By James Koppeard | NHL.com/Sports WriterNHL teams are in for a busy few weeks, with a lot of new teams coming to town.
Here’s what you need to know.1.
New teams will be competing for a lot more playersThis is the biggest year for all NHL teams, but it’s also the most important one.
So it’s critical to know who’s playing and how.
Here’s a quick breakdown.2.
Players on the rise, old players in declineWhile the NHL is still a very young league, many of its players are entering their prime.
This is one of the reasons why some of these guys will be a factor moving forward.
Here are some players who are entering the prime of their careers, and who will be on the verge of a career renaissance:Goalie Joe Vitale: He had a breakout year with a 1.82 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage in his second season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
His numbers fell off after a breakout season with Columbus in 2015-16.
He’s coming off his best season in two years, but he still has room to improve.2nd overall pick Alex Steen: A very strong player, Steen is entering his age-23 season and could be a solid contributor for a playoff team.
His production dipped off last season, though, after an injury-shortened campaign with the Washington Capitals.3.
Top prospects are on the horizonThe Maple Leafs are still a strong team, and this is a good time for their top prospects to be at the NHL level.
They have young talent, and it’s important to make sure the players who have the most success develop into NHL players.
Here is a look at some players the Leafs are eyeing for the future:3rd overall pick Noah Juulsen: Juulsens season was derailed by an injury, and he was a healthy scratch for the final few games of the season.
He had an excellent rookie season, and should be a quality goalie in the NHL.4th overall pick Filip Chytil: Chytill, who turns 19 in March, had a strong rookie campaign with St. Louis, finishing fifth in scoring with three goals and 16 points.
He has a solid future in the American Hockey League.5th overall draft pick Josh Morrissey: Morrissey had a disappointing rookie campaign, but has a big future as a top-four NHL goalie.
He could also develop into a top goalie in Europe.6th overall selection Nikita Scherbak: Scherbaks season was disrupted by an injured knee, and that could have an impact on his development.
He was recalled to St. John’s to finish the season, but his stock has fallen off.7th overall picks Nikita Zadorov and Mikhail Sergachev: Both are big, athletic prospects who could develop into top-five NHL goalies.
Both have solid hockey IQs.8th overall selections Niklas Svedberg and Joonas Korpisalo: Svedbak has a good shot, and Korpiasalo has the speed.9th overall draftee Jakub Zboril: Zbori has played well for Sweden, and has a very good chance to be a top NHL defenseman.10th overall round pick Nikita Nesterov: Nestero had a solid rookie season with St-Louis, finishing with six goals and 22 points in 59 games.
He is a solid two-way center, and could develop quickly.11th overall prospect Christian Dvorak: Dvoraks numbers fell significantly after an impressive rookie season in Columbus, but a bounce-back season with a .930 save percentage should keep him from being a bust.12th overall forward Michael Matheson: Mathes is a very talented young player, and his upside is just getting started.13th overall prospects Mikhail Grigorenko and Alexander Stalnov: Grigorov had a big rookie season for the Dallas Stars, finishing second in goals with 20 and 16 assists.
Stalovov is the next great Russian goalies, and a good bet to be an elite goalie.14th overall player Mikhail Serban: Serban has a chance to develop into an elite Russian goaltender.15th overall goalie prospect Niklas Lundqvist: Lundqvists numbers fell dramatically after a very strong rookie season.
Lundqvism is a strong goalie and should develop into the next Vezina Trophy winner.16th overall drafted prospect Nikolaj Ehlers: Ehlers had a slow start in the season after signing a big contract with the New York Islanders.
He struggled in the second half of the year, but that could change as he develops his game.17th overall first-round pick Dylan Strome: Strome had a decent rookie season before an injury to his knee put him out of the lineup.
He will have to wait at least another