Today, I am going to take an in depth look at the Atlantic division.
New Jersey Devils
Key acquisitions: Anton Volchenkov, Henrik Tallinder, Jason Arnott, Johan Hedberg
Key losses: Paul Martin, Mike Mottau and Ilya Kovalchuk (maybe)
Up front the Devils brought back an old face in Jason Arnott, he is a big body and will definitely clear up some space for his wingers. He should be a great fit on the 2nd line and along with his on ice talent he will bring more experience and leadership to the dressing room.
The Devils upgraded their defensive corps with the additions of Anton Volchenkov and Henrik Tallinder. They should bring more stability and consistency to the back-end as well as providing some leadership and experience to the dressing room.
In goal the Devils added a consistent and top notch backup goaltender in Johan Hedberg. He will be able to give Marty Brodeur more games off so he can stay fresh for the playoffs. The thing I love about Hedberg is that if Brodeur gets injured at any point Hedberg is there and is more than capable of playing a starters role for an extended period of time.
It should be a fun and interesting year in New Jersey. I think it is safe to say that this is the best Devils team we have seen since the Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer, and Brian Rafalski days.
Who will win the Atlantic division?
Expectation: 1st in the division
New York Rangers
Key acquisitions: Alex Frolov, Todd White, Marty Biron and Steve Eminger
Key losses: Olli Jokinen, and Aaron Voros
Up front the Rangers have added some scoring in Alex Frolov and Todd White. In Alex Frolov the Rangers added a very skilled and streaky player in Alex Frolov. People have been calling him out for his defensive game but really he is not bad at all. He struggled last season due to him being in the dog house right from the start of the season and not being able to dig himself out.
In Todd White they added a nice two-way center who knows how to distribute the puck. White will likely serve on the 2nd line but is expected to see some line on a top line with Marion Gaborik and Alex Frolov.
The defensive corps is the same aside from the addition of Steve Eminger. He is a solid third line defenseman who isn't afraid to drop the gloves.
Marty Biron added a solid backup for Henrik Lundqvist. Hank (Lundqvist) is expected to start the majority of the games but when he is tired or just needs a night off to regroup they won't be afraid to throw Biron in.
Overall the Rangers have improved but they are not in the same ballpark as the Devils, Flyers, and Penguins in my opinion.
Expectation: 4th in the division
Key acquisitions: Nikolai Zherdev, Andrej Meszaros, Sean O'Donnell and Matt Walker
Key losses: Arron Asham, Lukas Krajicek Simon Gagne and Ryan Parent
The Flyers added a very talented forward up front in Nikolai Zherdev who is expected to replace Simon Gagne on the first or second line.
Overall I would say the Flyers forwards are very similar to last seasons as they replaced Gagne with Zherdev and replaced Asham with Jody Shelley which is pretty much a wash.
The Flyers added some big time depth to the defense in Meszaros, O'Donnell and Walker. In Meszaros they added a solid two-way defenseman. In O'Donnell and Walker the Flyers added some grit, toughness and leadership which should pay dividends in the post-season.
In goal the Flyers have stayed pat with Leighton and Boucher.
The Flyers improved their team but I think they will finish third in the division. On a side note I wouldn't be surprised at all if they finished first or second in the division as they are in the same ballpark as the Devils and Penguins.
Expectation: 3rd in the division
New York Islanders
Key acquisitions: Zenon Konopka, James Wisniewski, Mark Eaton, PA Parenteau and Milan Jurcina
Key losses: Dough Weight, Richard Park and Brendan Witt
Up front the Islanders are very similar to way they were last season. They added a very solid young player in PA Parenteau who will help the powerplay and provide some offensive help. In Zenon Konopka they strictly added more toughness up front and provided young forwards like John Tavares, Blake Comeau and company with some protection.
They made significant additions to their defensive corps in the additions of Wisniewski, Eaton and Jurcina. Wisniewski is a solid two-way player who can play in all situations. He also adds more experience, toughness and leadership to a very young team. In Mark Eaton you added a solid defensive defenseman who also brings a lot of experience to the room. In Jurcina you added a tough steady stay at home defenseman who isn't afraid to drop the gloves or stick up for his teammates.
The Islanders have stayed pat in goal and will go with Dwayne Roloson and a healthy Rick DiPietro.
Overall I think the Islanders improved but they are a rebuilding team stuck in a very tough division so it is hard to expect too much.
Expectations: 5th in division
Key acquisitions: Zbynek Michalek, and Paul Martin
Key losses: Sergei Gonchar, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Bill Guerin, Ruslan Fedotenko and Mark Eaton
Up front the Penguins have not made any additions and have lost Billy Guerin, Ruslan Fedotenko and Alexei Ponikarovsky. With the loss of those forwards they lost some depth at the wing and some scoring punch but they in the Penguins defense, they are still looking to add some wingers.
On defense they lost one of the best puck-moving defenseman in the league in Sergei Gonchar but they did add two very solid defenseman in Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek. In Martin they added a very steady two-way defenseman who makes a very good first pass. In Michalek they added a defensive specialist who is not afraid to block shots. One thing many people don't notice about Michalek is that he has a very good shot can can contribute offensively.
Like the Flyers and the Islanders, the Penguins stayed pat in goal.
Overall I think the Penguins improved but not enough to surpass the Devils for the division lead.
Expectation: 2nd in the division
This concludes my in depth look at the Atlantic division, enjoy.
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