So just sitting here bored and looking at the NHL divisions, thinking about what the standings will look like at the end of next year. So got talking with my buddy MHejduk and we've decided to write a blog for each division. I'll write for the east he'll right for the west. We will then write about the playoffs and eventually come up with a East champion and a West champion then decide a cup winner. So this is the first and I'm starting with the Atlantic Division.
2013/2014 final standings
1. Boston - 117p
2. Tampa bay - 101p
3. Montreal - 100p
4. Detroit - 93p
5. Ottawa - 88p
6. Toronto - 84p
7. Florida - 66p
8. Buffalo - 52p
Obviously the main players again this past year were Boston, Tampa, Montreal, and Detroit. But there have been some big changes to these teams this off season which I think we'll change this landscape a bit.
1. Tampa Bay
So here's the explanation. The top 3 are easy choices baring drastic injuries (or missed signings, cough. montreal. cough) and those three will be in the playoffs next year.
1. Tampa: has taken huge strides this off season. With Stamkos fully healthy for a full year, and Drouin and Kucherov taking the step into the NHL, this team should not struggle to score goals and with the upgraded defence they'll have no problem keeping the puck out of their net.
2. Montreal: Although they've lost Gionta and Gorges I think this team is still a playoff team and possibly a better team than last year. Although they have lost some character, management is committing to making this Carey Price's, and PK Subban's team. I think they'll rise to the challenge and do very well.
3. Boston: lost some depth this year and has cap problems now. Those problems are only getting worse as of right now. But any team with Tuuka Rask, Zdeno Chara, and Patrice Bergeron to name just a few of their roster players will be a playoff team. If the young guys like Krug take a big step forward they'll do very well and probably challenge Montreal for 2nd place.
Now this is where it gets tough...
4. Toronto: Now before you freak out, hear me out. The Leafs for the majority of last year were a playoff team until the wheels fell off. They did this with the strong goaltending of Bernier and with pretty much just one line doing the scoring (JVR/Bozak/Kessel). With the acquisitions of Komorov, Polak, and Robidas. They instantly become a tougher team to play against (I did not say better team). Which will be huge. They have opened up some space for young guys to get a shot and I feel they will play with more intensity, and compete then last year. IF they get the compete, intensity, more balanced goal production, and a better shot differential. They will be a playoff team. Hell if they get two of those four I bet they make the playoffs.
5. Florida: The team made some definite upgrades (expensive but still upgrades) with Bolland, Jokinen, Thornton, MacKenzie, Mitchell, and Montoya. Plus adding Ekblad into the fold, as well as having Bobby Lou in net for an entire year, with him motivated to win. They will be a much better team and we'll either push the leafs out of a playoff spot or at least compete for that spot until the last week of the season. Although not having a pure goal scorer will hurt them. Almost look at them as a 4b right now.
6. Detroit: This is finally the year they miss the dance. There age and the 23 years of being in playoffs will finally catch up with them as they have not recently been able to dig up a superstar in the late rounds. Although Tatar, Quincey, Dekeyser, Smith, and many others are productive NHLers and one or two might have some star power. I feel that they just won't do it this year. But you never really know, Babcock can work miracles, and Datsyuk and Zetterberg stay healthy they've got a legitimate shot at making it.
7. Ottawa: Losing Spezza will hurt a ton, and they don't really have anyone to replace him. The young kids are a couple years away from being great. Anderson regressed last year so unless Lehner steps in and takes over in a big way, this year they'll slip even more in the standings potentially having a shot at a top 5 pick. So not too bad in that respect.
8. Buffalo: Although getting Moulson, Gorges, Gionta definitely helps this team improve and the prospects they have in the system are excellent and will help in a big way long term. They're still not ready to compete this year. Especially if they trade Tyler Myers (which would be absolutely stupid! but I digress). They'll rattle some teams and even upset some teams but won't win enough games to get out of 8th spot. Most likely take Connor McDavid 1st overall then they'll be an extremely dangerous team in 3 years.
Thanks for reading, comment below on where you'd place the teams and why.