ESPN.com looks at what to expect from each NHL team this season, including biggest changes for each, why each can win or lose, goaltending rating and predicted finish.
Clearly, the Hurricanes think they're ready to make noise in the top-heavy Metropolitan Division. Justin Williams, who won his first of three Stanley Cups with the Hurricanes, said it's a big reason he came back: "This is a team on the rise and a team that will surprise a lot of people."
Something special happened when the Blue Jackets ran off 16 straight wins last season: They became believers in themselves and coach John Tortorella. Those good vibes were doused in a five-game loss to the eventual Stanley Cup champions, but if certain players can build off breakout seasons, the Jackets will be back challenging the Pittsburgh Penguins for the top seed in the East.
After finishing with the worst record in the East, the Devils have nowhere to go but up. How high they can go and how long it will take them could depend on a gifted 18-year-old Swiss forward who fortuitously fell into their laps. By winning the draft lottery and taking Nico Hischier with the first pick in June, the Devils took their first step toward respectability.
There is probably only one thing that will keep John Tavares -- who is less than 10 months away from unrestricted free agency -- in Brooklyn, and that's a legitimate chance to win a Stanley Cup. A lot has to go right to put that process in motion. Straight-talking coach Doug Weight, who had the "interim" tag taken off after getting the Isles within one win of the playoffs, is a good start.
The Rangers should get enough offense from Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider to remain one of the top five teams in the East, but once again, the onus will fall on Henrik Lundqvist, 35. He looked vulnerable during stretches last season, and his goals-against average has swelled in each of his last two seasons. So for the Rangers to be good this season, they'll need Lundqvist to be great.
In what has been a revolving door of mediocrity, the Flyers' goaltending situation might be no better with newcomer Brian Elliott than it was last season with Steve Mason. The Flyers simply don't have enough reliable forwards, defensemen and goaltenders to make a serious run this season, but they are certainly headed in the right direction.
How can a team lose a three-time Stanley Cup-winning goalie, a trio of clutch playoff forwards and three reliable defensemen and still have a shot at becoming the first team to three-peat as Cup champs since the New York Islanders won four in a row from 1980 to 1983? Coach Mike Sullivan is about to find out.
Two years ago, general manager Brian MacLellan acknowledged that the Caps had a two-year window to win a Stanley Cup with the roster he helped assemble. With that roster torn apart and new responsibilities placed on unproven forwards and a revamped blue line that could feature two rookies and an aging Brooks Orpik, it's reasonable to suggest the Caps will take a step back this season.
It's not a very good summer when the biggest move you make as a general manager is re-signing someone you couldn't afford to lose. But that's exactly what happened with Don Sweeney and the Bruins this offseason, which ended with David Pastrnak agreeing to a six-year, $40 million contract just before training camp. Exactly where that leaves the Bruins won't make fans in Boston happy.
No team shook things up more in the offseason than the Sabres, who replaced general manager Tim Murray with two-time Stanley Cup winner Jason Botterill, and head coach Dan Bylsma with former Nashville Predators assistant and former Sabre Phil Housley. But that was just the beginning.
There was a time when unrestricted free agents wanted nothing more than to be part of one of the NHL's most storied franchises. Those days are over. Even the most ardent Red Wings fans seem to understand that Detroit is no longer one of players' top destinations (even with the new Little Caesars Arena).
A season of messy moves set the Panthers back big-time, but with Dale Tallon again in charge, the ship seems to be turned around. Rough seas could still be ahead, however, especially if the health of star D-man Aaron Ekblad comes into question.
Essentially, a team that won the Atlantic Division last season but fell to the New York Rangers in the first round replaced forward Alexander Radulov and defenseman Andrei Markov with Jonathan Drouin and Karl Alzner. And most hockey fans would make that trade in a second.
When a team does not get even marginally better in an offseason, it means it has gotten worse. The Senators needed to make a play for a 25-to-30-goal scorer, and that didn't happen. That will put additional pressure on a group of top-six forwards that failed to land anyone in the top 35 in goals.
General manager Steve Yzerman could have overreacted to one of the most disappointing seasons of his managerial career by firing head coach Jon Cooper and reassembling his roster. Instead, Yzerman did more adding than subtracting, hoping the addition of a four-time Stanley Cup winner (winger Chris Kunitz) and a gritty defenseman (Dan Girardi) will be enough to put his team back into the playoffs conversation.
Unexpectedly early success and a big-name free-agent signing have Maple Leafs fans thinking large this season. So the biggest challenge for coach Mike Babcock will be keeping his young team grounded in reality and motivated for an entire season. "We have expectations of our own," William Nylander said. "We want to go just as far as the fans do."
Full previews to come: Central Division (Wednesday), Pacific Division (Thursday)
Trading away one of the best scoring wingers of the last two seasons to bring back a grinder is a huge gamble. So, the question is, can Patrick Kane remember how to score without Artemi Panarin? And who is going to replace Marian Hossa?
Few teams made more splashy moves this offseason than the Stars, a direct response to dropping dramatically in the standings one year after winning the Central, signing a Vezina Trophy-winning goalie and a monster winger who might just help complete the most formidable line in the league.
When you are two wins away from winning the Stanley Cup, you don't really need to do much to get better. But the big unknown is whether P.K. Subban and the goaltending can survive the absence of a key teammate to injury.
A couple of minor tweaks means management is willing to give coach Mike Yeo a chance to get the most out of the team in his first full season behind the bench. But are the goaltending and offense up to the task?