- Montreal Canadiens*
- Ottawa Senators*
- Tampa Bay Lightning*
- Boston Bruins
- Detroit Red Wings
- Florida Panthers
- Buffalo Sabres
- Toronto Maple Leafs
Montreal’s recent loss of Zach Kassian may prevent them from achieving full potential, but overall, they can and should be considered top contenders if for no other reason than that they have Carey Price and have added the missing coreelements they needed last season. The fact that they were bested twice by Ottawa in preseason may not say much to many, but it means something to Ottawa.
They are better and I think they top Tampa for the No. 2 spot in the division. Tampa is a very solid team, but can hit flat spots as they did late last season.
Without the leadership of Mike Babcock or a hefty defensive improvement, Detroit ends its playoff streak, yielding to a Bruins team making a late run. Unfortunately for Boston (who can’t even sell out their own home opener), they will lose their playoff seed to the Penguins out of the Met. “Sorry, Atlantic… seat’s taken.”
Toronto will continue to stew in it’s own mess and Babcock will lose his mind by about January. Buffalo will show a marked improvement with Evander Kane and Jack Eichel, but they are still a ways away.