Thursday, September 19, 2013

Meet The New Divisions: Atlantic Division

Today, we kick off our countdown to the beginning of the new NHL season by taking a look at each of the new divisions. The divisions are Atlantic, Metropolitan, Pacific, and Central. In these posts, we will predict the order of finish from the teams within the division while giving you a little rundown of each squad.

Kicking off the previews will be the Atlantic Division:

8. Florida Panthers-The Panthers lost their best player, C Stephen Weiss, to new division foe Detroit. The team is now in the hands of their top prospects (Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, former Gopher Nick Bjugstad, Erik Gudbranson, and Jacob Markstrom), who will be taking top minutes for the Panthers this year. This team has their young kids playing forward, defense, and in goal so Florida will have a lot of inconsistent games this season. Having the kids play significant minutes this year will help them long term, but for this year, Florida will suffer from those growing pains and cements themselves as the Atlantic's cellar dweller.

7. Buffalo Sabres-Two years ago, we were talking about the Sabres as a serious contender for the Stanley Cup. Now they find themselves as a serious contender for the first overall pick in next year's entry draft with their two best players (Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller) expected to be moved before the trade deadline. The Sabres do have some nice prospects, but they are still a few years away from making a serious impact on the squad. Sabres should have some nice odds in the draft lottery this year.

6. Tampa Bay Lightning-Tampa Bay always boasts an exciting offense year after year (having Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis tends to do that). Last year, the Lightning were fifth in the NHL in goals scored with 148. Problem is, they were fifth worst in the NHL in goals allowed as well. Their defense/goaltending has been a cause for concern the last two years but they believe they have solved the problem by adding Ben Bishop and Anders Lindback in goal. Both are young and in-experienced, but very talented. Tampa makes an improvement in 2013-14, but they still fall short of the playoffs because of a stacked division.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs-Sorry Leafs fans, but your misery that has carried on from May 13th will continue throughout the 2013-14 season when the team is on the outside looking in come playoff time. Toronto acquired highly touted goaltender Jonathan Bernier from Los Angeles, Dave Bolland from Chicago, and David Clarkson via free agency this offseason to try and give the team a better look. The Leafs will be a tough team, but they are just the fifth best team in this division.

4. Montreal Canadiens-Montreal was a great turnaround story last season. They finished as the Northeast division champions and #2 seed in the East, despite not having their Norris Trophy winning defenseman (sigh) PK Subban for the first few weeks of the season. The Canadiens have some nice young forwards and a surprisingly strong defense with a good presence in goal from Carey Price. Life for Montreal will be a little more difficult this year in this division and a full 82 game schedule, but they will be competing for a playoff spot as a "Wild Card team"

3. Detroit Red Wings-The Wings move from the West to the East, and got a big Eastern star (Daniel Alfredsson) to sign with the team to help transition. The Wings have great depth at forward but are not as strong on the defense. Jimmy Howard looks to make good on his new contract in goal and will need to be sharp in the high scoring East. Overall, the Wings may struggle early but they should lock down the third spot in this division when the season ends.

2. Ottawa Senators-No team had more headlines this offseason than the Sens did, mainly around their lost pursuit of franchise icon Daniel Alfredsson. The same day Alfie left the Sens for the Wings, the team traded for Bobby Ryan from Anaheim to help cement their top two lines. The addition of Ryan gives the Sens two legitimate scoring lines and a blue line (lead by Erik Karlsson) that can put the puck in the net too. The Sens somehow found another level on goalie Craig Anderson and now heavily rely on him to carry the load, and he does a pretty bang up job. Ottawa is a lock for the playoffs and should make some noise once they get there too.

1. Boston Bruins-Two trips to the Stanley Cup Finals in three season, makes the Bruins the team to beat in the new Atlantic Division. The only major change on Boston this year was the seven player trade that sent Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to Dallas and Loui Eriksson back to Boston. The Bruins are deep at forwards and defense while having a solid presence in goal of Tuukka Rask. This is a very deep, skilled, and experience team. They will not be an easy team to beat nightly, but don't expect that to happen often either. Atlantic Division title goes to the B's.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

No comments:

Post a Comment