#1: Colorado Avalanche
(Cale Makar, Devon Toews, Josh Manson, Bowen Byram, Samuel Girard, Erik Johnson, Kurtis MacDermid)
I hate to go chalk here and wish I could offer you some spicy take, but I’d be foolish to deny it. The Colorado Avalanche, while also having one of the best forward groups as well, is just stacked defensively.
Makar is the second coming of Josi and may end up being better when it’s all said and done. Not ready to take that leap just yet. It’s rare to win back-to-back Norris Trophies, but he just might do it.
Toews is quickly rising as one of the NHL’s elite defensemen in his own right. Age 28 and going into just his fifth NHL season, but bursting out offensively last season with 57 points to go along with averaging over 25 minutes of ice time and coming in 8th place in the Norris Trophy voting.
Manson was acquired during last season and played in 22 regular season game and is just a massive hitter. He put up 179 hits in 2021-22, and added another 104 blocks. Just a hard-working, menacing player.
Girard is getting ready to take off too, but is still young by NHL standards. A former 2nd-round pick by the Predators in 2016, if he takes off in 2022-23, then this unit is going to be downright unfair.
There is a reason why so many people are giving the Avalanche a strong chance to win two Stanley Cups in a row in 2023. They are loaded on both ends.