As training camps start to open this week, it is time to take a look at the divisions as part of my season preview, today I will be taking a look at the Atlantic, I will preview the other divisions in subsequent blogs. On to the previews…
The reconfigured Atlantic Division contains none of the old Atlantic teams, it is split geographically into the Florida teams and the entire old Northeast division and, for fun… adding the Detroit Red Wings. This division features five playoff teams from last season. Let’s get to the teams in alphabetical order…
– 28-14-6 – 62 points – 2nd in Northeast, 4th in East – Lost in Stanley Cup Final
- Jarome Iginla, Loui Eriksson
- Tyler Seguin, Nathan Horton, Rich Peverly, Jaromir Jagr, Andrew Ference.
- After another magical run that came up just short, there was some turnover to the team. The shakeup trade that saw the exit of Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverly to bring in Loui Eriksson could pay big dividends. The Bruins have excellent goaltending, solid defense – even with an aging Zdeno Chara and enough scoring to make noise in this stacked division. Experience pays here as Boston will get back to the playoffs.
– 21-21-6 – 48 points – 5th in Northeast, 12th in East – Missed playoffs
- Jamie McBain, Henrik Tallinder
- Nathan Gerbe
- Talk about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I am not sure that Henrik Tallinder is the answer to Buffalo’s problems. Don’t get me wrong, Thomas Vanek can score, Ville Leino has some ability and Ryan Miller has the talent to be an elite goaltender, but you wonder if it isn’t time to blow this thing up completely and start over. It’s going to be a long year to be a Sabre fan.
Detroit Red Wings
– 24-16-8 – 56 points – 3rd in Central – 7th in West – Lost in 2nd round to Chicago
- Stephen Weiss, Daniel Alfredsson
- Vatteri Filppula, Dan Cleary, Damien Brunner (so far)
- The popular theory is that Detroit will benefit from the Eastern schedule and lock up a playoff spot early. I’ve seen some predict that Detroit wins this division, I wonder what those folks are smoking. This is a solid, if unspectacular team. Their stars are aging (how many times have I written that?) and their youngsters are doing ok. Their blueline is suspect but goaltender Jimmy Howard continues to confound his critics. They got no younger with the addition of Alfredsson, but he will prove to be a solid add, Weiss? Well, the jury is out with this observer on that pickup. This is a strong division with five potential playoff teams, I would not be surprised to see Detroit at the top of the division or as the odd man out.
– 15-27-6 – 36 points – 5th in Southeast – 15th in East – Missed playoffs
- Joey Crabb, Scott Gomez, Bobby Butler
- Stephen Weiss, Jack Skille, Jose Theodore
- The Panthers enter their 20th year with some very real problems. Their blueline is led by Brian Campbell and Ed Jovanovski, both aging, the rest non-descript at best (and they passed on Seth Jones in the draft, still a head scratcher to me.) Up front they sport some players that have never seemed to reach their potential… Scottie Upshall, Kris Versteeg, Tomas Fleischmann, to name a few, in goal… well, it’s time for Scott Clemmonsen to step up. They have some talented youth, but, in this tough division, they’re roadkill.
– 29-14-5 – 63 points – 1st in Northeast, 2nd in East – Lost in 1st round to Ottawa
- Danny Briere, Douglas Murray
- Michael Ryder, Colby Armstrong
- The Habs were unfortunate enough to run into the Ottawa buzzsaw in last season’s playoffs… they deserved a better fate. This is a good, solid, young team that has a real chance to make a run. P.K. Subban is coming off his Norris win to lead the D, Carey Price is excellent in goal, they have good scoring and made a couple of key adds, including Danny Briere. The experience of last season’s fade should fuel this team. I expect Montreal to contend for the division.
– 25-17-6 – 56 points – 4th in Northeast, 7th in East – Lost in 2nd round to Pittsburgh
- Joe Corvo, Clarke MacArthur, Bobby Ryan
- Sergei Gonchar, Daniel Alfredsson
- Losing your captain can be a difficult thing, especially when you consider the ham-handed way it was handled, but this is a deep team that added some really strong pieces in the offseason. Paul MacLean is an excellent coach and this team has gotten better every season under him. The addition of Bobby Ryan is an upgrade talent wise and helps ease the loss of Alfredsson. They have solid role players to fill out the roster, excellent goaltending in Craig Anderson and a good blueline, led by former Norris winner Erik Karlsson, who did not have a good year last season. This team is one I put in the same category as Detroit, I wouldn’t be surprised if they win the division… or if they were on the outside looking in come mid-April.
Tampa Bay Lightning
– 18-26-4 – 40 points – 4th in Southeast, 14th in East – Missed playoffs
- Valtteri Filppula
- Vinny Lecavalier, Mathieu Garon
- Trying to figure out what is going on in Tampa is liking reading translated stereo instructions… you recognize the words, but they don’t seem to make sense. Crazy money to Valtteri Filppula didn’t really make sense… They have the twin towers in net with 6’7” Ben Bishop and 6’6” Anders Lindback, one needs to make a case to be the starter. Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos will lead this team… but I don’t think they have enough soldiers to carry the load. Another disappointing season in the Bay.
Toronto Maple Leafs
– 26-17-5 – 57 points – 3rd in Northeast, 5th in East – Lost in 1st round to Boston
- Dave Bolland, Jonathan Bernier, David Clarkson
- Mikhail Grabovski, Clarke MacArthur, Ben Scrivens
- This is a tough one, at the risk of offending Maple Leaf fans, I’m just not sure this team is as good as advertised. They completely overpaid for David Clarkson, they are in an RFA dilemma with Nazeem Kadri and Cody Franson as I write this and they haven’t shown confidence with their forwards lineup. The blueline, led by Dion Phaneuf is serviceable, the addition of Jonathan Bernier to the goalies adds an experience element that this team needed. Perhaps Phil Kessel going into a contract year will portend well for him and the team. I really like the add of Dave Bolland… his influence in the room could be huge. The other factor to look out for… the impact of the Leafs collapse in the playoff against Boston.
Predicted Order of Finish * denotes playoffs
6. Tampa Bay
Next up… the Metropolitan Division.
- Great time at Brent Peterson’s fundraiser last night – Excellent crowd had a good time, raised big money for the Peterson for Parkinson’s Foundation and the Predator’s Foundation.
- The baby Preds went 1-1-1 in the Florida tournament over the weekend, beating the Panthers, losing to the Lightning and tying the Bruins.
- Almost all the vets are in town, the rookies have one more day of their camp… then main camp opens on Wednesday.
- It’s official, Miikka Kiprosoff has retired. Makes you wonder who Calgary will have in net this season.
- A couple of PTO’s were announced over the weekend… Mayson Raymond in Toronto, Ryan Whitney in St. Louis, Hal Gill in Philadelphia.
- Yikes… the situation in Carolina is an interesting family feud, Jason Karamanos was fired as the assistant GM of the team over the weekend. Fired due to a “family matter” according to his father Peter. According to the former AGM the firing had “nothing to do with my job performance.”
- Edmonton has announced that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins won’t play in the preseason. The youngster is recovering from shoulder surgery.
- John Taveres has been named the 14th captain of the New York Islanders.
- Glad to see Brett Hull back in the league, this time as a VP in St. Louis.
- Jay Feaster has begun to channel his new boss, ripping into his team’s performance at the Canucks tournament over the weekend.
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