Although there are still 70 days until the opening of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season, it appears the off-season free agent signings and trades have slowed down and we can now start to take a look at what this season may or may not look like.
I am going to break this division down into four categories, contenders, should make playoffs, hopeful, and hopeless.
Tampa Bay Lightning:
Let’s just face the fact that Tampa Bay is absolutely stacked and will be looking to make yet another run at the Stanley Cup.
With Stamkos, Kucherov, J.T. Miller, and numerous other threats up front, and McDonagh and Hedman on the blue line, not many teams will be able to best Tampa Bay in a seven game series.
General Manager Steve Yzerman is on a mission to bring the city of Tampa Bay a Stanley Cup, and once again he has put together another phenomenal hockey team.
Toronto Maple Leafs:
Toronto did it. They hit the jackpot and landed John Tavares with a seven year contract.
Man I can not wait to see that Tavares-Matthews combo.
As good as the Maple Leafs did this off-season, they did however lose some guys up front like James van Riemsdyk to Philadelphia.
The Maple Leafs do still have Marner, Nylander, and Kadri to throw at any team that plays against them.
The city of Toronto should be excited for this season as the Maple Leafs look to make a deep run into the playoffs.
Although the Bruins were not that active this off-season, I have a good feeling when looking at this Boston roster.
Boston did lose Rick and Riley Nash, however the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line will be intact again this year, and the Bruins have so much young talent behind that line that showed tremendous potential last year such as Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen.
To back that up, the Bruins have Charlie McAvoy on the blue line with Veteran Captain Zdeno Chara.
Boston also signed John Moore this off-season, then throw Torey Krug in the mix and it appears the Bruins don’t have that bad of a Defense after all.
With Rask in net the Bruins will always be in a good spot, along with the signing of Jaroslav Halak for a backup, this could potentially spark a little competition if Halak gets in a good groove.
Should Make Playoffs:
What kept the Panthers out of the playoffs last season was losing Smith, Marchessault, and Demers.
However Florida did acquire Mike Hoffman from Ottawa this off-season, and do still have Barkov, Huberdeau, and Dadonov.
Reimer and Luongo, goaltending should not be an issue for the Panthers and atleast a Wild Card Spot should be an attainable goal to this team.
I am sorry Montreal fans, your team will not make the playoffs this year once again.
The team is just not there.
Weber is looking to be out at least half the season, Price is being paid his big contract however he is coming off his worst year, and Pacioretty will most likely be traded this season.
In order for the Canadiens to be a contender again, they must get some production from their 2018 draft class as they did have a strong draft.
At least Montreal has the chance to have a good future, just not this year.
The Buffalo Sabres are in a position where they can start to become a contender once again.
With young stars like Jack Eichel, and Rasmus Dahlin, the Sabres next move should be to build a team around those guys.
Former St. Louis goalie Carter Hutton will be a good addition in net for Buffalo.
By no means will they be in the playoffs but you have to start from somewhere.
Detroit Red Wings:
This is the one team I am not sure what is going on at all.
Detroit signed Mike Green and Jonathan Bernier for two and three years respectively, when they could have signed other young players with potential.
Zetterberg also has not confirmed whether or not he will be playing this season due to back problems.
Not much is coming out of the front office which is just confusing due to how much of power house Hockey Town used to be.
The Ottawa Senators are going to be what drives me insane.
Not one thing is going the way it should be in the city of Ottawa.
Their Captain Erik Karlsson will most likely not be in Ottawa much longer because they can not come to an agreement and pay Karlsson what he deserves as an elite offensive Defenseman.
Add the pile that the fans despise their owner, and their arena situation is still in shambles.
Who knows what will happen to the Senators this season.
Ottawa Senators: www.proudteams.com
Detroit Red Wings: www.chatsports.com
Buffalo Sabres: www.tsn.ca
Montreal Canadiens: www.thehockeywriters.com
Florida Panthers: www.lemoncitylive.com
Boston Bruins: www.tsn.ca
Toronto Maple Leafs: www.torontosun.com
Tampa Bay Lightning: www.rawcharge.com
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