7 interesting stories from NHL preseason action
In mid-September, all 32 teams opened the doors to their facilities across North America, welcoming back players to for the NHL preseason. After the drills and conditioning skates, the boys of winter began to play games with roster spots on the line.
Although none of the preseason games count, dissecting these numbers can be fun. So, to prepare fans for the opening night of the 2023-24 season, here are seven of the most fascinating stories from the previous two and half weeks.
Fascinating NHL Preseason Stories
Jesper Bratt led all scorers with nine points
After a career year in 2021-22 with 73 points, he duplicated the exact total in 2022-23 while collecting 32 goals for the first time, earning an eight-year extension. Now, as one of the core members of an up-and-coming New Jersey Devils, it is surprising to see him be the NHL points leader despite playing in only four games. Ultimately, Bratt scored 9 points to edge out Jack Eichel, teammate Jack Hughes, and Patrik Laine, who all had eight points.
New Jersey Devils undefeated preseason tour
Although the Los Angeles Kings won six of their nine games, and the Ottawa Senators went six for eight, the Devils were the top preseason club, winning all seven contests. Additionally, they dominated opponents, giving up just 13 goals for a 1.85 goals-against average. Furthermore, they finished tied for first with the Arizona Coyotes and Kings with 30 goals scored in just seven contests, good enough for 4.28 goals a game.
Goals Against Averages skyrocket in preseason action
According to statistics at CBSsports.com, 14 teams registered a goals-against average (GAA) over 3.00, while the standard for the entire league peaked at 2.90. Only the Devils finished with a sub-2.00 mark, leading the league at 1.85, while the Buffalo Sabres had the worst numbers at 3.81. Surprisingly, with such high statistics, there were 14 shutouts, with three teams, New Jersey, Ottawa, and the Tampa Bay Lightning leading the pack with two apiece.
The Arizona Coyotes may be the real deal in 2023-24
After finishing with the 27th-worst point total in the NHL last year, the Coyotes took the preseason by storm, led by rookie phenom Logan Cooley. Thanks to his six points in five games, including a highlight reel coast-to-coast goal and beautiful shootout goal over Anaheim, he helped the Coyotes to a 4-5 record. Despite the losing record, Arizona led the league with 30 goals, including eight powerplay tallies. Additionally, the team finished behind the Kings (83), Detroit Red Wings (81), and Devils (79) for most points collected in preseason games.
Jack Campbell appears ready to earn his 5 million dollar salary
After playing in the NHL All-Star Game in 2022, Jack Campbell left the Toronto Maple Leafs to sign a five-year deal with the Edmonton Oilers, with an AAV of $5 million. Unfortunately, he had a rough first season in Oil Country, with a .888 save percentage (SV%) and a 3.41 GAA. However, he’s begun to ease the tension with a spectacular preseason, going 3-0 with a 0.99 GAA and .971 SV%. Even though it’s just preseason, Campbell is better prepared for the upcoming season than last year.
Matthew Coronato is ready to play in the NHL
As the Calgary Flames first-round pick (13th overall) in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, Matthew Coronato has played just one game thus far in the league. As a long shot to crack the opening night lineup, he had the best preseason numbers on the Flames roster with seven points in six games, finishing with a plus-five rating while averaging 16:57 a night. Realistically, the 20-year-old is ready for a more prominent role with Calgary.
The New York Rangers had a miserable preseason
As one of the top six teams in the Eastern Conference last year, the New York Rangers fell flat during the preseason, compiling a 1-5 record in six games, the worst mark of 32 teams. Additionally, they posted a brutal 3.50 GAA and a league-worst .849 SV%. Despite giving up 21 goals for a middle-of-the-pack ranking, they scored just 12 goals in six games, collecting 30 points, the lowest team total. Sadly, New York was the only team that failed to tally more than one powerplay goal during the preseason.