Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Predictions: Atlantic Division

I have already posted predictions for the Northeast Division and the West Conference, today I will look at the Atlantic Division.

1. Philadelphia Flyers This is a team with lots of good young talent in Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Joni Pitkanen and Antero Niittymaki. All of these players will continue to improve. They join Simon Gagne and Peter Forsberg when he returns from ankle surgery. I think this is the team to beat in the Atlantic.

2. New Jersey Devils The only thing preventing me from ranking the Devils number one in the Atlantic is the salary cap. Key players Brian Gionta and Paul Martin remain unsigned because of the monies owed to Vladimir Malakhov and Alexander Mogilny (neither are expected to play this year). Somehow, Lou Lamoreillo will negotiate through this problem but it will likely hurt the club. They have a lot of good players in Martin Brodeur, Patrik Elias, Scott Gomez, Brian Rafalski and John Madden. This team will do well, but may be forced to jettison a talented player or two for salary cap reasons.

3. New York Rangers Success depends upon Jaromir Jagr returning successfully from shoulder surgery and Henrik Lundqvist not falling into a sophomore jinx. I bet both have very good years, but the Rangers don't have tremendous depth. There are too many oldsters who have seen better days in Brendan Shanahan, Darius Kasparaitis, Martin Straka etc and not enough young talent ready to step forward. Nevertheless they should be solid.

4. Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby will be another year more mature, Evgeni Malkin will be here when he gets healthy, Marc-Andre Fleury will have a chance to be a bonafide number one goalie all season, Ryan Whitney is developing into a very good defender. The kids will start to lead the way. Sergei Gonchar is too talented to not bounce back from a bad 2005/06 season. This team should be better than last season.

5. New York Islanders The Islanders are not without some talent in Alexei Yashin, Rick DiPietro, Miroslav Satan and Tom Poti, but they are a ship without a rudder. Charles Wang has brought in his reign of error. He hired and fired GM Neil Smith in forty days and made the backup goalie Garth Snow the new GM (but subservient to him). He signed Rick DiPietro to a ridiculous longterm deal. The players have to see how big a joke the front office is and it will be hard to not let that be a distraction. Ted Nolan is a good coach who will have every chance to try to keep his troops motivated, but without any proven leaders on the ice and without any superstar talent to fall back upon, I think it will be a hard road.

I can't believe you used "talent" and Tom Poti in the same sentence
Tom Poti is quite talented offensively
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