Time to finish off my division predictions with the new Atlantic. It’s another horribly named division and this one features a handful of horrible teams to go along with it. I think this is the easiest one to predict, standings wise, but that’ll come at the end.
- Loui Eriksson is going to be excellent for the Bruins. He fits the mold of the team perfectly and will bring even more solid two-way play to a team that’s filled with guys of that ilk.
- Tuukka Rask will be just as good or better than last season and easily put the criticism of his new contract out to pasture.
- Zdeno Chara will be much better this season, not that he was bad last season. He’ll make fools out of those that were dumb enough to drop him from their top three defensemen list.
- Jarome Iginla will be a solid second line contributor for the Bruins. He’ll chip in 25 to 30 goals and really help improve their power play production.
- Dougie Hamilton will show further progress and start logging 20+ minutes of ice time regularly.
- The Sabres are going to be awful in almost every way. Poor offense outside of the top line, bad defense in general, and below average goaltending when Ryan Miller stops giving a shit.
- Thomas Vanek will have a great season as he prepares to cash in on a new contract.
- Tyler Myers will start to show some progress in getting back on the path to becoming the defenseman many expected him to be after his rookie season.
- Drew Stafford will continue to be totally irrelevant and Buffalo will probably have to retain some salary just to get rid of him at the trade deadline.
- John Scott will give someone a concussion.
Detroit Red Wings
- Daniel Alfredsson isn’t going to come close to achieving the sort of production Detroit expects with that contract. He’ll be lucky to reach 45 points.
- Jimmy Howard is going to struggle in the East behind that defense. Facing so many high powered offenses on a nightly basis will tear him to shreds.
- Speaking of that defense, it may have exceeded expectations last year, but don’t expect a repeat effort. It sucks.
- Stephen Weiss will look pretty good in a Red Wings uniform. He’ll definitely be an upgrade over Valtteri Filppula.
- Detroit will play a lot better when injuries pile up as they’ll finally be able to get Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist into the lineup on a regular basis.
- Sasha Barkov won’t look very good in the beginning as it’ll take him awhile to get used to the North American game. He’ll do a lot better post-Olympic break.
- Florida will be one of the league’s busiest teams at the trade deadline as they have a lot of cheap veteran players signed to one year deals.
- Jonathan Huberdeau will lead the Panthers in points, but that’s not saying much.
- Tim Thomas will play good enough to get traded to a contender at the deadline.
- Dmitry Kulikov will stay healthy enough to put up 30+ points.
- Montreal always seems to have great power play production and that’s likely to continue with Daniel Briere in tow. Both units will be lethal.
- The penalty killing units will continue to suck though, considering Josh Gorges is practically the only capable defenseman they have for the job.
- PK Subban will not come close to repeating as the Norris Trophy winner, don’t make me laugh. It’s still a joke he won it in the first place.
- Max Pacioretty will top his previous career bests, scoring 35+ goals and around 75 points.
- Carey Price will continue to be inconsistent.
- Bobby Ryan will have the Senators forgetting about Alfredsson in no time. Expect career high production of almost 40 goals and 75+ points.
- Kyle Turris will also have his best season to date, though I guess that’s to be expected as this will be his first full 82 game season. Somewhere around 60 points is a safe bet.
- Jean-Gabriel Pageau will continue to shock everyone with his mature play and consistently high effort. He’s still probably a season or two away from breaking out offensively though.
- Robin Lehner will somehow wrestle the starting goaltender gig away from Craig Anderson. I don’t know how or when, but believe me, it’ll happen.
- Erik Karlsson will lead all defensemen in points. Sorry for stating the obvious.
Tampa Bay Lightning
- Tampa Bay will regret sending Jonathan Drouin back to junior when they can’t find anyone good to play on the top line with Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis.
- Sending Drouin back to junior is somewhat understandable, but I don’t see any point in keeping Brett Connolly in the AHL. He should be on the third line and it’s ridiculous that he isn’t
- Ben Bishop will be fairly good. Not great, but better than anyone else they’ve had between the pipes in recent memory. We’re all patiently waiting for Andrei Vasilevski anyway.
- The Valtteri Filppula signing will prove to be one of the summer’s worst.
- Victor Hedman will finally develop into an excellent all around defenseman.
Toronto Maple Leafs
- Jonathan Bernier will win the goaltending battle, though it may not be justifiably, and James Reimer will be shipped out of town.
- Phil Kessel will have a crazy good season and take Toronto to the cleaners. His new contract will pay him roughly two million more annually than he’s worth.
- Due to overpaying for Kessel, the Leafs won’t be able to sign Dion Phaneuf to an extension. They won’t move him at the trade deadline either though.
- The Leafs will actually have two of the better offseason signings on their roster in Paul Ranger and Mason Raymond. Neither will be particularly amazing, but they’ll certainly perform above what their salaries would dictate.
- Nazem Kadri won’t be as good as the Leafs will need him to be. 65 points at best.
Final Standings Prediction
- Boston Bruins
- Ottawa Senators
- Montreal Canadiens
- Toronto Maple Leafs
- Detroit Red Wings
- Tampa Bay Lightning
- Buffalo Sabres
- Florida Panthers