Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Eastern Conference Projections

On paper I think the teams group, loosely, from 1-2, 3-7, 8-12, 13-15. Obviously it’s highly unlikely that’s how it will turn out, but I do think there is a bigger divide to start the year between 7 and 8 than between 5 and 6, or 9 and 10, or 14 and 15. Division Winners are noted by an asterisk.

  1. Washington Capitals* - I don’t think they’ll be quite as dominant this season as last, but still good enough to win the Eastern conference.
  2. New Jersey Devils* -Superior depth should help them edge out the Penguins, who I think will be second in this division. I’m not sure that, on paper, the Capitals are better than the Devils, but the Devils have a more difficult looking schedule so I’ll give the regular season edge to Washington.
  3. Boston Bruins* - I see the NE as being a relatively tight division, but I like the Bruins depth at forward, provided Savard returns at some point.
  4. Pittsburgh Penguins – It’ll be interesting to see what kind of numbers Comrie and Kunitz are able to post this season. Maybe it’s not surprising given the importance of goaltending, but to win the division I think they’ll need a great year out of Fleury.
  5. Buffalo Sabres - somehow I ended up with both Pominville and Vanek in my draft, so consider this pick a reach if you will. I don’t think Miller projects to be as good as last season, but I also expect more (perhaps erroneously) out of some of BUF’s forwards
  6. Ottawa Senators –incredible PP potential in Ottawa this season, with the addition of Gonchar and the potential maturation of Erik Karlsson, along with Spezza, Alfredsson, and the mercurial Kovalev. I would rank them ahead of Buffalo were it not for the difference in projected quality of goaltending.
  7. Philadelphia Flyers – The goaltending is a bit of a concern, but I suppose it’s not impossible that they make a trade relatively early if the goaltending is a problem.
  8. Tampa Bay Lightning – I don’t know that I see them as a markedly better team than those in this tier, but I like what Yzerman’s done so I’ll project them as the last playoff team. Kind of surprised Pouliot didn’t crack the team.
  9. Montreal Canadiens – Price will be one to watch this year. I’m also curious to see Eller and Subban, MON might be a fun team to watch this season.
  10. New York Rangers – If Gaborik’s groin acts up, this team could fall pretty sharply.
  11. Carolina Hurricanes – Not much to say with this team, hopefully for Carolina guys like Skinner and Boychuk can step up because the forward depth isn’t looking all that great past Staal and maybe Jussi Jokinen.
  12. Toronto Maple Leafs – How many games will Kadri play this season? I’ll go with 48.
  13. Atlanta Thrashers – Not really sure who’s going to score the goals for this team.
  14. New York Islanders – At least another year until this team pushes for the playoffs, especially with Streit and Okposo out for awhile. I think it’s “flip a coin” territory between NYI and FLA for last in the East, I went with FLA because I’m not sure what team looks like if/once Vokoun is traded, and I think that trade comes as soon as Tallon gets what he think is a decent offer.
  15. Florida Panthers – I think this team could surprise depending on Vokoun, but I also think if Vokoun is keeping them from falling right into the basement, Tallon may try to move him earlier than the deadline to ensure FLA finishes with a top 3 pick again this season.

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