NHL training camps are starting — here’s a catchup on the Canadian teams | CBC Sports

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With training camps across the league opening today and the first pre-season games coming up Saturday, here’s a quick catchup on the NHL’s seven Canadian teams:

Calgary Flames: The departures of top forwards Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau in the summer of 2022 crippled the Flames. They went on to miss the playoffs while Tkachuk ascended to superstar status by leading Florida on a surprising run to the Stanley Cup final. The architect of Calgary’s failure, general manager Brad Treliving, left to take the same job in Toronto before the Flames fired Darryl Sutter, whose old-school ways toxified the dressing room. The hope is that a fresh head coach (Ryan Huska) and GM (Craig Conroy) can rejuvenate a team that didn’t make any big changes apart from trading leading scorer Tyler Toffoli to New Jersey for unproven forward Yegor Sharangovich.

Edmonton Oilers: Connor McDavid is coming off a season for the ages. He ran away with his fifth Art Ross Trophy by piling up 153 points — the NHL’s highest total in 27 years — and captured his first Maurice Richard by potting 64 goals in 82 games. But the best player in hockey is still looking for his first trip to a Stanley Cup final after Edmonton was bounced in the second round by eventual champion Vegas. Beyond scoring-race runner-up Leon Draisaitl (128 points), McDavid’s supporting cast lacks an elite player. The Oilers are crossing their fingers for either Stuart Skinner or Jack Campbell to step up in net and help the NHL’s highest-scoring team shore up its leaky defence.

Montreal Canadiens: It could be another long year for a team that finished 28th overall last season, worst among the Canadian clubs. The rebuilding Habs didn’t make any aggressive moves to improve their roster over the summer. Instead, they hope 2022 first-overall draft pick Juraj Slafkovsky can establish himself as a bona fide NHLer after the teenager’s rookie season was cut short by a lower-body injury, and that young sniper Cole Caufield can bounce back from a season-ending shoulder injury. Star goalie Carey Price still has more than three years and $30 million US left on his contract, but he said last week that, “barring a miracle,” his hockey career is probably over due to chronic knee issues.

Ottawa Senators: Ryan Reynolds, The Weeknd and Snoop Dogg were among the big-name investors trying to buy the Sens before they were sold to Toronto businessman Michael Andlauer’s group in June for close to a billion dollars US. Ottawa hasn’t made the playoffs since 2017, but that could change this season with fourth-year forward Tim Stutzle (39 goals, 90 points last season) blossoming into a star and young centre Josh Norris (35 goals in 2021-22) back after missing all but eight games last season due to a shoulder injury. GM Pierre Dorion made some interesting moves this summer, adding goalie Joonas Korpisalo for $20 million US over five years and taking a one-year flier on ex-Blues star Vladimir Tarasenko. But Dorion still needs to re-sign restricted free agent Shane Pinto, a popular two-way centre who scored 20 goals in his first full NHL season.

Toronto Maple Leafs: The curse is dead. Long live the curse. The Leafs won a playoff series for the first time in almost two decades, only to faceplant in the second round against underdog Florida to extend their Stanley Cup drought to 57 years. Embattled GM Kyle Dubas was then let go before taking over Pittsburgh’s front office two weeks later. President Brendan Shanahan replaced Dubas with Brad Treliving, who left Calgary after his risky attempt to build a short-term winner went up in flames. Rather than bring in his own guy to coach, Treliving handed Sheldon Keefe a two-year extension. He also inked franchise player Auston Matthews to a four-year extension that puts him in line to become the NHL’s highest-paid player, and added forwards Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi and Ryan Reaves on one-year deals. The next order of business is a new contract for talented forward William Nylander, who could be one of the most coveted players in next summer’s unrestricted free-agent class.

Vancouver Canucks: Vancouver missed the playoffs for the third time in a row last season, and it wasn’t close. But the Canucks went an encouraging 20-12-4 after head coach Rick Tocchet replaced the fired Bruce Boudreau. If that sounds familiar, it’s because last year the Canucks were hoping a full season under Boudreau would lead to a playoff trip after he took over during the 2021-22 campaign. Vancouver didn’t make any splashy moves this off-season, but it has some nice young building blocks in defenceman Quinn Hughes and forward Elias Pettersson. The latter is heading into the last year of his contract and is going to command a ton of money after piling up 102 points last season.

Winnipeg Jets: After doing essentially nothing to upgrade its lineup in the summer of 2022 and then getting stomped by Vegas in the first round of the playoffs, Winnipeg made some significant changes this off-season. Longtime Jet Blake Wheeler was bought out, unhappy Pierre-Luc Dubois got traded to Los Angeles and centre Adam Lowry was named the new captain. More upheaval could be in store as former Vezina Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck and star forward Mark Scheifele enter the final year of their contracts.

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