Ryan Dadoun

In The Crease

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Northeast Division Preview

Wednesday, August 01, 2012


Boston Bruins


Forwards  

 
The Boston Bruins’ offense will be largely the same as it was in 2011-12, which is fine because it’s a pretty deep group.  All signs point to Nathan Horton being ready for training camp, but of course, with concussions we don’t feel completely comfortable until the player actually plays in a game.  Beyond him, the Bruins will be led by Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Tyler SeguinRich Peverley might be limited to third line duties, but he should still be one of their more valuable secondary scorers.  Jordan Caron might also be in for an expanded role after getting 15 points in 48 games last season.  

  Defense  

 
The Boston Bruins lost Joe Corvo as an unrestricted free agent, which will provide somebody with the opportunity to get more power-play ice time in 2012-13.  Maybe that blueliner will be Dougie Hamilton, who has a real shot of making the Boston Bruins out of training camp after scoring 17 goals and 72 points in 50 OHL games last season.  In order to do that, he’ll have to fend off Torey Krug, who is another promising and arguably more experienced defensemen.  Krug will be competing for a roster spot during training camp after spending the bulk of the last three seasons with Michigan State University.  Regardless, the Bruins’ defense will be once again led by veterans Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg.  

  Goaltending  

 
Tim Thomas has decided to take a year off, but the Boston Bruins are still on the hook for his cap hit.  That’s one of the main reasons the Bruins have been quiet this summer.  Fortunately, Tuukka Rask should be capable of excelling as the team’s starting goaltender.  However, the Bruins appear set to enter the season with Anton Khudobin as their backup, so if Rask falters or gets injured, they won’t have an experienced NHL goaltender to fall back on.  

  Summer Roster Movement  

 
They watched Joe Corvo walk and inked depth defensemen Aaron Johnson and Garnet Exelby.  They also dealt Zach Hamill to the Washington Capitals in exchange for Chris Bourque, who has excelled at the AHL level and might get a chance to serve as a bottom-six forward with Boston.  It’s worth noting that, including Tim Thomas’ cap hit, the Bruins are very close to the $70.2 million cap.  If the new CBA lowers the ceiling, then the Bruins might have to scramble to get back under it.

  Player To Watch  

 
As mentioned above, there seems to be a pretty appealing opening for 19-year-old Hamilton.  He’s not eligible to play in the AHL next season, so that might further motivate the Boston Bruins to keep him on their 2012-13 squad.  Hamilton was one of the players the Bruins drafted with the picks they got from the Phil Kessel deal.  The Bruins already look pretty good in getting Tyler Seguin out of that exchange, so if Hamilton develops as advertised, that trade could continue to be a polarizing one in the two cities.  In case you’re wondering, Jared Knight was the other player the Bruins got out of that trade, but Knight is a much longer shot to make the 2012-13 Boston Bruins opening game roster.  

  Ottawa Senators


Forwards

 
The Ottawa Senators recently got some good news when it was revealed that Daniel Alfredsson would put off retirement to play in the 2012-13 campaign.  Ottawa’s core of top-six forwards should also include Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza.  Beyond that, Jakob Silfverberg, Guillaume Latendresse, Mika Zibanejad, Kyle Turris, and Colin Greening should all compete for the final spots on Ottawa’s top two lines.  Needless to say, Ottawa is a team you’ll want to keep a close eye on during training camp and the early portion of the season.

  Defense  

 
The Ottawa Senators have the most desirable defenseman from a fantasy perspective in Erik Karlsson.  Beyond that, the big question is how much Sergei Gonchar has left in him.  He’s 38 years old, but the Ottawa Senators need to continue to lean on him heavily, especially after Filip Kuba signed with the Florida Panthers over the summer.  

  Goaltending  

 
Craig Anderson will enter the season as the team’s number one starter, but he’ll face stiff competition in 2012-13.  Ben Bishop and Robin Lehner are expected to battle for a roster spot during training camp.  Both are intriguing options and either one of them could give Anderson a run for his money as the season progresses.  

  Summer Roster Movement  

 
The Ottawa Senators took a calculated risk by signing Latendresse to a one-year, $2 million contract.  Latendresse has played in just 27 games over the past two seasons, but he could serve as a top-six forward when healthy.  They also added blueliners Marc Methot and Mike Lundin, but lost Kuba, Zenon Konopka, and Nick Foligno.  

  Player To Watch  

 
Lots of good ones on the Ottawa Senators, but I’m going to go with Silfverberg.  He is coming off a great season where he scored 24 goals and 54 points in 49 Swedish Elite League games and, as mentioned above, is a candidate to start the season on one of Ottawa’s top two lines.  He might end up being one of the better rookies in 2012-13, but he’s certainly a big gamble.  If you’re in a standard league, he’s a better player to simply keep an eye on than to draft.  

  Buffalo Sabres  

 
The Buffalo Sabres’ forwards, as a group, underperformed last season.  They’ll be looking for much more from a few key guys like Tyler Ennis and Ville Leino next season and their ability to bounce back could end up defining their season.  Beyond that, the big questions are if Steve Ott will enter the season as a top-six forward and if Marcus Foligno will build off his impressive stint with the Buffalo Sabres at the end of the 2011-12 campaign.  

  Defense  

 
Christian Ehrhoff and Tyler Myers both missed significant portions of the 2011-12 campaign and ended up with a combined 55 points, which is just five more than Ehrhoff alone recorded in 2010-11.  They could combine for 90 points in 2012-13 if both of them manage to stay healthy.  The Buffalo Sabres will also lean heavily on Jordan Leopold after he averaged 22:22 minutes per game last season.

  Goaltending  

 
Jhonas Enroth is young, talented, and should only get better, but there’s no doubt that Ryan Miller will be the team’s starter in 2012-13.  Miller suffered a concussion early in the 2011-12 season and he struggled for a couple months following his return.  However, he eventually bounced back with a 2.08 GAA and .931 save percentage in his last 31 games.  

  Summer Roster Movement

  The Buffalo Sabres’ biggest off-season move was their trade of Derek Roy to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Steve Ott and Adam Pardy.  On top of getting Ott, the Sabres added even more toughness by signing John Scott to a one-year deal.  

  Player To Watch

 
Foligno is an obvious choice, but Cody Hodgson shouldn’t be overlooked.  He had 33 points in 63 games with the Vancouver Canucks despite averaging just 12:44 minutes per game.  He added another three goals and eight points in 20 contests with the Buffalo Sabres after they acquired him prior to the trade deadline.  With Derek Roy gone, Hodgson could conceivably open the season as the Buffalo Sabres’ top center.  The stage seems to be set for a breakout campaign.

  Toronto Maple Leafs


Forwards  

 
The Toronto Maple Leafs still don’t have a clear number one center – although they might attempt to band-aid the problem by asking winger James van Riemsdyk to make the shift.  Either way, Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul will be looking to continue the on-ice chemistry they developed in 2011-12.  The Toronto Maple Leafs will also be looking for more out of Nikolai Kulemin and Tim ConnollyNazem Kadri is a serious contender for a roster spot out of training camp and there’s also a chance Matt Frattin will start the season in the NHL.  

  Defense  

 
Dion Phaneuf, Jake Gardiner, John-Michael Liles, and Carl Gunnarsson will probably make up the Leafs’ top two defensive pairings.  All of them bring something to the table offensively and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Phaneuf, Gardiner, and Liles all surpass the 30-point mark in 2012-13.  Mike Komisarek and Cody Franson should be penciled in for the bottom two spots, but Korbinian Holzer might give them a run for their money.  

  Goaltending   This is by far the Buds’ biggest question mark.  At the time of writing, the Leafs are currently positioned to enter the season with James Reimer and Ben Scrivens as their top two goaltenders.  Reimer is coming off a rough season, although the fact that he suffered a concussion certainly didn’t help matters.  Reimer is capable of bouncing back, but unless the Leafs can secure a veteran capable of guiding Reimer, taking some of the heat off of him, and serving as a viable short-term alternative, the Leafs will essentially be going into the season without a safety net.

  Summer Roster Movement  

 
The Leafs acquired van Riemsdyk from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Luke Schenn.  They also signed Jay McClement, who will probably serve as a third liner.  

  Player To Watch  

  As we touched on briefly above, Kadri will probably be a part of the Maple Leafs’ opening game roster.  He excelled in the AHL last season and he’s got a good amount of offensive upside.  He’s worth keeping an eye on during training camp and the early portion of the season and he should have some fantasy value if he gets regular minutes on one of the team’s top two lines.  

  Montreal Canadiens


Forwards  

 
Erik Cole managed to live up to expectations while Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais both enjoyed breakout campaigns in 2011-12.  Despite that, Montreal finished last in the Northeast Division with 212 goals.  That was due in part to the Brian Gionta, who went from 29 goals in 2010-11 to just eight last season.  Between him and Scott Gomez, the Montreal Canadiens paid $12.5 million for a mere 10 goals.  If either of their overpaid veteran forwards are able to bounce back, it would be huge for the Canadiens, but it’s more likely that Pacioretty, Desharnais, Cole, and Tomas Plekanec will once again lead the charge in Montreal.  

  Defense  

 
At the time of writing, PK Subban is still a restricted free agent, but there isn’t much chance of him wearing anything other than a Montreal Canadiens’ jersey when the season starts.  The real question is how Andrei Markov will do in 2012-13.  He was healthy going into the summer, but has played in just 65 games over the past three seasons.  If he can finally stay healthy and shake off the rust, the Montreal Canadiens will have a pretty strong core between Subban, Markov, Tomas Kaberle, and Josh Gorges.  

  Goaltending  

 
Carey Price had his second straight strong season in 2011-12 with a 2.43 GAA and .916 save percentage in 65 starts.  He should continue to get the vast majority of the playing time in Montreal and consequently, backup Peter Budaj won’t get enough starts to make him worth owning in most fantasy leagues.  

  Summer Roster Movement  

 
The Montreal Canadiens appointed Marc Bergevin as their new GM and Michel Therrien as their head coach.  Beyond that, this has been a pretty quiet summer for them as far as unrestricted free agent signings and trades go.  That being said, the Canadiens did lock up Price to a six-year/$39 million contract extension.  

  Player To Watch  

 
As we mentioned above, Markov has missed the vast majority of the last three seasons.  After a stretch like that, the big question is if he’ll be able to stay healthy and, if he can, if he’ll play anything like the Markov of old.  He might end up with 50-60 points in 2012-13, but that’s a very optimistic projection.  All the same, if you can grab him in the later rounds of a standard-league draft, then do so.  He’s a gamble, but his potential upside makes him worth it.


Ryan Dadoun is an Associate Editor for Hockey on Rotoworld. Feel free to follow him on Twitter or check out his blog.
Email :Ryan Dadoun



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