You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Top Stories

Preseason checkup: 1 emoji for each NHL team

theScore logo theScore 2018-09-11 John Matisz
a group of people wearing costumes © theScore

We use emojis every day to express our feelings or to illustrate a point.

Feeling cheeky? ๐Ÿ˜œ Rebellious? ๐Ÿ˜ˆ Spicy? ๐ŸŒถ Ready for vacation? ๐Ÿ

With 2018-19 training camps opening this week, it's time to use our emoji vocabulary to describe the NHL's 31 clubs.

Here is one emoji taking the pre-camp temperature of each team.

ANAHEIM DUCKS - ๐Ÿ’Š

Please send medical care to Ryan Kesler, who remains on the fritz due to a hip injury. In late July, general manager Bob Murray was unable to guarantee the center's availability for the upcoming season. Kesler - who just turned 34 and is entering the third year of a six-year contract - had surgery in June 2017 and has dressed for 44 games since.

ARIZONA COYOTES - ๐Ÿ”ฎ

What does the future hold in Glendale? Can the eternal rebuild feed off a strong second half in 2017-18 and the acquisition of Alex Galchenyuk? John Chayka is the NHL's most active GM, making splashes big and small. Expect that trend to continue as the process-oriented 29-year-old inches closer to the payoff.

BOSTON BRUINS - ๐Ÿฃ

In order to remain contenders, the Bruins need their lesser-known young forwards to hatch. Jake DeBrusk had his coming-out party this past spring, but he'll need to find another gear. Danton Heinen should be plenty motivated in a contract year. If unleashed, sniper Ryan Donato has the potential to contend for the Calder Trophy.

BUFFALO SABRES - ๐Ÿ˜‚

a man wearing a helmet © Provided by Score Media Ventures INC Tears of joy. Rasmus Dahlin, presumed Sabres savior and the jelly to Jack Eichel's peanut butter, is weeks away from his NHL debut. He is joined by freshly acquired winger Jeff Skinner, who waived his no-trade clause for Western New York. The bar is so low in Buffalo that general optimism feels like a colossal step forward.

CALGARY FLAMES - ๐Ÿ”Œ

Can James Neal be the offensive spark plug worthy of a $28.75 million contract? Will the move to a new city, depth chart, and conference jolt Elias Lindholm's career? Might center Derek Ryan's contributions light a fire under the bottom six? Is familiar coach Bill Peters capable of coaxing Noah Hanifin into full bloom?

CAROLINA HURRICANES - ๐Ÿ‘ฝ

Tom Dundon is an alien invading the NHL. Carolina's owner has been pulling all the hockey-ops strings lately, making his presence known at the draft and in free agency. The billionaire is an outsider now on the inside, essentially the GM despite hiring Don Waddell to work under that title. Dundon is an influencer to monitor during camp and beyond.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS - ๐Ÿ™

Now accepting best wishes: Corey Crawford. The two-time Cup champ admitted in late July that he was still "not 100 percent" after spending months recovering from an undisclosed injury. Last week, club president John McDonough said he's "confident" Crawford will be ready for the start of camp. Frankly, Chicago is pretty screwed without its starter. That aging, expensive core needs reliable goaltending - and backup Cam Ward is not the answer.

COLORADO AVALANCHE - ๐ŸŽŸ๏ธ

Joe Sakic wearing a suit and tie © Provided by Score Media Ventures INC The NHL draft lottery may be nine months away, but it's already looming large in Denver thanks to the Matt Duchene swap. The Senators - set to finish at or near the bottom of the standings - owe Colorado their 2019 first-round pick, meaning Avs GM Joe Sakic could have a pair of lottery tickets. Not bad when Jack Hughes is the prize.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS - ๐Ÿž

The sticky situation involving the Breadman will dominate discussion around the Jackets until it's resolved. Artemi Panarin, the most dynamic player in franchise history and a 2019 unrestricted free agent, has expressed a desire to leave Columbus, but he may be moved before or during the season. Fireworks are coming - it's just a matter of when.

DALLAS STARS - ๐Ÿค”

How will Jim Montgomery play his cards as the Stars switch from Ken Hitchcock to a rookie NHL coach? Lineup decisions awaiting Montgomery include: finding the right linemates for Valeri Nichushkin; managing Miro Heiskanen's rookie workload; and figuring out how to optimally deploy top-liners Alexander Radulov, Jamie Benn, and the politely disgruntled Tyler Seguin.

DETROIT RED WINGS - ๐Ÿค

A handshake may never materialize since one party won't be at camp, but the imminent generational changeover in Michigan will conjure up images of Henrik Zetterberg and Dylan Larkin exchanging pleasantries. His career in jeopardy, the soon-to-be 38-year-old Zetterberg will pass the baton to 22-year-old Larkin, who recently signed a five-year extension.

EDMONTON OILERS - ๐Ÿšฃ

That's Connor McDavid rowing away. Not only are the 36-win Oilers bringing back a familiar roster - one that lacks any slam-dunk linemates for No. 97 - but the blue line looks awfully thin. Thanks to an offseason injury to Andrej Sekera, the defense falls off a cliff after Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, and potential holdout Darnell Nurse. Poor Cam Talbot.

FLORIDA PANTHERS - โ‰๏ธ

The exclamation point represents the hockey trade (Mike Hoffman for picks!). The question mark represents the real-life dynamics (will Hoffmanโ€™s off-ice baggage disrupt his segue to Florida?). Hoffman is a legitimate 35-goal, 70-point threat for the Panthers, but a period of awkwardness will likely precede any on-ice success.

LOS ANGELES KINGS - โณ

The hourglass has been flipped. The 2012 and 2014 Cup winners are racing against time, trying to prop up an aging roster by funneling in low-impact youngsters and 35-year-old Ilya Kovalchuk. The latter will be a must-see attraction during Kings camp and through the exhibition schedule. Does Kovalchuk still have that magic scoring touch?

MINNESOTA WILD - ๐Ÿ˜

Bruce Boudreau wearing a suit and tie © Provided by Score Media Ventures INC As usual, the Wild are the Switzerland of the NHL: supremely neutral. The playoffs are likely, but a long run isn't. What's more, GM Paul Fenton wasn't overly active this summer - he did little beyond extending Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba - which means the storyline well is dry.

MONTREAL CANADIENS - ๐ŸŒต

Galchenyuk and Max Pacioretty are gone via offseason trades, shipped out of town for Max Domi, Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki, and a second-round pick. Translation: The Habs' offense is desert dry, with its No. 1 goal-scoring option being Brendan Gallagher - a fine player, but not someone capable of leading an attack. Even if Carey Price finds his prime form between the pipes, Montreal is destined for the NHL's basement.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS - ๐Ÿ›€

That gut-wrenching Game 7 loss to the Jets last May - punctuated by Pekka Rinne's nightmarish first-period showing of two goals against on seven shots - probably still stings. But the Preds need to wash off the past; they have the horses to challenge Winnipeg for the division title and that effort must start in camp.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS - ๐ŸŽฃ

Despite making the playoffs and employing the league MVP, the Devils enter camp with an inferior roster. Coach John Hynes will be fishing internally for youngsters to replace Patrick Maroon, Brian Gibbons, Michael Grabner, and John Moore. Perhaps Joey Anderson seizes the opportunity? A healthy Marcus Johansson should soften the blow.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS - ๐Ÿฅ€

Morale can't get much lower heading into Islanders camp. Sure, they struck gold at the draft, scooping up Noah Dobson and Oliver Wahlstrom, but losing John Tavares is nothing short of devastating. Excluding the fantastic Mat Barzal, this club is devoid of star power. Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz have their work cut out for them.

NEW YORK RANGERS - ๐Ÿฟ

The white flag has been waved, and the first wave of core players has been sent packing. Now? Grab your favorite movie theater snack and sit back. The Rangers - the Original Six franchise that never takes a breath - officially begin Stage 2 of The Great Rebuild this fall. Will the transparency continue? Will they keep stripping it down?

OTTAWA SENATORS - ๐Ÿ’ฃ

Ticking. Time. Bomb. The dominant storyline this September will be the futures of Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone, and Matt Duchene. Ottawa's three best skaters are all on expiring contracts and - no shock to anyone following the Sens saga - are probably on their way out at some point in 2018-19. Also: Is Brady Tkachuk ready for full-time NHL duty?

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS - ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

a man wearing a uniform © Provided by Score Media Ventures INC Sean Couturier, the league's best young defensive forward, is recovering from a knee injury suffered during a summer charity game. The ailment doesn't seem serious enough to affect the Flyers' regular season, but, when you factor in Wayne Simmonds' health and contract uncertainties, it's not all rainbows and lollipops ahead of James van Riemsdyk's return.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS - ๐Ÿ˜‹

It took the Pens 213 games - 106 in 2015-16 and 107 in 2017-18 - to win back-to-back Cups. Last year, with the rival Capitals eliminating them in Game 6 of the second round, the squad's games-played tally shrunk to 94. Surely rested and motivated by the long layoff, Sidney Crosby and pals should be licking their lips all September. The Metro is up for grabs.

SAN JOSE SHARKS - ๐Ÿ‘Œ

Tavares did not take his talents to the Bay Area. It's going to be OK, though, because it's a safe bet GM Doug Wilson has a trick up his sleeve. The Sharks have more than $4 million in cap space and the incentive to supplement an old-ish core sooner than later. Side plot: Is the Joe Thornton farewell tour upon us? Jumbo, 39, canโ€™t play forever.

ST. LOUIS BLUES - ๐Ÿ˜Ž

GM Doug Armstrong cooly upgraded the forward group this offseason, picking up a No. 1 center (Ryan O'Reilly), two top-nine wingers (David Perron, Maroon), and a third-line center (Tyler Bozak) through four different transactions. The Blues seem to be everybody's choice for a dark-horse contender, but how will all of the above fit into the group?

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING - ๐Ÿ‘€

Take a moment and think about how deadly the already lethal Lightning could be if Karlsson joins Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, and Andrei Vasilevskiy. Money is tight, however, so can master negotiator Steve Yzerman work his magic to win the EK65 sweepstakes? All eyes on Tampa.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS - ๐Ÿ™

Aside from the odd battle for a fringe roster spot, Leafs camp will revolve around Tavares, his transition, and the new-look forward group. The club has eight killers up front: Tavares, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Nazem Kadri, Patrick Marleau, Kasperi Kapanen, and Andreas Johnsson. That's one for each octopus tentacle.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS - ๐ŸŽข

The NHL's roller-coaster team won't be shutting down that ride anytime soon. Intrigue persists around the sketchy departure of Canucks icon Trevor Linden, the timing of Brock Boeser's next contract, the tangible impact of vets Jay Beagle and Antoine Roussel, the arrival of super-prospect Elias Pettersson, Olli Juolevi's 2018-19 home, and the vacant captaincy. Get this fan base a drink.

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS - ๐Ÿค 

a person wearing a uniform and standing in front of a crowd © Provided by Score Media Ventures INC The cowboy emoji was unofficially assigned to "Wild Bill" Karlsson amid the Swede's 43-goal breakout season. Nowadays, it could fit the Golden Knights in general. For starters, there's the contentious Nate Schmidt PED suspension, the bold Pacioretty trade, and the lagging Shea Theodore negotiations. Vegas is ground zero for storylines as camps open.

WINNIPEG JETS - ๐Ÿฝ๏ธ

The Jets are hungry. Having endured a slow, sometimes painful rebuild, they're ready for the main course after bowing out in five games to Vegas in the Western Conference final. An imperfect team that's got a tremendous top-six forward group and Connor Hellebuyck to compensate for its deficiencies, Winnipeg is a legitimate Stanley Cup threat.

John Matisz is theScore's national hockey writer. You can find him on Twitter @matiszjohn.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

Copyright ยฉ 2018 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from theScore

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon