Southeast Division Update

The Southeast became a lot more competitive than anticipated last year.  Will it be even more competitive this year?  At the end of each summary we will highlight just one blog for that respective team, but there are many quality sites out there if you care to search for them.  Please share your comments on the rest of the teams across the NHL as we fill the void of the offseason.

Carolina Hurricanes
2010-2011 Record: 40-31-11 (3rd in the Division)

Offseason Thus Far: The ‘Canes were active resigning or acquiring mainly veteran help over the offseason.  Joni Pitkanen, Jussi Jokinen, Brian Boucher, Alexei Ponikarovsky, and Tomas Kaberle all signed to play in Carolina.  This is a team that had a chance to make the playoffs playing at home in the last game of the season, so they did not make huge moves to the roster. They did lose Eric Cole and Joe Corvo.  Kaberle, Tim Brent, and Anthony Stewart look to fill the void.

Analysis: Carolina played a great second half of hockey for a team many had written off before the first puck even dropped.  General Manager Jim Rutherford see center Brandon Sutter as a major key to the Hurricanes success this year, especially as penalty killer.  Jeff Skinner and Zac Dalpe add to the young talent that should make this team a playoff contender.

Florida Panthers
2010-2011 Record: 30-40-12 (5th in the Division)

Offseason Thus Far: There was no way to tell that new team leadership was in place in Florida this offseason.  Yes, I know it is not easy to sense sarcasm in print.  The Panthers were throwing out contracts left and right when the free agency period opened.  Dale Tallon grabbed the reigns and went out and got an assortment of new faces through trade or signing in early July.  Kris Versteeg, Marcel Goc, Scottie Upshall, Ed Jovanovski, and Tomas Fleischmann were among those taking their talents to Sunrise.  Jose Theodore was brought in to take the place of Thomas Vokoun.  The opening night roster this year is drastically different from ’09-’10.

Analysis: Florida’s biggest issue in the last couple years has been allowing Vokoun to see too many shots.  The new offensive faces should help with that as possession may swing more in the favor of the Panthers.  However, goaltending and defense still have something to prove as Erik Gudbranson looks to contribute as a 19-year old.  Brian Campbell figures to play on the top defensive pairing with Jovanovski.  It will be interesting to watch how this new look Panthers’ lineup creates chemistry. 

Tampa Bay Lightning
2010-2011 Record: 46-25-11 (2nd  in the Division)

Offseason Thus Far:  The Lightning made quite the run in the Eastern Conference after finding their way into the playoffs with the main cogs staying fairly healthy over the season.  They did not shake up too much with the resigning of Dwayne Roloson and Adam Hall.  Mathieu Garon, Michel Ouellet, and Matt Gilroy were signed to add some depth and competition to the third and fourth lines.  Ouellet and Alexandre Picard were sent to Norfolk when 27 players were trimmed from the roster earlier this week. 

Analysis: The goaltending situation was shaky at best until acquiring Roloson and now he is part of the glue holding the team together.  Of course having Steven Stamkos, Marty St. Louis, and Vincent Lecavalier doesn’t hurt either.  Nate Thompson and Teddy Purcell played well for the Bolts in the playoffs and the addition of Eric Brewer last season was a very underrated move.  This team should challenge for the division crown.

Washington Capitals
2010-2011 Record: 48-23-11 (1st in the Division)

Offseason Thus Far: For some the Capitals were quieter than expected but the moves they made were smart.  They acquired Troy Brouwer from Chicago during the draft and resigned a team leader, Brooks Laich.  Roman Hamrlik, Jeff Halpern, and Joel Ward all come into the fold with clear roles.  In a great move for the future of the franchise, they shipped Semyon Varlamov to Colorado for a first and second round pick.  Vokoun was signed to fill the void at netminder  George McPhee also resigned Mathieu Perreault who seemed to always pick up his play at the right time last year. 
Analysis: The defense has been the question for years in Washington and this year Karl Alzner and John Carlson may be asked to prove their worth on the blue line.  Alexander Semin had a down year and his work ethic was questioned at times.  Still this team made subtle, but nice moves and they still have Alex Ovechkin.  Despite their competition improving it would be easy to see them atop the division again. 
                                         Semin looks to redeem himself this year.

Winnipeg Jets
2010-2010 Record: 34-36-12 (4th  in the Division)

Offseason Thus Far: Did anything happen with this franchise in the offseason? Oh, right.  They used to be in Atlanta.  The team still finds itself in the Southeast for one more year as NHL realignment looms.  The biggest recent news was the size of Dustin Byfuglien, who had a breakout season playing defense last year.  Unfortunately, Byfuglien also finds himself in trouble with the law.  Blake Wheeler could be the breakout star for the Jets after signing a new contract.  Eric Fehr was acquired from Washington, but the team was already hit with sadness after the passing of Rick Rypien only a few days after agreeing to terms with Winnipeg.

Analysis: Zach Bogosian returns to the lineup with a fairly solid defensive core.  Andrew Ladd provided great veteran leadership last year and expects to do the same in Winnipeg.  The big question may be scoring after Ladd, Wheeler, Evander Kane, and Bryan Little.  Nik Antropov figures to score his fair share of goals, but it would not be a surprise to see a less than average offense for the Jets.  They will have plenty of crowd support, but is it enough to keep them competitive?  Maybe Alexander Burmistrov can find the scoring touch. 


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