Tag Archive | NHL

Islanders Postseason Poll: Keep ‘Em Or Can ‘Em

By Brett Malamud

Yes, we are just 24 hours since the Islanders ended their season. But, by popular demand, let’s take a look at our (very early) edition of Keep ‘Em Or Can ‘Em. Feel free to vote on each poll, as it’ll allow other fans to see what you think.

Offense

John Tavares is the key piece. Not going anywhere. KEEP HIM Kyle Okposo is riding shotgun to JT. Not going anywhere either. KEEP HIM Josh Bailey has come to be on the first line. I’d like to see the Islanders snag a first line winger, dropping Bailey to control the second line. KEEP HIM
Brock Nelson scored 20 goals this season and should get a nice deal this summer as an RFA. KEEP HIM Frans Nielsen heads into the final year of his contract. He’s 31 years old and for less than $3 million a year he’s a no brainer. KEEP HIM Ryan Strome had a fantastic season, finishing with 50 points, third on the team behind Tavares and Okposo. He’s staying. KEEP HIM
Nikolay Kulemin is better than many thought he would be. He played all 82 games and is on the roster though 2018-19. KEEP HIM Mikhail Grabovski had his injuries, and that hurt his stock. He’s staying though, also signed through 2018-19. KEEP HIM Colin McDonald  is at the end of the line. The last guy into the lineup night in and night out. If you can get him real cheap, do it. Otherwise, don’t. CAN HIM
Anders Lee is going to get a nice contract as an RFA. If you’re the Isles, you have to retain him. KEEP HIM Michael Grabner is the odd man out for the Isles. Can’t see him staying. CAN HIM Cal Clutterbuck has been all that the isles had hoped for: a gritty power forward. He’s signed for two more seasons. KEEP HIM
Tyler Kennedy was a good add at the trade deadline. Keep him only if you can get him for a low price tag. KEEP HIM Matt Martin is the enforcer. He’s staying. KEEP HIM Casey Cizikas is another gritty young defenseman, and has one year left on his deal. KEEP HIM
Eric Boulton is 38 and a UFA. I don’t see him coming back. CAN HIM

Defense/Goalie

Johnny Boychuk is the future. Without him, the defense is nothing. KEEP HIM The same could be said for Nick Leddy He’s staying too. KEEP HIM Calvin De Haan Has been good, but not great. I’d keep him for now, but he’s a good trade chip if need be. KEEP HIM
Travis Hamonic is locked up through 2020-21. Not much debate here. KEEP HIM Thomas Hickey is a restricted free agent. I’d wait on him to see the price, but am not impressed by his -12 stat line. CAN HIM Lubomir Visnovsky is 38 years old and is an unrestricted free agent. Let him go and bring the kids up from Bridgeport. CAN HIM
Brian Strait is still signed for another year, but he didn’t have a good season. I’ll give him credit for stepping up during the playoffs a bit, but his roster spot can be better used on someone else. CAN HIM Jaroslav Halak is the goalie that the Isles needed. No debate here. KEEP HIM Michal Neuvirth was a good acquisition at the trade deadline. If they can sign him this Summer as a UFA, they’ll solve the goalie situation. KEEP HIM

Coaches/Management

Jack Capuano gets the boot from me. This team needs a veteran coach to lead them to the promised land. CAN HIM Doug Weight led the power play group that went 0-for-14 in the first round of the playoffs. If Capuano is gone, so is Weight. CAN HIM Garth Snow turned heads when he acquired the two headed monster that is Boychuk/Leddy. Although the majority of people say he needs to leave, I’m going to keep him based on the last 365 days. KEEP HIM

**It’d be unfair to judge the likes of Mayfield and Reinhart since we saw such little time

Finally, I’d like to know everyone’s opinion on Barclays Center. How have your plans changed?


Brett Malamud is an English Rhetoric Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

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Isles Making Lasting Memories for Fans in the Playoffs

By Brett Malamud

Silence. That can be heard early Monday afternoon in the little barn in Uniondale. But turn back the clock a mere 24 hours, and you have arguably the loudest atmosphere that any team will experience in the playoffs this season. The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum will be closing its doors at the end of the year, and New York Islanders fans are giving the building the ultimate send off.

Fans were challenged on Saturday afternoon, as the Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin gave his expectations for Sunday’s game three matchup.

Ovechkin was greeted with chants of “CAN YOU HEAR US?” The chant echoed throughout game three. From the opening faceoff, fans gave the Capitals the ultimate distraction, and fueled the adrenaline of the hometown Islanders. A second period deflection by Kyle Okposo gave the Islanders the lead, igniting the crowd even more. Defenseman Johnny Boychuk finished the second period with a game-changing diving stop on Ovechkin and headed to the locker room to the sound of a loud “John-ny Boy-chuk!” chant.

Nicklas Backstrom ripped the hearts out of many of the 16,170 fans when he went top shelf and found the back of the net with just 6:06 to play. Was this the beginning of another late-game Isles collapse? I’m sure that two weeks ago, many Islanders fans would have anticipated that. But this day was different. After the goal, another thunderous “Let’s go Islanders” chant broke out and the crowd stayed in it. The fans wouldn’t go unheard, and refused to go home unhappy. Regulation ended and fans buckled up for the long overtime period…or at least that’s what they thought.

Fifteen seconds. That’s all it took. Nick Leddy fired the puck, Nikolay Kulemin deflected it on net, and Islanders captain John Tavares picked up the rebound and sliced the puck just over the pad of goaltender Braden Holtby, sending Islanders country into a mass frenzy. The Capitals left the ice to a resounding “YES! YES! YES!” chant, and were now down two games to one, to a team that hasn’t won a playoff series in 20 years.

The game also signaled that more hockey is to be played at the Coliseum, as the Islanders are guaranteed to play at least two more games in the Barn, with more on the way if they can close out Washington twice more and advance to the next round.

The Islanders before the final regular season game at Nassau Coliseum on April 12, 2015

The Islanders before the final regular season game at Nassau Coliseum on April 12, 2015

This season, the Islanders have honored their past, bringing back legends from the cup years, and honoring them individually. Last weekend, the Islanders shocked many when they did not bring back all of them for the last regular season game, but opted for “decades night” a week earlier, bringing back two players from each decade. No offense to the players honored, but people who paid big money for tickets didn’t come to see Eric Cairns, Steve Webb and Shawn Bates. They came to see Nystrom, Bossy, Gillies, Potvin, Smith, Trottier, Bourne, Resch, Lafontaine, Westfall, Harris, Morrow, Tonelli, Goring, Sutter, Turgeon, Volek, Palffy, Berard, and Jonsson all in one room on the final night of the season. They came to see the guys who turned the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum into Fort Neverlose and into the Barn, and many were left in disappointment. But we move on. The only truly fitting ending to the coliseum now would be John Tavares skating to center ice, shaking commissioner Gary Bettman’s hand, and lifting that 35-pound trophy sky high. That would honor the past, and what the building has meant to all Islanders fans. It’s place where many memories were made, and a place where many have spent most of their childhoods. It’s Home.

Game four is set for 7 pm on Tuesday night.


Brett Malamud is an English Rhetoric Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

Team of the Future? Islanders Are A Contender For Years To Come

By Brett Malamud

Gone are the days of Fishsticks, golf in April, and Mad Mike. After GM Garth Snow’s recent string of moves, the Islanders have set themselves up to make some noise in the Eastern Conference for the next handful of years.

With Thursday’s news that the Islanders locked up Johnny Boychuk to a seven-year, $42 million deal that comes just two weeks after the team signed Nick Leddy to a seven-year, $38.5 million deal, Snow cemented the top defensive line for the years to come. Snow also has a hefty pool of prospects that are poised for big careers. I’d go so far as to say that the next decade’s defensive pairings could be set if GM Garth Snow wants it. It could look something along the lines of this:

Johnny Boychuk – Nick Leddy

Travis Hamonic – Ryan Pulock

Griffin Reinhart – Calvin De Haan

Matt Donovan

Not to mention that they’d still have the likes of Adam Pelech and Scott Mayfield waiting in the minors for the call. Of course, the Islanders could look to flip one or two of these players, in the hopes of a greater return (whether it be an established player or another draft pick). Whatever the case, this team is extremely deep, thanks to Snow’s key trades and draft picks.

NHL: New York Islanders at Boston Bruins

Looking in goal, Jaroslav Halak set the Islanders franchise record for the most wins in a single season. Snow flipped the struggling Chad Johnson for an upgraded backup goalie in Michael Neuvirth, giving the team someone they could rely on down the stretch.

Turning up front, Snow has built up the offense that led the team to last place in the NHL just a few seasons ago. That starts on the first line with homegrown forwards John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey. Anders Lee, Ryan Strome, and Brock Nelson come together to form the “kid line” of even more homegrown talent. The acquisition of Tyler Kennedy should help the penalty kill and should bring additional depth as this team goes forward into the playoffs this season. The signings of Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin proved to work out in the first season. The Islanders have found themselves with one of the deadliest offenses in the NHL. But don’t think that this is a fluke. No. The Islanders have more talent on the way in the likes of Joshua Ho-Sang, who is tearing it up in juniors. The 19 year old forward has 12 goals and 42 assists for a total of 64 points in just 44 games this season for the Niagara IceDogs of the OHL. But it’s Islanders prospect Michael Dal Colle that is making headlines in Canada, tallying 38 goals and 49 assists for 87 points in just 51 games this season for the Oshawa Generals in the OHL. The two are sure to be in the NHL soon enough, and will look to continue their success. There’s no way to predict the future, but the team is deep on offense and has its focal points locked up to long term deals.

Gone are the days of the team of the future. The future has finally arrived for the Islanders and now is the time to compete for the Stanley Cup in the years to come.


Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

New York Islanders Mid-Season Report Cards

By Mike Basile

The Islanders are off to a hot start this season. They’re in first place in the Metropolitan Division headed into the all star break. Here’s my mid-season grades for the team.

Forwards
John Tavares (21 G, 24 A, 45 pts)- The captain has been on and off all season, but when you need a goal he is always there for you, he is second in the NHL with 5 game winning goals. He is starting to heat up again with 6 points in his last three games. One big concern for me is he takes some bad penalties. Your captain can not be doing that. Grade: B+

Kyle Okposo (14 G, 30 A, 44 points)- Okposo is also coming on of late he has 5 goals and 7 points in his last three games. He is starting to find his game again and that chemistry we all know he has with John Tavares. With these two heating up this team gets even more dangerous. Grade: B+

Ryan Strome ( 8 G, 25 A, 33 points)- When Ryan Strome is on the ice, good things happen, and his +16 shows that. It seems like whatever line he moves to has a ton of success. His on ice vision is great and it doesn’t hurt that he has a wicked shot as well. Grade: A-

Brock Nelson (15 G, 15 A, 30 points)- Brock Nelson makes a living in front of the net, and it shows on the powerplay as he has 9 of his 15 goals when on a man advantage. He is very strong on the puck and is still maturing. He can very quickly turn in to one of the most dangerous players in the NHL. Grade: B+

Frans Nielsen (9 G, 16 A, 25 points)- Frans Nielsen has one of the toughest jobs of all players, as almost every shift you will see him out against the other team’s top players. He is very skilled defensively and his 25 points are really helping the secondary scoring for this team. Grade: B

Josh Bailey (8 G, 13 A, 21 points)- Bailey looks to be a fit on that top line with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. He has 6 points in his last three games and his 21 points this season came in only 34 appearances. It seems like Josh Bailey is finding himself. Grade: B

Nikolay Kulemin (11 G, 9 A, 20 points)- Kulemin has been a great addition to the New York Islanders team. He is great on the penalty kill and has three shorthanded goals. Very good third line player who is also heating up to add to the secondary scoring. Grade: B

Anders Lee (13 G, 5 A, 18 points)- Anders is a player you love to have on your team, he is gritty, works hard and loves to score those dirty goals in front of the net. He also has five game winning goals this season which is 2nd in the NHL. Grade: B+

Mikhail Grabovski (6 G, 8 A, 14 points)- Grabovski has been one of the biggest disappointments on the team this season. Failing to hit the net on good scoring opportunities and making bad decisions with the puck leaves him with only 14 points. He will need to step up if he wants to stay in the lineup. Grade: C-

Casey Cizikas (4 G, 6 A, 10 points)- Cizikas is quietly having a pretty good season. He isn’t a player who is going to go out and get points every night and even gets looked over on the 4th line because of Martin and Clutterbuck leading the league in hits. He does his job on the penalty kill and is one of the team’s best faceoff men. Grade: B-

Cal Clutterbuck (4 G, 5 A, 9 points)- Cal is second in the league in hits and according to Don Cherry is a part of the “best fourth line in NHL history.” I’d like to see him contribute more offensively because I feel like he has the skill to put up a 30 point season. Grade: C+

Matt Martin (6 G, 2 A, 8 points)- Martin leads the league in hits…… again. He is one of the best enforcers in the NHL and knows how to spark the team when they need some momentum. Grade: B-

Michael Grabner (4 G, 2 A, 6 points)- Grabner has six points in 12 games this season. He has come on pretty strong after missing most of the season with an injury. His best asset is his penalty kill, but with the speed he has, he is always dangerous. It would be unfair to grade him through only 12 games.

Defense
Johnny Boychuk (4 G, 18 A, 22 points)- Boychuk has been another great addition to the team. Johnny has one of the hardest shots in the league and is very dangerous on the power play. Did I mention he is also a +15? Grade: B+

Nick Leddy (7 G, 14 A, 21 points)- Boychuk’s defensive partner has also been a great add to the squad. With 7 goals this season he is a big help to the forwards. Him and Boychuk are a combined +25 this season, which is new for isles defensemen. Grade: B+

Thomas Hickey (2 G, 13 A, 15 points)- Thomas Hickey’s size is really starting to show. When him and Visnovsky are on the ice, they can’t win puck battles in the corner and allow the other team to works in their defensive zone. He is helping out offensively, but has to be stronger on the puck. Grade: C–

Lubomir Visnovsky (3 G, 8 A, 11 points)- Much like Hickey, his size also shows defensively. His 11 points in 29 games is good for a defensemen, but his first responsibility is defense and sometimes us fans question that. Grade: C

Travis Hamonic (3 G, 8 A, 11 points)- Hamonic goes up against top line forwards every night and is still an impressive +4. I would like for him to stay out of the box, but can’t complain much with his play. Grade: B

Calvin De Hann (1 G, 10 A, 11 points)- Calvin also pairs up with Hamonic to play against top tier forwards. This is a very tough task for the young d-man, but he holds his own and plays very steady defense. Grade: B-

Brian Strait (1 G 3 A 4 points)- The scapegoat of the islanders defense. Every time something goes wrong it is very easy for fans and the media to claim that it’s Strait’s fault. He is not great, but Capuano plays him way too much and that hurts him a lot. Grade: D+

Goalies
Jaroslav Halak (24-9-0)- Jaro has a 2.41 goals against average and a 91.0% save percentage. Halak has been shaky in his past couple of games, but this break may be what the doctor ordered. He has been a rock in goal for the isles this season overall. His 4 shutouts are also very impressive. Grade: A-

Jaroslav Halak and John Tavares have been a huge part of the Islanders success this season. (Via Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Jaroslav Halak and John Tavares have been a huge part of the Islanders success this season. (Via Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Chad Johnson (6-5-0)- Johnson has a 3.38 goals against average and an 87.0% save percentage. Do I have to say anything? I understand he is the backup, but this is unacceptable. The team has lost faith in him and jaro cannot play every day. He needs to pick it up next start. Grade: F

Islanders-Rangers Preview

By Jack Allen

Hockey is alive in New York. It has been quite a long time since the Islanders visited Madison Square Garden (MSG) and ticket prices were this high. Ever since 1993, the Islanders haven’t been this relevant and have not won a playoff series. The Rangers have won a Stanley Cup and have been there twice (1994 & 2014). The Rangers have stayed relevant to this day. The Islanders on the other hand, hasn’t been this good in over 20 years. The NYI/NYR rivalry is back. The 1st place Islanders visit MSG tonight with a chip on their shoulder to prove they’re the best team in NY. I can’t remember personally in my life ever hearing more hype for an Islander game in the regular season at this point. Halak vs Lundqvist and Nash vs Tavares, will be fun to watch. Tune in tonight at 7:00 EST. Finally my prediction: 3-2 Islanders in OT.

The Isles and Rangers will duke it out tonight at 7pm (Via AP)

The Isles and Rangers will duke it out tonight at 7pm (Via AP)


Jack Allen is a writer for dabuzzza.com. He is a fan of the New York Mets, New York Islanders, New York Knicks, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Mariners, Queens Park Rangers, and West Virginia Mountaineer football and basketball. His favorite athletes are David Wright, John Tavares, Geno Smith, Allen Iverson and Charlie Austin. He is a very passionate and determined fan. You can follow him on twitter @JackAllen99.

Pacific Division 2014-15 Preview

By Brett Malamud

Wednesday is finally here! All day long, Dabuzzza will be bringing you the NHL coverage as we approach tonight’s games. If you missed the Metropolitan Division Preview, click here. If you missed the Atlantic Division Preview, click here. If you missed the Central Division Preview, click here. Arguably the league’s top division, the Pacific Division will be highly contested and is currently filled with goaltender stories. Let’s take a look:

Anaheim Ducks
Dany Heatley and Ryan Kesler come into a high octane offense that led the league in goals per game. Cam Fowler, Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm represent youth that will lead the defense that ranked ninth in the league in goals against. John Gibson is expected to get the bulk of the playing time in goal but Frederik Anderson will battle him for starts.

 

Arizona Coyotes
Sure they changed their name from Phoenix to Arizona but the Coyotes will  still face the same struggles. The departure of Mike Ribeiro and Radim Vrbata does not bode well for this offense. They brought in Sam Gagner, but the team ranked 20th in goals per game and it’ll be a tough task trying to improve that. The Coyotes ranked 23rd in the league in shots against. Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Keith Yandle will attempt to plug that hole in the sinking ship that is the Arizona Coyotes. In goal, Mike Smith and Devan Dubnyk will try to stop the many shots that we know they’ll face this season. It could be a long season in the Desert.

 

Calgary Flames
Losing Mike Cammalleri to the New Jersey Devils was a tough one to swallow, but the addition of Mason Raymond was an intriguing one. Raymond comes in after his one year in Toronto. Speaking of additions, Jonas Hiller will take the reigns as the starting goaltender for Calgary after signing a two year deal back in July. Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie will take first line defensive pairing. The Flames ranked 24th in the league in goals against and for good reason. They’re really not that good. A midseason trade could change that (Tyler Myers?).

 

Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton looked more like Dead-monton last season. They ranked last in the league in goals against and 24th in goals for. These aren’t the kind of stats that you want to see from a team that had a top five draft pick in four out of the last five years. Benoit Pouliot and Teddy Purcell age huge additions, yes, but will it change the landscape of the team? I’m not so sure about that one. Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle will take over the first line, with Leon Draisaitl and Nail Yakupov taking the second line alongside Pouliot. The defense isn’t really worth mentioning, but Justin Schultz and Andrew Ference will lead the back line. A goalie dilemma is inevitable as Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth will take the duties. The pair isn’t stellar and could help in leading to their downfall.

 

Los Angeles Kings
The champs are back! The Kings come off of a magical season that was capped off by a goal from Alec Martinez in overtime to win the Stanley Cup. This year they’ll look to defend their title and it’ll have to begin with the offense. The addition of Marian Gaborik at the trade deadline proved to be the move that the Kings needed to send them over the top and into a deep journey through the playoffs. Kings Captain Dustin Brown will lead the offensive unit, which includes Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar, in trying to put the puck in the net. After watching the offensive attack in the playoffs, it should come as a surprise that the Kings ranked 26th in the NHL in goals per game in the regular season. However, they led the league in goals against average. That’s what carried them last season to the playoffs. Led by Drew Doughty, the defense will look to stop the rest of the league from scoring. Plus, it helps when you have arguably the best goalie in the NHL playing for your team. Jonathan Quick is just that and comes off of a year in which he finished fifth in goals against average and finished second in the league in shutouts. It’ll be a tough task, but the Kings can still be considered as royalty in the NHL.
Jonathan Quick is one of the league's top goaltenders (Via AP)

Jonathan Quick is one of the league’s top goaltenders (Via AP)

 

San Jose Sharks
Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau remain with the team for now, but could be on their way out via trades at any point this season. The Sharks would like to trade both sooner rather than later, as tensions will mount each game that the pair is not traded. While they are still in San Jose, the two veterans will be able to teach second year player Tomas Hertl, along with the 25 year old Logan Couture, who still can learn a lot. The team lost Dan Boyle to the Rangers, and the top line now has Marc Edouard Vlasic paired with Justin Braun. Brent Burns is another notable name on the defensive end, a season after scoring 22 goals. In goal, Alex Stalock is going to push Antti Niemi to the brink for starts. Expect a heavy timeshare between the two.

 

Vancouver Canucks
Oh Vancouver. A few years ago, this team was at the top of the West. Now they’re a team that missed the playoffs last season. Well can they get back there the season? Willie Desjardins comes in as the new head coach, replacing John Tortorella. The big addition to the club comes in goal, after the Canucks added goaltender Ryan Miller. Miller will have Alexander Edler and Chris Tanev as the first defensive unit protecting him. The Ryan Kessler trade to Anaheim sent back Nick Bonino and Luca Sbisa, who will certainly contribute. The Sedin brothers come off of their worst season in a decade, and will look to return to the dominance that we’ve previously seen from them. Everyone should take notice of Radim Vrbata. The 33 year old will sit on the Sedin line and that should put him in the scoring sheet on a regular basis. This season will be a journey, but one that might end with the Canucks back in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

Atlantic Division 2014-15 Preview

By Brett Malamud

We’ve hit Monday and are now just TWO days away from the start of the NHL season. If you missed the first preview, here’s the link to the Metropolitan Division preview. The preview of divisions continues with a look at the Atlantic:
Boston Bruins
With the loss of Jarome Iginla in free agency, the Bruins will look for someone on the current roster to replace the 30 goal scorer. They dealt Johnny Boychuk to the Islanders yesterday to clear three million dollars off of the salary cap but remain 800,000 dollars over the cap. Patrice Bergeron, who tied Iginla for the 2013-14 team lead in scoring, will attempt to replicate his performance of last season. On defense, Zdeno Chara remains under contract for the next 4 seasons, and he shows no signs of slowing down with his age. Third year defenseman Dougie Hamilton will continue to grow and comes off of a year in which he had seven goals and 18 assists for 25 points. Tukka Rask will continue to produce wins in net and should carry them the distance.

 

Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres have stockpiled themselves with draft picks headed into the upcoming season, acquiring first round picks from both the Islanders (in the Thomas Vanek trade) and the Blues (In the Ryan Miller/Steve Ott trade). While the Blues pick is expected to be a late 1st round pick, the Islanders pick could be the jackpot to the first pick and Connor McDavid. However, with the Islanders trades on Saturday, the pick could end up as a mid to low first round pick. The Sabres picked Sam Reinhart with the 2nd overall pick in this year’s draft. Reinhart may start the season in the AHL, but could work his way up to the NHL by mid season. The team signed Matt Moulson a few months after dealing him to Minnesota. They also signed Brian Gionta, Andrej Meszaros and Josh Gorges. Jhonas Enroth will most likely be the starter in goal, but Michal Neuvirth will challenge him for some playing time. Tyler Myers will lead the defense, which will certainly better than last season. While the team has improved, they’re not expected to go anywhere in April.

 

Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings are an interesting team to watch this year. They come in with a streak of 23 consecutive appearances in the playoffs, a streak that may come to an end this season. Pavel Datsyuk already hurt his shoulder and should start the season on IR. He’ll be back around late October. Henrik Zetterberg will hope to carry the offense without him. Jimmy Howard remains between the pipes and hopes to improve from last season. Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar will help to give Detroit some youth. But after them, the Red Wings look pretty old when it comes to their more significant names.

 

Florida Panthers
The Florida Panthers come into this season after drafting Aaron Ekblad with the first overall pick in  the draft this past June. The 18 year old defenseman looks ahead to his future in the NHL which is up in the air for this season. There’s a chance that Ekblad is left off the roster at the start of this season, much to the disappointment of the Florida fans who’d like to see the youngster out on the ice. Aleksander Barkov comes off of a great rookie season and hopes to build on that. Jonathan Huberdeau could skate alongside Barkov to form a one two punch in Florida. In goal is Roberto Luongo, a major piece that can help them in the next few seasons as he finishes out his career.

 

Montreal Canadiens
The departure of former captain Brian Gionta and former assistant captain Josh Gorges to Buffalo signals a need for leadership. Defenseman P.K. Subban hopes to fill that role, along with Andrei Markov, Tomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty, who were all named assistant captains by GM Marc Bergevin. It’s just the second time in team history that the Canadiens do not have a captain. Carey Price remains a stud in net. The Habs will look ahead to matching a season that ended in the Eastern Conference Finals.

 

Ottawa Senators
The trade of Jason Spezza to Dallas signals a bit of a rebuild for the Senators. Bobby Ryan, Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur will take over the top line. Recently signed forward David Legwand looks to fill in the second line center slot. Erik Karlsson leads a defensive unit that allowed the most goals since they allowed 291 goals back in the 1995-96 season. It will be tough for the men in net, after the Sens signed both Robin Lehner and Craig Anderson to three year deals. Both goalies could be starters and that creates a controversy. That is something that I will definitely keep my eye on.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning
Steven Stamkos leads the Lightning after coming off of that broken tibia that he suffered last November. Without Martin St. Louis by his side, the first line wing slot is vacant. Enter Jonathan Drouin. The rookie hopes to fill that void on the first line and is sure to be a Calder Trophy candidate. Brenden Morrow and Ryan Callahan will provide some veteran leadership, which will definitely help the young Lightning players. Ben Bishop comes off of a season in which he was named a Vezina Trophy finalist, but was hurt in the playoffs and underwent surgery on his elbow over the offseason. The Lightning hope that he can stay healthy and that they won’t have to rely on the aging Evgeni Nabokov.
Jonathan Drouin hopes to make a huge impact in his rookie season. (Via USA Today)

Jonathan Drouin hopes to make a huge impact in his rookie season. (Via USA Today)

 

Toronto Maple Leafs
Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk remain as a deadly pairing on offense. Dion Phaneuf heads the defensive unit. They lost Dave Bolland, Nikolai Kulemin, and Mason Raymond, which should allow the younger players such as Nazem Kadri fill bigger roles within the club. Jonathan Bernier will be the starting goaltender for the team that allowed a league-high 35.9 shots per game last season.

Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy