Despite quite a bit of movement this offseason, it doesn’t look like much has changed in the Atlantic Division. With three teams that have dominated the division for the past few seasons, several teams were hoping to vault themselves into contention for the top of the Atlantic. However, The Athletic’s John Vogl (subscription required) analyzes each line of each divisional team and comes to the conclusion that little has changed.
The Boston Bruins are in the top half of the division on almost every line from forwards to defensemen and especially show off their defensive depth to still be ranked at the top. The Toronto Maple Leafs have also improved their team with a number of defensive additions and have quite a bit of forward depth as always, but their third-pairing depth is expected to be at the bottom of the division. Tampa Bay continues to be one of the strongest teams with a number of top lines throughout the division.
While many feel that Florida has taken that next step after the team signed goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and added a pair of depth forwards in Brett Connolly and Noel Acciari, the Panthers find themselves in the middle of the pack for most of their lines. Even Bobrovsky doesnt’ give Florida that big of an advantage considering that he’s now in a division with Frederik Andersen, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tuukka Rask and Carey Price.
- The Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont writes that after the Boston Bruins inked forward Danton Heinen to a two-year deal at $2.8MM AAV, the Bruins will now focus their attention on their two most challenging restricted free agents in Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. The negotiations should prove challenging as the team hopes to keep their combined total to under $10MM per season. The team should be able to handle that. However, if they combine for closer to $11-12MM, the team will have to make some roster moves to free up some cap space. McAvoy, who has scored 14 goals and 60 points over two seasons and has proven the ability to be the team’s lead defenseman should get the most of that money, but Carlo’s development seems to have increased his value during the playoffs and he should get quite a raise as well.
- With some openings at the bottom of their offensive depth chart, NHL.com’s Bryan Burns writes in his recent mailbag piece that there are a number of AHL players that are ready to challenge for these openings, including Alex Barre-Boulet, Carter Verhaeghe at the top of the list. Barre-Boulet, who the team signed out of the QMJHL after he went undrafted, dominated in his first season in the AHL last season, while Verhaeghe finally posted a dominant season with the Syracuse Crunch after toiling in the ECHL for several years. Tampa Bay, which has proven to be proficient in developing their players for NHL duty, also have a number of other prospects close to ready as well, including Alexander Volkov, Mitchell Stephens and Cory Conacher.