On Wednesday, the Washington Capitals will raise their 2018 Stanley Cup banner and the NHL season will begin.

Here's a preview of each of the league's 31 teams, in predicted order of finish.


Metropolitan Division


Last season: 100 points, 2nd in division, lost to Washington in second round

Notable: Forget Cups, gold medals and MVPs; Sidney Crosby over the summer was named the greatest athlete in Nova Scotia history. Some, especially around here, argue he's also the greatest diver ever to come out of the Canadian province. The Penguins dealt Conor Sheary to Buffalo in a salary move but have plenty to make a Cup run, especially if goalie Matt Murray can stay healthy.

Key number: 42. Number of power-play points for Phil Kessel last season (12 goals, 30 assists). It led the league and accounted for 46 percent of the 92 points he had total.


Last season: 105 points, 1st in division, won Stanley Cup

Notable: Most of the roster that finally delivered a title is back in D.C., including defenseman John Carlson, who could have bolted after a career year. He was retained with an 8-year, $64 million deal. Tom Wilson has a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday after his vicious hit on St. Louis forward Oskar Lundqvist. He's looking at his fourth suspension in a little more than a calendar year.

Key number: 111. Average number of points the Caps rolled up during Barry Trotz's four seasons as coach. After a contract dispute, he was replaced by Todd Reirden, who was an assistant for Trotz.

>> READ MORE: Calvin Pickard added to crowded goalie list


Last season: 98 points, 3rd in division, lost to Pittsburgh in first round

Notable: James van Riemsdyk wasn't the No. 1 free agent available (John Tavares was), but he was in the top 5. The most popular guy in the organization is probably going to be Carter Hart, a 20-year-old who is seen as the goalie of the future. He'll start the season in the minors. The Flyers have had one all-star goalie in the last 30 years – Roman Cechmanek in 2001.

Key number: 30. Number of points put up last season by then-19-year-old rookie Nolan Patrick in 73 games. He had 21 in his final 33 games and is a fantasy sleeper heading into 2018-19.

Source: Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook

Flyers position previews: Left wing now a strengthCompetitive group of centersIf Wayne Simmonds is right, so is that side of the icePower play looks improved, but penalty kill has questionsDefense has strength and experience, but is it enough?Goalie injuries wreak havoc on depth chart


Last season: 97 points, 5th in division, lost to Tampa Bay in first round

Notable: It'll be a clean slate of sorts for left winger Marcus Johansson, whose first season with the Devils was cut short due to a concussion. Johansson played in just 29 games last season. He had 24 goals for the Capitals the year before.

Key number: $6 million. Salary for Taylor Hall, the reigning MVP who is in line for a contract extension next summer. Will it be with the Devils, the team he almost single-handedly brought to the playoffs last year?


Last season: 97 points, 4th in division, lost to Washington in first round

Notable: Star goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and winger Artemi Panarin could be free agents after the season, and might be looking to move into bigger markets. Panarin had a career-best 82 points last season. All-star defenseman Seth Jones will start the season on the shelf with a sprained MCL.

Key number: 16. Number of goals for Zach Werenski, which tied the franchise record for defensemen. Werenski played most of the season with a shoulder injury so severe that teammate Seth Jones, according to the Columbus Dispatch, asked fiery coach John Tortorella to take it easy on Werenski.


Last season: 83 points, sixth in division

Notable: Changed the owner, general manager, coach and dealt some of their top scorers. Rod Brind'Amour, a Flyers Hall of Famer who was captain when the 'Canes won the Cup in 2006, is the head coach. His two visits to the Wells Fargo Center are Jan. 3 and April 6, which is the regular-season finale.

Key number: 18. Age of Andrei Svechnikov, the No. 2 overall pick in 2018 who is expected to contribute this season. He trained with Ivan Provorov, among others, in Russia during the summer.

>> READ MORE: Once the Flyers' by-example leader, Rod Brind'Amour set to begin head-coaching career


Last season: 80 points, 7th in division

Notable: The Islanders lost John Tavares but added the hottest coach when Barry Trotz left the Capitals after a contract dispute less than two weeks after he guided them to their first Stanley Cup victory. Imagine it'd be like seeing Doug Pederson on the sidelines for the Cowboys. Trotz's first visit back to Washington is Jan. 18.

Key number: 85. Points Mathew Barzal had last season to lead the Islanders, one more than Tavares. Barzal, last year's rookie of the year, is just 21 years old and poised to become the new face of the team.


Last season: 77 points, 8th in division

Notable: Chris Kreider occasionally complained about Alain Vigneault's subdued nature. That's not the case with new coach David Quinn. "There's a lot of chatter between the players," Kreider told the New York Post. "You [can] hear guys screaming on the ice and that's good. It was too quiet before."

Key number: 2.98. The goals-against average for Henrik Lundqvist last season, easily the highest of his career.

Atlantic Division


Last season: 105 points, 3rd in division, lost to Boston in first round

Notable: The addition of John Tavares in free agency has Toronto fans thinking (gulp) Stanley Cup. Not only do the Maple Leafs have solid depth up front (Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Patrick Marleau), but goaltender Frederik Andersen was the top goalie at the World Championships. Hopefully, it'll help him get over an awful Game 7 loss to the Bruins.

Key number: 32. Age of general manager Kyle Dubas, who took the job from 75-year-old Lou Lamoriello. Besides changes to the roster, Dubas is allowing players to have facial hair and wear high numbers. He probably even invites kids to play on his lawn.


Last season: 112 points, 2nd in division, lost to Tampa Bay in second round

Notable: The Bruins need to get production beyond their top line and made a run at free-agent center John Tavares. This did not sit well with David Krejci, who is the second-line center.

Key number: 42. The age Zdeno Chara turns on March 18. The Bruins have some good young defenseman (Charlie McAvoy, Torey Krug), but it was Chara who led the team in ice time yet again last year.


Last season: 113 points, 1st in division, lost to Washington in conference finals

Notable: General manager Steve Yzerman's resignation on Sept. 11 was a surprise. Julien BriseBois, who ran Tampa's AHL operations, is in charge of the big club. BriseBois started as a lawyer working for teams in arbitration cases against players.

Key number: $9.5 million. Average annual value of the 8-year, $76 million contract given to Nikita Kucherov, 25, who hit the 100-point mark for the first time in his career.

Source: Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook


Last season: 96 points, 4th in division

Notable: Looking forward to games against the Canadiens after Max Domi beat up Florida's Aaron Ekblad in a preseason skirmish that goalie Roberto Luongo called "gutless." Domi got a five-game suspension for the incident. "It's dumb. I think he's stupid for doing it," Ekblad said. "In the end, it's hockey. That's the way it goes. Scores will get settled at a later date."

Key number: 23. Age of first-year captain Aleksander Barkov, the youngest captain in Panthers history. "A dream come true," was how Barkov described it. "I mean, it's probably the biggest honor I've ever had in my life." Florida plays the Jets in Barkov's native Finland on Nov. 1-2.


Last season: 62 points, 8th in division, worst in NHL

Notable: Made enough moves that there is actually some warranted optimism. Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, the No. 1 overall pick in 2018, and center Casey Mittelstadt are projected to be rookie-of-the-year candidates.

Key number: 25. This is still Jack Eichel's team. He and Sam Reinhart led the Sabres with 25 goals last season. They also were minus-25 and minus-24, respectively.


Last season: 73 points, 5th in division

Notable: The Red Wings have passed the torch from the retired Henrik Zetterberg to youngster Dylan Larkin, who had a career-best 47 assists last season. (He had 37 in his first two seasons combined.) Detroit thinks it got a steal when it landed forward Filip Zadina with the sixth overall pick. He'll start the year in the minors.

Key number: 33. Number of points last year for Mike Green, the veteran defenseman who decided to return to the Wings on a two-year deal. He's fighting a viral infection.


Last season: 71 points, 6th in division

Notable: Solved one problem by trading captain Max Pacioretty and his expiring contract to Vegas three weeks ago. Now they just have to make sure franchise goalie Carey Price Is Right in order to get back to the showcase playoffs. Shea Weber is the new captain.

Key number: .900. Price's save percentage last season. His goals-against average, 3.11, also was a career worst. The 31-year-old former league MVP is pledging to be better.


Last season: 67 points, 7th in division

Notable: If this team doesn't finish in last, Guy Boucher should get coach-of-the-year consideration.

Key number: .25 mile. Distance the tornado that hit the Ottawa area on Sept. 21 came within the home of winger Bobby Ryan. The Cherry Hill native told the Ottawa Sun, "we got lucky."


Central Division


Last season: 114 points, 2nd in division, lost to Vegas in conference finals

Notable: The Jets return most of the lumber that helped them to the best season in franchise history. They did lose rental Paul Stastny to Vegas, but there are kids capable of stepping in. Patrik Laine, 20, was second to Alex Ovechkin (49) in goals last season with 44. Laine has 80 goals in 155 games.

Key number: 4,188 miles. Distance from Winnipeg to Helsinki, where the Jets play the Panthers on Nov. 1-2. Both teams have a week off afterward before resuming their schedule.


Last season: 117 points, 1st in division, lost to Winnipeg in second round

Notable: The Preds lost in the Cup Finals to Pittsburgh in 2016 and in a Game 7 to Winnipeg last year, so they made only a few moves. "[We] truly believe this team can win a Stanley Cup," said second-year captain Roman Josi, "and that's why we want to keep this team together."

Key number: 17. One decision the Predators did make was not offering a contract to Scott Hartnell, who retired on Monday after 17 seasons.


Last season: 94 points, 5th in division

Notable: The Blues missed the postseason by one point and went out and made several key acquisitions. They picked up center Ryan O'Reilly from Buffalo and winger David Perron from Vegas. Since 2012-13, Perron has played for (in chronological order) St. Louis, Edmonton, Pittsburgh, Anaheim, St. Louis again, Vegas and St. Louis again.

Key number: 2. O'Reilly played 81 games for Buffalo last season and averaged nearly 21 minutes per. He had one penalty, a two-minute slashing call against the Red Wings last October.

Source: Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook


Last season: 95 points, 4th in division, lost to Nashville in first round

Notable: Looking to build on an enormous leap when they went from dead last in the league in 2016-17 to the playoffs last season. Veteran defenseman Ian Cole, who won two Cups with the Penguins, was added in free agency.

Key number: 97. Points last season for Nathan MacKinnon, who turned 23 on Sept. 1. MacKinnon finished second to New Jersey's Taylor Hall in the MVP race and notched the most points by an Avs player since Joe Sakic had 100 in 2006-07.


Last season: 92 points, 6th in division

Notable: Jim Montgomery, a former Flyer who came up with the nickname "Legion of Doom," takes over behind the bench for Ken Hitchcock. Montgomery had been the coach at the University of Denver, where he won the NCAA title in 2017.

Key number: 2.71. Goals-against average last season. The Stars and St. Louis were the only teams in the top 10 in fewest goals against to not make the playoffs. Dallas needs to get more offense beyond Tyler Seguin.


Last season: 101 points, 3rd in division, lost to Winnipeg in first round

Notable: The Wild continue to rack up points in the regular season and fold like a lawn chair come April. Minnesota didn't make many moves in the offseason but will get defenseman Ryan Suter back after a late-season serious leg/ankle injury. Suter has averaged 28 minutes per game in his six seasons with Minnesota.

Key number: 25-12-8. Minnesota's record in games when Zach Parise played last season. He had a goal in each of the first three playoff games before sustaining a fractured sternum. Hate when that happens.


Last season: 76 points, 7th in division

Notable: The Blackhawks won three Cups from 2010-15 but haven't won a playoff series since. Another last-place finish could result in major changes. Alex DeBrincat, who led the team with 28 goals last season, isn't going anywhere, however.

Key number: 0-3. Chicago will host Boston on Jan. 1 at Notre Dame Stadium. (Hear they're going to change Touchdown Jesus to Touchdown Koharski.) Chicago has lost all three of its Winter Classic games – at Wrigley Field in 2009, at Nationals Park in 2015 and at Busch Stadium in 2017.

Pacific Division


Last season: 100 points, 3rd in division, lost to Vegas in second round

Notable: The mid-September acquisition of defenseman Erik Karlsson is the hockey equivalent of the Chicago Bears getting Khalil Mack. The Sharks host the All-Star Game on Saturday, Jan. 26. The skills competition will be held the night before.

Key number: 13. Goals last season for Evander Kane in 26 games, including the postseason. San Jose gave him a 7-year, $49 million contract in May. "The one thing about this team, this group, and this organization is they allow you to be yourself," he said after inking the deal. "They embrace you for who you are, and it's a very unselfish group that makes it super easy to come into and mesh well with."


Last season: 101 points, 2nd in division, lost to San Jose in first round

Notable: The Ducks are transitioning to a more up-tempo style of play. It's an interesting change for a team that has had at least 100 points in each of the last five years but not reached the Cup Finals. "We've addressed this," coach Randy Carlyle told the Los Angeles Times, "we've taken a long, hard look at what we think it's going to take to be successful and we're going to try and hold our feet to the fire as much as possible in doing that."

Key number: 4. Number of goals the Ducks managed in getting swept by the Sharks. They were outscored 16-4, which includes an 8-1 loss in Game 3. Hence the style change.


Last season: 109 points, 1st in division, lost to Washington in Cup Finals

Notable: Coming off a historic season, the Golden Knights signed Paul Stastny away from Winnipeg and traded for Montreal captain Max Pacioretty. Lost James Neal (25 goals) to Calgary and David Perron (team-best 50 assists) to St. Louis.

Key number: 37. Points registered by Pacioretty in 64 games with Montreal last season, fewest he's had in seven years.

Source: Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook

>> READ MORE: Dave Hakstol, unmasked


Last season: 78 points, 6th in division

Notable: Connor McDavid (108 points) became the first player to win back-to-back scoring titles since Jaromir Jagr won four in a row from 1997-2001. Problem was, he didn't have much help and the Oilers missed the playoffs. Milan Lucic had just 10 goals last season. He can do better.

Key number: 3.02. Goals-against average for Cam Talbot last year. He started training in late June to try to reverse his disappointing season. "I rented ice and rounded up some guys who could rip pucks at me," he told the Edmonton Journal.


Last season: 84 points, 5th in division

Notable: Fired coach Glen Gulutzan after missing the postseason and replaced him with Bill Peters, who was the coach at Carolina for four seasons and never made the playoffs. The Flames also brought Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm in from Carolina in the Dougie Hamilton deal. Hanifin and Lindholm each got a contract in excess of $29 million over the summer, so they're part of the foundation.

Key number: 84. Points last season for Johnny Gaudreau, which was a career high and led the team. He's playing alongside James Neal, who had 25 goals for Vegas last season.


Last season: 98 points, 4th in division, lost to Vegas in first round

Notable: The biggest move the Kings made was signing Ilya Kovalchuk, who had spent the past five seasons playing in the KHL. Usually durable former captain Dustin Brown is out indefinitely after sustaining a broken finger on a shot by teammate Anze Kopitar in the preseason finale.

Key number: 55. Number of games missed last season by Jeff Carter because of an ankle injury. He scored 22 points in the 27 games he did play. The Kings are desperate for scoring beyond their top line, which will be shorthanded after Brown's injury.


Last season: 70 points, 8th in division

Notable: Love this guy's coach, but file this away until April. "This is a franchise that's about to turn a corner," team president and CEO Ahron Cohen said. "We really see this as a sleeping giant." A big reason for the optimism is the Coyotes went 17-9-3 after Feb. 7, suggesting coach Rick Tocchet's system was finally being absorbed.

Key number: .930. Goalie Antti Raanta's save percentage. Injuries limited him to 47 games, but when he was in there, he was solid.


Last season: 73 points, 7th in division

Notable: It's a new era now that the Sedin twins have retired. Bo Horvat, 23, and Brock Boeser, 21, are the leading returning scorers, but it's 19-year-old Elias Pettersson who is generating excitement. The Canucks have missed the playoffs the last three years and haven't been beyond the first round since losing in the Finals in 2011. That probably won't change this year because the West is too stacked.

Key number: 55. Points scored by Boeser in 62 games (29 goals). It was the first time one of the Sedins did not outright lead the team in scoring since 2005-06.


East playoffs: Pittsburgh, Toronto, Boston, Washington, Tampa Bay, Florida, Flyers, Buffalo

West playoffs: Winnipeg, San Jose, Anaheim, Nashville, Vegas, Edmonton, St. Louis, Colorado

East finals: Pittsburgh over Toronto

West finals: San Jose over Winnipeg

Stanley Cup: San Jose over Pittsburgh

Stanley Cup Odds

By Vegas Vic