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Atlantic Rising

by Seamus O'Callahan / Dallas Stars

Seamus O'Callahan reviews:

Southeast Division
Atlantic Division
Northeast Division
Central Division
Northwest Division
Pacific Division
The Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference is filled with tradition and championships. The five clubs in it are all getting better and represented three of the final four teams in the conference during the playoffs last spring (including both representatives in the East Finals).

Stars fans will be treated to have three of the more popular teams in the Atlantic come to Dallas – New Jersey (on New Year’s Eve!), the Rangers and Pittsburgh.

Here’s a look at the Atlantic Division and how it stacks up one month into free agency:

New Jersey Devils
Additions: F Brian Rolston (4-years, $20.25 million), F Bobby Holik (1-year, $2.5 million), G Scott Clemmensen (1-year contract).
Subtractions: None of note.
Restricted Free Agents: D Olli Malmivaara, F Rod Pelley
Bottom Line: Is it a Devils reunion with the return of Holik and Rolston to New Jersey? Both should be a good fit in the Meadowlands. The Devils also re-signed Bryce Salvador (4 years, $11.6 million) to maintain their blueline. They got beat in the first round and that does not happen very often to Martin Brodeur and company. The Devils are better but so is the division. But New Jersey knows how to win and they will do it again and make the playoffs.

New York Islanders
Additions: D Mark Streit (5-years, $20.5 million), F Doug Weight (1-year, $1.75 million, could reach $4.3 million with bonuses),
Subtractions: Miroslav Satan, possibly Josef Vasicek.
Restricted Free Agents: F Jeremy Colliton, D Drew Fata, D Bruno Gervais, F Steve Regier, D Matt Spiller, F Ben Walter.
Bottom Line: The biggest change on the Island might be behind the bench where Ted Nolan was let go. Not sure why Nolan has had trouble with stability in this league but he is two-for-two at welcoming out his welcome for one reason or another in his career. Mark Streit will bolster the Islanders’ blueline. Doug Weight? His contract is not risky since it is incentive-laden but his best days are behind him. Billy Guerin and his mates might be in for a long year again.

New York Rangers
Additions: F Markus Naslund (2-year, $8 million contract), F Patrick Rissmiller (undisclosed), D Wade Redden (6-years, $39 million), D Paul Mara (1-year, $1.95 million), F Nikolai Zherdev & F Dan Fritsche (trade w CBJ), F Aaron Voros (undisclosed).
Subtractions: Jaromir Jagr, Sean Avery, Fedor Tyuten, Christian Backman, Ryan Hollweg, possibly Brendan Shanahan.
Restricted Free Agents: None.
Bottom Line: The Rangers dominate July. Last year was the first time in a while where it paid off; what will they do for an encore? Big names once again were signed – Naslund & Redden to lead the way. Signing Michal Rozsival to a four-year extension was a good move. Will they re-sign Shanahan? Losing Jagr and Avery hurts but this is a good team and may challenge for the division. But chances of a repeat match-up with the Devils at the 4-5 spots is also a possibility.

Philadelphia Flyers
Additions: D Steve Eminger (trade w Washington), D Ossi Vaananen (1-year, $1 million), F Glen Metropolit (2-years).
Subtractions: R.J. Umberger, Vaclav Prospal.
Restricted Free Agents: D Nate Guenin, F Patrick Thoresen
Bottom Line: Can Philadelphia follow up a great playoff run with a solid regular season? In this division it may be tough, but Philly should be back in the playoffs. Signing Joffrey Lupul to a four-year extension was a solid move, as was extending Jeff Carter. Metropolit is a good player who might be overlooked as a nice signing this July. Daniel Briere is in the prime of his career and this coming season might be a big one for him.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Additions: Miroslav Satan (1-year, $3.5 million), Ruslan Fedotenko (1-year, $2.5 million), D Mark Eaton (2 years, $2 million), F Matt Cooke (2-years, $2.4 million).
Subtractions: F Marian Hossa, F Ryan Malone,
Restricted Free Agents: D Danny Richmond
Bottom Line:  The defending East Champs will once again be a force. Losing Marian Hossa and Ryan Malone in free agency hurts but this is Sidney Crosby’s team. And Evgeni Malkin just keeps getting better. Signing Pascal Dupuis to a three-year extension was solid. If Marc-Andre Fleury continues to improve in goal and play with confidence, the Pens could once again return to the Stanley Cup Finals and possibly win it all.

Sidney Crosby and the Penguins come to Dallas on Sunday, March 1 in a matinee game during the spring that is sure to be one of the hottest tickets this year. Call 214 GO STARS to speak with a Stars Sales Representative about your best options in getting to see the Stars battle the Pens live at American Airlines Center!

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