Predicting The NHL's Most Improved Team For 2022-23

There were big moves this offseason around the league and some teams that were already on the rise got a nice boost whether it be via trades or signings. Let's take a look at who is in contention as the NHL's most improved team and who should take the cake. 

Detroit Red Wings

First up is the Detroit Red Wings managed by Steve Yzerman. His Yzer-plan is coming to fruition as he added some great under the radar pieces to make the team much better than it was last season. The team may have few players under contract after next season, but that's something to worry about at a later date. The team heading into next season should have lots of competition for spots and be solid throughout.

New additions include David Perron, Andrew Copp, Dominik Kubalik, Ben Chiarot, Olli Maatta, Mark Pysyk, Robert Hagg, and Ville Husso. The forwards add a ton of scoring that wasn't there last season in top-six roles. The defensemen will help tighten up the defensive games, and Husso comes off a great breakout season to play alongside Alex Nedeljkovic as a strong tandem. A healthy Jakub Vrana will help a lot with the offense as well.

The strong point is the forward unit after some great additions. The goaltending definitely improved, but are still relatively unproven. While the defense isn't amazing, they will be better than the disaster that was last season.

Ottawa Senators

The Ottawa Senators shocked the hockey world when they acquired Alex DeBrincat to come into their already young and dynamic team. The young players on their team are already growing and becoming stars, and their forward group and goaltending, like the Red Wings, looks much improved and dangerous.

Along with DeBrincat, the Senators added Claude Giroux and Cam Talbot as their major moves. With Jake Sanderson expected to play a role on the Senators next season and Shane Pinto expected to be healthy and play more than five games, the top-nine of the team looks very good.

The defense didn't get any boost other than what Sanderson may be able to provide in his rookie season. So that will still be a concern in 2022-23. But the goaltending behind them should stop more pucks and give the team a chance to win every night. Talbot is coming off a strong season while Anton Forsberg stepped up huge for the Senators last season and earned himself a new contract. The addition of high-end talent to a team that was already surprisingly solid up front will be something to watch.

Columbus Blue Jackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets weren't the most active team in free agency, but they made waves and were the talk of the hockey world when they swooped in and signed Johnny Gaudreau, one of the biggest free agents in NHL history.

Bringing in a 115-point scorer changes the perception of Columbus for attracting players in the future. Very soon after his signing, Patrik Laine re-upped for four more years with the team. Both extremely talented players, one a playmaker and the other a sniper, should be a deadly combo and produce a ton of goals.

The team also brought in Erik Gudbranson to toughen up the defense. His money may hurt a bit, but it's what the team needed to add on the back-end. The Blue Jackets will also get much better as their young players will have gotten another year of experience, most at the NHL level. Kent Johnson, their 2021 fifth overall pick, will be on the team next season and the overall improvement should help the tandem of Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo in net.

New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils were a little more active in that they signed and traded for a number of players to improve in all areas. They acquired John Marino and Erik Haula via trades, but lost Pavel Zacha in the process of bringing in Haula. The team also signed Vitek Vanecek and Ondrej Palat after losing out on Gaudreau.

The Devils also jumped in the draft and were able to select Simon Nemec second overall. He should get his shot next season on the team and will give the back-end a boost. Other youngsters like Jack Hughes and Dawson Mercer should take even larger steps after strong breakout seasons. The team looks much improved and we will see what Hughes and Jesper Bratt can do together over a full season.

So, who is the most improved? The Senators and Blue Jackets are the teams that went out and got the star-power while the Red Wings and Devils improved in all areas and really put an effort into adding more talent. From each of the two categories, the Senators and Red Wings take it in my books as they added great pieces on top of the already improving talent they have. The Blue Jackets and Devils have that as well, but the Blue Jackets have questions and the Devils also lost a bit of talent in the process.

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