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"@era_hockey"
North Bay, ON • Canada • 25 Years Old • Male
In this article I will outline the top three teams' in the Eastern Conference entering the 2015-16 season. There's some moves still to be made, but I believe that the majority of the blockbuster deals are completed.

5. New York Islanders: ( 47-28-7 : 101 Points)

The Islanders finished the 2014-15 season with a first round elimination at the hands of the Washington Capitals. It was a bitter disappointment after an unbelievable regular season which had the Islanders accumulate 101 points. The Islanders will ice a nearly identical roster this season. Many of their young guns are looking even better after gaining pivotal experience from last season. They have three forward lines who can put the puck in the net. Not to mention, John Tavares, who was second in league scoring last season. If Kyle Okposo can stay healthy, they could easily combine for one of the league's most dangerous duo's. What really impresses me though, is the defense of this young Islander squad. The signings of Leddy and Boychuk was a great move for the team. They play a great well-rounded style which seems to have rubbed off on young stars: De Haan, Hamonic and Hickey. I expect the Islanders to have one of the best blue-lines in the entire league this season. The blue-line may not be the most dynamic offensively, but their defensive abilities will help the Islanders make a push for first in the Metropolitan.

4. New York Rangers: ( 53-22-7 : 113 Points)

Much like the Islanders, the Rangers will have an extremely dominant back-end. Their defense is one of the highest paid in the league, combining for approx. 26 million dollars per season. This is a lot of money, but they have compiled six defenseman who can all play top 4 minutes. On top of this stellar blue-line, they have one of the best goalies in the league. Henrik Lundqvist has been an elite goalie all his career, and should have upwards of four years of hockey left in the tank. The Rangers time is now, but the window is small. They are pressed right up against the cap, and have recently been forced to shed cap space. Brad Richards and Carl Hagelin were key contributors for the Rangers in the past several seasons. They were forced out of town, and the Rangers have had trouble filling that gap. Nonetheless, they have an offense which can still compete at a high level. Nash, Stepan, Brassard, Zuccarello and kreider will be the core of the Rangers offense this upcoming season. Winning the East will be tough for this squad. The best chance they have is if some young players can step up into larger roles for the team. Guys like Stalberg, Miller, Fast and Etem could possibly make that jump.

3. Tampa Bay Lightning: ( 50-24-8 : 108 Points)

The Lightning had an extremely successful season in 2014-15, which had them make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. They lost in 6 to the Blackhawks, but they gained significant experience moving forward. They have a stellar goal tending duo in Bishop and Vasilevskiy, which will keep that position steady all year for the squad. They have a solid back end with Hedman leading the way. For four million dollars, Hedman is one of the best bargain players in the league. He was impressive last season, and I would not be surprised if he is a Norris candidate in the near future. Despite the strong goal tending and defense, I believe the core of the team lies with the forward depth. They have two stellar scoring lines centered by Stamkos and Johnson. Stamkos had a strange season as he struggled at the dot and had difficulty finding consistent line-mates. Despite this, he still tied for the team lead at 72 points. The second line was the biggest story for the Lightning last season, as the young guns showed some serious offensive upside. Johnson and Kucherov both finished in the top 30 for league scoring, while Palat proved to be one of the better two-way forwards in the game. I expect the Lightning to do well in the playoffs once again.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins: ( 43-27-12 : 98 Points)

The Penguins did some serious work this off-season, picking up the likes of Plotnikkov, Bonino and Kessel. It is fairly obvious that this revamped offense will be the main strength of the Penguins. The addition of Kessel and Plotnikov give the coaching staff a lot of options for the Crosby and Malkin lines. Plotnokov is a physical winger with a good shot, while Kessel is a pure offensive threat. Now more than ever, the Penguins will be icing a diverse, dangerous offense which may be the best in the league. The defense and goal tending have been criticized, but they have nothing to worry about. Marc Andre Fleury will be their starter and is due for a breakout performance in the playoffs. The defense core is highlighted with Letang, Maatta, Pouliot and Scuderi. Many are not household names, but they are consistent players who play within their limitations. Expect the Penguins to finish much better than last season.

1. Washington Capitals: ( 45-26-11 : 101 Points)

The reason the Capitals top the list is because of their depth throughout the lineup. The forward units consist of two dynamic offensive lines, and two responsible checking lines. If Washington didn't already have a strong enough offense; they do now with the likes of T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams. These guys will round out the top 6 for the Caps, and help them dominate offensively. The defense for the Capitals is quite strong as well. They lost Mike Green on the back-end, but the additions of Orpik and Niskanen make the team better in all zones. Both special teams will be top notch and I anticipate Ovechkin racking up the goals once again. However, I believe it is Braeden Holtby who will be the X factor for this team. He is only 25 years old, and already has 200 NHL games under his belt. He posted a .923 save % and a 2.22 GAA last season. I expect a repeat performance from the young goal tender.
Filed Under:   Capitals   Lightning   Rangers   Penguins   Islanders   NHL   East  
July 31, 2015 3:43 PM ET | Delete
you only need to read the pittsburgh write up to know how bad this is.. fleury is due for a breakout in the postseason???? based on what? Maata and pouliot are consistent players based on their combined 1 season in the nhl? letang is consistent only in so far as injuries and bad luck are concerned... expect the penguins to be much better why? because they got kessel and bonino.. well we all knew that if only the penguins could score a few more goals and not play defense they would dominate... what a joke
July 31, 2015 5:03 PM ET | Delete
This list might hold during the regular season but, like the above poster said, the Pens are done when it comes to the playoffs.
August 1, 2015 7:41 PM ET | Delete
Ya, I probably should have chosen better wording to describe Pouliot and Maata. They are quite inexperienced, but from what I have seen they will develop into consistent NHL blue-liners. The issue with the Penguins is not the defense. Sure, it could improve and would have benefit from a solid free agent signing. Nonetheless, they gave up a mediocre 210 goals which was surprising considering the injury trouble. I believe they will be much better for a number of reasons. The big one being the fact that they underachieved terribly last season. To think the Penguins will not improve on last season would be absurd. Barring any disasters, they will finish the regular season with 40 ROWs, and likely over 100 points. filenotfound: Could you please keep the posts civil. I appreciate the constructive criticism and some of your points were valid, but going on a rant is not necessary. The negativity is not beneficial to anybody here.
August 2, 2015 3:59 AM ET | Delete
I disagree with your opinions and what I feel is the lack of rationale behind these arguments. But I apologize for the tone of my comment - unintended sarcasm. I appreciate all those who spend their time and efforts to bring free content to this site.That said, your glaring omission of montreal may be the biggest flaw of this article. Look at their regular season and playoffs records for the last three years - added Petry, young core entering or nearing their prime, (semin and Kassian have serious question marks but both have size, speed and skill) and add to the already considerable depth. Cant see a scenario other than a Price injury where they end up not in the top 5 of the east.The Rangers and Lightning are currently the class of the East.. (lightning will get better while the Rangers could fall slightly from where they were). But while Pittsburgh has added three forwards, they are suspect in net and on defense (though maata and pouliot will both be solid defenders within the next few seasons) - they lack the depth and consistency of NYR MTL and Tampa. They could be better but there is no reason to expect them to be that much better.Washington needs to see good progress from their young players and if gaining Fehr will help pittsburgh it will hurt Wash. I like the Williams signing, tho hes not getting any younger but losing green will hurt their transition game and they didnt address that. Holtby is a good young goalie but a down season for a young goalie after signing a big deal would not be the first time. The Islanders are really a wild card - could easily be top 5 in the East or be in a fight for the playoffs... Got no problem with them being in the top 5 but its okposo tavares and strome (not to mention nelson lee and others) that look like good bets to improve and be among the best forward depth in the East. Their defense lost the chance to add reinhart and I have honestly never heard anyone refer to De Haan, Hamonic and Hickey as "young stars" before and dont think I ever will again. I also see Ottawa with their very young core and very underrated Anderson in nets as a dark horse in the East.Just my thoughts - best part of being a fan is we will have a whole season worth of hockey to see how it shakes out.
August 2, 2015 8:19 AM ET | Delete
Capitals lost there best defenseman and the Penguins picked up fehr and bonino too. Capitals lost a lot of their key pieces.
August 4, 2015 5:58 PM ET | Delete
No need to write a novel on here guys. Feedback is always appreciated though, and I understand all your arguments. Montreal did not make the cut because they only finished so high because of Carey Price. In my opinion, they would not have broken 100 points if it was not for the ridiculous play of Price in goal. I believe they are an average team, backed by the best goalie in the world. For that reason, they did not make the cut.
August 5, 2015 2:34 AM ET | Delete
Right.. but this is top 5.. last I checked Price was still on the Mtl team - I guess wash is still the best team without ovie and pittsburgh is top 5 if crosby is out for the year.. ditto the rags and king henrik... these types of arguments are always funny... if a team consistently finishes so high because of a player on their team... and that player is still on their team, they are left off why? Just responding to what I thought was a big leave out, but I guess thats not the kind of feedback you were looking for.
August 5, 2015 6:00 AM ET | Delete
Yes, but I find it unlikely that they will continue to strike gold with such an average roster, outside of Price. Having guys like Galchenyuk, Gallager and Deharnais on your top 6 is not a recipe for success. Their defense is mediocre and the team is not particularly strong in either end of the ice. No other team requires their star to carry the team quite like Price and Montreal. Is it possible that he continues to succeed? Of course. However, I feel that Price has very little support and the team is much more vulnerable than a Pittsburgh or Washington. Even if Crosby or Ovehkin play average hockey all season, they team will still make the playoffs quite easily. I do not know if I can say the same for Montreal.
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