6 things we learned in the 2017-18 NHL regular season – Sportsnet.ca

Six long months ago the NHL began its 2017-18 season. Every team had an optimistic outlook, but as we now gear up for the playoffs, 16 teams are left standing with a shot to win the Stanley Cup in June.

There is still a lot of hockey to be played and much excitement ahead both on and off the ice. The draft lottery comes up on April 28, where we’ll learn where Rasmus Dahlin is likely to land and help shape the future of an organization. June will give us a champion, and the draft, which has become a busy trading period for the NHL. Finally, free agency is on the horizon and the future of John Tavares still hangs in the air.

For now, we look back at the regular season with six things we learned.

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If you would have said before the season started that each of Colorado, New Jersey and expansion Vegas would make it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and one of them would win a division title, you’d have been laughed off stage. If you needed any more proof that the NHL was a league of parity, 2017-18 showed you that anyone has a chance to reach their conference’s top eight after 82 games.

The Avalanche especially were a shocking development after suffering to a terrible 48-point season in 2016-17, the lowest mark of the salary cap era. But after trading Matt Duchene for futures in November, something turned on for this team. Led by an MVP-calibre season from Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado slipped

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