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Catching up With the Northeast

by Seamus O'Callahan / Dallas Stars

Seamus O'Callahan reviews:

Southeast Division
Atlantic Division
Northeast Division
Central Division
Northwest Division
Pacific Division
The Northeast Division is one of my favorites in all of hockey. Definitely some of the best uniforms! This division featured the best record in the East last season and three playoff teams.

Extended forecast: look for the same order of finish in the standings, and maybe a deeper run in the playoffs for a certain team from Quebec.

Boston Bruins
Additions: F Michael Ryder (3 years, $12 million contract).
Subtractions: F Glen Murray, F Glen Metropolit, G Alex Auld.
Restricted Free Agents: None.
Bottom Line: Boston finally met some expectations last season and they want to take the next step. But do they have enough talent? They have some wild cards in Savard and Ryder – guys that have the upside and potential to have good years but there is no guarantee. Losing Glen Metropolit will be a bigger loss than some realize. Alex Auld- not so much. I don’t see this team challenging for the division but they will once again be in the playoff hunt.

Buffalo Sabres
Additions: G Patrick Lalime (2-year, $2 million contract), F Mathieu Darche (1-year, $575,000 contract), D Craig Rivet (trade with SJ)
Subtractions: G Jocelyn Thibault, D Teppo Numminen, F Steve Bernier
Restricted Free Agents: None.
Bottom Line: Buffalo has one of the best goalies in the league in Ryan Miller and he has to play well for them to challenge for the playoffs. They’ve lost a lot of talent over the last two years and it shows. But this team reminds me of the Minnesota Twins – the management is savvy and they seem to find a way to compete no matter what losses their roster takes. That said, I’d rather have Briere, Drury and Campbell than not. The Sabres will once again be on the bubble to make the playoffs.

Montreal Canadiens
Additions: F Alex Tanguay (trade with CGY), F Georges Laraque (3-year, $4.5 million contract), G Marc Denis (1-year, two-way contract).
Subtractions: Yann Danis, Michael Ryder, Mark Streit and possibly Bryan Smolinski.
Restricted Free Agents: None
Bottom Line: Montreal had the best record in the East last season and GM Bob Gainey wants to take the next step and go further in the playoffs. Result – he steps up and trades for Alex Tanguay, a move I really like for this club and one I think will have a nig impact. Losing Ryder and Streit hurts but this is a solid hockey club. Guy Carbonneau’s squad will have a good shot at repeating as division champs. The real test will come in April and May.

Ottawa Senators
Additions: G Alex Auld (2-years, $2 million contract), F Jarkko Ruutu (3-years, $3.9 million contract), D Jason Smith (2-years, $5.2-million contract).
Subtractions: G Ray Emery, D Mike Commodore, D Wade Redden, F Cory Stillman, Brian McGrattan.
Restricted Free Agents: D Andrej Mezaros
Bottom Line: Ottawa still has the horses up front to do some damage, it’s the back end (particularly in goal) where the question marks lie. Martin Gerber is currently the team’s No. 1. The team also lost Wade Redden to the Rangers but added Jason Smith. I expect the Sens to once again score a lot of goals and possibly give up a lot as well.

Toronto Maple Leafs
Additions: D Jeff Finger (4-year, $14 million contract), G Curtis Joseph (1-year, $700,000 contract), F Mikhail Grabovski (1-year, $850,000 contract), F Dominic Moore (1-year contract).
Subtractions: F Mats Sundin (?), F Darcy Tucker, G Andrew Raycroft,
Restricted Free Agents: None
Bottom Line: The Leafs are clearly in a re-building mode. Their key pick up was at head coach, where Ron Wilson is certainly capable of building them back into a winner. Wilson has won everywhere he has been, including leading the expansion Mighty Ducks to the most wins by an expansion team in 1993. But the loss of Sundin is huge and this team is young. Expecting the Leafs to challenge for the playoffs this season is probably not realistic. But maybe next year.
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