2010/2011 Divisional Previews, Part Four – Southeast Division
Key Additions: N/A
Key Subtractions: Shaone Morrisonn, Jose Theodore, Eric Belanger
Top Prospects: Michal Neuvirth
Observations & Storylines: Bruce Boudreau and George McPhee had the advantage of picking from a crop of super-talented AHL and junior players with which to fill the holes on the roster. John Carlson especially ought to be a special player. Will the Capitals run wild on the division in 10/11? Signs point to yes. But unless the team can learn to win in the playoffs, the organization’s reputation as Sharks East will continue to grow.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Key Additions: Dan Ellis, Randy Jones, Simon Gagne
Key Subtractions: Kurtis Foster, Antero Niittymaki, Zenon Konopka, Alex Tanguay,
Top Prospects: Dustin Tokarski, Carter Ashton
Observations & Storylines: In his first summer as a general manager, Steve Yzerman did an admirable job building the team in his own image. But, as always, the Bolts’ forwards look good on paper while the goaltending is a bit shaky. Dan Ellis and Mike Smith will have to play their best in order to backstop the team into the playoffs. And how about the forward depth now? A top six of Stamkos, St. Louis, Gagne, Lecavalier, Downie, and Malone is a damn balanced pair of lines. Moore is good for the third line, but will the bottom six be able to grind it out enough?
Key Additions: N/A
Key Subtractions: Rod Brind’Amour
Top Prospects: Bobby Sanguinetti, Riley Nash, Jared Staal
Observations & Storylines: The Canes have enough depth and balance and talent to do well enough to compete, but not enough to challenge for a post-season berth. It’s going to take a shrewd move by Jim Rutherford to give the team a boost into the playoffs unless Cam Ward rediscovers his rookie form.
Key Additions: Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Ben Eager, Chris Mason
Key Subtractions: Maxim Afinogenov, Slava Kozlov, Johan Hedberg
Top Prospects: Angelo Esposito, Paul Postma, Patrice Cormier
Observations & Storylines: A new front office, a new coach, and a solid influx of Cup-winning former Blackhawks have remade the roster of the Atlanta Thrashers. Add in the departures of Afinogenov and Kozlov and it’s a very different team. They’re going to be a better team this season, but not good enough. Keep an eye on Dustin Byfuglien starting at defense, as he’s got the potential to be a high-scoring d-man.
Key Additions: Steve Bernier, Dennis Wideman
Key Subtractions: Keith Ballard, Nathan Horton
Top Prospects: Jacob Markstrom, Tyler Plante
Observations & Storylines: The Panthers won’t do well this season. They don’t really ever do well. A solid track record of drafting may be able to revitalize this franchise, as long as Vokoun continues to keep on playing clutch on a regular basis. Another bottom-of-the-division finish for the Cats is a sad reality for those few native hockey fans in southern Florida.