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2023-24 Western Conference preview: the bubble teams

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Photo credit:© Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Munnich
6 months ago
Yesterday we did a quick season preview for each of the elite teams in the Western Conference, Colorado, Dallas, Edmonton, Vegas, and LA. Today we will take a look at the off-season moves made by the wild card contending teams which includes Seattle, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Nashville, Minnesota, Arizona, and St Louis.
The Flames will most likely be fighting with those seven teams for two wild card spots. Let’s see what their roster looks like heading into the 2023-24 season!
All projected lineups are courtesy of our friends at Daily Faceoff.

Seattle Kraken

2022-23 Point Total: 100 Points, First Wild Card Spot
Additions: Kailer Yamamoto, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Brian Dumoulin
Subtractions: Daniel Sprong, Ryan Donato, Morgan Geekie, Carson Soucy, Martin Jones
The Kraken shocked the hockey world last year when they clinched their first playoff birth in franchise history and upsetting the Colorado Avalanche in seven games in the first round of the playoffs. The Kraken are a fast paced, up-tempo, defensive team who wins games by committee. Last season, they had 18 players with at least 20 points, the most in the NHL last season. I don’t see that changing this year. They’ll be in the mix for a playoff spot once again.

Vancouver Canucks

2022-23 Point Total: 83 Points. Missed Playoffs
Additions: Pius Suter, Sam Lafferty, Teddy Blueger, Carson Soucy, Ian Cole, Casey DeSmith
Subtractions: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Ethan Bear, Collin Delia, Spencer Martin
The Vancouver Canucks collection of high-end talent is some of the best in the NHL. Their core group of Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller, Andrei Kuzmenko, Quinn Hughes, and Thatcher Demko will help win them a lot of games this season. You know what you’re going to get from those guys and it’s excellent play and a lot of production. What the Canucks need is their depth players to step up and make a significant contribution, something that hasn’t happened in over a decade. The Canucks will be competitive, but are they deep enough to make the playoffs?

Minnesota Wild

2022-23 Point Total:  103 Points. Third in Central Division
Additions: Pat Maroon
Subtractions: Matt Dumba, Oskar Sundqvist, Gustav Nyquist, Sam Steel, Ryan Reeves, John Klingberg
The Wild are a very consistent bunch and one of the toughest teams in the NHL to play against because of their size, toughness, and defence first mindset. The last two years they’ve finished with over 100 points in the central division, only to lose in the first round of the playoffs. No doubt they’ll be competitive again, especially if Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi and take another step forward in their development. But how will it translate to the playoffs?

Winnipeg Jets

2022-23 Point Total:  95 Points. Second Wild Card Spot
Additions: Gabe Vilardi, Alex Iafallo, Rasmus Kupari, Laurent Brossoit
Subtractions: Pierre-Luc Dubois, Blake Wheeler, Sam Gagner, David Rittich
The Jets are very similar to the Canucks when you consider their high end talent and goaltending. Both teams have elite talent and a Vezina calibre goalie. But like Vancouver, the question in Winnipeg is going to be about their depth. Can they get enough production out of the likes of Cole Perfetti, Alex Iafallo, Nino Niederreiter and others to supplement the production of the top players? They will be fighting for third place in the central or a wild card.

Nashville Predators

2022-23 Point Total: 92 Points. Missed Playoffs
Additions: Ryan O’Reilly, Gustav Nyquist, Luke Schenn
Subtractions: Matt Duchene, Ryan Johansen, Zach Sanford, Cal Foote
The Predators finished the last quarter of the season with a winning record without Matt Duchene, Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg, Nino Niederreiter, Roman Josi, and Mattias Ekholm. If their young players like Tommy Novak, Luke Evangelista, Juuso Parssinen, and Cody Glass can either keep up their play at the end of last season or take another step in their development, and get some help from a healthy lineup and additions of O’Reilly and Nyquist, watch out. This could be a playoff team.

St. Louis Blues

2022-23 Point Total:  81 Points. Missed Playoffs
Additions: Kevin Hayes, Oskar Sundqvist
Subtractions: Tyler Pitlick, Josh Leivo, Logan Brown, Matthew Highmore
Which St Louis Blues are going to show up this season? The one that had nine 20 goal scorers and made the playoffs in the 2022-23 season? Or the one that severely under-performed last season? This is a group with a lot of talent; Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou, Pavel Buchnevich, Jakub Vrana to name a few of their better players. The Blues are talented enough to make the playoffs. But can they put it all together like they did two years ago?

Arizona Coyotes

2022-23 Point Total: 70 Points. Missed Playoffs
Additions: Logan Cooley, Jason Zucker, Alex Kerfoot, Nick Bjugstad, Zach Sanford, Matt Dumba, Sean Durzi, Troy Stecher, Travis Dermott
Subtractions: Christian Fischer, Zack Kassian, Patrick Nemeth
Everyone is sleeping on the Arizona Coyotes. This is a team that might be able to surprise some people. They are deep, fast, and tenacious. They remind me of a slightly worse version of the Seattle Kraken last season. There isn’t a ton of high-end talent outside of Clayton Keller, but there are a lot of solid players throughout the lineup.  The Coyotes will be the surprise team of the western conference and be in the battle for a wild card spot if they can score by committee and play a great team game.
Which on of these teams do you think will make the playoffs this season? Let us know in the comments section! 
Get your tickets for the FlamesNation Season Home Opener party, and come hang out with us at Greta Bar while we watch the Flames take on the Winnipeg Jets in their season opener!

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