The Atlantic Division housed the representative from the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Final last season, and somehow that team was not the Tampa Bay Lightning. While the Lightning were busy golfing after being swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Boston Bruins took the St. Louis Blues to game seven of the Final, albeit losing.
There’s been a major shake-up in this division though since game seven. Florida had an impressive offseason getting Joel Quenneville and Sergei Bobrovsky, Toronto trading a major piece in Nazem Kadri but getting one back in Tyson Barrie, and as for the Lightning... well they’re actually still really freakin’ good.
Realistically the two wild card spots in the East this year could go to the Atlantic Division. Does that mean it will or there’s a high probability? Who the hell knows, it’s October and hockey is the most confusing and impossible sport to predict, but we always try our best to do so. So why not continue that with a preview of the Atlantic.
Tampa Bay Lightning
2018-19 Standings: 1st
Additions: Kevin Shattenkirk, Pat Maroon, Gemel Smith
Subtractions: J.T Miller, Anton Stralman, Adam Erne
Going off of their current roster, their accomplishments from last season, the Lightning have to be the favorites yet again this season to hoist the Cup in June. They kept their core together, extending Brayden Point, and adding Kevin Shattenkirk to an already stout blueline. The biggest question for the Lightning will be how will they respond to the collapse from last season? Will they be more motivated than ever to hoist Lord Stanley, or does the sweep last season have a lasting effect on this season.
2018-19 Standings: 2nd
Additions: Par Lindholm, Brett Ritchie
Subtractions: Noel Acciari
The Bruins are the defending Eastern Conference champs, and their roster remained pretty well intact. The key for Boston very well could be the play of Jaroslav Halak. Tuukka Rask was only so fresh for their playoff run because of how well Halak played in the regular season. If they get similar results, the Bruins could be a legitimate threat to reach the Final again. They have one of the best lines in hockey with Patrice Bergeron in the middle between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, and I think another deep playoff run could be in the works.
Toronto Maple Leafs
2018-19 Standings: 3rd
Additions: Tyson Barrie, Alexander Kerfoot, Cody Ceci, Jason Spezza
Subtractions: Connor Brown, Nikita Zaitsev, Nazem Kadri, Jake Gardiner, Patrick Marleau, Ron Hainsey, Tyler Ennis
Needless to say, the Leafs had quite the interesting offseason. Trading Nazem Kadri was a huge move for them but it got them the right handed defenseman they’ve been craving in Tyson Barrie. They also got Kerfoot in that deal, who they hope can prove to be an effective third line center behind Auston Matthews and newly dubbed captain, John Tavares. Toronto is arguably the most exciting team in hockey because they’re all about offense, but will they finally be able to advance past the first round seemingly destined for another series vs. Boston? Only time will tell.
2018-19 Standings: 4th
Additions: Nick Suzuki (acquired in 2018 in Pacioretty trade), Ben Chiarot, Keith Kinkaid, Nick Cousins
Subtractions: Andrew Shaw, Jordie Benn,
Ah the Montreal Canadiens, a team that every single season we have to consider for the postseason because of one reason, and one reason alone: Carey Price. As long as the Habs still have Price, there’s always that slim chance they could make some noise, but they need a lot to go right. Shea Weber isn’t getting any younger, and the rest of that defense has some major question marks. The forward depth isn’t bad, but Max Domi has to consistently prove he’s a 70+ point player to be “the guy” in Montreal.
2018-19 Standings: 5th
Additions: Sergei Bobrovsky, Noel Acciari, Anton Stralman, Joel Quenneville
Subtractions: Roberto Luongo, James Reimer, Troy Brouwer,
The team with the spiciest offseason in the NHL, the Florida Panthers, made huge waves by getting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and three time Stanley Cup champion head coach Joel Quenneville. There’s obviously high expectations for this team and a lot of hype given the sexy additions, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them still miss out on the playoffs. Their defense improved with Stralman but there’s some question marks remaining in Mike Matheson, Mark Pysyk, and Josh Brown. While their top six is impressive, the bottom six could be an issue.
2018-19 Standings: 6th
Additions: Jimmy Vesey, Curtis Lazar, Marcus Johansson
Subtractions: Jason Pominville
Buffalo is an extremely interesting team this season, with a young and exciting forward core, and a defense that is slowly coming together with more young talent along with veteran acquisition Marcus Johansson. The defense is slowly coming together with Rasmus Dahlin entering his second season, and other young pieces getting better. The issue for Buffalo will be their goaltending, as Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark both need to have bounce back campaigns. This could be a sleeper team, or one that falls apart due to their defense and goaltending.
Detroit Red Wings
2018-19 Standings: 7th
Additions: Steve Yzerman (GM), Adam Erne, Valtteri Filppula
Subtractions: Thomas Vanek, Frans Nielsen
Lone gone are the days of the Detroit Red Wings being a guaranteed playoff team, and that trend should continue this season. This is a team in full rebuild mode with former captain Steve Yzerman taking over as General Manager. as he looks to bring the Wings back to relevance. There’s really not a whole lot to talk about with this team. They have some nice young pieces to build around, but this team is far away from even being a semi-threat in the East.
2018-19 Standings: 8th
Additions: Ron Hainsey, Erik Brannstrom (acquired in Mark Stone deal), Artem Anisimov, Connor Brown, Tyler Ennis, Nikita Zaitsev
Subtractions: Cody Ceci, Zack Smith
Oh the Ottawa Senators, how we love you so. While they’ve essentially been the laughing stock of the league the past couple seasons, there are some nice pieces for this team to build around, and for fans to be excited about. Thomas Chabot signed an eight year extension, and Brady Tkachuk seems like the real deal. There’s a lot of issues with this team, but they’re slowly building the farm system up in their attempt to return to relevance.