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"Sabres/Northeast Division Buzz"
Twitter @SabreHess • 28 Years Old • Male
Preseason predictions and rankings are about as much a guessing game as the weather. Until we've seen 30+ games of regular season action it is impossible to accurately predict how teams will perform. Yet it seems that as much as I cringe when I read everyone elses' rankings and playoff projections, I can't resist following suit. I'll try and check back on these mid-season and see how far off base I am, so you can hold me to these.

Northeast Divison:Conference finish in parentheses

1)Boston (3)
2)Buffalo (4)
3)Montreal (9)
4)Toronto (10)
5)Ottawa (15)

Were it not for the tie-breaker going to Montreal these would have been the standings last season. The only difference I see this year is that I don't have Montreal making the playoffs. Montreal and Toronto could finish within a point or two of each other. I'm just not buying the Habs, and while I have Toronto on an upward trend this year, I still think they fall just short of the playoffs. Ottawa gets in the Nail Yakupov sweepstakes, and if you're going to be bad, at least there's that silver lining.

Eastern Conference:

1)Washington
2)Pittsburgh
3)Boston
4)Buffalo
5)Philadelphia
6)NY Rangers
7)Tampa Bay
8)NY Islanders
Montreal
Toronto
New Jersey
Carolina
Winnipeg
Florida
Ottawa

Everyone below the Isles is a crapshoot, but I feel as confident as I can be (which is not very confident in September!) that the top 8 teams I have listed will earn a playoff birth. If Crosby plays and I believe he will, Pittsburgh should win the Atlantic, and I see Washington running away with the Southeast. My surprise here is sneaking the Isles in at 8 and keeping any combination of Montreal/New Jersey out of the playoffs. I just have a gut feeling that things are coming together out on the Island and Garth Snow's patience will pay off this year with the honor of being swept by Ovechkin and the Caps.

Here are my preseason player nominations for the major NHL awards to be given out ONLY amongst the Northeast Division:

Hart Trophy:David Krejci Bos-F

I loved Krejci's game in the playoffs last year. Other than Thomas I thought he was the next most important player on the Bruins roster and this year I think he takes on that responsibility full time. If his linemates stay healthy (keep your head up Horton!) I could see Krejci finishing with a monster 25g 55a season for 80pts. Totals which would very likely lead his team and probably the division.

Vezina Trophy:Ryan Miller Buf-G

Ryan Miller has a lot of things going for him entering the season. He finally has a capable backup to provide him with some much needed days off throughout the year, and his defensive corps was strengthened significantly this off-season. I see those two things equating to a return to form for Ryan and his second Vezina trophy in three years.

Norris Trophy:Tyler Myers Buf-D

Freakish size? check Great skating ability? check Rocket shot? check Physicality? check Long term contract? check Oh sorry I'm not talking about Zdeno Chara, this is the year Myers overtakes Chara and becomes the beast of the Northeast.

Art Ross Trophy:David Krejci Bos-F

I know my blurb above for the Hart says that I projected Krejci for roughly 80 points and in the NHL that won't be enough to win the Ross. But remember these are Northeast division awards, and I'm not sure anyone else in the division will best those numbers. Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Jason Spezza, Mikhail Grabovski, and Tomas Plekanec may come close, but I see those guys in the mid to upper 70's.

Lady Bing Trophy:David Desharnais Mon-F

No I don't watch every Habs game, and maybe someone else in the division is more deserving, but every time I do see Montreal Desharnais stands out as a very gentlemanly player. Not sure that's a compliment.

Bill Masterton Trophy:Max Pacioretty Mon-F

If Pacioretty plays a full season and plays regular top 9 minutes than who better exemplifies perseverance than him? Nobody, in fact he could be a Masterton trophy winner for the league as well.

Selke Trophy:Tyler Seguin Bos-F

I know he was -4 on the season last year, but I think with his skill set and all that time he spent on the 4th line learning how to be a grinder and play in his own end is going to pay off. He showed flashes of brilliance during the playoffs, and I see him primed for a breakout season. Taylor Hall may have had the better rookie campaign, but Seguin is a far more complete player and he is going to dominate at both ends of the ice.

Calder Trophy: Jared Cowen Ott-D

I'm not an Ottawa insider and I haven't watched him in camp but even if he doesn't make the team for opening day he'll have an impact this season at some point. Cowen is a big boy (6-5 226 lbs) and he made the transition from juniors (Spokane-WHL) to the AHL (Binghamton) look easy last year. There is no reason to believe he will have difficulty making that next transition to the NHL, and given that Ottawa is rebuilding I see that happening sooner than later.

Brett Lindros Award: Tim Connolly Tor-F

Tim Connolly wins the trophy awarded annually to the player most likely to end up talking to the lampshade. One more big hit and Connolly might hear the lampshade talking back. Sorry for the cheapshot, but I had to find an award I could have a Toronto player win!

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September 20, 2011 11:15 AM ET | Delete
I do not like predictions, and unfortunately I have to say that I do not like yours at all, with the exception of Connolly. Although I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts. I supposed I would be contradicting myself if I were to make any predictions of my own, butttttttt, Washington is not going to win the East, and the Bruins will not win the division, nor do I know who will.
September 20, 2011 11:24 AM ET | Delete
^^^I'm not claiming to know who will win either, but these are my pre-season picks. As much as I would prefer the Sabres to win the division, I think they have to wait 20-30 games before the chemistry with all the new guys really sinks in, and with only 1 home game before October 25th I could see them getting off to a slow start. Not awful like last year, just slow.
September 20, 2011 1:59 PM ET | Delete
September 20, 2011 2:22 PM ET | Delete
Montreal will come in 6th or 7th this year. Isles will not even come close. I also think Buffalo will come in 8th. I mean really, the only game changer they added was Regher and the Erhoff deal is just bad.
September 20, 2011 2:33 PM ET | Delete
All i have to say is, "lol".
September 20, 2011 2:40 PM ET | Delete
Your a fucking idiot
September 20, 2011 2:49 PM ET | Delete
Your predictions are not bad. Good work on the blog, it was short and to the point. Not some long winded blog that has a ton of errors... Good work. I hope Buffalo wins the East though over Boston. Also, if Montreal and Toronto miss the playoff that would be sweet!!!! Agreed that Ottawa is going to finish near the bottom.
September 20, 2011 3:46 PM ET | Delete
@Riceroni thanks for the comments. As usual the Leaf fans are having a hard time accepting reality.
September 20, 2011 4:42 PM ET | Delete
Habsteen .... spoken like a true Habs fan.... no way the habs finish ahead of the Sabres.
September 20, 2011 4:47 PM ET | Delete
Not so much hard time accepting reality... more hard time accepting backhands from a Sabres fan. I understand that Tyler Myers is great and all, but let's wait for a bounce back from an uneven sophomore year before we anoint him Norris candidate and Mayor of Buffalo.
September 20, 2011 5:23 PM ET | Delete
11 less points as a dman is a sophomore slump??? He sucked for the first week and eventually became much more physical and dominant down the stretch.
September 20, 2011 7:49 PM ET | Delete
His offensive totals, plus/minus and blocked shots decreased and at times he looked a little overwhelmed by the responsibilities thrust at him. Yeah, I think that qualifies as a sophomore slump, albeit a minor one. He came on a little stronger at the end, but to champion Tyler Myers as the best Northeast blueliner seems a little premature.
September 20, 2011 7:58 PM ET | Delete
habstein, I'd rather have 5 Ehrhoffs then one goat-mez
September 20, 2011 11:14 PM ET | Delete
@JoeSabre Spoken like a true Sabre fan. You guys think you can win the cup because you've added Leino who is a good second liner, mediocre 1st liner at best, Ehrhoff who is a decent 4th defenceman, and Regher who is an alright defensive defenceman. Then, all of a sudden, Habs are out of the play offs because we lost Wiz? We have a returning Markov and a budding superstar in Subban. Sabre fans are jokes.
September 20, 2011 11:18 PM ET | Delete
and to sippyd, if you are referring to Scott Gomez, I wouldn't. Sure he has a big cap hit, but he sure can trample Ryan Miller ;) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaSbpQjY-_k
September 21, 2011 12:41 AM ET | Delete
so you idiots think that the an upgrade from connolly to leino and from monty and butler to regher and ehrhoff isnt a big upgrade on a team that will also have derek roy back???? 2nd half of the season 2nd best record in NHL the guys put it together and will continue on
September 21, 2011 8:39 AM ET | Delete
I'm not trying to disrespect Habs or Leafs fans, but you guys are honestly underrating the significance of the Sabres upgrades. You point out the potential flaws with our additions, well how about the question marks surrounding Erik Cole, Tim Connolly, and Matthew Lombardi. Sorry I'll take Leino, Regehr, and Ehrhoff. Plus...I picked Boston to win the division so stop whining.
September 21, 2011 9:39 AM ET | Delete
How many times are we going to have to hear "yes but we have a returning Markov"?? for all the garbage we gave Connolly for being made of glass......maybe you should consider changing the Brett Lindros recipient to Andrei Markov Hess.
September 21, 2011 1:53 PM ET | Delete
^^Andrei Markov is the runner up to the Brett Lindros award. However when Connolly's name was announced at the award presentation he tripped on his way up to the stage and knocked himself out, therefore Andrei Markov who accepted the award in a bubble suit became the winner by default
September 21, 2011 3:56 PM ET | Delete
September 21, 2011 9:40 PM ET | Delete
Lol, sabres fans are turning into the new leafs fans, overvaluing some mediocre players and thinking pegula is a savior for bringing them in. You have the islanders in 8th, buffalo in 4th and montreal missing the playoffs, this entire write-up is a joke
September 21, 2011 9:51 PM ET | Delete
All you hear about is a returning Andrei Markov? All we hear about is "Derek Roy is one of the best centres in the league, he was on pace for (insert point total here) points!!" Totally agree with Conquest here.
September 22, 2011 1:51 AM ET | Delete
Erhoff is a pretty damned good top 4 option, I think you're disrespecting him with "decent 4th defenseman." No question, the Sabres made huge strides on defense, but I'll pan the Leino addition all I want.
September 22, 2011 8:17 AM ET | Delete
I have never heard anyone in Buffalo say that Derek Roy is one of the best Centers in the league. Is he a good second line center? Definitely. Is he an ok first liner? Yes. Are we weak up the middle? Of course. But our Defense is miles above montreals. Montreal in the best case scenario will end up finishing 7th in the conference.
September 22, 2011 8:57 AM ET | Delete
No one is going to agree on any of these issues so let's let the players do the talking on the ice. I'll be the first to eat my words if Erik Cole and Tim Connolly are big point producers, and the Sabres don't finish top 5 in the conference. But until then, on paper, the Sabres additions have made them a much stronger team than MTL or TOR
September 24, 2011 8:22 PM ET | Delete
I actually feel like Derek Roy is underrated outside of Buffalo. Dude brings energy and skill every night. Frankly based on the off-season it seems like the Rangers and Sabres have somewhat solidified themselves as playoff teams where the Habs and Lightning are still kind of stuck in the big cluster of bubble teams... granted the Habs are near the front of the bubble, but still a bubble nevertheless.
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