the team?
Where will the Avalanche use Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita Zadorov (two acquisitions in the Ryan O’Reilly deal)?
Columbus Blue Jackets
Can a star goalie (Sergei Bobrovsky) and a nifty forward group compensate for a subpar group of blueliners?
Can Kari Lehtonen find his goalie mind again? He was awful down the stretch last year, and new acquisition Antti Niemi seems to have the starting job this year.
Detroit Red Wings
Is it time for the veteran group (Zetterberg, Franzen, Kronwall and others) to pass the torch for such players as Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar?
Have the Oilers finally found a goalie? Cam Talbot has taken the job for now.
Is this young corps – with six key players under 26 – ready to contend in the East?
Los Angeles Kings
Will Kyle Clifford and Tanner Person produce on the wings? The Kings’ top three scorers last year were al centers.
Can Devan Dubnyk keep that magical run in goal going? He started 39 of the Wild’s last 40 last season, and they went 28-9-3 in those 40 games to qualify for the playoffs.
Can the Canadiens score enough? They didn’t in the playoffs last year. They signed Alexander Semin to change that.
Can the Predators balance their offense? Their first line had a total of 146 points, but they had no depth once that line went off.
New Jersey Devils
Do the Devils have an offense? Mike Cammalleri tallied 27 goals, but behind him? Who else can score?
New York Islanders
The Islanders stood pat after their playoff run. Their forward corps was strong. It’s worth giving that group another season.
New York Rangers
How will Keith Yandle transform the defense? He can play defense and tally points, so the power play is already better.
Who is the starting goalie? Craig Anderson and Andrew Hammond are both good….so the coach can try them both…but he has to pick one.
What will they do with Vincent Lecavalier? Last season he was hurt a lot and not as productive. Now he brings a cap hit of more than $4 million.
Can Kris Letang stay on the ice? He had a stroke in 2013 and several concussions in 2014. However, he made it into 69 games last year.
St. Louis Blues
Should the Blues have made some big moves? All they did was ship T.J. Oshie away for Troy Brouwer of the Caps and Pheonix Copley, a prospect.
San Jose Sharks
Who will the goalie be? It looked like Alex Stalock was the heir apparent, but now Martin Jones may be contributing to a goalie controversy.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Who’s going to start in goal? Starter Ben Bishop tore his groin during the Stanley Cup Finals. This year they don’t have Andrei Vasilevskiy as an option should Bishop start slowly.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Shold the Leafs keep Nazem Kadri? He is a terrific forward but can be frustrating.
Up or down? GM Jim Benning pulled off a bunch of trades, bu t it will be especially important for those new members of the team to jell.
Picking up Justin Williams and T.J. Oshie, and having them play alongside Alex Ovechkin, could make this team offensively a contender.
How long until the kids wake up? Nine key players are 25 or under, so is there the experience necessary to navigate the playoffs?