2010/2011 Divisional Previews, Part Six – Northeast Division
Key Additions: Jordan Leopold, Shaone Morrisonn, Rob Niedermayer
Key Subtractions: Henrik Tallinder, Toni Lydman
Top Prospects: Zack Kassian, Jhonas Enroth, Luke Adam
Observations & Storylines: Consistency. That’s the buzz word around Buffalo. The scorers need to put points up consistently. The defense needs to not turn the puck over consistently. The entire team needs to not hang out Lalime to dry consistently. Thomas Vanek looking rejuvenated, Tyler Ennis being hungry for success, and Tyler Myers out to prove the sophomore slump doesn’t apply to him will be a huge factor for the Sabres. Ryan Miller finally hit the top of the mountain and without an Olympic distraction, he very well may remain there another year. I see the Sabres and Boston fighting a bloody war for control of the division with Buffalo winning it by a point or even a tie-breaker.
Key Additions: Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin
Key Subtractions: Vladimir Sobotka
Top Prospects: Zach Hamill, Jeff Penner
Observations & Storylines: The Bruins need scoring. Bringing in Horton and keeping up Seguin is a start, but Savard suffering from post-concussion syndrome is not a good thing at all for the B’s. Tuukka Rask in net is a good start to getting back into post-season form. Patrice Bergeron has reportedly signed a 3-year extension and Zdeno Chara has been supposedly discussing an extension of Kovalchukian proportions – both of which are good or the club. Like I said above, it’s going to be a blood feud between the Sabres and Bruins this season and it could honestly go either way. Seguin’s rookie season and Savard’s possible return from injury would put them above the Sabres, but at this point they’re a very close second.
Key Additions: Alex Auld, PK Subban
Key Subtractions: Sergei Kostitsyn, Dominic Moore, Paul Mara, Jaroslav Halak
Top Prospects: Max Pacioretty, Aaron Palushaj
Observations & Storylines: How can the Habs cope with losing playoff darling Jaro Halak? I don’t know but I hope Carey Price does because he’s going to need to finally turn into “Jesus Price” to help the overachieveing Canadiens do again what they did last year. Andrei Markov being injured is not a good thing, but PK Subban is going to help fill that void. I don’t think the Habs will be able to rise to the occasion as much as they did last season, finishing third in the division.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Key Additions: Kris Versteeg, Clarke MacArthur, Colby Armstrong
Key Subtractions: N/A
Top Prospects: Nazem Kadri, Jussi Rynnas, Jerry D’Amigo, Marcel Mueller
Observations & Storylines: The Leafs are scrappy and tough, just like GM Brian Burke likes, but they’re short on exceptional talent. It’s going to take one hell of an overachieving roster to make any waves. I just don’t see it happening unless every single piece comes together and even then they’re going to need a solid deadline deal to solidify for a run. I see the Leafs finishing up in fourth in the division, unless Jonas Gustavsson and JS Giguere can become gods among men in the Leafs’ crease.
Key Additions: Sergei Gonchar
Key Subtractions: Anton Volchenkov, Andy Sutton
Top Prospects: Jared Cowen, Roman Wick, Robin Lehner
Observations & Storylines: The Senators have talent, some toughness, and a little depth. What do they lack that they always lack? Dependable goaltending. Pascal Leclaire has yet to prove he’s a starter in the NHL and Brian Elliot still seeks validation as one himself. The team will be in dire straits when Daniel Alfredsson retires (rumored to be soon) and Jason Spezza no longer has his two Pizza Line wingers to play with him. I see the Senators continuing on their downswing by finishing last in the division.