Atlantic Division Predictions
Last Season: 2nd (4th overall); 50-20-12.
Eliminated in the second round by Tampa Bay Lighting.
Team Leaders: Brad Marchand (Right Wing, 30 years old, 34-51-85 points), Torey Krug (Defenseman, 27 years old, 14-45-59), Tuukka Rask (Goalie, 31 years old, 34 wins, 91.7 save percentage, 2.36 GAA, 3 shutouts).
Main new acquisitions for the upcoming season are John Moore (Defenseman, New Jersey Devils, 7-11-18) and Jaroslav Halák (Goalie, New York Islanders, 20 wins, 90.8 save percentage, 3.19 GAA, 1 shutout). Bruins lost Rick Nash, Riley Nash, and Anton Khudobin.
The Boston Bruins’ first line (Pastrňák, Marchand, Bergeron) was arguably one of the best in the entire NHL. They combined for 228 points last season. Boston’s explosive offense was halted by Tampa Bay in the second round, not by playing a better game, but simply by seeing through the Bruins‘ gameplan. We are also a little bit worried about Tuukka Rask’s performance, but the acquisition of Jaro Halák could solve the Bruins’ goaltending problems. Several of Boston’s youngsters, such as Ryan Donato (22), Jake DeBrusk (21), David Pastrňák (22) and Charlie McAvoy (20), turned out to be Bruins’ most reliable players, and we are expecting even more improvement and even more lethal power from those four. If the Bruins stick to last year‘s gameplan with a few small improvements, they are going to be strong contenders for the Stanley Cup once again.
Betting Tip: Boston Bruins Over 102.5 Regular Season Points @ 4/5
Last Season: 8th (31st overall); 25-45-12.
7th straight season in which they did not qualify for the playoffs.
Team leaders: Jack Eichel (Center, 21 years old, 25-39-64), Rasmus Ristolainen (Defenseman, 23 years old, 6-35-41) and Carter Hutton (Goalie, 32 years old, 17 wins, 93.1 save percentage, 2.09 GAA, 3 shutouts).
After a terrible season, there are many new faces in the Buffalo uniform. The main one is, of course, defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (undisputable no.1 in 2018 draft, and one of the best hockey prospects in many years). Other acquisitions almost look like the Sabres went to St. Louis Blues’ yardsale: Patrik Berglund (Center, 17-6-26), Vladimír Sobotka (Center, 11-20-31), Carter Hutton (Goalie) and Tage Thompson (Center, 3-6-9). Conor Sheary (Left Wing, Pittsburgh, 18-12-30), and Jeff Skinner (Left Wing, Carolina, 24-25-49) are the only trades from other teams.
The huge trade with the Blues is probably bittersweet for most Sabres‘ fans because beloved center, Ryan O’Reilly, went to St. Louis. To be honest, the current Buffalo roster is somewhat impressive. Mainly for great defensive talent (both Rasmuses and also Carter Hutton). On the other side though, there is the lack of offensive power. The Atlantic division is packed with many great teams and players that we just can’t see the Sabres making the playoffs this season.
Detroit Red Wings
Last Season: 5th (27th overall); 30-39-13.
Missed playoffs two seasons in a row. Made playoffs 25 consecutive seasons from 1991 to 2016.
Team leaders: Dylan Larkin (Center, 22 years old, 16-47-63), Mike Green (Defenseman, 32 years old, 8-25-33), Jimmy Howard (Goalie, 34 years years old, 22 wins, 91.0 save percentage, 2.85 GAA, 1 shutout).
The main new faces in Red Wings‘ jerseys are Thomas Vanek (Left Wing, Columbus, 24-36-56), Filip Zadina (Right Wing, 18-year-old prospect from the Czech Republic, no. 6 in 2018 draft) and Jonathan Bernier (Goalie, Colorado Avalanche, 19 wins, 91.3 save percentage, 2.85 GAA, 2 shutouts). On September 14th, Detroit lost the legend Henrik Zetterberg due to his retirement.
Detroit Red Wings may have the oldest roster in the league, but few of their youngsters are quite impressive: Dylan Larkin is 21 years old, Michael Rasmussen is 19, Filip Zadina is 18 and Filip Hronek is 21. Acquiring Jonathan Bernier was a great move to fortify the area between the goalposts. They are a team with a lot of offensive talent but there are also many holes in the Red Wings defensive line. We believe that the Red Wings have a chance to make playoffs this year. All of that though, depends on Detroit’s promising youngsters.
Last Season: 4th (16th overall); 44-30-8.
Made the playoffs only five times since their first season in 1993. Last playoff run ended in the first round in the 2015-2016 season.
Team leaders: Aleksander Barkov (Center, 22 years old, 27-51-78), Keith Yandle (Defenseman, 31 years old, 8-48-56), Roberto Luongo (Goalie, 39 years old veteran, 18 wins, 92.9 save percentage, 2.47 GAA, 3 shutouts).
Two main new acquisitions are Mike Hoffman (Left Wing, Ottawa, 22-34-56) and Bogdan Kiselevich (Defenseman, CSKA Moscow, 0-16-16).
Despite a relatively old squad, Florida‘s young talent is incredible. Their strong offense has its nemesis in the Panthers‘ back line. Florida’s defense permitted the 3rd most shots-against in the league (34.6), and Roberto Luongo‘s health problems (only played 35 games last year) are not making things easy for the Panthers. The second goalie, James Reimer, is far from his best performances of a few years ago, so we are expecting some new acquisitions in this position as well. A problem with the Panthers is their consistency. From our point of view, it could be enough to reach the playoffs for the next few years (if they solve their D problems and if Luongo stays healthy), but probably not this season.
Last Season: 6th (28th overall); 29-40-13.
Eliminated from the playoffs in the 1st round in 2016-2017.
Team Leaders: Brendan Gallagher (Right Wing, 26 years old, 31-23-54), Jeff Petry (Defenseman, 30 years old, 12-30-42) and Carey Price (Goalie, 31 years old, 16 wins, 90.0 save percentage, 3.11 GAA, 1 shutout).
Main new acquisitions are Max Domi (Left Wing, Arizona, 9-36-45), Joel Armia (Right Wing, Winnipeg, 12-17-29), Tomáš Plekanec (Center, Toronto, 6-20-26), Jesperi Kotkaniemi (Center, 18 years old Finnish prospect, no. 3 in 2018 draft). Tomáš Tatar and Nick Suzuki were traded lately from Vegas for Max Pacioretty.
The Canadiens had the 3rd worst offense (2.52 goals per game) and the 7th worst defense (3.15 goals against per game) last year. Although there are some improvements in personnel (especially Jesperi Kotkaniemi shining in his preseason debut and the very talented Nick Suzuki), we highly doubt any major improvement for the Habs. Hopes were relatively high but the department of captain Max Pacioretty crushed many of those dreams. Montreal needs a few more years to get back from their losing record. In our point of view, the Habs will not make playoffs again this season.
Last Season: 7th (30th overall); 28-43-11.
Reached conference finals in 2016-2017.
Team Leaders: Mark Stone (Right Wing, 26 years old, 20-42-62), Erik Karlsson (Defenseman, 29 years old, 9-53-62), Craig Anderson (Goalie, 37 years old, 23 wins, 89.8 save percentage, 3.32 GAA, 2 shutouts).
Main acquisitions: Brady Tkachuk (Left Wing, 18 years old, no.4 in 2018 draft) and Mikkel Boedker (Left Wing, San Jose, 15-22-37). Ottawa Senators lost superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson for Chris Tierney, Dylan Demelo, Rudolf Balcers, Josh Norris, Conditional 2nd-Round Pick in 2019 and Conditional 1st-Round Pick in 2020.
The hopes of all Senators fans were crushed by the trade of the year involving Erik Karlsson. We really don’t know what to think about it, other than that the Sens were brutally robbed by the Sharks. Ottawa already had the second worst offense in the league last year and without their defensive ace, captain, and undisputedly their best player, things are likely to be very bad this season. The Sens are obviously focusing on their future, but for the the upcoming season… we can see them finishing dead last.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Season: 1st (3rd overall); 54-23-5.
Lost in the conference finals to Stanley Cup winners Washington Capitals.
Team Leaders: Nikita Kucherov (Right Wing, 25 years old, 39-61-100), Victor Hedman (Defenseman, 27 years old, 17-48-63), Andrei Vasilevskiy (Goalie, 24 years old, 44 wins, 92.0 save percentage, 2.62 GAA, 8 shutouts).
No acquisitions during the off-season.
If you are a Bolts‘ fan, there are actually only two things to be worried about; 1) The Lightning goalie, Andrei Vasilevskiy, conceded an average of 3.37 goals per game in 25 games after the all-star break, although he did bounce back in the playoffs. 2) Their penalty kill was 28th in the league with only 76.1%. 64 powerplay goals against were the second highest in the league. The main positive thing is that Tampa have one of the deadliest offenses in the league.
Tampa Bay are strong contenders for 2018/19 Stanley Cup. No new faces in Bolts‘ uniform could be a double-edged sword and they should make the playoffs with ease.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Season: 3rd (6th overall); 49-26-7.
Eliminated in the first round by the Boston Bruins.
Team Leaders: Mitch Marner (Center, 21 years old, 22-47-69), Jake Gardiner (Defenseman, 28 years, 5-47-52), Frederik Andersen (Goalie, 28 years old, 38 Wins, 91.8 save percentage, 2.81 GAA, 5 shutouts).
John Tavares (Center, New York Islanders, 37-47-84) and Tyler Enis (Left Wing, Minnesota, 3-5-8) are the main acquisitions. Toronto lost James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak and they got rid of mediocre Tomáš Plekanec.
Toronto were tied with Pittsburgh for 3rd in the league in goals scored during the regular season (270 goals, 3.29 per game). It’s hard to overlook the arrival of the superstar and Ontario native, John Tavares. Then there are the Leafs‘ almighty young guns: Mitch Marner (21 years, no.4 in 2015 draft), Austin Matthews (20 years, no.1 in 2016 draft), William Nylander (22 years, no.8 in 2014 draft) and Kasperi Kapanen (21 years, acquired from Penguins in 2015). There are no major improvements in the defensive lines for Toronto, so the defense could be a problem this season. Last year’s Leafs were deadly but inexperienced. Not anymore. The 2018/19 Toronto team should be strong contenders in the President’s Trophy as well as overall Stanley Cup winners.
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