At this point it is safe to say that we have a good understanding of what rosters will look like when the puck drops for the start of the regular season. In the coming weeks there will almost certainly be a few players who get invited to training camps who will compete alongside prospects to fill in roster spots for teams around the league. This offseason was a busy one, especially for teams in the Atlantic Division, and has left many teams looking drastically different from what they were a year ago.
I tried to include every noteworthy roster movement but I am sure that I missed a few free agent signings. It should be noted that I did not list rookies drafted this year under the "in" section. With so many players on the move in the Atlantic Division the balance of power is now in question. Join me for a look at some of the new faces in the Altantic Division after the jump…
Last Year: 47-23-12 (106 pts) 1st in Atlantic
The Skinny: The offseason was more than a little bit busy for the Philadelphia Flyers. The men in orange are going to look completely different from the team we saw last year. Gone is the face and heart of the team, captain Mike Richards along with his party boy pal Jeff Carter. Without a doubt the biggest addition to the club is elite goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. Goaltending has been the biggest question mark in Philadelphia the last few years and the Flyers are hoping that Bryzgalov is the answer (a 9 year $51 million answer). The real question for Philadelphia is if this dramatic gambit will pan out for them. The team has plenty of young, promising prospects (especially forwards) but is rapidly aging at the blue line. Can the Flyers redefine their identity and reclaim the division title?
Last Year: 49-25-8 (106 pts) 2nd in Atlantic
The Skinny: Even without the services of Malkin and Crosby for long stretches of the season last year the Penguins found a way to be a playoff team. The Penguins lost a few character players to free agency but are upgrading their offense by adding veteran Steve Sullivan to the mix. The team also has yet to see what James Neal can do when put on a line with (a healthy) Crosby. If Crosby is healthy the Penguins could very easily find themselves dominating the Atlantic. Other offseason additions see the Penguins adding size and grit in players like Macintyre, Williams, and Valabik (almost certainly AHL bound). It is no secret that the Altantic Division is filled with physical teams and some of the toughest players in the league, and the fight-happy Penguins of last year understandably wanted to stay big and tough and protect their skilled players.
Last Year: 44-33-5 (93 pts) 3rd in Atlantic
The Skinny: A lot of dead weight was trimmed away from last year’s roster and the Rangers re-signed key young players like Callahan, Dubinsky, Anisimov, Sauer, and Boyle. The team also added some guy from Dallas named Brad Richards and stud defensive prospect Tim Erixon. The Rangers look to build off of last year’s modest success and repeat an appearance in the playoffs. There are plenty of questions about leadership, the powerplay, and inexperience on the blueline but on the whole this year’s roster is much stronger than it was a year ago. The addition of Brad Richards will make a big impact in terms of what the team is capable of offensively and on the powerplay but will change very little about the character of the team. The Rangers remain a gritty, young team with all kinds of potential and one of the best in the business between the pipes.
Last Year: 38-39-5 (81 pts) 4th in Atlantic
The Skinny: The biggest offseason addition for the Devils isn’t a new acquisition. It is the return of a healthy Zach Parise to the lineup this year. The Devils are a completely different team with Parise in the lineup, without him they struggled for most of the year until a late surge that saw them just falling short of the postseason. Martin Brodeur isn’t getting any younger and this could potentially be one of his last years wearing red, white, and black. With very few additions to the lineup the Devils are looking for in-house answers. With Rolston, Colin White, and Jason Arnott (trade deadline deal with the Capitals last season) out of the lineup the Devils will likely give some hungry young players a real chance to make an impact on a team that is deeply concerned about what it will take to keep Zach Parise in New Jersey for the long haul.
Last Year: 30-39-13 (73 pts) 5th in Atlantic
In: Brian Rolston, Marty Reasoner,
The Skinny: Much like the Devils the biggest addition to the Islanders lineup isn’t a new face to the team, it is the return of a healthy star. In the case of the New York Islanders it is elite Swiss defenseman Mark Streit. As big of an impact as Streit will make for the Islanders (especially on the PP) the team lost a lot of leadership and some key role players. The biggest addition to the Islanders is Brian Rolston who will almost certainly skate with young star John Tavares on the first line. There are still plenty of concerns for the Isles, none more pressing than their goaltending situation and their lack of depth at defense. The Islanders are just as fast and hard-working as they were last year, but it is hard to imagine them climbing their way out of the basement of the Atlantic Division this season.