NHL 2013-14 Atlantic Division team-by-team preview

Saturday September 28th, 2013

Tuukka Rask
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

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Boston Bruins

Coach: Claude Julien
2013 record: 28-14-6, 4th in the East, lost to Blackhawks in Stanley Cup Final.
Vital signs: 2.65 goals-for per game (13th), 2.21 goals-against per game (3rd), 14.8 power play pct. (26th), 87.1 penalty kill pct. (4th), shootout record: 4-3 (11th)
Notable adds: F Loui Eriksson (Stars), F Jarome Iginla (Penguins), F Reilly Smith (Stars)
Notable losses: F Tyler Seguin (Stars), F Nathan Horton (Blue Jackets), F Rich Peverley (Stars), D Andrew Ference (Oilers)


Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Loui Eriksson
Reilly Smith - Chris Kelly - Carl Soderberg
Dan Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton
Ryan Spooner - Jordan Caron

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Dougie Hamilton
Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid
Matt Bartkowski

Tuukka Rask
Chad Johnson

Outlook: Outside of the Dallas Stars, no team underwent a more intriguing summer makeover than the Bruins. GM Peter Chiarelli allowed first liner Horton to walk away as a free agent, then stunned the hockey world by sending Tyler Seguin, the troubled future of the franchise, to the aforementioned Stars. Both moves would have been considered bold under any circumstance, but coming off a season in which the B's fell just two games short of the Cup? Well, no one can question Chiarelli's courage, that's for sure. He shook up his top six, bringing in Iginla -- a player born to wear Black and Gold -- and the sublimely gifted Eriksson. Each brings a unique set of skills that should help the forward group perform more consistently and, hopefully, help revive a power play that's lapsed into irrelevance.The blueline will rely heavily on youngsters Tory Krug, Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski as the team looks to lighten Zdeno Chara's workload during the regular season and compensate for the loss of the steady, underrated Ference. The spotlight, though, will fall on Tuukka Rask. Can he match his sensational debut season as the team's No. 1 stopper? Can he live up to the pressure implied by his new eight-year megadeal? And can he play well enough to unseat Pekka Rinne as Finland's presumptive starter in Sochi?

Ottawa Senators

Craig Anderson
Minas Panagiotaki/Icon SMI

Coach: Paul MacLean
2013 record: 25-17-6, 7th in the East, lost to Penguins in conference semi-finals
Vital signs: 2.33 goals-for per game (27th), 2.08 goals-against per game (2nd), 15.9 power play pct. (20th), 88.0 penalty kill pct. (1st), shootout record: 4-4 (13th)
Notable adds: F Bobby Ryan (Ducks), F Clarke MacArthur (Maple Leafs), D Joe Corvo (Hurricanes)
Notable losses: F Daniel Alfredsson (Red Wings), F Jakob Silfverberg (Ducks), D Sergei Gonchar (Stars)


Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Bobby Ryan
Clarke MacArthur - Kyle Turris - Cory Conacher
Colin Greening - Stephane Da Costa - Chris Neil
Zack Smith - J-G Pageau - Erik Condra
Matt Kassian - Mike Hoffman

Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson
Chris Phillips - Joe Corvo
Jared Cowen - Patrick Wiercioch
Eric Gryba

Craig Anderson
Robin Lehner

Outlook: The abrupt departure of Daniel Alfredsson and bold acquisition of Bobby Ryan won't define Ottawa's season. The ability to stay healthy will. The Sens were decimated by injuries in 2013, as Jason Spezza (50 games), Erik Karlsson (31) and Milan Michalek (25) each spent lengthy stretches on the shelf, leaving a shell of an offense that struggled to find the net. Fully loaded this time around with the addition of Ryan, the four-time 30-goal scorer from Anaheim, the feisty MacArthur on the second line, and some gritty, tenacious kids in depth roles, Ottawa won't finish 27th overall in goals-per-game again.

The trick for the Sens will be to replicate their defensive success. They finished second in the league in goals-against last season, primarily on the strength of their goaltending. Craig Anderson, who missed 18 games himself, was brilliant, posting a 1.69 GAA and .941 save percentage. Given his career averages, those will be hard numbers to match, but if he falters, the 22-year-old Robin Lehner ranks as one of the game's top backups. There's some mixing and matching to do on the back end, especially as the Sens try to account for the loss of Sergei Gonchar on the power play, butcoach Paul MacLean has pieces to work with. After seeing what he did last season with much, much less, the Sens are a legitimate threat to capture the East.

Detroit Red Wings

Daniel Alfredsson
Warren Wimmer/Icon SMI

Coach: Mike Babcock
2013 record: 24-16-8, 7th in the West, lost to Blackhawks in conference semi-finals
Vital signs: 2.54 goals-for per game (20th), 2.29 goals-against per game (5th), 18.4 power play pct. (15th), 81.7 penalty kill pct. (12th), shootout record: 2-5 (24th)
Notable adds: F Daniel Alfredsson (Senators), F Stephen Weiss (Panthers)
Notable losses: F Valtteri Filppula (Lightning), F Damien Brunner (Devils)


Henrik Zetterberg - Pavel Datsyuk - Justin Abdekader
Johan Franzen - Stephen Weiss - Daniel Alfredsson
Gustav Nyquist - Joakim Andersson - Tomas Tatar
Drew Miller- Daniel Cleary - Todd Bertuzzi
Patrick Eaves - Jordin Tootoo

Niklas Kronwall - Jonathan Ericsson
Brendan Smith - Danny DeKeyser
Jakub Kindl - Kyle Quincey
Brian Lashoff

Jimmy Howard
Jonas Gustavsson/Petr Mrazek

Outlook: Forget the talk that suggests the Wings, unencumbered by their ferocious Western Conference rivals, will run roughshod over the underwhelming East. That won't happen, but Detroit will bring a new and exciting dynamic to the conference. The forward corps is deeper than ever thanks to the additions of the Cup-craving Daniel Alfredsson and a player in Stephen Weiss who, despite being 30, still seems to have a top gear that he hasn't reached. Outside of Pittsburgh, it's as good a group as there is in the league and it should help the Wings improve on last season's 2.54 goals-per-game average. That said, Detroit might be in tough to maintain a top-five defensive rating. They have a solid group of six blueliners, but they relied on career years from some of them last season. Is there still room for growth there, or was that their peak effectiveness? Jimmy Howard , always a steadying presence, could be a difference maker with an Olympic berth on the line. Expect him to compile a brilliant first half.

Toronto Maple Leafs

David Clarkson
Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Coach: Randy Carlyle
2013 record: 26-17-5, 5th in the East, lost to Bruins in conference quarter-finals
Vital signs: 3.02 goals-for per game (6th), 2.67 goals-against per game (17th), 18.7 power play pct. (14th), 87.9 penalty kill pct. (2nd), shootout record: 0-5 (30th)
Notable adds: G Jonathan Bernier (Kings), F Dave Bolland (Blackhawks), F David Clarkson (Devils), D Paul Ranger (DNP)
Notable losses:  F Mikhail Grabovski (Capitals), F Matt Frattin (Kings), G Ben Scrivens (Kings), F Leo Komarov (KHL), D Mike Komisarek (Hurricanes), D Mike Kostka (Blackhawks), F Clarke MacArthur (Senators), Joe Colborne (Flames)


James van Riemdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Joffrey Lupul - Nazem Kadri - David Clarkson
Mason Raymond - David Bolland - Nikolai Kulemin
Frazer McLaren - Jay McClement - Colton Orr
Carter Ashton

Carl Gunnarson - Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner - Paul Ranger
Cody Franson - Mark Fraser
Morgan Rielly

Jonathan Bernier
James Reimer

Outlook: There was an easier road to take here. After making the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade, GM David Nonis could have placed his full faith in his (relatively) young team, leaned on the promise of internal growth and headed into this season with high hopes. Instead, he became an aggressive player on the trade and free agency markets, adding a true power forward in David Clarkson, a solid depth center in Dave Bolland and, in Jonathan Bernier, an intriguing but unproven goaltender to add depth between the pipes and create a battle for the top job. And while some viewed Toronto's success last season as an aberration, there's no denying that this group isn't just better, it's better suited to play the sort of demanding physical game that coach Carlyle has succeeded with in the past. The Leafs have the talent, but more important, they have an identity now. Toronto is destined to be in the playoff mix.

Montreal Canadiens

Carey Price
Minas Panagiotakis/Icon SMI

Coach: Michel Therrien
2013 record: 29-14-5, 2nd in the East, lost to Senators in conference quarter-finals
Vital signs: 3.04 goals-for per game (4th), 2.58 goals-against per game (14th), 20.7 power play pct. (5th), 79.8 penalty kill pct. (23rd), shootout record: 3-2 (15th)
Notable adds: F Daniel Briere (Flyers), F George Parros (Panthers), D Douglas Murray (Penguins)
Notable losses:  F Michael Ryder (Devils), F Petteri Nokelainen (Sweden), D Tomas Kaberle (Russia)


Max Pacioretty - Tomas Plekanec - Brian Gionta
Lars Eller - Alex Galchenyuk- Brendan Gallagher
Rene Bourque - David Desharnais - Danny Briere
Brandon Prust - Ryan White - George Parros
Travis Moen - Michael Bournival

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Andrei Markov - Rafael Diaz
Francis Bouillon - Jarred Tinordi
Douglas Murray

Carey Price
Peter Budaj

Outlook: Which Canadiens will we see this season? The club that bolted out of the blocks on the way to a stunning Northeast Division title? Or the one that fell apart down the stretch, then offered meek resistance in a first-round loss to the Sens? Odds are it will come down to the play of the back end. Carey Price, now under the watchful eye of new goalie coach Stephane Waite, has to rebound from a career-worst season. Price is recognized as one of the most physically talented netminders in the league, but his mechanics -- and confidence -- were shot by season's end. There are concerns on the blueline too, where Alexei Emelin is out until December and Rafael Diaz seems overmatched on the second pair. Jarred Tinordi has had a terrific camp, though, and could be a nasty physical presence. The Habs are still small up front (new fourth liner George Parros notwithstanding), but they should hold their ground as one of the league's top offenses. The young trio of Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher was dynamite last season, and with their proven chemistry and some experience under their belts, they'll be a line to watch. Danny Briere brings leadership, scoring touch and his franchophone heritage, but he'll be hard pressed to live up to that $4 million paycheck.

Florida Panthers

Tim Thomas
Steve Nesius/AP

Coach: Kevin Dineen
2013 record: 15-27-6, 15th in the East
Vital signs: 2.27 goals-for per game (30th), 3.54 goals-against per game (30th), 20.4 power play pct. (6th), 74.2 penalty kill pct. (30th), shootout record: 3-2 (16th)
Notable adds: G Tim Thomas (Islanders), F Scott Gomez (Sharks), F Joey Crabb (Capitals), D Matt Gilroy (Rangers), F Brad Boyes (Islanders), F Krys Barch (Devils), D Tom Gilbert (Wild)
Notable losses: F Stephen Weiss (Red Wings), F George Parros (Canadiens), F Peter Mueller (Switzerland), G Jose Theodore (UFA), D Filip Kuba (UFA), F Jack Skille (Blue Jackets)


Tomas Fleischmann -- Shawn Matthias -- Kris Versteeg
Jonathan Huberdeau -- Aleksander Barkov -- Brad Boyes
Sean Bergenheim -- Marcel Goc -- Tomas Kopecky
Scottie Upshall -- Scott Gomez -- Joey Crabb
Nick Bjugstad -- Krys Barch

Dmitry Kulikov -- Brian Campbell
Erik Gudbranson -- Mike Weaver
Ed Jovanovski -- Tom Gilbert
Ryan Whitney

Tim Thomas
Jacob Markstrom

Outlook: Not to get all caught up in the moment, but the arrival of Tim Thomas changes everything, doesn't it? Before signing the Conn Smythe winner, the Panthers were a solid bet to challenge for the first-overall pick. Now? They're looking a little more like another plucky group of rat bashers that rode an undersized American goaltender to within four wins of the Cup in 1996. Not that Florida fans should expect that kind of success this season -- even the playoffs are a long shot -- but Thomas' ability to win games singlehandedly allows a group that too often last season looked too afraid of the next mistake to settle down and play hockey. They still won't score a lot of goals, but if they take on the lunchpail persona of coach Kevin Dineen, they might find enough offense by committee to benefit from what's sure to be an improvement in the league's worst defense. If they can just do that, and Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov develop at a decent pace, this season's a winner for the Cats.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Victor Hedman
Chris O'Meara/AP

Coach: Jon Cooper
2013 record: 18-26-4, 14th in the East, out of playoffs
Vital signs: 3.06 goals-for per game (3rd), 3.06 goals-against per game (26th), 19.0 power play pct. (13th), 80.6 penalty kill pct. (19th), shootout record: 1-3 (27th)
Notable adds: F Valterri Filppula (Red Wings)
Notable losses:  F Vincent Lecavalier (Flyers), F Benoit Pouliot (Rangers), D Brendan Mikkelson (Penguins)


Alex Killorn - Steven Stamkos - Martin St. Louis
Ryan Malone - Valterri Filppula - Teddy Purcell
Ondrj Palat - Tom Pyatt - Richard Panik
Nate Thompson - Dana Tyrell - BJ Crombeen
Pierre-Cedric Labrie

Victor Hedman - Sami Salo
Eric Brewer - Matt Carle
Keith Aulie - Radko Gudas
Andrej Sustr

Anders Lindback
Ben Bishop

Outlook: Scoring goals isn't a problem for the Lightning with Art Ross winner Martin St. Louis and perennial Rocket Richard challenger Steven Stamkos leading the offense. Add in third overall pick Jonathan Drouin, free agent signee Valterri Filppula and AHL grads Richard Panik and Brett Connolly, and the forward group might be the deepest the team has iced since the franchise's Cup-contention years.

But keeping the puck out of their own net? Yeah, that's been the challenge. The Bolts have allowed 425 goals, the most in the NHL during the past two seasons, and any hope they have of becoming a playoff team hinges on their ability to make a real dent in that number. The focus has been on goaltending, where GM Steve Yzerman first brought in Anders Lindback, then Ben Bishop. Each had his moments, but inconsistency prevented both from seizing the top job, and it looks like they'll enter the season in a time-sharing agreement until one steps up. That might be tough, though, given the state of the team's blueline. Victor Hedman has yet to emerge as the No. 1 defender most observers thought he would be, and while the rest of the group has size (especially 6'-8", 225-pound rookie Andrej Sustr), it's a unit that lacks foot speed and playmaking ability. Coach Jon Cooper doesn't have a lot to work with here.

Buffalo Sabres

Tyler Myers
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Coach: Ron Rolston
2013 record: 21-21-6, 12th in the East
Vital signs: 2.46 goals-for per game (23rd), 2.90 goals-against per game (22nd), 14.1 power play pct. (29th), 79.2 penalty kill pct. (26th), shootout record: 7-4 (2nd)
Notable adds: D Henrik Tallinder (Devils), D Jamie McBain (Hurricanes)
Notable losses:  F Nathan Gerbe (Hurricanes), D Andrej Sekera (Hurricanes), D Adam Pardy (Jets)


Thomas Vanek - Cody Hodgson - Drew Stafford
Tyler Ennis - Mikhail Grigorenko - Ville Leino
Marcus Foligno - Steve Ott - Brian Flynn
John Scott - Kevin Porter - Patrick Kaleta
Zemgus Girgensons - Matt Ellis

Henrik Tallinder - Tyler Myers
Christian Ehrhoff - Jamie McBain
Mike Weber - Rasmus Ristolainen
Mark Pysyk

Ryan Miller
Jhonas Enroth

Outlook: It's only a matter of time before the vultures start circling the rebuilding Sabres. The team's two most valuable assets, Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek, are in the final years of their contracts and eligible to become unrestricted free agents next summer. Neither seems to be in a hurry to sign an extension, and so it's only a matter of time before a losing streak, or just the distraction of it all, triggers a trade involving one or both players.

Beyond maximizing that return, this season is all about sizing up the players who are currently on the roster, and those who'll challenge for positions a year or so down the road. Recent first rounders Mikhail Grigorenko and Rasmus Ristolainen are expected to be thrown into the deep end while the AHL Rochester shuttle should allow a steady stream of youngsters to at least get their feet wet. Tyler Myers, so disappointing last season, will be given every chance to prove his Calder-winning season wasn't a fluke. GM Darcy Regier repatriated Henrik Tallinder, Myers' former partner, from the Devils, and that should create a comfort zone for rediscovering what made him so effective. Even if the Sabres are not winning, the presence of Steve Ott, Patick Kaleta and Marcus Foligno ensures that this team will be entertaining.

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