Every year there are always a handful of NHL teams that exceed expectations and end up being better than anybody thought.
But if somebody is getting better, that means somebody else is getting worse. Nobody ever stays the same.
This is going to focus on the teams that are destined to get worse for the 2023-24 NHL season.
It could be because of some significant departures, it could be because their 2022-23 season was the result of an unsustainable run of good luck, or it could just be because they made the wrong moves this offseason.s
Either way, and no matter the reason, these five teams should prepare themselves for a worse performance this season.
Picking the Bruins to be worse this season is definitely picking at some low-hanging fruit.
But it is also a reality. Maybe a harsh reality for Boston fans.
No matter what this team did this offseason there was never going to be a path for them to have a better season than the 65 wins they put on the board during the 2022-23 season. It's just not going to happen.
But Adam, you are probably screaming at your screen, what if they win fewer games during the regular season, but do better in the playoffs?! Wouldn't that be a better result — and the desired result — for the 2023-24 season?
Well, yes. It would. But that is probably not likely to happen, either.
For one, the Bruins have lost a lot of talent off of that 65-win roster. Trade-deadline rentals Tyler Bertuzzi and Dmitry Orlov moved on to free agency. Top-nine forwards Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno were traded in a salary-cap dump trade to Chicago. Those four departures alone would be a problem for the Bruins. But they might not be the only departures.
There is no guarantee that top centers Patrice Bergeron and David Krejcí will return, and if they don't that is a massive blow to the Bruins' chances. Not only were they two of the best players on the roster this past year, there is no way that Boston could replace them and get equal value for the combined salary cap hit Bergeron and Krejcí played under last season.
Then there is the potential regression from the goalies. Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman might very well be a strong duo again, but it is very unlikely that Ullmark duplicates his performance. In the salary cap era, only nine goalies have ever finished a season with at least 45 games played and a save percentage of .930 or better. Those goalies saw an average drop of 15 points in their save percentage the next season. That is huge.
If Bergeron and Krejcí return, the Bruins will be marginally worse just based on common sense and standard regressions. If neither returns, the Bruins might be significantly worse.