Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Northeast Division Breakdown

Adams thought he had a winner last year, I guess he'll have to wait. Until the Whale returns to the Mall.

I really thought the Hub had a good chance to take a swipe but they ran into relentless Hurricane. I foolishly picked the Bruins to roll over Carolina, but they went down in a heap. They had the second biggest offseason movement story with RFA Phil Kessel who was finally traded to Division rival Toronto. I think that will definetely come around to bite them in the ass, struggling to make up those tallies that Kessel netted. Phil wanted what he thought he was due, and as it appears had no interest in remaining a Bruin, but the bottom line is that it will come down to poor cap management. As far as the rest of the team, they attempted to cut a lot of the dead wood, they let Manny Fernandez walk who has yet to find a home (if ever), in order to let Tuukka Rask take over the backup roll behind re-signed Thomas. Defensemen Steve Montador (Buffalo), and Shane Hnidy (Minnesota) have left via FA, Aaron Ward was traded to Carolina, but FA Derek Morris was signed to an overpriced $3.3million, one year contract. Forwards P.J. Axelsson headed back home to Sweden, FA Stephane Yelle joined Aaron down in Carolina, Steve Begin was picked up from the Stars via FA, Recchi and Bitz were re-signed. Overall, the B's will once again make the post but as a weaker team than the previous year with the loss of character guys like Pebbie and Yelle, and of course Kessel.

Offseason Grade: C, couldn't keep last year's team together that was bound for success.

Regular Season Finish: 2nd in East, 1st in Northeast. I didn't say they wouldn't be good, just not as good.

Talk about cleaning house. Afinogenov, unwanted. Teppo Numminen, retired. Spacek, FA to Montreal. Tellqvist, KHL. Moore, unsigned. Picked up? Defenseman Steve Montador who's game has gone to shit, if he ever had one to begin with, and Joe DiPenta, both former Ducks D-men. And that's it. Oh, and Mike Grier. Wow. For a team that was in the hunt not all that long ago, that window of opportunity has vanished. Re-building is now the mind frame for the Slugs and I don't think Regier's got it in him to build a winner. Even with Vanek and Miller signed for the next five I don't know if that gives him enough time to resurrect the Bison.

Offseason Grade: F, Nothing was done to improve this team whatsoever.

Regular Season Finish: 12th in East, 5th in Northeast. Sorry Darcy.

I guess when you blow the 100th Anniversary Celebration by getting walloped in the 1st round of the playoffs you might as well throw a grenade into the locker room. Gainey kicked it off by taking on Gomez's somehow movable contract in a trade with the Rangers for Higgins and three other guys. Not a good start. Overpaid for offensive defenseman Spacek, ($11.5million, 3years), and two Napoleons' Brian Gionta ($25million, 5years) and Mike Cammalleri ($30million, 5years). Also picked up checking winger Travis Moen, defensemen Hal Gill and Paul Mara, and backup Curtis Sanford. Re-signed Latendresse and Plekanec. Waved goodbye to anybody on the roster who's name began with a K, Komisarek (Toronto), Koivu (Anaheim), and of course Kovalev (Ottawa). Left to blow in the wind are Chelios's brother Mathieu Schneider, indecisive Swede Alex Tanguay, Darcy Tucker's brother Robert Lang, and Bouillon, Dandenault, Brisebois, and D'Agostini. Its hard to know where they'll be by the All-Star or even Olympic break, let alone the end of the year. On paper, it looks like the upgraded, but I get the feeling they'll be no worse, no better. Well maybe a little better.

Offseason Grade: B, Bobby brought in marquee talent even if grossly overpaid.

Regular Season Finish: 5th in East, 2nd in Northeast

Well now that the elephant is out of the room, what do we do now? Our top goal scorer is gone, our goaltending looks like shit, oh no wait, its promising. Its somewhere in between shit and promising. Sounds awesome. Has anyone noticed that Bryan Murray has ssslowly, sssucked, sssome sssemblage of sssuccess out of this team? Oh, he's doing what he can? My mistake, I didn't realize he was up for Executive of the Year honors. Kovalev in for 2years at $10million, Brian Elliot and Chris Neil re-signed, and all they lost were Brendan Bell (St. Louis) and Duffrie (Edmonton). I guess they can't be any worse than last year, or can they?

Offseason Grade: C, this is a team that needs to be blown up.

Regular Season Finish: 10th in the East, 4th in Northeast

This is Brian Burke's world now, in fact it has been before he was even "officially" hired, putting in place his hand-picked coach and good buddy Ron Wilson. Those two have worked to change the attitude of that team to be feared instead of vanilla. Like Sundin's bald noggin. Burke snatched up Komisarek and Beauchemin off of FA, and then added Garnet Exelby to go with Kaberle and Schenn. Pretty impressive defensive corp, which is the way Burke builds out. But offensive spark is still in question even with the addition of Kessel. Toronto had an odd goaltending situation develop, Gerber, Kolzig, and CuJo all had deals expire this year. Kolzig just retired, CuJo's bound to, and Gerber ended up in the KHL. Toskala's supposed to be the #1 but hasn't proved worthy of the task. Burke went to Sweden over the summer in an attempt to land the Sedin's, but also to pick up Jonas "Monster" Gustavsson. He'll push Toskala to be better or take over the role, at least that's the idea. Most of my picks are pretty tame, but this is the one I'm going out on a limb for... I, for some reason, think the Leafs will eek into the postseason. Laughable I know, but lets just wait and see.

Offseason Grade: A, still needs offensive help, but added key players at all positions while changing the dynamic of the team for the better.
Regular Season Finish: 8th in East, 3rd in Northeast

No comments: