Thursday, January 7, 2010

Atlantic Division Outlook

Today we are continuing the Divisional reviews/outlooks for each division in the NHL. The other day we started off out on the West Coast for the Pacific Division. Today we are headed east for the Atlantic Division. While none of the teams in the division have been performing poorly, the Penguins are on a slide. Despite being in 2nd place, they are 4-6 in their last 10 games. However, they still hold an 8 point lead on the 3rd place Rangers.

I predict that this division could be the busiest at the deadline this year. All of the teams, including last place Philly have a shot at making the playoffs. But each team is going to need to get better than the one ahead of them. If they can't do it with what they have, then they're most likely looking to bring someone in. So lets take a look at each team and see what they have to offer.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS

While the Devils boast one of the most boring teams in the league (in my opinion), it's hard to argue that they are not a good team. That is because they sit atop the Eastern Conference standings with 61 points. But I don't believe that their roster is anything spectacular to watch, and I will not live that down. Does anyone outside of NJ care about Jamie Langenbrunner? Just his name alone makes me upset.

Anyways, despite the Devils record and position in the standings, a Devils fan should worry about a few select players. Defenseman Johnny Oduya has 1 measley point this season in 29 games. Last season the Swedish defenseman posted 29 points in a full season slate. I'm not a big fan of nagging on players who are having somewhat off-years, but this one sticks out as a question mark. Stereotyping defenseman, it is rather easy to pick up a few helpers here and there. But Oduya's lone point is a goal, and despite the goal being decent (see clip below), NJ may want to find a defenseman who might be able to bury the puck a little more than the rest of the pack.

Oduya's goal:



It is safe to say that the Devils will probably be the quietest in the division. Last year the Devils didn't make one trade, and the years before that were pretty quiet as well. Not a bad move to make if you have a team performing the way they do year in and year out. I would think that they may want to tweak a few things in order to add depth. Injuries and inconsistency of a few guys may make the Devils want to find a replacement. But no one wants to be a taker on the injured, well, unless you’re Chicago, and Danius Zubrus is no Marian Hossa.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

It seems as if people don't know what to think of the Islanders' season. Everyone seemed to be split down the middle prior to the year regarding their expected performance. With an extremely up-and-coming young team, they are no doubt exciting to watch. With number 1 overall pick John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, and Josh Bailey leading the young class into the future, there is reason to get excited for the fans there. That is if the team isn't moved to somewhere with less drama in the near future.

The biggest surprise for the Islanders' has no doubt been the play of Matt Moulson. Tied with Tavares in goals (16), the once upon a time no-name player with only 29 games of NHL experience under his belt has come into the Islanders' system and done nothing but impress. It will be interesting to see if he can continue this streak throughout the season.

I am not even going to touch on the goaltending situation. I will say that Dwayne Roloson has performed admirably for the Islanders. Why not extend him for 10-15 years Garth?

Some would expect to see them ship out some veterans hanging around in exchange for some more youth. I don't see them doing what the Capitals did in 03-04. The Islanders are a little better of a team than the Capitals were back then. The rebuilding process has already begun, so it is time to start shaping the team around the young guns. Mark Streit was a bold, but solid signing. But he isn't the spark back on the blue line that they need.
Seeing them doing something with Bruno Gervais or Freddy Meyer shouldn't shock anyone. They have some talent they could part ways with in minor league affiliate Bridgeport. Package Gervais and a prospect, or something of the sort for an offensive defenseman like a Pavel Kubina or Shea Weber.

NEW YORK RANGERS

All the pressure was on Glen Sather since July 1st. Give him some credit for going ahead and risking his job on oft-injured Marian Gaborik. So far, it has been one of his better signings over the past few seasons. The move to make Scott Gomez go was perfect. Keeping Drury was necessary, and letting youngsters like Matt Gilroy and Michael Del Zotto play big minutes in the big apple has been key. Chris Higgins seemed like it was a good signing, but has only managed 11 points. Can't blame Sather on that one, Higgins needs to step it up.

The big question now is, can Sather keep his risky business going and deal Wade Redden? Despite being a hated by 95% of Manhattan, he does call for a decent return. But what team will want the contract and baggage of crap-shoot skills that come along with it? Sather will have to find the the right piece (s) to ship along with Redden in order for teams to start considering. It seems as if it is a lose-lose in the Rangers perspective.

My idea for the Rangers: Keep Redden, let Kotalik go for a consistent winger, allow Pierre Parenteau a full-time gig up on the club, and hope for last night's Avery performance.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

The aspect of bringing back the Broad Street Bullies day is cool, but not working. Ian Laperierre, Aaron Asham, Daniel Carcillo, Scott Hartnell, Riley Cote have amassed an amazing 19 goals total. Take away Hartnell and you've only got 11 from 4 guys. It would be a cool rat-pack if one of the others had some offensive upside, but there isn't much there. However this has allowed Braydon Coburn to worry more about his job as a player rather than a fighter. Only racking up 28 PIMs so far, Coburn has 5 goals and 8 assists on the season. A little off pace from the past two years, but it is essential for a young defensemen to see ice time on the ice, rather than in the sin bin.

I wouldn't expect the Flyers to get trigger happy at the deadline, but I feel like time is running out with Flyer's fans patience. There are plenty of players the Flyers could send Danny Briere out of the division to a team who wants to gamble on him. In return the Flyers need a speedster with consistent results. They have decent talent in the minors and in the system, but it is unsure when the players will be NHL ready. There aren't a lot of Van Riemsdyk's just chillen in the system.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

I talked a lot about the Penguins at the beginning, but one thing I would love to mention is the possibility of Jordan Staal getting dealt. Staal was rumored to go in 07-08 with only 28 points in 82 games. Came back last season to post 49 points. This season he has 29 points in 42 games. I am sorry but, for a 2nd overall pick, I'd expect bigger numbers from that pick. Not a physical presence of any sort, there isn't any scary aspect of Staal's game. Probably sticking in Pittsburgh due to the name, I think we may see him go this year though. The Penguins could easily grab a few players in exchange for Staal. Get a solid scorer and a playmaker; Penguins have an even better team.


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Check back later tonight, as Buotte may chime in from down south in Atlanta! He is in attendance tonight at the Thrashers vs. Rangers game. A dream come true for so many! All of us here at Nonsense hope Buotte has the grandest of times! I will be back tomorrow to discuss the topic of hockey on ESPN, and how vital it could be to the future of the National Hockey League. Good day all.

2 comments:

  1. The Devils did make a trade last year...Anssi Salmela to Atlanta for Nic Havelid. I think there was a pick involved too.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My mistake! But, I was actually referring to the actual trade deadline day, that trade was a few weeks before I believe.

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