Atlantic Division Offseason Wrap-Up

Well, you’ve already heard the division previews for the Metropolitan and Central divisions from my not-so esteemed colleagues, so without wasting much time, it is time to dig into the Atlantic Division preview for the 2017-2018 season. As with the other division previews, the following scale shall be used to rate teams:

Bottom Feeder: A team that really has no shot at making the playoffs, and will remain relatively low in the standings

Not a Playoff Team: A team that isn’t quite low enough to be referred to as a Bottom Feeder, but they aren’t quite at a level to compete for a playoff spot either.

Playoff Contender: Teams that are at a level where a playoff spot is a reasonable goal. Go ahead, say you think the team will make the playoffs. It’s alright.

Playoff Team: A team that should make the postseason in some capacity. Even if it’s the 16th-seed, they’re still there.

Cup Contender: They don’t just make the playoffs, but they’re probably good enough to go all the way.

*Note: We didn’t include re-signings, because they weren’t true additions

And now, without further ado, let us begin.

Boston Bruins

  • Key additions: Paul Postma, Kenny Agastino
  • Key subtractions: Jimmy Hayes, Colin Miller, Alex Grant, Jim Morrow
  • General thoughts: The Bruins 2016-17 season was far from a disaster, finishing 3rd in the Atlantic and making the playoffs for the first time since the 2013-14 season. However, if they were looking to build off that success in the hopes of having a stronger season, this offseason probably didn’t do the job. With no major signings, the Bruins are going to pretty much look the same in the 2018 season. Expect them to be in a dog-fight for a playoff spot, but if you’re a Bruins fan, don’t expect a Cup any time soon.

    Expectation: Playoff Contender

Buffalo Sabres

  • Key additions: Chad Johnson, Benoit Pouliot, Marco Scandella, Nathan Beaulieu, Phil Housely (Coach), Jason Botterill (GM)
  • Key subtractions: Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, Brian Gionta, Cody McCormick, William Carrier, Dmitri Kulikov
  • General thoughts: This past season for the Sabres was bad. Like, really bad. They didn’t finish in last place in the Conference or League (hard to when the Avalanche exist), but it was bad enough to shake-up the front office and the bench. Nevertheless, the Sabres seem to be on the rise, with a young core centered around Jack Eichel that should get fans excited for the future. However, the Sabres still are lacking on defense, and even though new GM Botterill has managed to bring in some help on the blueline in the form of Marco Scandella and Nathan Beaulieu, the Sabres still need help. The future may be bright for the Sabres, but the 2018 will most likely be lackluster.

    Expectation: Not a Playoff Team

 Detroit Red Wings

  • Key additions: Trevor Daley, Turner Elson, Luke Witkowski, Tom McCollum
  • Key subtractions: Drew Miller, Tomas Nosek
  • General thoughts: As a die-hard Red Wings fan… no comment.

    Expectation: Bottom Feeder

 Florida Panthers

  • Key additions: Evgeny Dadonov, Michael Haley, Alexandre Grenier
  • Key subtractions: Reilly Smith, Jussi Jokinen, Jaromir Jagr (unofficial)
  • General thoughts: Well, they’re not the Red Wings, but the Panthers also haven’t had a stellar offseason. What once seemed to be a promising team derailed in the second half of last season, with injuries and front office drama leading the way. Signing former KHLer Evgeny Dadanov and veteran Michael Haley seems to confirm that the Panthers are pretty much just grasping at straws here, for while both are talented players, neither have the ability to take the team to that next level that is needed to compete. The best summary of the Panthers offseason is that the biggest headline out of Miami is Jagr not re-resigning with the team.

    Expectation: Not a Playoff Team

 Montreal Canadiens

  • Key additions: Jonathan Drouin, Karl Alzner, Ales Hemsky, Mark Streit
  • Key subtractions: Alex Radulov, Alexei Emelin, Nathan Beaulieu, Mikhail Sergachev, Andrei Markov, Nikita Nesterov, Steve Ott
  • General thoughts: A lot of changes to this Habs roster this offseason, and we still have a few months left to go. Trading for Jonathan Drouin adds a young, exciting player with a lot of potential, while adding guys like Ales Hemsky adds a veteran presence to a team that is looking for some leadership. With Carey Price now locked-up in a long-term deal, the Habs should be set when it comes to goaltending. However, I would be remiss to not mention the loss of long-time Canadien Andrei Markov, a solid defenseman who has been with the team since 2000, without much of a replacement for him. Between trading Subban for Weber and now losing Markov, the Canadiens weakest part of their lineup is still on the blueline. However, they’re still a solid team that’s going to be winning a lot of games next year.

    Expectation: Playoff Team

 Ottawa Senators

  • Key additions: Nate Thompson, Johnny Oduya, Erik Burgdoerfer, Tyler Randell
  • Key subtractions: Marc Methot, Tommy Wingles, Matt O’Connor, Philip Varone
  • General thoughts: The Nashville Predators may have been the surprise team of the 2017 playoffs, but the Ottawa Senators could easily lay claim to the same title, as they took the NHL by storm this past spring. No other team gave the eventual Stanley Cup Champions as much trouble as the Sens did, as the Penguins required a double OT, game 7 win to rid themselves of the pesky Ottawa Senators. That being said, expectations are high for the upcoming season in Ottawa, as the team looks to build on their playoff success form last season. They bring in a few key guys such as Nate Thompson and Johnny Oduya who will add some much needed grit to Senators lineup. However, losing Marc Methot to the expansion draft does sting for the Sens. Expect them to be a solid overall team, and who knows, they might be able to surprise us all again.

    Expectation: Playoff Team

Tampa Bay Lightning

  • Key additions: Mikhail Sergachev, Dan Girardi, Chris Kunitz, Michael Leighton
  • Key subtractions: Jonathan Drouin, Jason Garrison, Krister Gudlevskis, Nikita Gusev, Mike McKenna, Luke Witkowski
  • General thoughts: With one of the busiest offseasons in the NHL, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman (O Captain, My Captain!) has done an outstanding job at assembling a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern conference. Coming off a disappointing year in which the Lightning fell victim to key injuries and general discord, the Bolts look to rebound in 2018 and make a run at Lord Stanley’s chalice once more. They’ve picked up a few key guys in Sergachev, Giardi , and Kunitz while mitigating their losses in the offseason. More importantly, they managed to keep their core intact, with Johnson, Palat, Kutcherov, and Stamkos all locked up for a few years. Don’t be fooled by their lackluster 2017 year, this team is good. Really good.

    Expectation: Cup Contender 

 Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Key additions: Patrick Marleau, Ron Hainsey, Dominic Moore, Vincent LoVerde
  • Key subtractions: Brendan Leipsic, Brian Boyle, Steve Olesky, Andrew Campbell, Seth Griffith, Matt Hunwick
  • General thoughts: Much like the Oilers in the West, the Leafs are a rising star in the East. They’re young, fast, and have arguably the best coach in the game behind the bench. The 2017 year was a benchmark year for the Leafs, making the playoffs for the first time since 2013. With the rebuild being centered around Auston Matthews, the Leafs added veteran players in Patrick Marleau and Ron Hainsey, which should give the young guys a boost. They lost a few minor guys, most notably Leipsic and Boyle, but nothing catastrophic. However, there is still a steep learning curve, and while the Leafs are on the rise, they have some ways to go still. Be excited, Leafs fans, but don’t get a 2018 Stanley Cup Champion tattoo just yet.

    Expectation: Playoff Contender

Well, that concludes the Atlantic Division wrap-up. By process of elimination, that leaves only the Pacific Wrap-up. That comes out on Friday (August 4th)!

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