Atlantic Division Update

The Atlantic has been emerging as one of the best divisions in hockey and the 2010-2011 season was another example of the high quality of hockey in this division.  When you read through this update you will expect great hockey from this division in the coming year as well.  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.

New Jersey Devils
2010-2011 Record: 38-39-75 (4th in the Division)

Offseason Thus Far:  The Devils finished the season on a positive note reeling off an impressive record in the last month and a half so they made sure to resign Andy Greene and back up goaltender Johan Hedberg.  Tough guy Cam Janssen came over to keep the tough mentality alive in the Atlantic.  Petr Sykora has also shown some life in the preseason.  However, the biggest move may be new head coach Peter DeBoer who has served as a head coach for 16 consecutive years at different levels of hockey. 

Analysis: New Jersey has to be riding a high after the end of last year when they completely flipped the script from the first two months of the season.  Ilya Kovalchuk was scoring on the power play and Martin Brodeur battled through injury to show old form.  Travis Zajac may miss the first few weeks of the season, but this team will have a healthy Zach Parise back on the ice.  They are definitely a threat to take the division. 

New York Islanders
2010-2011 Record: 30-39-13 (5th in the Division)

Offseason Thus Far:  The Islanders have improved and became a much tougher team to play, but they were not overly active this offseason.  They had the negotiating rights for Christian Ehrhoff before sending those rights to Buffalo.  Marty Reasoner signed on.  The uncertainty of the team still swirls as a referendum paving the way for a new arena was voted down and they will be relying on young stars to carry the load.

Analysis: The Islanders lineup is pretty set as Mark Streit returns from injury while John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Michael Grabner, and Matt Moulson hope to further the developmental process.  Brian Rolston is the elder statesman on the team at 38 years old.  Realistically this team could find scoring easier with the consistency upfront.  However, the goaltending piece is a mess with Rick DiPietro, Al Montoya, and Evgeni Nabokov all have a shot at being the opening night starter.  This team should continue to improve, but I am not sure they can match the competition quite yet. 

New York Rangers
2010-2011 Record: 44-33-5 (3rd  in the Division)

Offseason Thus Far: New York got their main target by acquiring the number one free agent of the year, Brad Richards.  Mike Rupp also joined the Blue Shirts while Chris Drury was bought out and subsequently retired.  Steve Eminger came back to New York to add some depth on defense.  Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan both agreed to new deals, which may be just as important as the Richards signing. 

Analysis: This is a veteran-laden team that will open up the season in Stockholm, Sweden against the Los Angeles Kings.  They hope to repeat the feat set by the Bruins last year going on to win the Stanley Cup after being featuring in the premiere games overseas.  The addition of Richards may open up more room for dangerous scorer Marian Gaborik. Of course they still have Henrik Lundqvist in net that will see a ton of time as usual with a worthy back up, Marty Biron, on the bench.  Expectations are high for the Rangers, as they should be. 

Philadelphia Flyers
2010-2011 Record: 47-23-12 (1st  in the Division)

Offseason Thus Far:  After tons of rumors about locker room chemistry they were somewhat proven by an organizational shake up.  The Flyers traded Jeff Carter and Mike Richards who may have been breaking the wishes of coach Peter Laviolette and his “dry island.”  They brought in Jaromir Jage and Max Talbot through free agency and landed Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, and Brayden Schenn through the trades.  They also signed former Coyotes’ goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to a lengthy contract.  Young playmaker James Van Riemsdyk also signed a contract extension.

Analysis: The question now is will the shake up hurt or help team chemistry.  It will be interesting to see how quickly they gel together.  If Jagr can set up Claude Giroux and Van Riemsdyk the Flyers could be in for a lot of success.  The Flyers and the Rangers will be playing in this year’s Winter Classic and thus followed by HBO for the 24/7 so that could be make or break time for the Flyers.  Coincidentally, that HBO series will be must watch television.  Consistency will be needed from the Flyers this year, but will team chemistry allow for it?

Pittsburgh Penguins
2010-2011 Record: 49-25-8 (2nd  in the Division)

Offseason Thus Far:  The Pens were not about to get in the free agent frenzy with the high contracts players were getting with teams needing to spend up to the salary floor cap.  They did add veterans Steve Sullivan, Steve MacIntyre, Richard Park, Jason Williams, and Boris Valabik.  The health of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were bigger concerns. 

Analysis: Our writers at PensUniverse have been doing a great job of analyzing the Pens current situation.  I suggest scouring the archives of the last two weeks.  Health is the biggest topic and a monster first two months of the season carried them last year.  This year is could be the opposite where the team just needs to survive until January, but Malkin may lead the team to another dynamic start. 

Blog: You are already here.  


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