Predicting the upcoming season is definitely not a rocket science. Injuries, trades, lack of typical production and/or coaching ineptness contribute to mostly ridiculing my predictions. But here I go:
1. Boston Bruins - Nothing major has changed for the Stanley Cup winners. They will once again finish Top 10 in offense with their everyone chips in attitude and Top 5 in defense with saves percentage record holder and Vezina winner Tim Thomas in net. That bodes very well for a return divisional and Stanley Cup banners.
2. Buffalo Sabres - No team in this division improves as much (and paid to do so!) than the Sabres. Leino, Erhoff and a truly healthy Derek Roy will have the Sabres contending the Bruins for the top 3 seed the division winner will garnish.
3. Montreal Canadiens - I am sorry, when your best free agent signing is Erik Cole, you don't deserve to move up the list in this division. Only the ineptness of Ottawa and Toronto keeps Montreal from finishing worse.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs - Tim Connolly and Cody Franson will really help Toronto to improve, but not quite enough to overtake Montreal. These two teams are about as close as it can get. Will it be enough to get Toronto into the playoffs for the first time post lockout?
1. Pittsburgh Penguins - This is the biggest IFFY statement in this entire breakdown of the Eastern Conference. If, and ONLY if, Sidney Crosby returns to normal from his concussion problems, this team is dynamic up the middle with their centers. Evgeni Malkin returning to form also will keep their Atlantic Division foes on their toes.
2. Philadelphia Flyers - Acquiring Ilya Bryzgalov shows the Flyers are serious about returning to the Cup Finals. Losing Jeff Carter and Mike Richards via trade (because OF signing Bryzgalov, of course) could slow this team down offensively, but the emergence of James van Riemsdyk and re-emergence of Daniel Briere will keep this team rolling. If Sidney Crosby does not come back fully for Pittsburgh, this team will be ready to take the Atlantic Division again.
3. New York Rangers - Wow. Resigning their youth (Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky) and getting arguably the best free agent in Brad Richards this offseason really is going to push the Rangers into better company. This team could challenge for the division title if they get off to a fast start.
4. New Jersey Devils - A healthy Zach Parise and a fountain of youth for Martin Brodeur could revitalize this team into contending for a playoff berth. Their biggest problem is playing within the best division in the NHL.
5. New York Islanders - Well, the locals voted down a new arena deal, their biggest news other than that is that Alexei Yashin plans on an NHL comeback (Jaromir Jagr's deal with Philadelphia has gotten to his brain) and that Evgeni Nabokov WILL report to camp. What fun and dispairing times it is to be an Islanders fan!
1. Washington Capitals - Tomas Vokoun. Tomas Vokoun. Tomas Vokoun. Easily the best acquisition the Capitals have made in the last few years. Finally, a proven quality goaltender; and they didn't have to overpay! This team will win the division hands down.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning - Steve Yzerman has done a magnificient job in Tampa to rejuvinate this franchise to the brink of returning to the Finals. Re-signing the teams free agents has been the main focus this offseason and rightfully so. The teams chances once again land on the shoulders of soon to be 42 year old Dwayne Roloson. will his magic continue for a full season?
3. Carolina Hurricanes - Last season, if not for a last game pummelling by Tampa Bay, it would have been the first time the division had more than two teams qualify for the postseason. I didn't see a lot of improvement by the Canes this season other than signing Tomas Kaberle, but this team should be in the mix for one of the last teams to reach the postseason. Once there, anything goes.
4. Winnipeg Jets - Weird to say Southeast Division and Winnipeg Jets, isn't it? This team will excite a town desperate for the return of NHL hockey, but alas, there are just too many holes to fill in this roster. Most of those holes are in net (not the best place to have them) and at center. The team just is too mediocre to challenge for a playoff berth.
5. Florida Panthers - This team is hard to judge, especially with all the players being brought in. However, I believe they are going in the wrong direction in accumulating talented players. They are going VERY veteran with Ed Jovanovski, Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky, Scottie Upshall, Marcel Goc, Tomas Fleischmann, Kris Versteeg, Sean Bergenheim and Jose Theodore as their main acquisitions. This team's success relies way too much on Theodore and unfortunately, I believe they will be very disappointed and looking for another goalie rather quickly.
- Pittsburgh Penguins
- Washington Capitals
- Boston Bruins
- Philadelphia Flyers
- Tampa Bay Lightning
- New York Rangers
- Buffalo Sabres
- New Jersey Devils
What do you think of these predictions?
Dude, you are right on! (4 votes)
Dude, you are so off! (10 votes)
Dude, where is my car? (9 votes)
Prediction? Pain. (4 votes)
27 total votes