The 2013-14 season will feature a condensed schedule as the NHL takes a break from regular-season play to have many of their players compete for Olympic gold.
Several teams have been very busy in the offseason with trades, free-agent signings and releases, along with stockpiling prospects at the recent NHL draft in New Jersey.
Every team will state publicly that their goal is to make the playoffs and compete for the Stanley Cup. For a slight majority of teams, this is a distinct possibility, while others are likely a season or two away—at least—from competing in the NHL playoffs. Each NHL team has at least one outstanding feature or strength.
The following is a breakdown of each team's greatest strength and the key contributors to the team's strength.
Basic statistics can be found on nhl.com
Advanced statistics are found at Behind the Net.
Greatest Strength: Goaltending depth
The Anaheim Ducks have a great deal of depth throughout their organization. With a team that is rich in so many areas, it is challenging to pick their greatest strength. However, given the level of talent of their goaltenders, their greatest strength is their depth at the position. Both of the Ducks NHL goaltenders would be starters in many organizations.
The team save percentage was well above .900 and the club was in the top 10 in goals against in the NHL in 2013.
Key Contributors to Strength: Jonas Hiller, Viktor Fasth, John Gibson and Igor Bobkov
The Ducks are not only strong at the NHL level, but they have two very good prospects in Gibson and Bobkov. Gibson is tracking to become an established NHL goaltender in the next few seasons.
It is unlikely that all of these goaltenders will fit into the Ducks’ future plans, so expect one or more of them to be involved in trades in the coming seasons. It does take a number of years for goaltending prospects to develop their pro games, so the organizational glut may not be resolved soon.
Greatest Strength: Depth on defense
The Boston Bruins had another great season and were Eastern Conference champions.
The Bruins experienced some significant injuries during the playoffs, and yet, their defensive play was exceptional in most games. While goaltender Tuukka Rask has emerged as a more than capable replacement for Tim Thomas, the Bruins’ defensive play was also a result of some young defensemen joining the team for the playoffs and playing very well.
Key Contributors to Strength: Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski, Max Chudinov and Joe Morrow
The Bruins have some outstanding prospects in their system as well as players that have played very well at the NHL level on a limited basis. Krug emerged as a potential top-four defenseman, and Hamilton seems to be on a path to Norris Trophy candidacy in a few years.
Along with the incomparable Zdeno Chara, the Bruins defense is the envy of most teams in the NHL.
Greatest Strength: Organizational depth on defense
The Buffalo Sabres are a team in transition.
Their roster is likely to continue changing as the organization tries to improve in most areas. The Sabres have an abundance of young defensemen at the NHL level and in their system. This is their greatest strength and an important one to have. Teams never seem to have many NHL-caliber defensemen, and the Sabres will have a number of them in a few seasons if prospects develop as expected.
Key Contributors to Strength: Tyler Myers, Chad Ruhwedel, Jake McCabe, Brayden McNabb, Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov
What is great about this list is that these players are at varying stages of their careers. Some will be in their primes shortly, others are just getting to the NHL level and players like Ristolainen and Zadorov are great prospects, but not likely to be playing at the NHL level for a number of seasons.
The Sabres are likely to struggle for at least the next season or two, but there is a lot of reason for optimism in Buffalo.
Greatest Strength: Young talent at forward
The Calgary Flames had a disappointing 2013 season, but as a result, they had a high first-round pick at the recent draft.
They were able to add talented Ottawa 67 center, Sean Monahan. Monahan will join a relatively strong group of young forwards in Calgary in the next year or two, depending on how he continues to progress.
The Flames need to add even more NHL-level talent to become a legitimate playoff contender, but the future is bright in Cowtown.
Key Contributors to Strength: Sven Baertschi, Roman Horak, Max Reinhart, Sean Monahan and John Gaudreau
The first three players listed will have an impact on the Flames in 2013-14. Monahan may join that group, although it might be in his and the team’s best interests to have him spend some time in the AHL first.
A good sign for the Flames is that they have players that are ready to have an immediate impact for the team, and other prospects like Gaudreau that should be ready in a few seasons.
Greatest Strength: Strength down the middle
The Carolina Hurricanes have some world-class talent at the forward position.
In particular, they have some great centers. They are so strong up the middle that some natural centers play out of position quite regularly.
Top teams are rarely weak at the center ice position, and while the Hurricanes have other areas to address, the center position is not one of them.
Key Contributors to Strength: Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Tuomo Ruutu, Victor Rask and Elias Lindholm
The Staal brothers are gifted players who give the Hurricanes one of the best one-two punches in the NHL.
Ruutu will often play on the wing, but he is a strong center when called to play in the middle.
Lindholm may not join the Hurricanes immediately, but he was one of the most talented forwards available in this year’s draft. He projects to be a top-six center with some development at the professional level.
Greatest Strength: Talented and youthful championship core
The Chicago Blackhawks have won a second Stanley Cup championship with a relatively youthful core. After their first championship in 2010 with this particular core, the Blackhawks had an exceptional regular season and a great run to the Cup this past spring.
While there are some veterans on the squad, players like Marian Hossa and Michal Handzus for instance, the core of the team is just reaching its prime and should be a Stanley Cup contender for several seasons.
Key Contributors to Strength: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford
While Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith are also key players, these four players are the backbone of the team.
Toews and Kane are all-world talents, with Toews likely the best all-around player in the league. Kane is one of the most skilled players in the league, and Seabrook can do it all from the point position. Crawford has developed into one of the top goalies in the league, and while a late bloomer in many respects, has a lot of years ahead of him.
Greatest Strength: Young talent at the forward position
The Avalanche have great depth at the forward position, and Patrick Roy’s major issue might be finding enough ice time to keep them all happy. The best teams in the game have speed and skill up front, and the Avalanche have been building that for a few years now.
The Avalanche have other needs to address, but they are certainly flush with talented young forwards.
Key Contributors to Strength: Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog
MacKinnon is a highly-talented forward who instantly upgrades this solid core of Avalanche forwards.
Duchene is a skilled center with tremendous speed and touch. O’Reilly is another very good centerman who plays well in all three zones. Landeskog has leadership qualities well beyond his years. He does a lot of little things the right way.
The group needs to continue to grow together and learn how to win. The future looks very good in the Mile High City.
Greatest Strength: Organizational depth on defense
The Columbus Blue Jackets have made a lot of changes in personnel over the past six months, and as a whole, the club has some very good prospects on defense.
This is going to be very important in 2013-14, as the Blue Jackets will move to the Eastern Conference, and the Metropolitan Division features some of the best forwards in the league.
Key Contributors to Strength: Jack Johnson, Fedor Tyutin, James Wisniewski, Tim Erixon and Ryan Murray
The Blue Jackets have a very good mixture of veterans like Tyutin, players entering their prime, like Johnson, and other defensemen, like Erixon and Murray, that are on the cusp of becoming impact rearguards. The Blue Jackets are going to be challenged to make the playoffs in the very competitive Eastern Conference, but the defensive foundation is being set by GM Jarmo Kekalainen.
With the other talented forwards getting ready to join the Blue Jackets, they might surprise some opponents in 2013-14.
Greatest Strength: Skilled forwards with size in the organization
The Dallas Stars have re-tooled their lineup since the beginning of last season. They have added some good depth centermen that should help the team in the short term.
In order to compete with some of the top teams in the Western Conference, size at the forward position would seem to be important.
Key Contributors to Strength: Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Erik Cole, Brett Ritchie and Valeri Nichushkin
Cole is past his prime, but he still has the skill to score goals at the NHL level.
Benn is one of the more underrated players in the league and is just entering his prime years. Seguin will be motivated to make a great first impression in Texas, and with his sublime talents, look for him to do this in a big way.
Ritchie is 6’4” and well over 200 pounds. He has dominated in junior hockey, and he projects to be a very good power forward at the NHL level. He has an outside shot to make the Stars out of training camp.
Nichushkin is a big body with plenty of raw skill. There is a lot of promise in his game.
Greatest Strength: Veteran star forwards
The Detroit Red Wings are the model franchise in the NHL since the early '90s. They have won consistently and have been able to re-build on the fly thanks to the leadership of GM Ken Holland over that period.
Through trades, free-agent signings and the draft, the Wings have a core of veteran stars that will make the Wings a contender again in 2013-14.
Key Contributors to Strength: Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Alfredsson, Johan Franzen
The Detroit Red Wings have added some veteran personnel in the offseason and already had a number of key stars in place.
Alfredsson is nearing retirement, but the Red Wings puck possession game will be perfect for him. He is extremely intelligent and protects the puck well. He doesn’t skate as well as he did at 30, but he still has great hands.
Datsyuk remains one of the most talented players in the game. He is a huge contributor to making the Red Wings a legitimate contender, year in and year out. Zetterberg plays a similar game to Datsyuk and gives coach Mike Babcock a number of options with changing his line combinations.
Greatest Strength: Young and highly-talented forwards
The Edmonton Oilers have been touted as the “next” great team by some observers for the past season or two.
The Oilers are beginning to strengthen themselves at all positions. They should have some good battles on defense at training camp, but the real strength lies at the forward position.
If Edmonton can retain these skilled players, they could be a Stanley Cup contender in the next few seasons.
Key Contributors to Strength: Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov and David Perron
The Oilers top-six forwards will have as much skill as any team in the league in 2013-14. They do lack size, but if they can improve their lowly faceoff percentage, and play a modern version of keep away, they can win much more than they lose. Hall and Eberle are candidates for Canada’s Olympic team in Sochi. The friendly competition between them to make that team should push them even further.
Hall finished in the top 10 in scoring in 2013 and has the talent to be a Hart Trophy candidate in the future. The Oilers are no lock to make the playoffs, but if they do, these players are the key to them doing so.
Greatest Strength: Organizational depth at center
The Florida Panthers struggled last year and with the additions to the Eastern Conference, they will be hard pressed to make strides in the standings. There are some good pieces in place and the center ice position, is particularly strong.
The Panthers are in for some lean times, but if they are patient with the core, the club should turn the corner in a few seasons.
Key Contributors to Strength: Jonathan Huberdeau, Alexander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad and Rocco Grimaldi
Hurberdeau has played on the wing in Florida, although he has been a great center at other levels of hockey. He has tons of skill and has transitioned well to NHL play.
Bjugstad has made the jump to the NHL, and his combination of size and speed will be tough to contain. The Panthers selected Barkov with the second-overall pick in the 2013 draft. He projects to be a number one center with the organization.
The talent is coming together in Florida, and this bodes well for the future.
Greatest Strength: Great wingers
The Los Angeles Kings are strong at all positions at the NHL level. They also have broader organizational depth at nearly every position. The Kings have Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty as their leaders, but they have a number of great players on the wing.
They have some players in their prime, such as Dustin Brown and Jeff Carter; and also, younger players like Tyler Toffoli, just getting started.
Key Contributors to Strength: Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Tyler Toffoli, Justin Williams and Tanner Pearson
Carter remains an effective player who is versatile enough to be a scoring winger or a great checker.
Brown is a great hitter with soft hands.
Williams had one of the best Corsi numbers in the entire league last year. He continues play high quality hockey at both ends of the rink.
Toffoli and Pearson are both excellent young players, and Toffoli will be an impact player next season. The Kings are rich on the wing.
Greatest Strength: Young, high-quality defensemen
The Minnesota Wild had a good regular season in 2013 and are poised to be a perennial playoff team. The team has some of the best young talent in their farm system and a number of young players that are already having an impact at the NHL level. Expect this trend to continue, particularly on the point.
The Wild have a number of highly-skilled young defensemen. This should result in continued team success.
Key Contributors to Strength: Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Mathew Dumba and Jonathon Blum
The Minnesota Wild have a number of strengths but this stable of young defensemen is excellent.
Suter is entering his prime years as a defensemen. He’s a quality player who will lead the Wild for several years. Brodin was one of the best young defensemen in the league last year and will only continue to get better.
Dumba projects to be a top-pairing defenseman, and with his ability to score and hit, expect him to be a dominant defenseman in a few seasons.
Greatest Strength: Mobile and young defense
The Montreal Canadiens were better than most thought they would be in 2013. While it will be difficult to duplicate this success in 2013-14, the Habs will enter the season with a fast skating and relatively young defense.
Led by Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban, the Canadiens have some talented and mobile young defensemen to help starter Carey Price in net.
Key Contributors to Strength: P.K. Subban, Josh Gorges, Andrei Markov, Alexei Emelin and Jarred Tinordi
Subban has developed into one of the best defensemen in the NHL. He is a threat to score on most shifts, and his defensive play has improved dramatically over the last two seasons.
Markov is another leader on the point, and he offers versatility and a very good all-around game. Emelin is not only mobile, but is also a great hitter. He was very effective in Montreal last year, and the team really missed him after he was injured.
Tinordi offers great size and good skating ability. This is one of the better defensive groups in the NHL.
Greatest Strength: Defensive core group
The Nashville Predators have been one of the better defensive teams in the NHL for a number of seasons.
They haven’t had a lot of scoring options, but Barry Trotz employs a very good defensive system that the players buy into as soon as they become Predators. Despite losing Ryan Suter, the Predators still have an excellent group of defensemen.
It is the best part of their club despite being strong at the goaltender position as well.
Key Contributors to Strength: Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Seth Jones
Weber is an intimidating combination of size, skill and strength. He is a great minute-eater who makes everyone around him play bigger.
Jones has similar qualities, and he is going to be able to learn from Weber in the next few years. Jones has a spot reserved at the NHL level. He will have to play his way off the squad at training camp. Young defensemen Josi and Ellis bring different elements to the defense core.
Josi and Ellis will be important parts of the Predators defense moving forward.
Greatest Strength: Organization-wide goaltending
The New Jersey Devils have been one of the better organizations in the NHL over the past twenty years. GM Lou Lamoriello is an excellent leader and has done a masterful job with his roster during his tenure.
With Martin Brodeur’s career in its twilight, the Devils added Cory Schneider during this year’s NHL draft.
Key Contributors to Strength: Martin Brodeur, Cory Schneider and Scott Wedgewood
The Devils have always concentrated on having a strong defensive system that begins from the net and moves outward.
Brodeur is one of the best goaltenders of his generation. While he may play for one or two more seasons, Schneider has been brought in to be the next starter for the Devils for the next decade at least. Wedgewood is another young netminder who will be ready for NHL duty soon.
The succession plan is clear in New Jersey and goaltending is their greatest strength.
Greatest Strength: Excellent organizational depth on defense
The New York Islanders and their fans had a lot to be excited about following a relatively successful 2013 season.
The Islanders have a number of exciting and dynamic young forwards led by John Tavares. GM Garth Snow has been stockpiling young defensemen through the draft, and it is an obvious strength within the organization.
Key Contributors to Strength: Travis Hamonic, Brian Strait, Thomas Hickey, Griffin Reinhart, Calvin de Haan and Ryan Pulock
While there isn’t room for all of the top prospects to play at the NHL level, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers should be much improved with the number of skilled young defensemen that will be developing in the AHL.
Hamonic and Hickey have developed into good NHL defensemen, and there is room for growth in both of their games. Reinhart plays a very mature game, and while he may not score a lot at the NHL level, he has great size and a high hockey I.Q.
Islander supporters should be very excited about the Islanders despite the challenges that the top Eastern Conference teams will pose next season.
Greatest Strength: Versatile NHL defense group
The New York Rangers will have a new bench boss in former Canucks coach, Alain Vigneault. Vigneault is a very good coach. He is demanding, but he has always done a great job of defending his players.
While he has coached some great offensive players, he does like to focus on the defensive end of the ice. The Rangers have one of the top goalies in the world, and they have the support of some excellent young defensemen.
Key Contributors to Strength: Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi and Michael Del Zotto
The Rangers underperformed for a lot of the season, but they improved by the end of the 2013 campaign.
Henrik Lundqvist was strong in goal and the defensive core was very good when the team was successful. McDonagh has developed into a very good blueliner. Staal will continue to come back from his serious eye injury and all fans of the game will hope for the best for him. Girardi is one of the better defensive defensemen in the NHL, and his simple game is an essential part of the future successes for the Rangers.
Del Zotto is a dynamic defenseman who is very good on the power play.
Greatest Strength: A very good NHL defense
The Ottawa Senators have the Jack Adams Trophy winner from 2013 in the fold. Paul MacLean did an excellent job with the Sens this past season and there are a number of great players in Ottawa.
Bobby Ryan will be a great addition to the organization, but the greatest strength in Ottawa is their defensive personnel.
Key Contributors to Strength: Erik Karlsson, Chris Phillips, Marc Methot and Patrick Wiercioch
The Senators have one of the best defensemen in the league in Karlsson. He made a remarkable recovery from a terrible Achilles injury. Karlsson is an exceptional offensive talent and is easily the best defenseman in Ottawa. He is the kind of player that even opposing fans will buzz about following a game.
Phillips has been rock-steady for the Senators and can be counted on for quality minutes against the top lines from opposing teams. Wiercioch is a young defenseman with a lot of promise.
Expect him to continue to grow and improve under MacLean’s guidance.
Greatest Strength: Highly-skilled at the center ice position
The Philadelphia Flyers failed to make the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, and that will not sit well with management in Philly. GM Paul Holmgren has not sat still in the offseason. Holmgren picked up former Flyer goaltender Ray Emery and Vincent Lecavalier is now a Flyer after being bought out by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
In adding Lecavalier, the Flyers have an excellent set of NHL centers.
Key Contributors to Strength: Claude Giroux, Vincent Lecavalier, Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn
Giroux is an excellent pivot. He’s a scoring machine and will be one of the offensive leaders for Canada at the 2014 Olympics. Giroux is a great skater and has some of the softest hands in the game. Lecavalier will not be counted upon as the top scorer in Philadelphia.
At this stage of his career, he should fit well as a second-line center.
Schenn and Couturier will likely play both at center, and on the wing, from time to time. Without the pressure to be leading scorers, these players can learn the nuances of the center position, while not worrying about being top point-getters.
Greatest Strength: Veteran leadership
The Phoenix Coyotes did not have a good year in 2013. There is a fine line between winning and losing in many Coyote games, as they are challenged to score. Coach Dave Tippett preaches a defense-first system, and he has had great buy-in from his veteran leaders since joining the organization.
The core of leaders in Phoenix is aging, but they are the greatest strength of the organization.
Key Contributors to Strength: Shane Doan, Derek Morris and Mike Smith
Doan is one of the most respected leaders in the game. He is within a few seasons of retiring but he is the heart and soul of the Desert Dogs. Doan plays the game with skill, speed and relentless energy. He’s a great example to young players.
Morris is another veteran leader among defensemen. There are more talented players on the blue line, but none have Morris' experience.
Smith has become a leader as the starting goaltender. He isn’t particularly flashy but he is fundamentally sound. He seems to be a calming influence on his teammates. If he continues to play as well as he did in 2013, may be the third goalie for Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Greatest Strength: Highly-skilled forwards
The Pittsburgh Penguins had a great 2013 regular season. The playoffs were a disappointment, as the Penguins failed not only in their bid for the Stanley Cup, but did not win the Eastern Conference championship either.
The Penguins have some very good defensemen, but the obvious strength of the Penguins, is their highly-skilled forward group.
Key Contributors to Strength: Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal
Crosby remains the best attacking player in the NHL.
When healthy, there is no one better at producing points in the league. His longtime linemate, Kunitz, has been a great fit with him.
Malkin is another excellent center who is nearly impossible to move off the puck and can score almost at will. Neal has been a very good addition in Steeltown, and expect his numbers to only improve as he learns some of the intricacies of both Malkin and Crosby’s games.
Greatest Strength: Exceptional strength down the middle
The San Jose Sharks have done an admirable job of integrating young talent without having to take a significant step back in terms of their overall competitiveness. The Sharks have a great blend of veterans and younger players ready to become legitimate stars not only in the NHL, but at the international level as well.
The Sharks are particularly strong at the center position, and continue to be led by Joe Thornton.
Key Contributors to Strength: Joe Thornton, Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski
The San Jose Sharks have a great group of centers. The two Joes, Thornton and Pavelski, create a lot of match-up issues for opponents. With the emergence of Couture, there is no way that opponents can shut down the Sharks completely, unless they have some luck on their side.
Couture is one of the best young players in the game, and it is only a matter of time until he gets the credit he deserves.
Greatest Strength: Two-way players with skill
The St. Louis Blues are a difficult team to face. They feature a number of players that can put the puck in net and perform well at the other of the ice. Coach Ken Hitchcock did a great job in Dallas with Mike Modano, who developed a great two-way game after working with Hitchcock on his defensive game.
The same process is now happening in St. Louis.
Key Contributors to Strength: David Backes, Chris Stewart, Alexander Steen and T.J. Oshie
The Blues are led by Backes, who is a lethal combination of size, speed and great skill.
Backes is a complete player who prides himself on contributing to the Blues success at both ends of the rink. Steen has become a great two-way player and his Corsi numbers have been very good over the last two seasons. Stewart has also developed a complete game.
With these forwards leading the way, the Blues are sure to garner a lot of support as Stanley Cup contenders in 2013-14.
Greatest Strength: Highly-skilled forwards
The Tampa Bay Lightning did not have a good 2013 season.
GM Steve Yzerman was a competitive player, and the poor performance will not sit well with him and the rest of the management team. While the Lightning have a few areas of concern, their greatest strength is their highly-skilled forward group.
Key Contributors to Strength: Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Jonathan Drouin
The Lightning are led by the best pure goal scorer in the game today. Stamkos can hurt teams in a number of ways. He is a great passer with exceptional vision to find his teammates at opportune moments.
Stamkos is also a great sniper, and along with St. Louis, the duo is almost impossible to stop without taking penalties to do so. Drouin has not played an NHL game yet, but rest assured that he will bring tremendous speed and skill to the Lightning roster.
Tampa will be one of the more exciting NHL teams to watch in 2013-14. Stamkos, St. Louis and Drouin will be the main draw for fans.
Greatest Strength: Organizational depth on defense
The Toronto Maple Leafs have a number of strengths thanks to some good drafting and trades. While the Leafs have built up their roster, and now have few areas of concern, their greatest strength is organizational depth on the point.
The Leafs have a really good mix of veteran and young defenders. The backbone for a successful team is now well established.
Key Contributors to Strength: Dion Phaneuf, Jake Gardiner, Carl Gunnarsson, Morgan Rielly and Cody Franson (pending Restricted Free Agent)
The Maple Leafs have some talented forwards, but their depth on defense, throughout the organization, is excellent.
Phaneuf is often criticized, but his advanced stats are quite good. He plays a lot of difficult minutes against the opponents' top lines.
Gardiner is developing into a top defender. He is the type of young defenseman that all teams covet.
Rielly offers good size, mobility, and an ability to play a three-zone game. Expect Rielly to become an excellent top-four defenseman with the potential to be a multi-year NHL All-Star in the future.
Greatest Strength: Depth at center throughout the organization
The Vancouver Canucks are moving to the challenging Pacific Division, and they will be facing some big teams with a lot of skill. Many Canucks players are entering the final years in their peak. The core group is not likely to stay together for a lot longer.
While the Canucks have a number of very good players, their greatest strength is their centermen throughout the organization.
Key Contributors to Strength: Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Jordan Schroeder, Brendan Gaunce and Bo Horvat
Sedin has been a great center, and combined with twin brother Daniel, the duo is difficult to slow down on most nights.
Kesler is one of the best two-way forwards in the game. He can defend against top opponents, and scores timely goals.
Gaunce and Horvat represent the future. Horvat in particular could develop into a great two-way center. He is a heady player who puts his team ahead of himself.
Greatest Strength: Right wingers throughout the organization
The Washington Capitals were one of the better teams in the second half of the season. Washington players were learning a new system under coach Adam Oates. When they bought in fully and started to execute, the results were very good.
The Capitals are strong in a number of areas, but their greatest strength is at right wing.
Key Contributors to Strength: Alex Ovechkin, Martin Erat, Joel Ward and Yevgeni Kuznetsov
The Capitals can boast the Hart Trophy winner in Ovechkin. He had a bounce-back year and led the Caps offensively. He creates scoring chances on nearly every shift. Fellow right wingers Erat and Ward are very good NHL wingmen.
Erat can help out defensively, and is very creative in the offensive zone. Ward has a complete game with a physical edge being a great asset.
RKuznetsov is considered one of the best players not playing in the NHL. If he joins the Capitals in the next season or two, expect the Capitals to have to make some room in their top-six for him.
Greatest Strength: Physical forwards with scoring touch
The Winnipeg Jets were just a handful of points away from joining the 2013 playoffs.
Jets fans have created a great home atmosphere for the team. Much of the on-ice excitement has been created by a group of forwards who not only play a physical brand of hockey, but also have some great puck skill.
Key Contributors to Strength: Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little and Evander Kane
Left wing Ladd leads the team and is a creative player who loves to create space for his teammates with his physical play.
Wheeler plays a similar game and has even more size than Ladd. Wheeler is a great forechecker with soft hands. He is almost immovable in front of the net.
Kane has had his share of negative publicity in the past year or two, but his on-ice play has been very good. He is a gifted skater who is excellent in the corners. If Kane can focus his efforts even more, he could become one of the top left wingers in the game.