Why do you think that? They won the presidents just last year. It's basically the same team. They upgraded their RW depth. The only guys they lost was krug and chara. Gryz can easily fill that krug hole and 1 of the LD kids will step up for chara's lost, whether thats lauzon, zbroil, or vaak. This is more of a changing of the guards than a rebuild.
Yeah but defense is so important, especially in today's game.
They play a lot more minutes than forwards do.
You can't underestimate Chara and Krug's impact on the team. The two, alongside McAvoy and Carlo, formed one of the deadliest top four's in the NHL because they complimented each other so well. Chara, even not in his prime, has a long reach that is without par. McAvoy has great even-strength offensive ability, alongside physicality and a good skating stride. Krug was the team's power play specialist and Carlo is the stay at home guy who skates well.
Basically, their best left D is now Matt Grzelcyk. He can take more important minutes, since he did well in a limited role, but he does not have the reach and physicality of Chara nor the power play ability of Krug.
I don't think they will collapse. Their offensive lines are unchanged except for Craig Smith, and they still have one of the deadliest first lines in the NHL. Oh wait, Marchand and Pasta are both injured to start the year.
Nevermind, we'll see how it goes. I was wrong about Columbus and Winnipeg.