With both leagues finally drafted and now in the midst of making moves, what better way to spend the time during the lockout by analyzing teams as if there were a real season coming up? You’ll find division-by-division breakdowns of all 16 teams in the EAST, with brief analyses of offensive, defensive and goaltending capabilities followed by my ratings.
Note: Potential rank is calculated using last year’s stats as the base with this year’s rosters. These, among other stats will be discussed in a future metrics post.
2803 points; Overall rank: 10th
+ Malkin and Giroux on the same team? HOLY CRAP.
+ Stellar defense usually led by offensive production (J. Johnson, Goligoski, Ehrhoff, Pitkanen).
+ Ward and Halak is a good duo. Ward is the guy right away, Halak might be later.
– Roy, Heatley, Pitkanen and Halak are injury risks early on that could make a big difference.
– A lack of blocked shots on the defense. Sufficient enough O to overcome that?
– Skeptical on Kunitz and Larsson. Will Kunitz produce and can Larsson build?
Overall Ranks: 3.67/5
Playoffs: The Colonials’ strong offensive headliners are enough to make most teams take notice of this squad, but unfortunately, depth is the thing that could sink the ship of Boston. They might make the playoffs, but they’re going to need the rest of the team to step up or a bubble team could nab their spot.
3066 points; 1 injured, no replacement; Overall rank: 4th
+ Quality top six guys with B. Richards, Thornton, Getzlaf, Lucic, Vrbata and Skinner.
+ Bryz and Theodore should be able to hang. They're the guys for now.
+ What defense is present is very solid (Whitney, Weber, Enstrom).
– But this team carries 4 defensemen and one is on IR. This will leave points out every night until fixed.
– Hudler, Mueller and Timonen are now concerns for injury.
– Jose Theodore: how long does that last?
Overall Ranks: 3.5/5
Playoffs: The Mariners certainly don’t look like an expansion team and could definitely make a threat in their division, but their defense needs some fixing. Their goaltending could potentially sink them, but the biggest issue is the defense. This ranking is misleading, as if they were to fix their defense, they’d be closer to a 4. Given their divisional breakdown however, a playoff berth might not be out of the question.
2854 points; 1 injured; Overall rank: 10th
+ Solid blend of strong forwards, including three 30-goal scorers (Perry, Kovalchuk and Clarkson) and two guys less than 5 goals short of that (Seguin and Selanne).
+ Alex Edler leads a balanced defense (Doughty, Myers, Kulikov, Voynov).
+ Hiller and Pavelec will garner enough starts to ensure someone is playing every night.
– That doesn't mean the goaltenders will get the wins, though.
– Defense, while balanced, lacks depth.
– Versteeg, Foligno and Hodgson present differing issues. Health, ability and reproduction of last season, respectively.
Overall Ranks: 3.83/5
Playoffs: Montreal’s roster stands out as the most balanced in this relatively middle-of-the-road division. There’s no real standout team, but the offense is enough to potentially lift them over the rest of their foes. Their defense might give them some issues, but Montreal is (as of right now) best poised to take the division crown.
2639 points; 1 rookie; 1 injured, no replacement; Overall rank: 16th
+ Great top six with lots of balance throughout (D. Sedin, J. Staal, Ribeiro, Cole, Brown, Krejci, Filppula).
+ Byfuglien and McDonaugh make for great pillars on the defense. Colaiacovo should be money too.
+ Nice goaltending tandem with Lundqvist and Holtby.
– While I'm a believer in Holtby, concerns exist about how long he'll be used.
– Riding the base 4 D is risky, especially when one of them is a rookie who is unproven (Hamilton).
– Hossa and Cole—will their injuries linger?
Overall Ranks: 3.67/5
Playoffs: Quebec’s roster has lots of offensive firepower, but has some questions about their team that don’t exactly leave me a believer. Hamilton as a core-4 defenseman is very questionable, and while he’s not a full-blown rookie (but close enough to it), what can Sven Baertschi do? There’s not enough focus on defensive stats and this isn’t a team that can shoot its way out of everything. Playoffs are tough, but they could be a surprise.
3088 points; Overall rank: 2nd
+ Twin 30-goal scorers (Michalek, Marleau) highlight an offense with potential (Flesichmann, Fisher, Malone, Little, Briere, Carter).
+ Capable defense when healthy (Beauchemin, Streit, Phillips, Bouwmeester). Gill should get some looks.
+ Nice goaltending duo with Rinne and Elliott. Rinne should be the lynchpin of the team.
– Concerns on defense with Gill and Beauchemin recoveries.
– Can Michalek repeat a healthy season?
– Slight concerns about Nashville investment. If they fall, all positions get hurt.
Overall Ranks: 4/5
Playoffs: With the team as drafted, Atlanta would stand a great chance to make the playoffs in almost any other division. That’s not to say they’re weak, just the rest of the division is that wild. Right now, the Arsenal is a bubble team that could pan out.
North Carolina Nighthawks
3233 points; Overall rank: 1st
+ Strong offense that can put up points everywhere (E. Staal, Benn, Eberle, Vanek, Elias, Jagr).
+ Fun goaltending tandem: coming off a great season (Lehtonen) and guy who wants prove he's the guy (Dubnyk).
+ Potent shot-blocking defense (Gorges, Seabrook, Kuba, MacDonald, Seidenberg, Klein) poses few concerns.
– Dubnyk should be the guy in Edmonton. Does he have the abilities to be the man?
– Fielding only seven forwards. Two are Horton and Jagr. Early concerns if they don't work.
– No other major concerns. This team looks kinda scary.
Overall Ranks: 4.16/5
Playoffs: A frighteningly built team, North Carolina certainly shows why they’re the defending champions. The team could sink if their offense doesn’t click, but this team has all the cards it should need to make it into the playoffs once again, if not go very deep.
St. Louis Archers
2641 points; 2 rookies; 1 injured; Overall rank: 15th
+ Lots of high-average guys with points coming everywhere (Ovechkin, Datsyuk, Eriksson, Gaborik).
+ SOLID top 3 defense here with Pietrangelo, Kronwall and Nikitin.
+ Schneider/Smith is a nice tandem. Smith is the guy, helps alleviate concerns about Schneider.
– That said, Schneider is still a risky bet. Smith can only minimize that so much.
– The double rookie spin is always a risky tactic. Schultz and Tarasenko need to produce.
– Some real low producers on this team. (Boyes, Ekman-Larsson and Visnovsky)
Overall Ranks: 3.67/5
Playoffs: It’s not that St. Louis is a bad team, it’s that they’re not as good as the rest of their division. Too many low-production players on this roster make it difficult to endorse a playoff run in this shape. Moves can be made, and should be made to run for the postseason.
Tampa Bay Barracudas
2995 points; 1 injured; Overall rank: 8th
+ Great utility out of pretty much the entire forward squad (St. Louis, Lecavalier, Weiss, Richards, Purcell, Parenteau, Glencross).
+ Badass defense. Everyone is a killer on there (Boyle, Suter, Smid, Hedman, Clark).
+ Anderson and Quick (Hedberg while Quick's out) is a solid tandem.
– BIG CONCERNS about the heavy investment in the Lightning (5/13 skaters).
– Hedberg hopefully is out the door when Quick is done on IR.
– David Booth's low PPN is a bother. But not more than the overinvestment in the Lightning.
Overall Ranks: 4.16/5
Playoffs: With a roster designed to get maximum efficiency out of every position, the Barracudas are quite well-positioned to make it into the playoffs, if not usurp the Nighthawks for the division crown. Expect the battle between those two to be very intense affairs. Tampa Bay looks like an early favorite for the division.
- North Carolina
- Tampa Bay
- New York
- St. Louis