It’s the Japanese version of the “What to watch for” category for hockey fans.
A league that hasn’t had the most consistent season in decades.
An increasingly crowded market.
The NHL has been a hotbed for the NHLPA, and its members have been outspoken in their displeasure with how things have gone in the past two seasons.
While that doesn’t necessarily mean that things will be any better this year, there are still plenty of reasons for optimism.
There’s been a lot of new faces to the league in the last two seasons, and some of those new faces are making a strong case for themselves as the league’s most impactful players.
In terms of the players, the biggest names have been the best players on the ice and on the waiver wire.
Of course, there’s the growing number of guys like Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Nicklas Backstrom, Jaromir Jagr and Connor McDavid who have found success in the NHL without a contract.
But, as a whole, the league is still a very young league.
That’s not to say there aren’t good prospects.
Players like Jiri Hudler, Matt Duchene, Sami Vatanen and Zach Werenski have all found success early on in their careers, and it’s safe to say that the league will have more than a handful of quality prospects for next season.
On the waiver side, there will be plenty of players who are available in every position, but there are also a number of names who are likely to be a bit pricey or even a bit on the cheap side.
Here’s a look at some of the biggest bargains coming off the waiver this summer, and the prospects who could make a splash next season, or potentially even this year.
Bargain hunters: It will be tough for most teams to find a bargain, but here are some of our favorite bargain hunters for next year.
The Sabres are a prime example of a team that can afford to lose players, and that has some of its biggest needs at the forward position.
They need to upgrade their defense and goaltending, and they also need to address the forward positions, as there’s no room for a veteran forward like Matt Moulson.
Ryan O’Reilly has spent the past few years bouncing around the league, but he’s proven to be just as good as he was when he was with the Oilers.
Matt Murray, Ryan Ellis, Kyle Okposo, and Connor Hellebuyck have all shown some promise, and there’s still plenty left on the table.
It could be interesting to see how the Islanders find a way to keep Murray around for another year, but if they can’t make the playoffs this year they’re going to be in big trouble.
For the Devils, they have a lot to live up to.
When Ryan Carter was traded to the Panthers, the Devils needed to address a lot at forward.
And while that may have been one of the most surprising moves in recent memory, the move did help to address some of their biggest needs, including one of their top defensemen, Eric Staal.
Staal will be 32 by the time the season starts, and his age could prove to be an issue.
He was a productive player in Carolina last year, and while he may not be the same player that he was in Carolina, he’s still a solid defenseman.
However, if the Devils aren’t able to get him to play more consistently, they could find themselves in an awkward spot.
If the Devils are to contend next year, they’ll need to find more offense from their forward group.
Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff was an assistant coach with the Anaheim Ducks in 2012-13, and he was a key part of their transition from a top-heavy system to one that relied more on their forwards.
I think he can do a lot for the Jets next year if he continues to develop as a player, but I also think he’s going to have to be much more consistent.
New York will also need help up front, as the Jets will likely be without the services of Ryan O’Neill, who signed a one-year deal with the Flyers on Thursday.
This is another player who has been one to be watched throughout the year, as he’s always been a good source of offence.
Travis Konecny, Ryan Strome, Patrik Elias, Jakub Voracek, and Marko Dano are all looking to continue their impressive careers this year and help the Jets in their rebuild.
Despite his age, Strome and Elias could still provide the Jets with some offensive punch next season and could provide the most depth.
Ovechkin will have a tough time making the NHL next year