Offseason Grades: Atlantic Division

It is time to continue on with the NHL offseason grades. In particular, the Eastern Conference’s other division, the Atlantic Division. This division, like the Metropolitan Division, has been busy. New faces are joining Atlantic teams and it is time to see if these newly acquired players will help these teams get back into the playoffs.

Boston Bruins

After their crushing defeat in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, the Boston Bruins didn’t have much to change to their already all-star roster. The Bruins have a great team that put up 49 wins last season. With a balanced offense and incredible goal tending, it is clear that the Bruins don’t have much to change. However, a few changes did occur for Boston.

The Bruins didn’t add anyone new this offseason. They did lose two forwards to free-agency. Acquired at the trade deadline, forward Marcus Johansson signed a two-year, 4.5 million dollar-per-year contract with the Buffalo Sabres. The second loss was forward Noel Acciari, who signed a three-year, 1.6 million dollar-per-year contract with the Florida Panthers. These two forwards scored six of the 79 goals the Bruins scored in the playoffs. Despite no additions, the Bruins are still a playoff team and will be back next season.

Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres appeared to be a dark horse team last season, but couldn’t seem to follow through with their early-season success. After finishing sixth in their division, the Sabres knew they were going to have another busy offseason.

They added forwards Marcus Johansson, Curtis Lazar and traded Jimmy Vesey from the New York Rangers. Buffalo only sacrificed a sixth-round pick for Vesey. With another failed season, the Sabres fired their head coach Phil Housley and hired Ralph Krueger. In the draft, Buffalo selected Dylan Cozens (seventh overall) and Ryan Johnson (thirty-first overall).

They traded two draft picks to the Vegas Golden Knights for defenseman Colin Miller. The final trade they made this offseason was for young defenseman Henri Jokiharju from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for forward Alex Nylander. Veteran defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen has made rumors that he could be on his way out of Buffalo which would be a huge loss.

Despite all the offseason moves, it still will not be enough to get Buffalo back into the playoffs. They were twenty-third in the league for goals against with 271. Goaltending is still going to be an issue for them.

Detroit Red Wings

The one-time powerhouse Red Wings haven’t been the same since losing star forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Since the 2016-2017 season, the Red Wings haven’t placed higher than fifth place, placing in seventh twice in that span. Although they have a lot of key players in Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin, but they need a lot more than just a few good players.

In the offseason, they added forward Valtteri Filppula, defenseman Patrik Nemeth, and goalie Calvin Pickard in free-agency. The only trade they made was for forward Adam Erne from the Tampa Bay Lightning for a fourth-round pick. With the sixth-overall pick in the draft, the Red Wings selected defenseman Moritz Seider. They also extended goalie Jimmy Howard to a one-year 5.1 million dollar contract. The Red Wings will improve slightly, but will once again miss the playoffs.

Florida Panthers

The Panthers had one of the better off-seasons in the entire league. As free-agency approached, rumors were speculating at who the Panthers would pursue, but those rumors would soon become a reality for Florida fans.

With their starting goalie Roberto Luongo retiring and their backup James Reimer getting traded to Carolina, the Panthers needed to focus on their goalie issues. They immediately made a splash by acquiring the best goalie on the market, Sergei Bobrovsky. In the draft, they continued to focus on their goalie situation. With the thirteenth overall pick in the draft, the Panthers selected goalie Spencer Knight. Their goalie troubles are now solved, it was time to turn their attention to the offense.

They continued making splashes by signing defenseman Anton Stralman, forward Noel Acciari, and forward Brett Connolly. The final move they made was replacing their head coach, Bob Boughner, Joel Quennville. Coach Q was in charge of Chicago’s three Stanley Cup victories in 2010, 2013, and 2015. These moves will definitely get Florida back into the playoffs.

Montreal Canadiens

Montreal missed the playoffs by just a few points last season. They already have a stellar goalie in Carey Price. They have a decent offense, but it wasn’t enough to give them that extra boost into the playoffs. That was their main focus in the offseason.

Free agency was the biggest field Montreal was active in. They signed forward Nick Cousins, defenseman Ben Chiarot and goalie Keith Kinkaid. In the draft, they signed Cole Caufield, who is an offensive machine. They did, however, lose forwards Andrew Shaw and Nicolas Deslauriers. They aslo lost goalie Antti Niemi, and defenseman Jordie Benn. Although they were close last season, the moves they made in free agency and the draft will boost the Canadiens back into the playoffs next season.

Ottawa Senators

The Senators were the worst team in the league last year. To further add salt to the wound, didn’t even have a high draft pick. Their offseason showed that they focused on the future. With young players on the rise, such as Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa did a lot offensively.

The Sens acquired forward Artem Anisimov from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for forward Zack Smith. Another trade Ottawa made was with the Toronto Maple Leafs. They acquired forward Connor Brown and defenseman Nikita Zaitsev in exchange for defenseman Codi Ceci. Ottawa also signed forward Tyler Ennis and defenseman Ron Hainsey in free agency. They replaced their interim head coach Marc Crawford with head coach D.J. Smith. Despite all the offseason moves, it still will not be enough to get them back into the playoffs.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Without a doubt, the Lightning are the best team in the league. They are stacked with award-winning talent on all sides of the puck. Offensive powerhouse Nikita Kucherov and Vezina-winning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Lightning are stacked and continued to add to their already impressive roster in the offseason.

Despite losing a few key players such as defenseman Anton Stralman, they filled that spot with three different guys. Tampa Bay signed defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Luke Schenn. Tampa also extended Vasilevskiy to an eight-year, 9.5 million dollar-per-year contract and defenseman Braydon Coburn to a two-year, 1.7 million dollar-per-year contract. They did lose forwards J.T. Miller to free agency and Ryan Callahan to a career-ending injury. Tampa is still going to contend for the Cup.

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs are an interesting story this offseason. This offseason has mainly been about Mitch Marner’s contract extension, which has yet to happen as of August 2019. However they did make one big trade with the Colorado Avalanche this offseason.

Toronto acquired defenseman Tyson Barrie and forward Alex Kerfoot in exchange for forward Nazem Kadri and defenseman Calle Rosen. The Leafs also added forward Jason Spezza and defenseman Codi Ceci. Subtractions to their roster were forward Tyler Ennis, defenseman Ron Hainsey, defenseman Nikita Zaitsev, forward Connor Brown and forward Patrick Marleau.

Toronto still has a lot of key players that contribute to their success such as Auston Matthews, John Tavares and goalie Frederik Andersen, just to name a few. They will be back in the playoffs.

So that is the offseason summary of the Atlantic Division teams. Some teams will make it back to the playoffs, but won’t be as dominant.

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