2018-19 NHL Season Previews with Point Totals & Predictions

Date | AuthorParker Michaels

Last Updated: 2018-10-02

The 2018-19 NHL season officially gets started for most teams on Thursday, September 13th when players report to training camp for physicals and first on-ice practices Friday, September 14th. This year’s preseason schedule gets underway in North America on Sunday, September 16th but the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames officially kick things off a day earlier with the first-ever preseason games in China. The Bruins and Flames will play two games overseas before returning home, with a September 15th game in Shenzhen and a September 19th contest in Beijing.

The NHL will also play regular season games in Sweden (Edmonton vs. New Jersey) and Finland (Florida vs. Winnipeg) this year as part of their expanding NHL Global Series.

The 101st season of play in the NHL will begin with its first regular season games on October 3rd. The Washington Capitals will look to defend their first-ever Stanley Cup in their 44-year history after defeating the expansion Vegas Golden Knights who made the Finals in their inaugural season.

Here at BangTheBook.com, our NHL specialist Parker Michaels is back for another season to get you ready with in-depth season previews for all 31 teams. This year, Parker will also share his projected point totals for each team along with separate team offense, defense and goaltending rankings.

Each team preview will include an intro, a brief recap of last season, summer highlights, an x-factor for the upcoming season and what to look for in the Futures market, including players to keep on your radar for prop bets like the Calder and Hart trophies.

In addition, you will find an extensive breakdown of each team’s projected depth chart with separate NHL rankings for each team’s left wing, center, right wing and left and right-side defense. Key rookies will also be highlighted who could make an impact.

Finally, each individual forward, defenseman and goaltender will include a player value which Parker has used to compile his rankings. It is important to note how these ratings were calculated as Parker does not want to take credit for creating the foundation of the method used.

 

POINT SHARES

Over on hockey-reference.com, you will find a category called PS for each individual player, which represent Point Shares, an estimate of the number of team points contributed in the standings by a player. This system was developed by Justin Kubatko, who is also the creator of hockey-reference and is a pioneer in the sports statistics world.

Kubatko previously created a similar system for basketball which can be found on basketball-reference.com, also his creation. The foundation for both of Kubatko’s systems was applied from the Bill James Win Shares system, a revolutionary system created in 2002 which changed the way players were evaluated in the world of baseball.

For a full breakdown of Kubatko’s Point Shares methodology and how it is calculated, please head over to hockey-reference.com and read about it here.

There are many models present in the world of hockey analytics now, but Parker has found the foundation of the Point Shares method to be the most interesting and helpful for himself when it comes to evaluating players. The fact this method incorporates both offensive and defensive values is a huge advantage in evaluating all players over some other current methods. Parker has taken the base formula used by Kubatko and applied further steps to create a predicted Point Share value for each player for the upcoming season. A predictive future value is not something the Point Shares system currently does.

The highest value currently for a skater is 13.4 and the lowest is -1.1 with an average skater value of 3.8 overall.

Going a step further, Parker has spent a great deal of time in adding steps for predicting the point share values for goaltenders, a position with high variance and often difficult to predict in year-to-year performance. Goaltenders are divided into the starter and backup category and ratings are affected by the number of starts expected for each player.

The highest value for a starting goaltender is 13.9 and the lowest is 6.3 with an average starter value of 10.3 overall.

The highest value for a backup goaltender is 6.7 and the lowest is 2.1 with an average backup value of 4.1 overall.

These values could change if players are removed or added to each team’s depth chart and will be updated in this space, if needed.

Parker’s use of player values is not meant to be compared to other public models currently online but as a fun tool for his readers and his own evaluation of players.

If you have any questions about Parker’s use of Point Shares, he is always open to questions or comments. His Twitter is linked above.

 

Previews will be released in a worst-to-first order according to Parker’s projected standings and will be linked here when posted, so bookmark this page for easy access!

31. Montreal Canadiens

The Canadiens might have the most to prove in the Atlantic Division after falling from division champions two years ago to 28th overall last season. GM Marc Bergevin has failed in trying to trade captain Max Pacioretty to this point and made a bigger mess of the situation while assurances from owner Geoff Molson to spend excess salary cap money has fallen by the wayside.

30. Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks enter uncharted territory after the retirement of Henrik and Daniel Sedin and look towards a new group of young stars to lead the franchise back to respectability, including rookie of the year runner-up Brock Boeser and hopeful Calder candidate Elias Pettersson. Standing in their way – an unaware GM and an owner who refuses a proper rebuild.

29. Ottawa Senators

After a summer of scandal and controversy, the Senators look to put the pieces of their broken locker room back together. The pipeline is stocked with talented prospects, but will there still be a solid core in place once they arrive?

28. Detroit Red Wings

GM Ken Holland’s loyalty to Detroit’s veteran core over the years with rich contracts and extended term has made it difficult to shape a proper rebuild. Now, Holland has finally made a declaration to going younger and after cleaning up at this summer’s draft, the pipeline is well stocked for future success.

27. Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres added several impact players this summer along with No.1 draft pick, Rasmus Dahlen. With a noticeable culture change in the locker room, the Sabres aim to be one of the most improved teams in the league.

26. New York Rangers

GM Jeff Gorton openly declared a rebuild and burned the house down before the end of last season, trading several key veterans in return for a large haul of assets. Now, with a rookie head coach and a group of talented youngsters, the Rangers look to exceed expectations.

25. New York Islanders

The Islanders lost the face of their franchise this summer with the departure of John Tavares but may have gained so much more. With a new front-office and coaching staff, along with a change in locker room culture, the Islanders may be an underrated team despite what the numbers say.

24. Chicago Blackhawks

The status of starting goaltender Corey Crawford looms over the Blackhawks as they enter training camp, but even if fully healthy he may not be enough to get Chicago back to the playoffs. With one of the league’s worst projected bottom-6, the play by several young players will dictate how high – or low – the Hawks fly this year.

23. New Jersey Devils

GM Ray Shero was quiet this summer after his team made a 27-point jump from last in their division to a Wild Card spot. Instead, the Devils will look for growth from within to support reigning MVP Taylor Hall.

22. Arizona Coyotes

Another busy summer for GM John Chayka as he continued to add key pieces in hopes of getting his young team into the playoff conversation. Led by one of the best starting goaltenders in the league and the reigning Calder Trophy winner, the Coyotes are poised to be the single most improved team in the NHL this season.

21. Edmonton Oilers

A healthier blueline and growth within from several youngsters will be key for providing Connor McDavid the support he needs to get the Oilers back to the playoffs.

20. Carolina Hurricanes

With a new owner, GM and head coach, the Canes bring a new culture to the organization. On the ice with a new No.1 center, elite new d-man and two Calder candidates, the Canes goaltending still holds the key to their success.

19. Calgary Flames

The Flames were on the playoff path last season before key injuries derailed their chances. GM Brad Treliving has upgraded the offense which faded down the stretch but possibly at the expense of the defense.

18. Washington Capitals

Washington enters the season with the same core they won the Stanley Cup with but may have overachieved with a 105-point regular season last year. Unless they overachieve again, the Capitals may slip down to a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.

17. Minnesota Wild

Former longtime GM Cliff Fletcher took the fall for the Wild’s lack of playoff success but new GM Paul Fenton believes in the current core and made no major changes this summer. Can the Wild get back to the playoffs for a seventh consecutive season?

16. Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers have an elite group of top-six forwards and an elite top pair defense, but questions about their depth and goaltending hold them back from joining the 100+ point contenders.

15. Dallas Stars

The Stars are on the edge of the playoff bubble for the second straight season. Better health and the emergence of secondary scorers to complement one of the best top lines in the league will decide which side of the bubble Dallas lands on.

14. Colorado Avalanche

Jumping from a last place finish in the Western Conference to a playoff spot behind the strength of a new young core led by league MVP runner-up Nathan MacKinnon and one of the best top lines in the NHL, the question is, can they do it again?

13. St. Louis Blues

After missing the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons, GM Doug Armstrong chose not to blow up the roster. Instead, he brought in several key pieces to add to an already solid core. The offense is going to score a lot of goals, but will the goaltending be good enough to make the Blues a serious contender?

12. Vegas Golden Knights

Vegas defied the wildest expectations and shocked the world with the most extraordinary story for a first year franchise in sports history, making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Twelve players set a career high in points and with expected regression forecast, they’re out to prove everyone wrong all over again.

11. Florida Panthers

With one of the best young cores in the NHL and the addition of top-six goal scorer Mike Hoffman, expectations are high after tying for the NHL lead in wins after the All-Star break.

10. Anaheim Ducks

GM Bob Murray set out this summer to change the Ducks philosophy, looking to add speed and youth to an aging core. After an uneventful summer though, major injuries in training camp to several veterans have forced talented young prospects into the lineup. Is it a blessing in disguise?

9. Columbus Blue Jackets

The Jackets enter the season as a top ten team but amid a cloud of uncertainty around two star contracts and a key preseason injury, how long will they remain there?

8. Los Angeles Kings

The Kings only acquisition this summer was Ilya Kovalchuk to an already aging core, but return all the major players on one of the league’s best defenses along with top ten goaltender, Jonathan Quick. Is it enough to keep their Stanley Cup window open?

7. San Jose Sharks

GM Doug Wilson held his cards tight all summer until the right deal presented itself and then swooped in with the biggest win of the offseason. The addition of Erik Karlsson give the Sharks a top-two defense in the NHL but is there enough scoring depth up front to make them a true contender?

6. Boston Bruins

The Bruins are in the envious position of owning the NHL’s best line and best overall top-six group of forwards but curious roster decisions have also left them with the league’s worst depth.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs

Futures odds with projected point total, lineup and player ratings.

4. Pittsburgh Penguins

Futures odds with projected point total, lineup and player ratings.

3. Tampa Bay Lightning

Futures odds with projected point total, lineup and player ratings.

2. Winnipeg Jets

Futures odds with projected point total, lineup and player ratings.

1. Nashville Predators

Futures odds with projected point total, lineup and player ratings.

 

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