Atlantic Division Quick Notes
October 11th, 2022
In my opinion, this is Toronto’s division to lose to Boston. Toronto is the best team in this division but has the biggest goaltending concern. Matt Murray and Ilya Samonsov will be an issue for the Leafs early and it will put the front office in a position to need to make a move. Toronto continues to downgrade in net going from an elite talent in Frederik Andersen to Jack Campbell last year to their current tandem of Murray and Samsonov. The offense is going to need to score at an elite rate which they can and will in most cases. The division is tightening from top to bottom but there are still two tiers of talent with Toronto, Boston, Florida, and Tampa up top and Ottawa, Detroit, Buffalo, and Montreal at the bottom. Boston is a team that continually gets written off but they are a mature and experienced group who know how to win. Bruce Cassidy is out in Boston as head coach and the atmosphere in Boston should be in a better place than it’s been in a few years. I expect a revived energy for Boston to make them the likeliest threat to Toronto for the division. Florida and Tampa Bay will regress occupying the third and fourth spots with Ottawa the most likely team to overtake one of them. Don’t expect the acquisition of Matthew Tkachuk for Florida to pay off all of the excitement it’s receiving. Tkachuk is a role player with skill, he is not a superstar. Jonathan Huberdeau is a superstar and the loss of Huberdeau and Mackenzie Weegar will do more harm than Tkachuk does good. What made Florida excel last year was the depth they had on each line. Florida won’t have that this year and I honestly would not be surprised if they miss the playoffs. The offense in Florida should regress significantly and won’t have the capabilities to come back as often as they did late in games last year. Sergei Bobrovsky’s up and down moments were easily masked by their offensive abilities so when he struggles this year, Florida is going to lose those games. There should be a lot of talk around the Panthers this season and it won’t be positive. Tampa Bay comes in losing Ondrej Palat (NJD) and Ryan McDonough (NSH) most notably. The Lightning are still skilled and still a playoff caliber team, but as I said last year, this team has played A LOT of hockey these past three seasons and regression is only natural. As I mentioned, Ottawa provides the biggest threat to Florida or Tampa Bay with the acquisitions of Alex Debrincat from Chicago via trade and signing Claude Giroux off free agency. Giroux will play a big role for Debrincat and Stutzle this year. I expect less goal scoring and more of him as a veteran role playing leader for this team. Cam Talbot is starting the season on the IR and his loss may put this team in too deep of a hole the first month and a half to catch up. Ottawa comes in with Anton Forsberg as their number one goalie and he’s not going to get the job done for them. Detroit and Buffalo will be improved from last year and give us an edge in the right matchups but not enough to hold any relevance in the division or for a playoff spot. Montreal had the number 1 pick overall last year so watching Juraj Slafkovský will be the only part of this team worth watching. Montreal should be a draft lottery team this season and a bottom three team in the league. Overall this division should close the gap from top to bottom this year and be a lot more competitive.