2015-16 NHL Divisional Breakdown: Atlantic

Updated: September 14, 2015 at 12:10 pm by Brock Seguin

Babcock-Mike

In the past I have done a breakdown of all 30 NHL teams. This season I have decided to break it down by division with a preview for each team inside! With 28 days until the start of the regular season being kicked off by the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, I chose to start with the Atlantic Division.

One of the biggest offseason moves inside this division was Mike Babcock moving from Detroit to Toronto, evidenced by this article’s photo. Some of the other key additions to the Atlantic Division are Ryan O’Reilly and Jack Eichel going to Buffalo, Mike Green to the Red Wings and Matt Beleskey over to Boston.

We’ll start with the team I think will win the Atlantic.


1. Tampa Bay Lightning

Additions: Subtractions:
Tye McGinn – LW Mark Barberio – D
Erik Condra – RW

In 2014-15 the Lightning qualified for the playoffs for the second straight season and made it to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since they won the Cup in 2003-04. Entering 2015-16 they are listed at 8/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup this season. (per vegasinsider.com)

The Lightning are led by Steven Stamkos, who enters a contract-year and could potentially be playing in his final season with Tampa Bay. Stamkos is a sure-fire bet to score 40-goals, but as a pending unrestricted free agent he will challenge for the goal-lead in the NHL.

Last year we saw the emergence of the “Triplets” line that consists of Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov. The three of them are capable of being 70-point players this season and should take some of the heat off of Stamkos and the top-line.

On the blueline, Victor Hedman is becoming one of the league’s top offensive-defensemen and he is joined by Anton Stralman, who is a solid all-around blueliner, who is coming off of a career year because of increased power play opportunities. Stralman will battle with Jason Garrison for power play time.

Between the pipes the Lightning have Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy. The 21-year-old Vasilevskiy was expected to push Bishop for starts to begin the season, but his year will be put on hold after he underwent surgery to remove a blood clot. Vasilevskiy will miss 2-3 months, which means Bishop should start 90-95% of the games over the first few months. When Vasilevskiy returns he should see plenty of starts and makes this one of the NHL’s fiercest goaltending tandems.

Look to the Draft (Top 5 Fantasy Players)

  1. Steven Stamkos – C
  2. Tyler Johnson – C
  3. Victor Hedman – D
  4. Ben Bishop – G
  5. Ondrej Palat – LW

Click HERE for the Lightning’s Projected Line Combinations


2. Detroit Red Wings 

Additions: Subtractions:
Mike Green – D Jonas Gustavsson – G
Brad Richard – C Kevin Porter -C
Eric Tangradi – LW

The Red Wings extended their playoff streak to 23 seasons and nearly upset the Lightning in the first round of the postseason. Coming into 2015-16 they will try to extend that streak to 24 consecutive playoff berths and will do that with an improved team from a season ago. Currently they stand at 28/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup.

Upfront they are led by veterans Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, but will start the year without Datsyuk after he underwent offseason ankle surgery. Even at 37-years-old Datsyuk is still a point-per-game player, but he has had a difficult time staying healthy in recent years. Zetterberg has had durability issues as well, but now Detroit has Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyqvist and Riley Sheahan to pick up the offensive slack while the two vets are out.

On the blueline, the Red Wings have had the same group for a few years, but added the offensively gifted Mike Green to the equation this season. Green is one of the NHL’s best offensive-defensemen, but like Datsyuk and Zetterberg he has had a hard time staying on the ice. Niklas Kronwall will see a reduced power play role but has been a consistent mid-40’s point producer and should continue that production even with the addition of Green.

In the crease is where things get interesting for Detroit. Jimmy Howard has been the Red Wings’ starter for six seasons, but will have to fight for his spot this September. Petr Mrazek came up from Grand Rapids last season and played very well and became their playoff starter. He is the goalie of the future, but Howard is under contract for two more years, so he won’t be riding the pine.

Look to the Draft (Top 5 Fantasy Players)

  1. Henrik Zetterberg – LW
  2. Pavel Datsyuk – C
  3. Gustav Nyquist – LW
  4. Tomas Tatar – RW
  5. Mike Green – D

Click HERE for the Red Wings’ Projected Line Combinations


3. Montreal Canadiens 

Additions: Subtractions:
Zack Kassian – RW Brandon Prust – RW
Mark Barberio – D  P.A Parenteau – RW
 Eric Tangradi – LW

The Canadiens are coming off of a season where they finished first in the Atlantic Division by finishing 20th in goals for but first in goals against. They come into this season with 18/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup.

When talking about the Canadiens you have to begin and end with Carey Price. He is by far their best player and arguably the best goaltender in the NHL. He is coming off of a dominant season and should be the first netminder drafted in all fantasy formats.

On defence they have a strong one-two punch with 26-year-old P.K Subban and 36-year-old Andrei Markov. Subban has developed into one of the best offensive threats from the blueline while Markov has been doing it for years. Both of them should have no problem cracking 40-points and Subban should battle for the points lead at the position.

At forward the Habs are paced by Max Pacioretty, who has turned himself into one of the most consistent goal scorers in the league. To go along with Pacioretty they have two consistent centres in Tomas Plekanec and David Desharnais but need another winger to provide more consistent secondary scorer behind Pacioretty. Who could that be? I think Alex Galchenyuk. The 2013 third overall pick has produced modest results through his first three NHL seasons, but 2015-16 could be his breakout season.

Look to the Draft (Top 5 Fantasy Players)

  1. Carey Price – G
  2. Max Pacioretty – LW
  3. P.K Subban – D
  4. Alex Galchenyuk – C
  5. Tomas Plekanec – C

Click HERE for the Canadiens’ Projected Line Combinations


4. Florida Panthers

Additions: Subtractions:
Reilly Smith – RW Jimmy Hayes – RW
Dan Ellis – G

After the trade deadline the Panthers went 10-6-1 which averaged over a full season would give them 48 wins. Obviously that won’t reflect directly into 2015-16, but that goes to show how competitive this Florida team should be this year. Right now the Panthers have 55/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup.

Upfront they have a handful of young forwards who are ready to take the next step. That group should be led by Jonathan Huberdeau, who was the 2012-13 Rookie of the Year and finished last year with 20 points in the final 21 contests. Their first and second line centres are Aleksander Barkov, 20, and Nick Bjugstad, 23, both of whom have extremely bright futures ahead of them. Jaromir Jagr came over late last season and posted 18 points in 20 games and despite being 43-years-old still has some juice left in the tank.

On defence the future is equally as bright thanks to last year’s Calder Trophy winner Aaron Ekblad. The 19-year-old has the ability to become on of the NHL’s best defenseman as soon as this season. Brian Campbell is the only other blueliner worth fantasy consideration on this team, but Dmitry Kulikov has untapped potential and should be monitored throughout the year.

Roberto Luongo is the Panthers’ clear number-1 and will start 60-plus games in the effort to lead them back to the postseason for the first time since 2011-12. Al Montoya will back-up Luongo but will be limited to spot-start duty in fantasy circles.

Look to the Draft (Top 5 Fantasy Players)

  1. Roberto Luongo – G
  2. Aaron Ekblad – D
  3. Jonathan Huberdeau – LW
  4. Aleksander Barkov – C
  5. Nick Bjugstad – C

Click HERE for the Panthers’ Projected Line Combinations


5. Boston Bruins

Additions: Subtractions:
Matt Beleskey – LW Dougie Hamilton – D
Jimmy Hayes – RW Milan Lucic – LW
Matt Irwin – D Reilly Smith – RW
Zac Rinaldo – LW Carl Soderberg – C
Niklas Svedberg – G
Matt Bartkowski – D
Gregory Campbell – C

After making the playoffs for seven straight seasons, the Bruins missed the postseason by two points last year. Missing the postseason led to big changes in Boston. They fired their General Manager, traded Milan Lucic to Los Angeles and dealt Dougie Hamilton to Calgary. These big moves have the Bruins coming into the season with 35/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup.

At forward, the departure of Lucic allowed the Bruins to sign Matt Beleskey to try and replace the size and scoring they lost in the trade with the Kings. Beleskey joins a quality group that consists of Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand and one of the best young forwards in the NHL in David Pastrnak.

On the blueline the loss of Hamilton will certainly hurt, but Zdeno Chara is back to full health and ready for a bounce-back season. However, Torey Krug is the defenseman to own on this unit. He is expected to lead them in power play time and points this season.

In goal not much has changed. Tuukka Rask is still in town and should start around 65 games and should be able to win roughly 35 games. However, with Niklas Svedberg now in the KHL, Rask will have a new backup this season.

Look to the Draft (Top 5 Fantasy Players)

  1. Tuukka Rask – G
  2. Patrice Bergeron – C
  3. David Krejci – C
  4. Torey Krug – D
  5. Brad Marchand – LW

Click HERE for the Bruins’ Projected Line Combinations


6. Ottawa Senators

Additions: Subtractions:
Mike Kostka – D Erik Condra – RW
Eric O’Dell – C

Before Andrew Hammond made his first career NHL start on February 18th, the Senators were 22-23-10. After that game, the Sens went on fire, going 21-3-3 down the stretch and qualified for the playoffs. After a first round exit, Ottawa comes into this season with 45/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup.

Hammond’s 20-1-2 record to finish the season is obviously and unsustainable pace for Hammond heading into 2015-16 and he will have to fight Craig Anderson for starts in the Senators’ crease. The two will probably split starts 50/50, but they will need to be great if they’re going to get Ottawa back to the playoffs this year.

On the blueline, everything goes through Erik Kalrsson, a player who has averaged 73 points over his last three full seasons. The rest of the group is mediocre, especially in terms of fantasy relevance.

The forward group doesn’t have any superstars, but the emergence of Mark Stone in the second half of the season was very comparable to Hammond’s late seasons surge. Stone has the look of a future 30-goal scorer, something that Bobby Ryan used to be, but something that he hasn’t repeated since 2011-12. Kyle Turris has turned himself into a reliable top line centre and a dependable fantasy asset.

Look to the Draft (Top 5 Fantasy Players)

  1. Erik Karlsson – D
  2. Kyle Turris – C
  3. Mark Stone – RW
  4. Bobby Ryan – RW
  5. Mika Zibanejad – C

Click HERE for the Senators’ Projected Line Combinations


7. Buffalo Sabres 

Additions: Subtractions:
Ryan O’Reilly – C Mikhail Grigorenko – C
Robin Lehner – G Nikita Zadorov – D
Jamie McGinn – LW Cody Hodgson – C
David Legwand – C Anders Lindback – G
Jason Akeson – RW Andre Benoit – D
Matt Donnovan – D Matt Hackett – G
Tyson Strachan – D

In 2014-15, the Sabres won just 23 games and their 54 points was the lowest in the NHL. However, adding second overall pick Jack Eichel and making multiple offseason moves, the Sabres appear poised to move up the standings a little bit this year. They probably aren’t ready to be a playoff team just yet and that is reflected in their 85/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup.

Their forward corps looks a lot different than it did last season. Ryan O’Reilly was the big offseason acquisition and he is expected to centre their top line while Eichel anchors their second line. Sam Reinhart, who was the second overall pick in 2014, should make the team and give them a strong group down the middle. On the wings, they have Tyler Ennis and Matt Moulson, who finished first and second on the team in scoring last season. They will be joined by Evander Kane, who was acquired last year and is back at full health to start the year. This group is much improved.

On the blueline, they lost Nikita Zadorov in the O’Reilly trade, but Rasmus Ristolainen is their young, up-and-coming defenman to keep an eye on. Zach Bogosian should lead their D in points with Ristolainen following close behind.

Their goaltending situation looks entirely different as well. They traded to get Robin Lehner from Ottawa and he is expected to be their No. 1 to start the season. He has played well for the Senators, but will likely struggle in year one while this team continues to improve. Chad Johnson will be Lehner’s backup.

Look to the Draft (Top 5 Fantasy Players)

  1. Ryan O’Reilly – C
  2. Jack Eichel – C
  3. Evander Kane – LW
  4. Matt Moulson – LW
  5. Tyler Ennis – C

Click HERE for the Sabres’ Projected Line Combinations


8. Toronto Maple Leafs

Additions: Subtractions:
P.A Parenteau – RW Phil Kessel – RW
Shawn Matthias – C Zach Sill – C
Taylor Beck – LW
Martin Marincin – D
Daniel Winnik –
Mark Arcobello – C
Matt Hunwick – D
Nick Spaling – C
Scott Harrington – D

This offseason was insane for the Maple Leafs. They traded away Phil Kessel, signed Babcock and signed a tonne of players to one-year contracts including Nazem Kadri. They come into the season with 200/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup–tied with the Arizona Coyotes for the worst odds in the NHL.

Up front the departure of Kessel leaves this as a very thin group. James van Riemsdyk is their top offensive threat and could still post a 30-30 season despite a lack of talent around him. Kadri’s one-year, “show me” deal should help them get the most out of him or make it clear that they need to move on from him. Tyler Bozak lost his best buddy and is now a third line centre in a second line role. P.A Parenteau will look to rejuvenate his career because he should play big minutes with his new club. He will also battle with Joffrey Lupul to see who can miss the most games due to injury.

On defence they still have some nice pieces. Dion Phaneuf, their captain and scapegoat, isn’t the same player he was when he was in Calgary, but can still produce offensively. Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly both have strong offensive games and should benefit from having Babcock behind the bench.

Their netminding situation is the only thing that didn’t change this offseason. They re-signed Jonathan Bernier who should start 60 games and James Reimer is still around to start the remaining 25-30 contests. Neither goalie are great fantasy options because of how little games the Maple Leafs are expected to win this season.

Look to the Draft (Top 5 Fantasy Players)

  1. James van Riemsdyk – LW
  2. Nazem Kadri – C
  3. Morgan Rielly – D
  4. Dion Phaneuf – D
  5. Jonathan Bernier – G

Click HERE for the Maple Leafs’ Projected Line Combinations


For a Full 30 Team preview and player projections and fantasy analysis for 300-plus players and goalies. Click HERE to purchase our Fantasy Hockey Draft Guide for just $4.95 CAD!  

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Brock Seguin

Brock Seguin has been the Editor-In-Chief of DailyFaceoff.com since the 2012-13 season. Feel free to reach Seguin directly @dailyfaceoff or @Brock_Seguin.
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