2021-22 NHL season roundtable - Can Tampa Bay Lightning three-peat? How will Seattle Kraken fare?

8 min read
Can the Lightning do it again? How will the Kraken fare? Who will surprise (and disappoint) and who will win it all? Our experts weigh in.
A new NHL season is upon us, with all the excitement, storylines and intrigue that come with it. It all gets started Tuesday with a doubleheader on ESPN. At 7:30 p.m. ET, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning take on the Pittsburgh Penguins, then at 10:15 p.m., the Vegas Golden Knights will host the expansion Seattle Kraken in their first NHL game.

To get you ready for the 2021-22 campaign, we asked some of our NHL experts -- Stanley Cup champion Mark Messier, ESPN.com reporters Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski, ESPN fantasy hockey writer Victoria Matiash and NHL on ESPN host Arda Ocal -- what they're expecting to see, including whether the Lightning can pull off a three-peat as Stanley Cup champs, what to expect from the Kraken, what teams will be the biggest surprises, what players will have a breakout season and who will win it all when the Cup is finally raised.

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What needs to happen for the Lightning to three-peat?

Mark Messier: I think they have a great chance to win three in a row. I don't think the regular-season standings and finishing first will be as big of an objective for them as in past years. They've played a lot of hockey over the past few years, so staying healthy ahead of the playoffs could be the biggest objective. Another question will be whether they can make up for some of the players they lost -- Yanni Gourde, Blake Coleman, Tyler Johnson, Barclay Goodrow, David Savard and Luke Schenn, to name a few. All are very underrated players who will be hard to replace in those depth positions.

Emily Kaplan: The new-look third line needs to be almost as effective as the former third line of Gourde, Goodrow and Coleman. That was a high-energy trio that could hunt down pucks with the best of them, win battles along the walls and get quick plays to the net. Look for new additions Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Corey Perry to fill those roles. While they won't have exactly the same…
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