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Looking at the New Division: Wingers

The start of the 2021 NHL season will bring a new division for the Canes. Let’s take a look at what each team in the newly minted Central Division brings to the table on the wings.

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

As everyone is well aware of at this point, the unique 2021 NHL season will bring a new division for the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Canes only have one normal Metropolitan Division mate, the Columbus Blue Jackets, coming with them to the newly formed Discover Central Division, as the fresh season will bring a lot of games against teams Carolina isn’t that familiar with.

Thursday we took a look at all the centers in the division, so now it’s time to take a quick glance at all the wingers playing alongside those centers.

For the Canes, Teuvo Teravainen and Andrei Svechnikov highlight a group of wingers that also features up-and-comer Martin Necas, Warren Foegele, Ryan Dzingel, Brock McGinn, Nino Niederreiter, newly acquired Jesper Fast and more.

So, here’s a quick glance at who the rest of the Central Division has holding down the wings:

Vegas Golden Knights v Chicago Blackhawks - Game Four Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

Chicago Blackhawks

  1. Patrick Kane (33-51-84)
  2. Dominik Kubalik (30-16-46)
  3. Alex DeBrincat (18-27-45)
  4. Mattias Janmark (6-15-21)
  5. Ryan Carpenter (3-12-15)
  6. Andrew Shaw (3-7-10)
  7. Matthew Highmore (2-4-6)
  8. Brandon Pirri (0-2-2)

**Alex Nylander (10-16-26)

The Blackhawks’ group of wingers is pretty top heavy, obviously led by Kane. Along with Kane, Kubalik and DeBrincat are strong players, with Kubalik coming on as a rookie last season and DeBrincat looking to bounce back from a somewhat down season in 2019-20.

The big addition for Chicago is Janmark, who had eight points in 26 playoff games for the Dallas Stars last year en route to the Stanley Cup Final. The rest of the wingers for Chicago are a bit underwhelming, a group that could see some fluctuation with some other prospects potentially playing roles for the NHL squad this year.

For the Blackhawks, it’s the loss of Nylander that will hurt. The 22-year-old former first-round pick of Buffalo scored 10 goals in his first season in Chicago last year, but a knee injury is likely to sideline him for the season.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Columbus Blue Jackets - Game Three Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

Columbus Blue Jackets

  1. Oliver Bjorkstrand (21-15-36)
  2. Nick Foligno (10-21-31)
  3. Cam Atkinson (12-14-26)
  4. Boone Jenner (11-3-24)
  5. Mikhail Grigorenko (10-13-23)
  6. Emil Bermstrom (10-10-20)
  7. Alexandre Texier (6-7-13)
  8. Eric Robinson (7-5-12)
  9. Liam Foudy (0-1-1)

**Gustav Nyquist (15-27-42)

The one Central Division team that the Hurricanes are very familiar with, the Blue Jackets’ wingers are led by longtime Columbus stalwarts Bjorkstrand, Foligno and Atkinson. Those guys the Canes know well, and it’s a veteran group that Columbus will be able to lean on in an unusual season.

Grigorenko joins the ranks from Colorado, the most notable addition, and there’s quite a few guys competing for the final couple spots (including former Cane Nathan Gerbe). The biggest loss for Columbus comes in the form of Nyquist, the team’s second-leading scorer a year ago, who is recovering from a shoulder surgery. Nyquist could be back by the end of the season, but it won’t be before April.

2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Dallas Stars

  1. Jamie Benn (19-20-39)
  2. Alexander Radulov (15-19-34)
  3. Denis Gurianov (20-9-29)
  4. Blake Comeau (8-8-16)
  5. Andrew Cogliano (3-11-14)
  6. Justin Dowling (3-3-6)
  7. Nicholas Caamano (1-1-2)
  8. Joel Kiviranta (1-0-1)
  9. Joel L’Esperance (1-0-1)
  10. Jason Robertson (0-1-1)

Both teams that participated in the 2020 Stanley Cup Final are in the Canes’ new division, including the defending Western Conference champs. Benn and Radulov lead the charge for the Stars’ winger corps, with a number of talented and promising players coming in behind.

There are a couple key losses in this group for Dallas, mainly Corey Perry and Mattias Janmark. There’s some star power and goals in this group, mainly led by Benn, and it’s a rather unfamiliar one for the Hurricanes.

NHL: FEB 15 Red Wings at Bruins Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Detroit Red Wings

  1. Tyler Bertuzzi (21-27-48)
  2. Anthony Mantha (16-22-38)
  3. Vladislav Namestnikov (17-14-31)
  4. Darren Helm (9-7-16)
  5. Filip Zadina (8-7-15)
  6. Bobby Ryan (5-3-8)
  7. Adam Erne (2-3-5)
  8. Sam Gagner (1-0-1)
  9. Evgeny Svechnikov (0-0-0)

There’s not too much question as to who the Central Division’s bottom feeder is going to be, and it’s Detroit. The Red Wings’ top line actually isn’t that bad, with Dylan Larkin centering Bertuzzi and Mantha. There’s quite a bit of talent there, and Detroit should definitely get some goals from that unit.

Namestnikov and Ryan are interesting additions, with the former arguably among Detroit’s top five players. Honestly, the most intriguing thing about this group from a Canes point of view is Svechnikov, the brother of Carolina’s Andrei Svechnikov. The Detroit Svechnikov did suffer an injury in camp, but there should still be plenty of opportunities for the brothers to square off this season.

Florida Panthers v Los Angeles Kings Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Florida Panthers

  1. Jonathan Huberdeau (23-55-78)
  2. Anthony Duclair (23-17-40)
  3. Frank Vatrano (16-18-34)
  4. Brett Connolly (19-14-33)
  5. Patric Hornqvist (17-15-32)
  6. Vinnie Hinostroza (5-17-22)
  7. Aleksi Saarela (2-2-4)
  8. Owen Tippett (prospect)
  9. Grigori Denisenko (prospect)

The wingers group for the Panthers looks a little different this year, with a lot of new additions to the fold. Duclair, Hornqvist and Hinostroza join from other teams, while guys like Saarela, Tippett and Denisenko could look to get an extended NHL shot on the bottom end of things.

There’s quite a bit of talent here, led of course by Huberdeau. He’s been one of the cornerstones of the franchise for a long time, and was on pace for 93 points in 2019-20 after setting a career high with 92 in 2018-19. Add Duclair to the mix, and there’s some good players on Florida’s top two lines.

Arizona Coyotes v Nashville Predators Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

Nashville Predators

  1. Filip Forsberg (21-27-48)
  2. Calle Jarnkrok (15-19-34)
  3. Luke Kunin (15-16-31)
  4. Rocco Grimaldi (10-21-31)
  5. Mikael Granlund (17-13-30)
  6. Viktor Arvidsson (15-13-28)
  7. Nick Cousins (10-15-25)
  8. Colton Sissons (9-6-15)

Nashville has a forward group that has played together quite a bit, something that could prove beneficial with a shortened camp. While Kunin and Cousins get added to the mix, filling things out for Nashville, the rest of this group was with the Predators last year.

Forsberg obviously has a lot of talent at the top, but this is an interesting team. Like Nashville as a whole, there’s a lot to work with here, it’s a matter of whether the team can reach its talent and potential.

2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Three Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning

  1. Steven Stamkos (29-37-66)
  2. Alex Killorn (26-23-49)
  3. Ondrej Palat (17-24-41)
  4. Tyler Johnson (14-17-31)
  5. Pat Maroon (9-14-23)
  6. Mathieu Joseph (4-3-7)
  7. Barclay Goodrow (0-2-2)
  8. Blake Coleman (0-1-1)
  9. Alexander Volkov (0-1-1)

**Nikita Kucherov (33-52-85)

The thing that jumps out when looking at the defending Stanley Cup champions’ group of wingers heading into the 2021 season is Kucherov, or the lack thereof. Kucherov, one of the NHL’s top talents, had hip surgery and will miss the regular season, a huge blow to Tampa Bay’s title defense.

Still, the Lightning has a pretty strong group of wingers at the top. Stamkos, Killorn, Palat and Johnson are all pretty good players, and the depth isn’t bad either. Tampa Bay is among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup this year, and certainly is probably the favorite to finish atop the Central Division.

This group of wingers, among many other reasons, is part of why the expectations are high once again for the Lightning.