The 2018-2019 NHL is almost ready to get going. Teams have made their final cuts and have now turned their attention towards opening night. For the first division I will be previewing, I decided to go for the division that seems to be pretty consistent throughout most peoples predictions. So without further delay, here is my prediction for the Atlantic division this season.
8. Ottawa: The Senators had one heck of a dramatic off-season. The end result of it was them loosing both Mike Hoffman and Erik Karlsson. The Senators lack offence past Duchene and Stone, have extremely shaky defence and a goalie who was very disappointing last season. This team is destined for last place not only in the Atlantic, but in the entire NHL. Any higher would be considered a massive success. For senators fans, the most exciting thing for you guys this seeing is seeing a bunch of your young guys getting lots of playing time, as the Senators won’t be making the playoffs this season.
7. Detroit: Detroit’s long time leader Henrik Zetterberg was forced to retire due to back issues and he is pretty much irreplaceable. Detroit enters this season with some weapons on offence like Larkin and Mantha, but not much depth behind them. Their defence is very below average and to make matters worse, are extremely overpaid. Bernier had a really good season for Colorado last year, but neither him or Howard have proven to be really consistent in net over the past few seasons. Detroit will be a bottom 10 team in the NHL this season.
6. Montreal: The Canadiens on paper don’t look much better than the Detroit Red Wings. Some could even argue the Red Wings have better forwards and/or defensemen then the Canadiens. They traded away their captain and look incredibly weak down the middle. The reason I put them ahead of the Red Wings though, is because of Carey Price. Price hasn’t had an amazing couple years, but he is still one of the best goalies in the NHL, and he is the type of goalie that can really steal multiple games for your team during an entire season. If he even gets close to the Carey Price of past, it should be enough to have the Habs finish above the Red Wings and Senators in the standings.
5. Buffalo: The sabres had themselves an interesting off-season where they focused hard on changing the culture in the dressing room. They brought in players like Conor Sheary, Patrick Berglund and Matt Hunwick, all guys with playoff experience under their belt. If free-agent acquisition Carter Hutton fails to be consistent as a starter, the Red Wings could easily find themselves near the bottom of the Atlantic once again. Jeff Skinner was a huge acquisition that will really help the Sabres score more goals, and there will be a ton of excitement around 1st overall pick Rasmus Dahlin. The Sabres will be much more competitive this season, but I don’t think it will be enough to earn themselves a playoff spot.
4. Florida: The Panthers weren’t to active in the off-season, as their only move was acquiring sniper Mike Hoffman from technically the Sharks…. but we all know they robbed the Senators. The Panthers were really good during the 2nd half of the season last year, and fell just short of reaching the playoffs. That is the team I believe the Panthers really are, and if Luongo can have another solid year in net for them, I do think the Panthers will grab the 2nd wildcard spot in the eastern conference.
3. Boston: The Bruins are still a really good team, but they didn’t get any better this off-season. Their biggest addition was defensemen John Moore, and they lost a whole lot of players via free agency. Rick Nash, Riley Nash, Nick Holden, Tim Schaller and Anton Khudoblin all left the team with basically no additions to replace them. Most of Boston’s stars are on the wrong side of 30, and even though they likely won’t decline very much from last year, they aren’t getting any younger. The Bruins are again, still very good, but they don’t look like they will be as good as last years team.
2. Toronto: The Maple Leafs have maybe the best offence in the entire league, top three without a doubt. Their centre depth is unbelievable, even the Lightning can’t compete with them down the middle. They also have a really solid goalie in Andersen who still is young enough to take another step this season. The reason this team isn’t the best in the Atlantic is their defence. I don’t think its as bad as everyone is saying it is, but its average at best. Maybe the offence will be so good it will hide the defensive problems a bit, but the Leafs would benefit greatly from another top 4 right shot defensemen.
1. Tampa Bay: The Lightning are solid from top to bottom. They have a lethal offence, and even though I don’t think its as good as the Maple Leafs, its very close. The Lightning have an extremely good defensive group, led by Norris winner Victor Hedman. Andrei Vasilevskiy is one of the best goalies in the NHL, and he is only 24 years old. The Lightning I predict will win the Atlantic division and possibly even the Presidents trophy as the team with the best record in the regular season.
So those are my predictions for the Atlantic division in the upcoming season. I would love to know what you guys think and what your opinions are for the Atlantic. Hockey is almost here, let’s just drop the puck already.