NHL 2022 Preview: Atlantic Division

Via NHL.com

NHL 2022 Preview: Atlantic Division

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NHL 2022 Preview: Atlantic Division

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The NHL season begins in Czechia on October 7th with games on back-to-back nights between the San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators. Before the first official puck drop, it is always helpful to know what each team’s outlook is. This is article one of four that will be released over the next two weeks breaking down and predicting the 2022-23 NHL season.

Via NHL.com

The Eastern Conference is once again stacked, where each team will have to run the gauntlet just to earn a playoff spot. It would not be surprising if all eight playoff teams had at least 100 points like in 2021-22. Another thing to watch will be if the Atlantic can get four teams into the playoffs with how deep the Metropolitan Division is. 

Boston Bruins

The Bruins didn’t do that much this offseason. Boston made a trade for Pavel Zacha along with re-signing both David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron to one-year deals. The only other major addition this offseason was the hiring of its new head coach Jim Montgomery. The Bruins are still going to be an above-average hockey team, but, in a very competitive Eastern Conference, may not make the playoffs.

Buffalo Sabres

Buffalo didn’t make much noise this offseason either, but that might be a good thing. The Sabres are still rebuilding and are actually showing some progression. The Sabres re-signed Victor Olofsson to a two-year deal and extended Tage Thompson. The forward and Buffalo agreed to a seven-year, $50 million deal. Buffalo’s top-six forwards are now respectable and include Thompson, Jeff Skinner and Alex Tuch. The defense and goaltending still needs some work, but the Sabres are trending up. It is just a shame that Buffalo is stuck in the East. 

Detroit Red Wings

Steve Yzerman and his “Yzer-plan” are in full effect. The general manager worked wonders in Tampa Bay and is looking to do the same for the team he played nearly his entire career for. Yzerman and the Wings somehow managed to fly under the radar this offseason, while making a ton of quality moves. Villie Husso will provide either a number one option or a solid platoon option with Alex Nedelkovic.

Andrew Copp, Dominik Kubalik and David Perron were all brought in to play on the top three lines. Detroit now features both talented youth and playoff experienced depth in its forward group. The signings of Ben Chiarot and Olli Maatta add two top-four defenseman to the team. Chiarot will play alongside young Moritz Seider, while Matta could slot in with Filip Hronek.

Detroit might still be a year away from getting over the hump, but with a bit of luck and if the Wings get hot at the right time, Hockey Town could be headed back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

Florida Panthers

The Panthers won the Presidents Trophy last season before getting shut down offensively by the Tampa Bay Lightning in second round. Florida lost key players Claude Giroux and Ben Chiarot to free agency before shipping Johnathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar to Calgary in a trade. 

Florida acquired star forward Matthew Tkachuck from Calgary in the Huberdeau deal. The forward will slot in on the first line with Carter Verhaegue and Aleksander Barkov. While the Panthers will still be a solid side this season, I do not see them repeating as the NHL’s best team. The playoffs are still in Florida’s future, but it will not be as easy as last season. 

Montreal Canadiens

Montreal won the NHL Draft Lottery and selected left wing Juraj Slafkovsky out of Finland with the first-overall pick. The Canadiens also acquired forwards Evgenii Dadonov from the Vegas Golden Knights and Kirby Dach from the Chicago Balckhawks before free agency even started. Other than those moves, Montreal didn’t really do much this offseason. This will be an interesting year as head coach Martin St. Louis will look for his young forwards to take a step forward.

Ottawa Senators 

The Ottawa Senators were one of the NHL’s busiest teams this offseason. The Sens began its summer by acquiring Alex Debrincat from Chicago. Ottawa would then go on to sign Claude Giroux to three-year deal and depth forward Tyler Motte to a one-year deal. The Senators also extended/re-signed two key pieces. Josh Norris inked an eight-year deal, while Mathieu Joseph signed a four-year deal. 

Ottawa now boasts a forward group that looks dangerous on paper, but still needs toprove itself. The backend for the Sens still needs some work, but the top pairing of Thomas Chabot and Travis Hamonic is a good start. Finally, the Senators brought in Cam Talbot to be the franchise’s number one goaltender. Ottawa could be a candidate to make some noise in the regular season. 

Tampa Bay Lightning

This offseason was like any normal offseason for the Tampa Bay Lightning: business as usual. Tampa Bay somehow keeps its core together and forked out some serious money on long-term extensions. How Tampa Bay gets this money and cap space remains a mystery. Nevertheless, the Lightning trudge on with its high-profile signings.

Tampa Bay lost key players like Ondrej Palat but were able to gain names like Ian Cole and Vladislav Namestnikov. As for the afore mentioned extensions, Tampa locked up four more of its core group this offseason. These four players combined for 31 years and $189.65 million in their new deals. 

Nick Paul was the first extension submitted at seven years and $22.05 million. Next came the most expensive deal for Mikhail Sergachev at eight years and $68 million. Anthony Cerelli would be next at eight years and $58 million. Finally, Erik Cernak inked his eight-year, $41.6 million contract. The Lightning aren’t going anywhere for a long, long time.

Toronto Maple Leafs

So, the Leafs lost in the first round of the playoffs again. Shocker. Toronto only made two major offseason moves. The first was the loss of goaltender Jack Campbell and the addition of its new number one netminder Matt Murray. The second was signing Calle Jarnkrok to a four-year deal. 

This is virtually the same Leafs team from last year: uber talented with a goaltender that has shown his ability to play above average hockey, but a weak defensive core. Will Toronto be back in the playoffs? Yes. Will the Leafs finally win a series? No, this team has to be cursed (trust me, I was all over them to beat Tampa Bay last year). 

Atlantic Division Standings Predictions

*Toronto Maple Leafs – 119 points (.725 point %)

*Tampa Bay Lightning – 114 points (.695 point %)

*Florida Panthers – 106 points (.653 point %)

Detroit Red Wings – 92 points (.561 point %)

Ottawa Senators – 85 points (.524 point %)

Boston Bruins – 84 points (.512 point %)

Buffalo Sabres – 78 points (.475 point %)

Montreal Canadiens – 62 points (.378 point %)

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