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2023-24 NHL Season: 7 Burning Questions, Including Vegas Golden Knights

"7 Burning Questions for the 2023-24 NHL Season: Will McDavid Win? Can the Penguins Contend? Is Bedard the Next Rookie Sensation?"

The 2023-24 NHL season is well underway, and it's time to address some pressing questions surrounding the league's top players and notable franchises. Let's dive into seven burning questions that have captured the attention of fans and experts alike.

First and foremost, we cannot ignore the undeniable talent of Connor McDavid. After an exceptional season in 2022-23, where he scored a remarkable 153 points and won four major NHL awards, McDavid has solidified his position as the best player in the game today. However, despite his individual brilliance, he has yet to make it to the Stanley Cup Final in his eight seasons with the Edmonton Oilers. With only three years remaining on his current contract, many wonder if he will ever lift the coveted trophy in an Oilers jersey.

While many believe that McDavid's loyalty to the city of Edmonton will prevail, the lack of championship success may eventually wear thin. It's only natural for a player of his caliber to seek opportunities elsewhere if he feels his chances of winning are greater elsewhere. The Oilers, despite their reliance on McDavid, have not built a strong enough team around him to be true contenders. The pressure is on for the franchise to make the necessary moves to maximize McDavid's potential and give him a real shot at the Stanley Cup.

Shifting our focus to the Pittsburgh Penguins, we find the oldest team in the NHL, with an average age of 29.79 years old according to data from While experience can be an asset, the Penguins' age has been a significant factor in their decline. Despite boasting two all-time greats in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the supporting cast has weakened over the years, even with the addition of Erik Karlsson. The Penguins' status as perennial Stanley Cup favorites is fading, and with the clock ticking on the careers of their franchise icons, the 2023-24 season may be their last chance to make another championship run together.

Before the NHL Entry Draft in June 2023, all eyes were on Connor Bedard, the highly anticipated top pick. Bedard landed with the Chicago Blackhawks, and expectations are sky-high for the young rookie as he becomes the face of a franchise entering a new era. However, instead of allowing Bedard to adjust to the NHL at his own pace, many experts are already fixated on his potential season totals. The question on everyone's mind is whether Bedard will join the ranks of rookies who have surpassed 100 points in a season. While Bedard showed promise with five points in four preseason games, it's essential to remember that he didn't face the best competition, and the thin supporting cast in Chicago may hinder his ability to reach such lofty numbers.

In a shocking turn of events, the Tampa Bay Lightning recently announced that their star goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy, will undergo surgery and miss two months of action. This news puts the Lightning in a precarious position, as they now need someone capable of replicating Vasilevskiy's outstanding performance in the short term. While it's not a catastrophic setback, the Lightning risk falling behind early in the season and spending the majority of their time playing catch-up. It remains to be seen if they can weather the storm, but if they struggle to secure wins in October, changes may be necessary in November to salvage their season.

The Boston Bruins had an exceptional regular season, statistically one of the best of all time. However, the second-best team in the NHL was the Carolina Hurricanes, who have made significant improvements to their roster in the offseason. With these changes, the Hurricanes have emerged as strong contenders for the Stanley Cup in the 2023-24 season. However, their recent history in the Eastern Conference Final raises concerns. They haven't won a game in this crucial stage since 2006, losing 12 straight in 2009, 2019, and 2023. Despite their improvements, the Hurricanes must prove that they can handle the pressure and overcome the hurdle that has repeatedly dashed their championship hopes.

Winning back-to-back Stanley Cup titles is a rare feat, achieved by only four teams since 1990: the Penguins (1991, 1992, 2016, 2017), the Detroit Red Wings (1997, 1998), and the Tampa Bay Lightning (2020, 2021). Defending a championship is a complex task, and even reaching the Stanley Cup Final is no easy feat. Most teams experience a "hangover" from an extended season and a short offseason, causing them to struggle in their title defense. The Vegas Golden Knights, who return with a similar lineup that won in June 2023, face the challenge of repeating their success. With one of the shortest offseasons in recent memory, the Golden Knights may find themselves fighting for a playoff spot rather than defending their championship.

Lastly, we turn our attention to the Toronto Maple Leafs' salary cap situation. According to numbers from, the Maple Leafs have exceeded the salary cap by $11 million, with a total salary expenditure of $94 million. While they have made some adjustments to make the numbers work, their bookkeeping still requires attention. The Maple Leafs recently signed Auston Matthews to the richest contract in the game, which will take effect in the 2024-25 season. This leaves them with several unrestricted free agents next summer, including key player William Nylander. Balancing the books and maintaining a competitive roster will be a significant challenge for the Maple Leafs as they strive to reach the Stanley Cup Final. Expect the team's financial situation and future plans to dominate headlines throughout the season.

In conclusion, the early stages of the 2023-24 NHL season have raised several compelling questions. From Connor McDavid's quest for a championship to the aging Pittsburgh Penguins, the potential of rookie Connor Bedard, the Tampa Bay Lightning's goaltending situation, the Carolina Hurricanes' playoff woes, the difficulty of winning back-to-back titles, and the Toronto Maple Leafs' salary cap troubles, there is no shortage of storylines to follow. As the season unfolds, fans and experts alike eagerly await the answers to these burning questions.

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