Many of the NHL’s most watchable teams this season are the usual suspects from recent years, but there have been a few surprises. The New Jersey Devils are possession demons despite cooling off lately. The Vegas Golden Knights are proving the doubters wrong after some figured they’d take a step back due to goaltending concerns and a lack of depth.
However, several other squads will deserve more attention over the next 365 days than they’ve received so far in this campaign. These teams have risen recently and will only become more compelling in 2023.
Here are three clubs worth watching in the latter portion of this campaign and into the next one.
The notions of the Sabres boasting the NHL’s best offense and Tage Thompson being an MVP candidate and a Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy contender this season would’ve been far-fetched if predicted over the summer. But that’s what’s transpiring as we near the campaign’s halfway point. In an unlikely twist, Buffalo has suddenly become one of the league’s most entertaining teams and is riding a six-game win streak to boot.
The Sabres are still flawed, though. While Rasmus Dahlin has become an elite No. 1 blue-liner, the rest of the team’s defense is a work in progress. Buffalo ranks in the bottom half of the NHL in expected goals against per 60 minutes at five-on-five and goals against per game in all situations. The club is in a similar spot in expected goals for percentage. None of that bodes particularly well defensively.
However, this team has taken a big step forward and should improve in the new calendar year.