The beginning of the NHL regular season is fast approaching, with opening night on October 11th. While BackSportsPage is wrapping up their season previews, I wanted to take a step back and look at the league as a whole.
The Atlantic Division is already a lock to be the best division in hockey. The Eastern Conference is far and away better than the Western conference, and it doesn’t seem like the Metropolitan Division will be any match for the Atlantic. The Atlantic Division is going to be a murderers row this season.
The Bottom Three
The main thing that rises the Atlantic above the other three divisions is that there isn’t a single bad team in the division. Sure there are three opponents that aren’t playoff teams. But anyone would be lying if they said Buffalo is going to be an easy game this season. Montreal who finished worst in the league will be a much improved team this season. Everything that could’ve gone wrong for them last season did. It’ll almost certainly be a better season for the Canadiens.
The last of the bottom three is Detroit. Any team run by Steve Yzerman can’t be overlooked. He’s an absolute genius in team building, and this’ll be the year his plan comes together. Detroit is looking to make a jump to the next level this year, any other division they might be able to grab a wildcard spot, but every game against Detroit needs to be taken seriously.
All of the other teams in the Atlantic are going to be in a year long dog fight for playoff spots. Ottawa has really snuck into the top group of the Atlantic division this year. The acquisitions of Claude Giroux and Alex DeBrincat have solidified their forward core as one of the top groups in the league. The Senators are also expecting to see Brady Tkachuk get even better this season.
Boston, while looking like this year is the last with this core, is still a great team. The core is definitely aged and Boston is far from a cup contender, they still have David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. Patrice Bergeron is still an elite player even going into what is most likely his last season. They’re gonna spend their season fighting with Ottawa trying to grab a wildcard spot.
Florida is coming off a President’s Trophy win, but an embarrassing performance against Tampa Bay. Their offseason was highlighted by the trade for Matthew Tkachuk in which they lost Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar. I don’t see them as good as last season but like Boston they’re still a great team. Putting any major injuries aside they’re pretty much a lock for the playoffs.
This year is looking like the year that the Tampa dynasty is finally coming to an end. They are still a playoff team for sure, but they’re finally looking human again. Losing Ondrej Palat is going to make a much bigger difference than what it looks like on the surface. He was a vital playoff performer for them and that’s an extremely difficult hole to fill.
Finally it’s my Toronto Maple Leafs. This year above all the other’s is a final ride for them. If it doesn’t work expect major personnel changes for the team. Starting with general manager Kyle Dubas departing the team. Having to rely on Samsonov and Murray in net is definitely concerning, but the Leafs are still one of the best teams in the league. I still expect them to take the division this year, even though i see them stumbling out of the gate before they find their groove.
- Toronto Maple Leafs
- Florida Panthers
- Tampa Bay Lightning
- Ottawa Senators (Wildcard)
- Boston Bruins
- Montreal Canadiens
- Detroit Red Wings
- Buffalo Sabres