October 4, 2008

Northeast Division Preview

5th place
Toronto Maple Leafs

It's rebuilding time here in Leafland. That's why the Leafs will go forward with Mikahl Grabovski, Nik Antropov, and Alexei Ponikarovsky as their top line. The mission is simple this season. Build a team that is not good enough to get better than 25th in the league, thus giving the Leafs a shot at the number 1 overall draft pick. New players are all around and older players are out. How well the Leafs do depends on their young forwards stepping up and if Vesa Toskala can withstand a season of less than mediocre play in front of him.

4th place
Ottawa Senators

These guys faltered in the second half of last season and their coach lost his job. With the exception of 2007, the Senators have never lived up to expectations in the post season. Previous coaches have lost their job because of it. As has John Muckler as GM. When are the core group of players ever going to be blammed for the short commings of this franchise? It's time for Alfredsson, Fisher, Phillips, and one of either Heatley or Spezza to go and the Sens should hope that they could get some high draft picks for those players. It might be time for the Sens to think about a rebuild, or a stockpile of young talent on the farm.

3rd place
Buffalo Sabres

Ryan Miller is an all star goaltender and can carry this team into the playoffs. The sabres also have great scoring depth as 8 players had over 15 goals last season. Of those 8 players, 5 of them had over 20. Dan Paille had 19 goals. Of those 5 20 or more goal scorers, 2 had over 30. The Sabres need to avoid the terrible January that they had last season. They are very capable of being a playoff team. Their defence is a good mix of veterans and young guys. Craig Rivet is an addition this season, which will help solidify the backend group.

2nd place
Boston Bruins

This is a team that is well coached. They are defensively responsible and can also put the puck in the net. With a healthy Patrice Bergeron this season, the Bruins could challenge for the division title. Mike Ryder is a free agent addition and if he can put 20 in the net the Bruins will have the scoring touch that they were missing last season.

1st place
Montreal Canadiens

There is a sense in Montreal that because it is the Canadiens' 100th anniversary as a franchise, they are destined to win the Cup. Time will tell. The Habs need another season out of Kovalev, that is if he hasn't lost his interest to play. Plekanec will be good for at least 20 goals. The addition of Tanguay, playing in his hometown, will be a jolt to the offence also. Carey Price was very good last season, he'll need to be better this season if the Habs want to capture Cup #25.

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