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NHL - US Sports: Five teams that can bounce back in 2022/23

With the new season fast approaching, we take a look at five teams that could put the relative disappointments of 2021-22 firmly behind them.

Vegas Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights made the Stanley Cup final in their inaugural season of 2017/18 and have since been on a relentless pursuit of the championship.

Coaches have been fired, big-name players moved on and superstars acquired, including, most recently, forward Jack Eichel and defenceman Alex Pietrangelo.

The moves haven't yet paid dividends with the Golden Knights suffering their worst season since their inception in 2021/22, missing the playoffs completely.

Vegas finished fourth in the Pacific Division with a 43-31-8 record but were impacted by lengthy injuries to several of their key players, including Captain Mark Stone, Reilly Smith, William Karlsson and number-one goalie Robin Lehner. 

Lehner has been ruled out of the new campaign, meaning the Golden Knights have a big question mark in goal and will likely have to rely on rookie Logan Thompson, who showed well when covering for the Swede's absence last season.  

But assuming others stay healthy, the 25-year-old will benefit from having a more talented group ahead of him and one that doesn't just expect to be in the playoffs, but who believe should be considered as potential champions. The Golden Knights are on offer at +1700 to win the Stanley Cup this season.

New York Islanders

After making the semi-finals for two seasons straight, the Islanders headed into the 2021/22 campaign expecting to again challenge for the Stanley Cup.  

Form eluded them right from the off though, and they ended by finishing fifth in the Metropolitan Division (37-35-10), 16 points outside of the playoffs.  

A lack of off-season movement by General Manager Lou Lamoriello has concerned the Isles faithful, but just a year removed from being one game away from the Final, there shouldn't be any reason to panic.  

They have one of the stronger goalie tandems in the NHL in Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov and a forward group filled with talent, but who struggled for confidence last season, finishing 22nd in scoring.   

Defence-minded Barry Trotz has left and been replaced by assistant Lane Lambert who has more than enough in his locker room to turn the tide and make a strong impression in his first NHL head coaching role. The Islanders are available at +3300 to go all the way in 2022/23.

Winnipeg Jets

With performances far lower than expected in 2021/22, long-time coach Paul Maurice stepped down from the Jets saying the team needed a new voice, and things went from bad to worse from then on. 

Interim Dave Lowry was unable to get a tune from his players and the Jets finished sixth in the Central Division (39-32-11).  

Since the end of the season, Winnipeg have made a smart hire in veteran Rick Bowness to lead the bounce back, something he is accustomed to doing, including at Dallas Stars where in 2020 he guided them to an unexpected Stanley Cup Final appearance.  

The Jets still have an outstanding goalie in Connor Hellebuyck, a well-rounded defence headlined by Josh Morrissey and a deep forward group, which contains 47 goal-scorer Kyle Connor and three others who almost hit 30, Captain Mark Scheifele, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Nikolaj Ehlers.  

They are a group which needs guiding in the right direction, and under the un-flashy Bowness they'll get precisely that, meaning results should quickly begin to improve. The Jets are +2000 to win the Central Division.

Philadelphia Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers have had a disastrous past two years, finishing bottom of the division that they were in. 

The off-season has seen them hire marmite character John Tortorella to replace Mike Yeo as coach and sign controversial defenceman Tony DeAngelo and tough guy Nicolas Deslauriers.

Each move has signalled a move towards a more hard-nosed approach, representative of Flyers teams of the past, not least the Broad Street Bullies of the 1970's.

Due to his outspoken and confrontational nature, 64-year-old Tortorella has never really got the credit for his pattern of work in the NHL. He was the first American-born coach to reach 500 wins and won the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2003/04.

Whether Tortorella has the tools to turn the Flyers into a playoff team or not, they'll at least have an identity which will be widely talked about, something which has been sadly lacking over recent seasons as the famous club sank into obscurity. The Flyers are priced at +3000 to record 100+ regular season points.

Ottawa Senators

On paper at least, the Senators are one of the most improved teams of the off-season. General Manager Pierre Dorion has stated the long re-build is over and he has shown serious intent for the franchise to move to the next stage in their progression by making several big moves. 

Under-performing and often injured netminder Matt Murray was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs and replaced by Cam Talbot from the Minnesota Wild, who should provide the Senators with greater stability in net. 

Ottawa's first forward line of Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris and Drake Batherson was one of the best in the NHL last season, but they suffered from a lack of scoring below them to finish seventh in the Atlantic Division with a 33-42-7 record. 

The 41-goal scorer Alex DeBrincat was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks and veteran Claude Giroux brought home from the Florida Panthers to help solve the problem and give Ottawa fans plenty of reason for optimism heading into the new season. The Senators are on offer at +750 to record 100+ regular season points while they are +2800 to win the Eastern Conference.

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