- New York Rangers*
- Columbus Blue Jackets*
- Brooklyn Islanders*
- Washington Capitals*
- Pittsburgh Penguins*
- Philadelphia Flyers
- New Jersey Devils
- Carolina Hurricanes
The Met is going to be very tight and, in my estimation is going to produce the Cup winner this year. The Rangers haven’t really gotten worse (in fact, if their “ifs” turn into “dids,” they will be dominant), but there has been improvement amongst their divisional competitors.
The Caps seem to be a favorite amongst pro analysts because they got a shiny new toy in Justin Willams, but they lost a lot of what made them the “heaviest” team in the league last year in Troy Brouwer and Joel Ward. Losing their pesky defenseman Mike Green to the Detroit Red Wings also weakens their blueline offensive production.
The Isles are essentially the same team. Jaroslav Halak has to prove that he can repeat and reproduce his at-time stellar play from last season. He doesn’t need as badly to be a one-man show this season as the Isles acquired a viable backup netminder.
Pittsburgh still has not improved defensively in any real way and scoring was not their problem. Adding Phil Kessel did more to introduce potential locker room dynamite than anything else. They will be a powerful offensive team, but will lag behind the more well-rounded teams in front of them, but still make the playoffs usurping the East’s second wild card seed.
I think the biggest relative newcomer to the battle is a healthy Columbus Blue Jackets squad who lost 500+ man-games to injury last season and improved with the addition of Brandon Saad. New Jersey, Philadelphia & Carolina are…there. The Devils have a few years to go before seeing the playoffs, but Cory Schneider, if healthy, should be in the Vezina conversation again.