X-Factors For Most Teams Entering The 2022-23 NHL Season

Photo: Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

With training camps for the 2022-23 NHL season less than three weeks away, each team is making gambles and relying on growth from players within or brought in talent from elsewhere to fill major holes that could make or break their season. NoVa Caps examine most teams’ (ones who are not in a rebuild) X-factors for the upcoming campaign.

Rebuilding teams not included: Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers, San Jose Sharks

Anaheim Ducks: G John Gibson

With center Trevor Zegras and right-wing Troy Terry among the young Ducks taking a step forward, the team will need the 29-year-old to return to his old form. Gibson went 18-26-11 with a .904 save percentage, a 3.19 goals-against average, and a shutout in 56 games during the 2021-22 season. Over the past three seasons, Gibson has not finished with a save percentage higher than .904 and a goals-against average lower than 2.98.

Boston Bruins: C David Krejci

With left-wing Brad Marchand (hip surgery) and defenseman Charlie McAvoy (left shoulder) among those set to miss the start of the season, the Bruins will need the 36-year-old, who scored 20 goals and 46 points in 51 games in the Czech league, to step back in seamlessly. The team had a gaping hole at second-line center when he was in Europe.

Calgary Flames: LW Jonathan Huberdeau

After the Flames lost left-wings Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk over the offseason, the team will look to the 29-year-old, who tied Gaudreau for second in the NHL with 115 points and led the league with 85 assists in 80 regular-season games with the Florida Panthers, to be a huge part in replacing the production that walked out the door.

Carolina Hurricanes: C Martin Necas

Following the departure of Vincent Trocheck, the Hurricanes could have a hole at second-line center if the 23-year-old, who tallied 14 goals and 40 points in 78 regular-season outings before posting five assists in 14 postseason games, does not find another gear to his game. Necas has recorded at least 14 goals and 36 points, respectively, in each of the past three seasons.

Colorado Avalanche: G Alexandar Georgiev

The Avalanche just won the Stanley Cup with Darcy Kuemper posting a .902 save percentage in the postseason but likely will not be able to overcome mediocre goaltending again, especially after losing center Nazem Kadri and left-wing Andre Burakovsky in free agency. The 26-year-old went 15-10-2 with an .898 save percentage, a 2.92 goals-against average, and two shutouts in 33 regular-season games in addition to 0-1 with a .935 save percentage and 2.04 goals-against average in two Stanley Cup Playoff games with the New York Rangers last season. Georgiev, who’s save percentage has dipped in each of his first five seasons, was acquired in a trade on July 7.

Columbus Blue Jackets: C Jack Roslovic

The Blue Jackets have lacked a top center since trading Ryan Johansen in 2016 but the 25-year-old hometown boy set career-highs in goals (22), assists (23), and points (45) in 81 games last season. The team will need Roslovic to take another step forward if they want to themselves.

Dallas Stars: C Tyler Seguin

The 30-year-old’s production has fallen off of a cliff over his past two full seasons. Seguin is coming off of a 24-goal, 49-point output. 95 of the Stars’ 233 goals (over 40%) came from their top-line of Jason Robertson, Joe Pavelski, and Roope Hintz and the team will likely need more from outside of that trio, which starts with Seguin.

Detroit Red Wings: D Ben Chiarot

The Red Wings gave up a league-high 4.33 goals-per-game from February 24 on and made a couple of additions to help this offseason, including the 31-year-old. Chiarot tallied nine goals, 26 goals, a -14 rating, 49.19% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, 48.14% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and 49.24% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 74 regular-season games with the Canadiens and Panthers in the regular season. He added one assist in 10 postseason games. Chiarot improved after the trade to Florida but will need to perform better if the Red Wings are going to be in the mix for a postseason spot.

Edmonton Oilers: G Jack Campbell

The Oilers finally acquired their starting goaltender in the 30-year-old, who ranked 11th in the NHL in wins (31), tied for 15th in save percentage (.914), tied for 14th in goals-against average (2.64), and tied for fourth with five shutouts in 49 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs during the regular season. Though, Campbell went 3-4 with an .897 save percentage, 3.15 goals-against average, and one shutout during the postseason and earned a .897 save percentage and a 3.22 goals-against average from December 1 onward. The Oilers are putting their Stanley Cup hopes on a goalie that struggled for much of last season.

Florida Panthers: D Radko Gudas

After the Panthers lost Chiarot, the team has a hole on their second defensive pairing which could mean that the 32-year-old, who posted three goals, 16 points, a +27 rating, 54.76% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, 55.92% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and 53.99% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 77 regular-season games, will likely be awarded a bigger role.

Los Angeles Kings: LW Kevin Fiala

The Kings acquired the 25-year-old, who set career-highs in goals (33), assists (52), and points (85) in 82 games with the Wild this past season, to provide more offense after averaging just 2.87 goals-per-game last season.

Minnesota Wild: C Joel Eriksson Ek

The Wild still lack a true top-line center. Internally, their best bet is on the 25-year-old, who tallied 26 goals and 49 points in 77 regular-season outings before earning three goals and five points in six postseason contests, taking another step.

Nashville Predators: C Ryan Johansen

The key to having success this season in Nashville will be Johansen, who tallied 26 goals and 63 points in 79 regular-season games, and Matt Duchene replicating their renaissance seasons. Duchene is less likely the one to worry about.

New Jersey Devils: G Vitek Vanecek

Over the past three seasons, the Devils’ .9061 five-on-five save percentage ranks last in the NHL among teams that have played in at least two of them. The team acquired the 26-year-old from the Washington Capitals after he went 20-12-6 with a .908 save percentage, a 2.67 goals-against average (tied for 17th in NHL), and four shutouts, including a stretch where he went 11-7-4 with a .935 save percentage (third), a 1.96 goals-against average (third), and three shutouts (tied for league lead) from December 16-March 6. While Vanecek has been consistent, he has yet to solidify himself as a No. 1 goaltender, something that the Devils have desperately needed for years.

New York Islanders: C Mathew Barzal

Since the 25-year-old earned 63 assists and 85 points during his rookie season in 2017-18, Barzal has not had more than 62 points in a single campaign. With head coach Barry Trotz out, Barzal, who notched 15 goals and 59 points in 73 games a season ago, should get more opportunities offensively but that is not to say that Lane Lambert won’t use a similar system, which stresses defense.

New York Rangers: RW Kaapo Kakko

The 21-year-old, who was picked second overall in 2019, earned just seven goals and 18 points in 43 games and has never had more than 10 goals and 23 points, respectively, in any of his three NHL seasons. However, Kakko stepped up in the postseason, where he tallied two goals and five points. After the Rangers lost Ryan Strome, Andrew Copp, and Frank Vatrano up front, the team will need more from their kids starting with Kakko.

Ottawa Senators: D Travis Hamonic

Despite an active offseason, the Senators still need a defenseman and until they get one, pressure will be on the 32-year-old veteran, who notched four goals, 10 points, a +6 rating, 47% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, 45.91% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and 46.52% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 43 games with the team and Vancouver Canucks.

Pittsburgh Penguins: RW Kasperi Kapanen

The Penguins’ wing depth is a weakness and they will need more from a number of their wingers, starting with the 26-year-old after he earned just 11 goals and 32 points in 79 regular-season games. Kapanen has hit the 14-goal mark just once in his career, when he scored 20 with the Maple Leafs in 78 games during the 2018-19 season.

Seattle Kraken: G Philipp Grubauer

After being a Vezina Trophy finalist with the Avalanche in 2020-21, the 30-year-old was the worst goalie in the NHL last season as he went went 18-31-5 with a .889 save percentage, 3.16 goals-against average, and two shutouts. This is despite the fact that the Kraken allowed an average of 28.9 shots-per-game, the fourth-fewest in the league. There is nowhere to go but up for Grubauer but the Kraken will need him to do so considerably to be much more competitive in their second campaign.

St. Louis Blues: G Jordan Binnington

The 29-year-old lost the starting job to Villie Husso in the regular season, where he went 18-14-4 with a .901 save percentage, a 3.13 goals-against average, and two shutouts, before winning it back in the postseason. Binnington went 4-1 with a .949 save percentage and 1.72 goals-against average before suffering a season-ending lower-body injury in Game 3 of the team’s second-round series against the Avalanche. After Husso was traded to the Red Wings, Binnington’s back up will be Thomas Greiss, who went 10-15-1 with an .891 save percentage and 3.66 goals-against average with the Red Wings last season. With the Blues bolstering one of the league’s deepest teams, the success of this team will hinge on Binnington’s performance.

Tampa Bay Lightning: C Anthony Cirelli

After the Lightning lost Ondrej Palat, the team will need more from the 25-year-old, who has never recorded more than 19 goals or 44 points, respectively, in a single season. The team will need Cirelli to hit another level, especially with a group that has played more hockey than anyone over the past three seasons.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Gs Ilya Samsonov/Matt Murray

After parting with Campbell, the Maple Leafs took a huge risk by putting their Stanley Cup hopes in the hands of Samsonov (who finished the 2021-22 regular season 23-12-5 with an .896 save percentage, a 3.02 goals-against average, and three shutouts with the Capitals) and Murray ( 5-12-2 with a .906 save percentage, 3.05 goals-against average, and one shutout in 20 NHL games with the Senators and was even sent down to the AHL at one point). It is possible that the Maple Leafs could make a goaltending upgrade in-season but questionable whether they could get over the hump unless one or both of these guys can turn their play around.

Vancouver Canucks: D Tyler Myers

The Canucks have a hole on the right side of their second defensive pairing and the 32-year-old, who earned a goal, 18 points, +15 rating, 49.15% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, 49.39% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and 48.87% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 82 games, appears to be the favorite to play in that spot. Myers improved under head coach Bruce Boudreau but will need to keep it up to satisfy the Canucks’ major weakness.

Vegas Golden Knights: G Logan Thompson

With Robin Lehner set to miss the entire season after undergoing hip surgery this offseason, the 25-year-old will enter it as the Golden Knights’ starter. Thompson went 10-5-3 with a .914 save percentage, 2.68 goals-against average, and one shutout in 19 NHL games and a .920 save percentage and 2.77 goals-against average in 26 AHL games last season. He has just 20 games of NHL experience and will be looked up to to fill some big shoes.

Washington Capitals: LW Anthony Mantha

With right-wing Tom Wilson set to be out until at least December with a torn ACL, the 27-year-old will see a larger role. Mantha missed most of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery on November 5 and finished with nine goals and 23 points in 37 games. The good news for the Capitals is that he is coming off of a strong postseason where he tallied four assists in six games.

Winnipeg Jets: D Logan Stanley

With Brenden Dillon set to bump down in the lineup, the Jets will look to the 24-year-old, who earned a goal, 13 points, +1 rating, 47.69% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, 46.34% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and 46.62% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 82 games, to take on a larger role.

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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6 Responses to X-Factors For Most Teams Entering The 2022-23 NHL Season

  1. novafyre says:

    MCM last year was criticized for not scoring even when he created opportunities. That to me is Tampa’s Cirelli. He might not score the goals, but he makes the plays that allows goals to be scored. As long as he continues doing that, I think his play is fine.

    I think Mantha is a lost cause.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      You could make the case for C-Mac being the x-factor for the Capitals. I think Mantha, more so, needs to have a really good season.

      • steven says:

        C-Mac just needs consistant playing time and consistant playing time at one position with the same linemates. Mantha really needs to show something other than his long dry spells. With his potential he should be an All-Star but I think that the problem is he lacks motivation to play every shift and every game at his highest level. Maybe he needs to spend time with Ovie and learn from him.

  2. Anonymous says:

    That Toronto goalie tandem is the double X factor. Difference from not making the postseason to winning it all.

    • steven says:

      Good news is the Caps no longer have to worry about what Sammy will do or not do on or off the ice. Bad news sometimes trading a player or in this case cutting him free (which basically tells a player, IMHO, that you are not worth anything) can jump start his into another level, lets hope not for the Caps sake!

  3. Lewis6kids says:

    So…I was watching some YouTube guy who fashions himself an NHL expert and he was listing his favorite player on each team. He explained up front that he wasn’t going by stats. This guy is no Caps fan (I think Vancouver maybe) so I figured he’d say Wilson maybe – but the guy says Conner Brown! I know, he’s from Vancouver and all BUT is it possible that Brown will prove to be a big factor for the Caps this year?

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