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NHL Season Primer: Stanley Cup Champion Blues Keep Roster Consistent, Flyers Reset, Panthers Rely on Trocheck Return
Summer’s nice, but if you’re a hardcore hockey fan you’ve been counting down the days until the October 2 season opener since the Blues took the trophy home in June.
As teams finish up training camp, head into pre-season and look to finalize their rosters within the new salary cap (now $81.5 million— up $2 million from last year), here’s what Team STX is bringing to the ice this season:
The Flyers had a tough run last year with lots of turnover, leadership changes and a notable eight goalie roatation over the course of the season. But captain Claude Giroux has been with the team long enough to know that there are tough years — and he’s optimistic that the team will be strong for the 2019-2020 season.
Twelve years with the team, Giroux remains a pillar of leadership. His skill is as competitive and impressive as ever — he was the Flyers’ All-Star pick for the sixth time this past season and continues to generate Hall of Fame buzz. But don’t expect the Canadian veteran to slow down anytime soon. Giroux and his wife just welcomed their first child in August and the new father told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he’s even more motivated to keep at it to make his son proud.
What stands in the way of Giroux and a place in the Hall of Fame? He’s got the talent, but the last few seasons, he hasn’t had the team. If the Flyers can collectively step it up, Giroux could be poised for a playoff return.
The Panthers had a tough go of it last year, and it’s no coincidence that center Vincent Trocheck was missing for the better part of the season.
Following a career-making 2017-2018 season with 31 goals and 44 assists — #1 in points for the team — Trocheck broke his right ankle early on in the 2018-2019 season. The injury put him out for two months and he spent the rest of the season working to regain his footing and momentum.
But after a solid summer respite and recovery, the Pittsburgh native is back and ready to step into his role as one of the team’s most confident and promising stars. Known for his speed and smarts on the ice, he goes for the goals a more cautious player might pass up. Trocheck is the guy you want out there when you’re shorthanded and need to deliver a solid PK performance. Look out for a comeback from the Panthers as Trocheck re-emerges, seasoned and faster than ever.
After proving his offensive prowess in the 2018-2019 regular season and playoffs, Ivan Barbashev re-signed with the St. Louis Blues just in time for training camp. Last season, the Russian-born forward earned more ice time, putting up an impressive 26 points from the Blues’ fourth line. The 2-year deal comes on the heels of the the teams’ first-ever Stanley Cup win — a journey in which Barbashev played a significant role between his consistency on the fourth line, solid faceoff percentage (45.58 in the regular season, 48.28 in the postseason) and strong PK performance when the team was down players for penalties.
Heading into the 2019-2020 season, Blues’ fans can look forward to seeing a stellar line bringing dynamic, eye-catching plays, and more points from Barbashev leading the Blues right back to the playoffs after last season’s historic run.
Despite a disappointing loss to the Blues in the Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins left it all on the ice last season. This year, they’re back and building on the momentum of last season’s championship run.
The Bruins return with a solid line-up of veterans including Brad Marchand and longtime captain Zdeno Chára — but don’t overlook the newer additions to the team’s roster.
Charlie Coyle, formerly of the Minnesota Wild and Arizona Coyotes, was traded to the Bruins in February 2019, just weeks ahead of the postseason. Coyle showed incredible flexibility, adapting to the new team dynamic, carving out a role for himself and turning heads over the course of the playoffs. He was an important part of the team’s success leading up to the championship, with 9 goals and 7 assists for a total of 16 postseason points.
This season, he’s starting at training camp alongside the rest of his teammates, with more opportunity to grow his place within the team. Born and raised in Massachusetts — and a fan favorite everywhere he goes — Coyle is one to watch as the Bruins set out to return to the final and claim the victory.
Play your way to the championship with Coyle’s gear pick: The Stallion HPR2 Gloves.
From Flyers’ veteran and new father Claude Giroux to the Bruins’ hometown boy Charlie Coyle, newly-minted Stanley Cup champion Ivan Barbashev and Panthers’ star Vincent Trocheck back from injury, it’s going to be a heck of a season.
Will the Flyers make it to the playoffs this year? Will the Bruins take home the trophy after last season’s disappointing loss? Tweet us your 2019-2020 season predictions at @STXHockey with #NHLxSTXPredictions and we’ll give you a RT!