This may be the 3rd night of the 2013-14 NHL season but it’s the most exciting one thus far. This evening, 16 teams will participate in 8 games. For 15 of tonight’s 16 clubs it will be the first game of the season and in five specific cases there are some highly anticipated debuts in the works.
The New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators, Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars will begin tonight’s action with some very esteemed new members in their lineups, making up the 5 most highly anticipated debuts of the NHL season.
The Devils Prepare For Life After Brodeur With Cory Schneider
We spent all least season hearing about the Vancouver Canucks goaltending conundrum. Canada’s most western team was supposed to trade their former captain and highly renowned goaltender, Roberto Luongo, so they could give newcomer Cory Schneider the starting job.
In the end, Luongo’s contract proved too difficult to trade in a league where every team has a decent goaltender and the salary cap dropped significantly.
Schneider joins the Devils as the inevitable replacement of legend, Martin Brodeur. It’s thought the two will split starts this season, however, it is very telling that Schneider will be getting the nod on opening night. This is an amazing opportunity for Cory Schneider to finally establish himself as a #1 in the NHL.
*Goaltending start confirmed by Left Wing Lock.
The Bruins Will Try And Win One For Iginla
Remember that Sunday night before the 2013 NHL trade deadline? Some of you went to sleep believing the rumours that Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla was traded to the Boston Bruins. We were led to believe a deal was done between the two clubs, and would be made official once the Flames’ game was over.
For those of us who stayed awake to watch the announcement on national TV, we got a real shocker when Flames’ GM Jay Feaster unhappily announced that Jarome was headed to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
If the teams listed are true and Iggy’s intentions were to win his first Stanley Cup, then he picked pretty good. The four reported clubs on Iginla’s list held up as the Final Four in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Bruins didn’t land Iginla then, but it didn’t stop them from making the Stanley Cup finals, destroying the Penguins in the Conference Finals.
This summer, Iginla found his way into a Bruins contract, signing a 1-year deal worth $6 million. This season, the Bruins will attempt a run at their 2nd Cup title in 4 years, as they try to win one for Iginla.
Seth Jones Makes His Highly Anticipated NHL Debut As A Member Of The Nashville Predators
Leading into the 2013 NHL Entry Draft many scouts and experts projected American defenceman prospect Seth Jones to go #1 overall. The pick belonged to the Colorado Avalanche, and they chose to go a different route, selecting skilled forward Nathan MacKinnon instead.
Jones ended up dropping to 4th selection, something the Nashville Predators were obviously very happy about. Jones may not be the 1st overall pick, but due to the hype, he enters this season facing just as much scrutiny and expectation as MacKinnon.
Tonight, Jones begins what is supposed to be a great NHL career. All eyes will be watching the Nashville Predators.
Never Count Out Florida Panthers’ Goaltender Tim Thomas
When Tim Thomas declined a visit to the White House the season following the Bruins first Stanley Cup victory since 1972, most people thought it was a little weird.
The Bruins finished the 2011-12 season struggling by their standards, capped off by an uncharacteristic 1st round exit to the Washington Capitals.
When the season officially ended, Thomas announced he was taking a year off from hockey. It was a bizarre declaration for a goalie of Thomas’ track record. Tim Thomas’ path was unlike most NHL players. He was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in 1994, and didn’t end up playing his first NHL game until the 2002-03 season.
Thomas finally became a regular NHLer in 2005-06, ending his rookie season with a losing record, at the age of 32. It’s rare enough to find a 32 year old rookie in professional sports – it’s ever more rare to recall one who achieved what Thomas did in the years following his unimpressive first National Hockey League campaign.
The Bruins continued to build a solid team and bounce from goalie to goalie, Thomas always in the mix for a spot. In 2008-09, Tank emerged as the main puck stopper in Boston, compiling 36 wins and only 11 losses.
Thomas won the Vezina Trophy that season as the NHL’s best goaltender – an accomplishment most net minders dream of, but never achieve.
Two seasons later, Tim Thomas won the Vezina again, to go along with a Stanley Cup title and Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
Thomas returns from his year off as a member of arguably the NHL’s most uninteresting franchise. However, Thomas’ status as a Florida Panther immediately changes the dynamics of the franchise’s appeal.
As good as Thomas was when he decided to retire for a season, he’s a 39 year old man playing in a young man’s league. Logic and history suggest at his age, he won’t do that well. But he’s Tim Thomas, so you never know.
It’s Time To Shine For New Star Tyler Seguin
Maybe the kid parties, or maybe his reputation is blown out of whack – either way, the Stars have themselves one of the NHL’s most elite young players.
Seguin was stifled offensively in Boston. The natural centre was forced to patrol the right wing on a deep Bruins team throughout his first 3 NHL seasons. As a member of the Stars, Seguin is likely to enjoy a leading role, providing him ample opportunity to prove to his former club and the rest of the hockey world that he is one of the most talented players in the National Hockey League. He kick starts his career as a Star tonight.