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Toronto Maple Leafs
Tampa Bay Lightning
New Jersey Devils
New York Rangers
New York Islanders
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Atlantic division is once again set to be the benchmark this season and the Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves at the top of that list despite their ongoing playoff struggles.
Limited cap space means that the team didn’t make many changes this off-season, but that means leading goals scorer Auston Matthews, as well as William Nylander and Mitch Marner, remain.
They lost goalie Jack Campbell but brought in Matt Murray. With Murray starting the season injured, the Leafs’ play in the crease is the biggest x-factor.
The Panthers lost Jonathan Huberdeau but gained Matthew Tkachuk. They also lost Claude Giroux, Mackenzie Weegar, and Ben Chiarot. But last year’s President’s trophy winners added Paul Maurice behind the bench and their goaltending is among some of the best in the NHL.
Known as one of the best defensive teams in the league for some time now, Carolina was able to add some firepower this off-season with the signings of Max Pacioretty and offensive defenseman Brent Burns.
However, Pacioretty will miss the start of the season with an achilles injury.
There is possibly no team in the NHL that got more exciting this off-season than the Ottawa Senators. The Senators pulled off blockbuster trades and signings this Summer that saw the likes of Claude Giroux and Alex DeBrincat join their squad.
They also managed to off-load goalie Matt Murray and bring in Cam Talbot. Unfortunately, Talbot will be injured to start the season. Captain Brady Tkachuk leads young stars such as Thomas Chabot, Drake Batherson, Jake Sanderson, and potential Calder dark horse Shane Pinto.
The Sabres’ first season without star forward Jack Eichel has seen them start with a 4-1 record. The team will see their first-full season from Peyton Krebs and Alex Tuch, two players with much potential to help this team move forward.
The defense still needs work but Rasmus Dahlin hopes to follow-up big time after his 53-point season last year. This team also boasts Jeff Skinner, Jack Quinn, and Dylan Cozens.
Finishing last season in between Ottawa and Buffalo was Detroit. General Manager (and former Red Wing) Steve Yzerman brought in David Perron and Ben Chiarot (among others) this off-season.
Last year’s rookie of the year Moritz Seider enters his second full year in the big league’s. If the goaltending can keep things together, Detroit may see themselves back in contention.
Some would simply say ‘No Carey Price, no Montreal Canadiens’.
The Canadiens do seem to be heading in the right direction, but this season will not be their year. Yes - they made the Stanley Cup finals a few years ago but that was during a chaotic season in which all the divisions were forced into realignment.
Of all things, the blue line and the absence of their star goaltender are the biggest factors when looking at Montreal’s chances this season.
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