Atlantic trials and uncertainty
As training camps convene across the land, we continue with our tour of each division and the pressing questions that await each team. So far, we've covered the
The team that takes the ice on Oct. 4 in Stockholm will look considerably different than the group that fell just short of capturing the Stanley Cup last June. The impact of defected free agents
When you've got more than $22 million tied up in just four players --
The Pens can thrive in the regular season on the backs of their superstars. But to make amends for their Cup disappointment, they'll need career seasons, or something close to it, from their reinforcements.
It's happening again.
In a preseason move that's become as predictable as Lucy yanking the football away from
The good news for Devils fans: It ain't gonna happen. In fact, I'm here to tell you that this team is closer to competing for the conference title than it is for a lottery spot.
You've got doubts? You're not alone. The forwards should be granted handicapped passes that allow them to park in the crease. The defense, led by
But you can't deny the presence of
Coming off a surprise trip to the Eastern Conference Finals, Flyers GM
Assuming, of course, that he's physically able.
Any history of concussion puts a player's availability into question, especially one as serious as the blow that limited Gagne to just 25 games last season. But word is that he's in top shape, having spent the summer working out with Canadian trainer
Gagne is a notoriously slow starter, so too much shouldn't be read into the situation if he doesn't fly out of the blocks. But getting the two-time 40-goal man (and penalty-kill wizard) back into the lineup is as impactful as any free agent signing, and it will put the Flyers in position to contend for the division title.
It was a typical Broadway off-season filled with big-name arrivals (
The Sundin Saga has been the summer's longest-running yet least action-packed adventure. There seems to be mutual interest between the Blueshirts and the erstwhile Leafs captain, and his addition would more than compensate for the loss of Jagr, bringing scoring punch and leadership. But cap limitations would force the Rangers to move another big salary --
Shanahan's case would be much less complex. The veteran winger clearly wants to come back and prove that last season's dismal finish was more about a lingering injury than it was about the end of the line. Salary likely wouldn't be an issue, although it would still require some roster adjustments to squeeze him in. Given the hurdles, expect Shanahan to return...and Sundin to look elsewhere if he feels like lacing 'em up again.
It says here that Gordon, the former bench boss of the Providence Bruins and 2008 AHL Coach of the Year, will prove to be an inspired choice to guide the Isles. He knows how to mold young talent, his in-game management skills are highly regarded, and the guys in the room like to play for him. Long term, he's ideally suited to help offset the cartoonish antics of owner
But unless Gordon can tap into some pseudo-divinity, this season's mash-up of hobbling elders, not-ready-for-prime-time players, and prima donnas is the Eastern Conference equivalent of Job. Trials and tribulations lie ahead.
Gordon's biggest challenge will simply be holding it all together while he waits for the team's prospects to develop. Rehabbing the NHL's most flaccid offense with Anaheim flop
Gordon's real test may be how he utilizes
Gordon knows what he signed up for. Here's hoping he's up to the challenge. Flood, fire, plague, pestilence, crop failure and boils surely await.