The 2023-24 NHL season is just around the corner, and that means that it is time for my season preview and predictions for each division winner. The winner of each division in the NHL gets a big advantage come playoff time, as it guarantees home ice in the first two rounds of the playoffs. In the 2022-23 season, just two of the four division champs from 2021-22 won a second consecutive division title. Heading into the 2023-24 season, it would not be shocking to see that happen again. As of writing, the betting odds predict that two of the four division champs from last season will stay on top.

But what are my predictions?


Atlantic Division

The Bruins won the Atlantic division last season, setting an NHL record for wins and points with a 65-12-5 (W-L-T) record for 135 points (2 points for a win, 1 point for an overtime loss, 0 points for a regulation loss). However, the books have the Toronto Maple Leafs as the betting favorites, and for good reason. The Bruins will be without former captain Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, both of whom retired this past offseason, as well as others. That has left the Bruins with a massive hole to fill up the middle at center, among other spots.

Speaking of up the middle, Toronto is seemingly set on playing winger William Nylander at center this upcoming season to help their depth, but that makes no sense to me.

Then there’s the Tampa Bay Lightning, who won back to back Stanley Cups in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, whose biggest move of the offseason was to sign another player, Brendan Hagel, to an eight year extension. 

Then we have the Florida Panthers (who made the Stanley Cup Finals last season), the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres (two exciting, youthful teams), the Detroit Red Wings (who failed to surprise last year as some thought they would), and the Montreal Canadiens, who honestly sucked.

My pick for the Atlantic Division winner is the Boston Bruins. Is it a biased pick? Probably, but that does not matter to me. Brad Marchand is the new captain, David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy will step up as alternate captains, and the Bruins may have the best goalie tandem in the league. They are set to regress regardless, as last year’s record-breaking season is extremely unlikely to be repeated. The B’s still have star power though, and guys like Pavel Zacha are set to step up into massive roles where they can succeed.

Bruins 2023-24 schedule: Connor Bedard, Taylor Hall in Boston for Game 1 -


Metropolitan Division

The Carolina Hurricanes will be looking to win their third consecutive division Metropolitan title, as they are the betting favorites to win the division with Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, and more leading the way. New Jersey had a massive breakout season last year and may have improved, and the New York Rangers eclipsed 100 points last season. Then there are the New York Islanders, who are always a tough team to play against, but are more built for the playoffs than the regular season. The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals are led respectively by future first-ballot Hall of Famers Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. Then there’s a slight drop off to the bottom-dwelling Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets. 

My prediction for the Metropolitan Division winner is the New Jersey Devils. The addition of Timo Meier at last year’s trade deadline should be even bigger over the balance of an entire season. The Devils also did well keeping Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier surrounded by a ton of talent, adding veteran Tyler Toffoli and bringing in Jack Hughes’ brother Luke, a fourth overall pick who joined the Devils for last year’s playoff run and who just may be the Devils’ best defenseman. 

Why the New Jersey Devils are dominating the NHL - ESPN


Central Division

Moving to the Central Division, the Colorado Avalanche are in the same spot as the Carolina Hurricanes, seeking their third consecutive division title. The Avs, led by Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar but without captain Gabriel Landeskog for the entire season, are indeed the betting favorites to pull off that feat.

There is a strong chasing pack behind them though, led by the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild, two teams who have star wingers in Jason Robertson and Kirill Kaprizov to lead the way offensively. Then there are the Winnipeg Jets, who are always in playoff contention despite the constant drama and problems that surround them. Two more teams who could potentially play a role are the Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues, although neither seem likely to win the division title. After them come the Arizona Coyotes and the Chicago Blackhawks, two teams who suck but feature one really good player to watch in Clayton Keller (Coyotes) and the 2023 NHL Draft’s number one pick Connor Bedard (Blackhawks). 

My Central Division pick is to roll with the Dallas Stars. Jason Robertson is a stud, Roope Hintz is one of the most underrated players in the NHL, and I believe that Wyatt Johnston will have a very, very good sophomore campaign, giving the Stars a dynamic young trio to lead them to the division title around a very solid and talented team. Plus, goaltender Jake Oettinger is just 25 years old and coming off a fifth place finish in the Vezina Trophy voting (award for best goaltender).

Joe Pavelski's Game 4 overtime winner keeps Stars alive vs Golden Knights in Western Conference Finals | Fox News


Pacific Division

Last but not least is the Pacific Division, where the reigning Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights will look to win their second straight division title on the backs of Mark Stone, Jack Eichel, and Alex Pietrangelo. However, betting odds have the Edmonton Oilers as the betting favorites to win the division, led by the far and away best player in the world, Connor McDavid, as well as arguably the second best player in the world, Leon Draisaitl.

Also chasing the division title will be the Los Angeles Kings, who shocked many last year by reaching the playoffs with over 100 points, as well as the Seattle Kraken, who made their playoff debut in just their second NHL season. Calgary could also prove to be an interesting challenge if they can escape their crap show. After that, there’s not much going on in the Pacific.

As good as Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes are, the Canucks still are not in a position to win anything, and the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks might as well have not shown up last season with how obvious it was that they were trying to tank for Connor Bedard.

My Pacific Division prediction is that the Los Angeles Kings will shock people once again this year, actually winning the division this time. Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty are still good at their age, and Adrian Kempe and Kevin Fiala join Kopitar to form one of my favorite lines in the NHL. The addition of Vladislav Gavrikov at the trade deadline last season was big, but the offseason acquisition of Pierre-Luc Dubois may be even bigger. If he can settle in with the Kings and find his role, he can definitely be a 30-40 goal scorer at the center position. Add in all the young pieces the Kings have, and they are a team that can surprise many people.

Analyzing LA Kings Potential Stanley Cup Playoffs Opponents


That wraps up my NHL season preview and division winner predictions. The NHL season is always fun, and you never know what might happen. If there is anything you would like to add to the NHL conversation, make sure to let us know by tweeting it out and tagging myself @derrik_maguire and @BleacherBrawls to let us know your thoughts as the NHL season draws near.

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