Getty Images

We're on the verge of a new NHL season, one that carries a lot of mystery and unknown as we approach opening night. Not only is it easy to forget a lot of the things that happened this offseason considering there's been months of inactivity, but there's also a temporary league realignment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With that in mind, it's a great time to take a look at teams and these new divisions to examine where every team stands heading into the condensed 2021 season.

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Dallas Stars at Tampa Bay Lightning
Central Division

Last season: 82 PTS, 3rd in Central | At a glance: After finishing as runner-up in the Stanley Cup Final last season, the Stars will be looking to make another strong run in 2021. Their defense and goaltending remains excellent (especially considering they re-signed Anton Khudobin) but they still have question marks up front. A team that finished 26th in scoring will be without one of their best forwards, Tyler Seguin, until April as he recovers from a torn labrum.

Last season: 78 PTS, 4th in Central | At a glance: Last year was a disappointing mess for the Predators, but they finished the regular season relatively strong before being eliminated by the Coyotes in the postseason play-in round. This year they're going to need to find more stability (especially in net) and it'll be interesting to see what they can accomplish in John Hynes' first full year behind the bench.

Last season: 39 PTS, 8th in Atlantic | At a glance: Well, things can only go up, right? After a historically awful season, Detroit will be pushing forward with their rebuild. They're still a ways away from being relevant, but the hope is that their younger pieces will continue to develop and Steve Yzerman can continue to shape this roster with a long-term vision. They did take a flier on Bobby Ryan this offseason, so maybe he can find some redemption in Detroit.      

Last season: 92 PTS, 2nd in Atlantic | At a glance: The reigning Stanley Cup champs are returning most of their roster, including some pieces that we thought they'd have trouble re-signing (Mikhail Sergachev and Anthony Cirelli). However, they'll be without their best offensive player for the entire regular season, as Nikita Kucherov underwent hip surgery this offseason. Overcoming the loss of Kucherov will be challenging, but Tampa still has one of the deepest teams in the league and should be considered a favorite to win the Cup again.

Last season: 78 PTS, 4th in Atlantic | At a glance: It was yet another frustrating season for the Panthers and they were ultimately bounced in the postseason play-in round. They finished 6th in the league in offense last season but they'll have a new-look group up front this year, adding Alexander Wennberg, Anthony Duclair, Patric Hornqvist, Vinnie Hinostroza and 2018 first-round pick Grigori Denisenko. That's nice and all, but the more pressing question is whether they can play better in their own end and get better goaltending from Sergei Bobrovsky.     

Last season: 81 PTS, 6th in Metro | At a glance: CBJ always seems to play hard and tough under John Tortorella, so it's important to keep that in mind despite their underwhelming roster. They added Max Domi to their front end and Liam Foudy is making a push to be an integral part of the lineup, but the biggest story out of Columbus this offseason is the drama and trade rumors surrounding Pierre-Luc Dubois. Nobody seems to want to stay in Columbus. 

Last season: 81 PTS, 4th in Metro | At a glance: Last year's first-round playoff exit was a disappointment but the Canes are still a fun team with a lot of exciting pieces. The ascent of Sebastian Aho / Andrei Svechnikov should continue to be a blast to watch. The defense is deep and impressive, but goaltending is still a question mark.   

Last season: 72 PTS, 7th in Central | At a glance: The Blackhawks snuck into the postseason last year as the 24th seed in the expanded playoff and they actually won their play-in series against Edmonton, but it was a frustrating year on the whole. Unfortunately, things aren't shaping up to be much better this year. They've got some talent up front, but the roster is underwhelming, especially with the indefinite absence of Jonathan Toews (illness). That defense is still pretty brutal and now they've got a major question mark in net following the departure of Corey Crawford.

East Division

Last season: 89 PTS, 2nd in Metro | At a glance: The Flyers took a big step forward last season and established some momentum with their current group. They were one of the most dominant teams in the league in the latter half of the year and they're bringing back pretty much the same group this year, though they'll have Oskar Lindblom and Nolan Patrick back in the mix. This is a strong team that may only get stronger as they continue playing together. 

Last season: 86 PTS, 3rd in Metro | At a glance: All things considered, the Penguins had a pretty good year for all the bad luck they suffered. They've still got an impressive front six that features Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin leading a solid supporting cast, but the depth is a concern. On the back end they finally got rid of Jack Johnson, but then replaced him with... Cody Ceci? Not great.

Last season: 90 PTS, 1st in Metro | At a glance: The Caps came out on top in an ultra-tough Metro division last year before losing to the Islanders in the first round of the playoffs. Washington is returning most of its roster, but they did make some notable additions on the back end (Justin Schultz and Zdeno Chara) in an effort to clean up some of their defensive issues. The most intriguing storyline around the Caps might be Ilya Samsonov's first season pulling full-time duties in net.     

Last season: 100 PTS, 1st in Atlantic | At a glance: The Bruins won the Presidents' Trophy last year but eventually lost to the Lightning in the second round of the playoffs and didn't do a whole lot to get better this offseason. Their only significant addition was signing Craig Smith, who should be a nice depth piece, but they lost both Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara on the back end. That means they'll have some big-time question marks with unproven players on the left side of their defense this year. They'll also be without David Pastrnak for a least a month as he recovers from hip surgery. It seems fair to expect them to take a step backward this year.

Last season: 68 PTS, 6th in Atlantic | At a glance: With patience running low and frustrations running high in Buffalo, the Sabres showed a little bit of urgency this offseason. They made a big splash by signing Taylor Hall to a one-year deal while also bringing in Eric Staal and Cody Eakin. Their top six looks pretty solid but they've got major depth concerns, the defense is still in rough shape and goaltending is a bit iffy. 

Last season: 68 PTS, 8th in Metro | At a glance: There was a lot of excitement and promise in New Jersey heading into last season but that didn't last long. This year, expectations are pretty low but the Devils do have some young players that will be looking to prove themselves -- and Jack Hughes, who had a tough rookie campaign, is probably at the top of that list. They did add Ryan Murray and and Corey Crawford in an attempt to solidify their back end a bit more this offseason. 

Last season: 80 PTS, 5th in Metro | At a glance: The Islanders emerged as a Cinderella story in the playoffs last year, but will they be able to continue that magic into this season? They've thrived under the leadership and defensive system of Barry Trotz and they'll be bringing back most of their lineup (minus Devon Toews), so you certainly can't write them off -- even in a tough division. 

Last season: 79 PTS, 7th in Metro | At a glance: The Rangers' rebuild is heading in the right direction, especially after landing Alexis Lafreniere with the top overall pick in the 2020 draft. Things are promising, but let's not get too ahead of ourselves -- they're still young and have some questionable, unproven players that are going to crack the opening night lineup, especially in the bottom six and on defense.  

West Division

Last season: 86 PTS, 1st in Pacific At a glance:  Vegas had an outstanding second half last season and entered the playoffs as a strong Stanley Cup favorite. They were ultimately knocked off by Dallas in the WCF, but the Golden Knights were aggressive this offseason, signing Alex Pietrangelo to a big deal in free agency and re-signing Robin Lehner . As such, the Knights carry one of the league's most complete rosters into this season and are a serious contender for the Cup.

Last season: 94 PTS, 1st in Central At a glance: The Blues had a strong season last year, especially considering they went without their best offensive forward, Vladimir Tarasenko . They'll be without Tarasenko again to start this season, but they've added some reinforcements ( Mike Hoffman , Torey Krug) to help beef up offensive production. Though they lost captain Alex Pietrangelo in free agency, the roster is still solid and they're almost guaranteed a playoff spot in the weakest division.

Last season: 92 PTS, 2nd in Central At a glance: The Avs have been trending upwards for a few years thanks to their high-end talent and budding young stars. This year they enter the season as odds-on favorites to win the Stanley Cup. They have an outstanding group of forwards led by perennial Hart contender Nathan MacKinnon and a very strong defensive group led by reigning Calder winner Cale Makar . That defensive group added Devon Toews and could also see the addition of promising prospect Bowen Byram this year. This is indisputably one of the best teams in the NHL, top-to-bottom. 

Last season: 67 PTS, 6th in Pacific At a glance: The Ducks are still very much rebuilding and transitioning to a new core, but they have some exciting young pieces in the system and they could start seeing the future come clearer into focus this season. Trevor Zegras is coming off another outstanding performance at the World Juniors and, while there's no guarantee he makes the opening night roster, he may have an opportunity to be an impact player this year.

Last season: 74 PTS, 5th in Pacific At a glance: "Going for it" didn't exactly work out for Arizona last year and they lost Taylor Hall to free agency. They've got a new leadership group in place after the sudden departure of GM John Chayka, so this could be somewhat of a transition/bridge season for the Yotes. They may very well compete for a playoff spot in this division, but the roster doesn't exactly scream serious contender.

Last season: 63 PTS, 8th in Pacific At a glance: Last season was a disappointing mess for the Sharks , who were expecting to be Cup contenders but instead finished with the 3rd-worst record in the league. It's tough to gauge where this team is at -- they've still got talent but there's not a lot of depth and things could easily go south fast, especially in a season with so much unpredictability. Goaltending has been a complete disaster for this team in recent years and it'll be interesting to monitor if Devan Dubnyk helps at all ... but I wouldn't bank on that.

Last season: 77 PTS, 6th in Central At a glance: Minnesota has been an unspectacular, middling team for a while now and that's probably not going to change this year. That being said, there is some reason to be optimistic about the direction in which this team is headed, and we may start seeing that come into picture this season with the arrival of Kirill Kaprizov. The forward group is solid, but the strength of the team still lies in the defensive group. Goaltending could be a mess, though.

Last season: 64 PTS, 7th in Pacific At a glance: The Kings are still too old and have too many holes to be taken seriously but they have a very good prospect pool --- including newcomer Quinton Byfield, the No. 2 overall pick in last year's draft. If there's anything to keep an eye on, it's which of those prospects cracks the lineup and how they perform/develop this year. The future is the only thing that matters for this team right now.

North Division

Last season: 81 PTS, 3rd in Atlantic | At a glance: It was a disappointing regular season followed by another first-round exit for the Maple Leafs last year, and now patience is really running thin for this core to accomplish something. That being said, there's still hope and promise heading into this year. The forward group remains very strong and T.J. Brodie has been added to the back end. But expectations and hype mean nothing if they're not followed by results, and nobody knows that more than Toronto at this point. It'll be interesting to keep an eye on how they deploy Joe Thornton, especially considering he's been slotted in as a top-line winger beside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner early in camp.     

Last season: 79 PTS, 4th in Pacific | At a glance: It's tough to gauge exactly where Calgary stands at this point. They've got a lot of nice pieces both up front and on the blue line, and they addressed a big need at the goaltender position with the addition of Jacob Markstrom this offseason. They could be somewhat of a dark horse, but this is a team that has a tendency to be really hot or really cold, so...     

Last season: 83 PTS, 2nd in Pacific | At a glance: Despite getting unreal seasons from Connor McDavid and reigning Hart-winner Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers were once again bit by their lack of depth and a weak back end. That being said, Kailer Yamamoto emerged as a solid ancillary piece on the wing and Edmonton's addition of Dominik Kahun could provide another support winger. Keep an eye on Kyle Turris and Tyson Barrie too, as they're two players looking for a fresh start in Edmonton.  

Last season: 71 PTS, 5th in Atlantic | At a glance: The Habs are an intriguing team in this division, especially after putting together a surprisingly exciting playoff run last year. A few of their young pieces down the middle (Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi) are starting to bud, and Montreal has added some support pieces in Josh Anderson, Tyler Toffoli, Corey Perry and Michael Frolik. This team could take a step forward this year, especially if Carey Price returns to top form.

Last season: 80 PTS, 5th in Central | At a glance: Sort of the same old story for Winnipeg here this year -- they've got a stacked top-six up front (the Paul Stastny re-acquisition was a nice move) but the depth is shaky and the defense is suspect, at best. They're probably going to need Connor Hellebuyck to remain in Vezina form if they want to make noise.   

Last season: 78 PTS, 3rd in Pacific | At a glance: Vancouver emerged as a very fun, albeit imperfect, young team last season. They're led by one of the most promising superstars in the league in Elias Pettersson, who could be a Hart candidate this year, and they could see another exciting youngster (Nils Hoglander) crack the lineup this year. The defense also improved with the addition of Nate Schmidt, but there are some unproven pieces that they're going to lean on, including goaltender Thatcher Demko. Behind Demko is Braden Holtby, who's hoping for a bit of new life after some down years in Washington.

Last season: 62 PTS, 7th in Atlantic | At a glance: They're probably still going to be pretty bad but the silver lining is that the rebuild is looking promising. They continue to add young prospects to the pipeline and we could see a few new faces have an impact this season, including Tim Stuetzle, Erik Brannstrom and Josh Norris. The addition of Matt Murray in net could help them out too, but they better hope the change of scenery helps him rediscover his old self because that contract they gave him was a little generous.