Saturday, September 22, 2007

Predictions: Northeast Division

After a two day hiatus, I am back with my regular season predictions. Since I had the best record among several bloggers and mainstream media outlets last year there is a bit of pressure on me to get this right. Here are my West Conference predictions.

Today, I will look at the Northeast Division:

1. Ottawa Senators This team went to the Stanley Cup finals with this core last year. They have a potent offence built around Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, however after those three there are few likely big scorers. Their defence is very good with Wade Redden, Anton Volchenkov, Joe Corvo, Chris Phillips and Andrej Meszaros. It is likely the deepest defence in the NHL today. Ray Emery is a solid, but unspectacular goalie and Martin Gerber may bounce back with a solid season too. This team is very good. They may not have what it takes to make the next jump to the Stanley Cup without a personnel change or two, but they should win this division.

2. Buffalo Sabres This team took quite a hit in free agency losing Daniel Briere and Chris Drury, who were probably their two best forwards. This team has a deep forward unit so they won't be horrible, but they will take a step back. Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Maxim Afinogenov, Jason Pominville and hopefully Tim Connolly are a solid group. On defence, they have Brian Campbell, Nathan Paetsch and Toni Lydman. They will likely have to make due without Teppo Numminen, who just had heart surgery. Ryan Miller is a good goalie and Jocelyn Thibault a capable backup. This team will be a very solid team, but they will be well back of their finish last year when they competed for first overall.

3. Montreal Canadiens There are a lot of good young players available on this team as the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Habs AHL affiliate won the Calder Cup. This goes with a pretty solid core of players that barely missed the playoffs last year. In goal, Cristobal Huet, when healthy, has been very good the last couple years. Carey Price is the best goalie prospect in hockey and Jaroslav Halak is not bad either. This team has several good goaltending options. Aside from Andrei Markov, there are few defencemen with game breaking potential, but Mark Streit and Mike Komisarek are solid. On forward, Saku Koivu, Alexei Kovalev and Michael Ryder are joined by youngsters Guilaume Latendresse, Andrei Kastsitsyn and Kyle Chipchura. If the right young forwards work out, this could be a formidable unit. Montreal should be a solid third in the Northeast.

4. Toronto Maple Leafs My main concern in Toronto is that their offence may decline. Mats Sundin is 36 and has a bad hip. If his offence begins to decline is there somebody ready to be the top man in Toronto? Jason Blake is a solid free agent signing, but at age 34 he likely will not continue to increase his offensive output. Kyle Wellwood, Darcy Tucker, Alexander Steen and Alexei Ponikarovsky are solid, but don't look capable of carrying the load. They do have three very good puckmoving defencemen in Tomas Kaberle, Bryan McCabe and Pavel Kubina and Ian White looks like he is ready to join that list. In net, they have a solid twosome in Vesa Toskala and Andrew Raycroft. The main problem is if Mats Sundin can no longer be the go to man (and that may be the case) then who is?

5. Boston Bruins This team is still reeling from the Joe Thornton trade. They have some decent offence in Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron, Glen Murray and Phil Kessel, which should keep them a solid team, but there is no true gamebreaker in the bunch. On defence, Zdeno Chara is very good, but the rest of the defence is a bunch of journeymen NHLers like Andrew Ference, Dennis Wideman and Aaron Ward. In goal, they are hoping Manny Fernandez will be the answer. He leaves a Minnesota defence that allowed few quality shots to come to a Boston defence that allows a lot of them. It will be an interesting experiment, but I think it will show that Fernandez's past success was partly due to low shot quality and he is not going to be an all star behind a weak defence.

Nice blog, I for one think Fernandez will have a big impact in Boston, but many disagree with me. I'd be interested in exchanging links with you if you want, my blog is

You can e-mail me at

Keep up the good work, I'll be reading for sure!
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