WATCH — Abigail’s picks for top NHL teams and key players
The Leafs, the Lightning and the Flames are on my list
The NHL season just got underway, which means eight months of hockey ahead.
I recently completed my fantasy draft and I focused on picking players from what I thought would be the strongest teams.
So based on that, here are three teams and their key players to watch for this NHL season.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs have one of the strongest core groups in the NHL, thanks to players like John Tavares, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Morgan Reilly and Frederick Anderson.
All were signed within the salary cap — at least for now.
From left to right, John Tavares, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are among the top players on the Maple Leafs roster. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press, Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Four of their top six defencemen become unrestricted free agents after this season and being so close to the cap, they won’t all be able to stay.
So for Leafs Nation, the time is now.
The Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate their Stanley Cup win in 1967. (NHL)
The Maple Leafs haven’t won the cup since 1967 and with all the talent they now have, this could be their year.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay dominated the regular season last year, finishing first overall and 21 points ahead of the second-place team.
They were the clear favourites to win the Stanley Cup but they couldn’t hold on and were swept in the first round by Columbus.
From left to right, Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point all could help the Lightning be the highest scoring team in the NHL. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images, Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images, John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)
With only minor changes to the roster during the offseason, the Lightning will be just as strong this year.
The offence is led by Nikita Kucherov, the reigning Hart Trophy winner, who had 128 points last season.
Add to that Steven Stamkos’s 45 goals and Brayden Point’s 92 points and the Lightning have the potential to be the highest-scoring team in the league.
Finally, out in the Western Conference, keep an eye on the Calgary Flames.
Scoring goals will not be a problem.
They were tied for second in league scoring last year with a whopping 289 goals.
Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monaghan and Mattew Tkachuk are all expected to help the Calgary Flames lead their conference this year. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press, Matthew Stockman/Getty Images, Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)
I’ve got my eye on Johnny Gaudreau, who got 99 points last year.
Sean Monaghan set career highs in goals, assists and points.
Not to mention newly signed young gun Matthew Tkachuk.
The Flames also brought in goaltender Cam Talbot to share the crease with David Rittich and hopefully solidify that position.
If it works, look for a long playoff run from the Flames.
Check out a video of Abigail's top picks here: