Surprising Starts in the NHL That Will and Won’t Last

Tyler Toffoli #73 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Tyler Toffoli #73 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /
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Semyon Varlamov (40)
Semyon Varlamov #40 of the New York Islanders. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

New York Islanders: Surprise Will Last

The New York Islanders have stormed onto the scene in the last two postseasons, most recently reaching the Eastern Conference Final over the summer. While most would expect this team to continue to progress, I think the sub-.500 start will prove to be more permanent than expected.

Now, I’m not sure that the Isles will finish below .500, but I do believe that they will struggle and miss the postseason. The East is the most difficult division in the NHL, and the Islanders saw more subtractions than additions in the offseason.

Every team in this division added talent, or at least changed personnel, via Free Agency and the Draft, and the Islanders got passed by their rivals. They won’t finish in last, but regression should be anticipated this year.

Patric Hornqvist (70)
Patric Hornqvist #70 of the Florida Panthers. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

Florida Panthers: Surprise Won’t Last

I want this one to last. The Florida Panthers have felt for years like they were so close, but they just couldn’t quite reach the roster’s potential. Like the Islanders, the Panthers lost some key players in the offseason, namely Evgenii Dadonov.

Florida did add players, though, like Patric Hornqvist, which will keep them competitive in a relatively weak Discover Central Division. The problem I have is that the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Carolina Hurricanes, and the Dallas Stars should absolutely qualify for the postseason, and that leaves only one spot for Florida to target.

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The Panthers have yet to not earn a point in a game (3-0-1), but they also have not faced any of the three previously mentioned frontrunners. That will be the true test, and it is not one that I expect this team to pass. There are plenty of teams to keep an eye on as the 2020-21 NHL season progresses, but these clubs could really alter the standings if they continue to surprise the league.