Predicting the East Division Standings

Tomas Vessio
Head of NHL/Podcast Host

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The NHL announced the four divisions for the upcoming 2021 regular season and about a week ago, and we took a look as to what we might see at the end of the season in the standings.

8. New Jersey Devils

The Devils added players like Corey Crawford, Andreas Johnsson, Ryan Murray and Dmitry Kulikov to their squad this offseason that definitely makes an improvement from last year but, does it bump them up in the standings? In this case, no it doesn’t, but that doesn’t mean the Devils are necessarily bad; they are just simply not better than the other teams they have to battle with. The young players on this team will be exciting to watch and it gives the fans something to look forward to in the near future.

Highest Scorer Prediction: Nico Hischier

7. Buffalo Sabres

With a massive W in adding star winger Taylor Hall to your roster, the Sabres definitely upgraded and maybe just got a missing puzzle piece for centermen Jack Eichel. The Sabres are trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011 and this year won’t bust that slump. They added and got better, but just like the Devils, it won’t be enough to get past the better teams in front of them, unless it’s a complete team effort and Jack Eichel carries the team on his back for another season.

Highest Scorer Prediction: Jack Eichel

6. New York Islanders

Losing in the conference finals in the bubble last year, the Islanders will have to fight long and hard in this 56 game season to make the playoffs again. Barry Trotz is a big reason this team has had success the past couple of years, but surrounded by great teams, can the Islanders defend and outscore their opponents at a consistent level?

Highest Scorer Prediction: Mathew Barzal

5. New York Rangers

The Rangers are an upcoming exciting and explosive team in the NHL now, and this season, they can be a threat if the tools are all nicely in the tool box. When I say that, I mean that if everyone accepts and plays their role the right way, there will be success in this season. Adding Lafreniere in the draft is a major boost as well to an already offensive weaponized team with Panarin, Zibanejad and Kreider. If this team puts it together on both the forward and defense side of the puck, look out for the Blueshirts.

Highest Scorer Prediction: Artemi Panarin

4. Boston Bruins

Without David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand possibly for the first handful of games to start the 20/21 season, it’s a major blow to that great line in Boston and a blow to the offense as a whole. The Bruins also lost Torey Krug and maybe Zdeno Chara (hasn’t signed back) this offseason which are two big blows as they both had offense (Krug) and leadership and a big defensive presence (Chara). There are lots of question marks surrounding the squad, but the Bruins culture is resilient and loyal enough to get into the playoff no matter who’s out.

Highest Scorer Prediction: Patrice Bergeron

3. Washington Capitals

The Capitals had a disappointing end to their season a few months back where they saw themselves lose to the Islanders in a quick five games. The Caps look to bounce back this season with additions like Justin Schultz, Conor Sheary, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Henrik Lundqvist (who wont play this upcoming season) and PTO signing, Craig Anderson. The veterans of the team should step up this season a lot considering it is a short year and get the Capitals success in the playoffs.

Highest Scorer Prediction: Alex Ovechkin

2. Pittsburgh Penguins

After an unhealthy season and terrible playoff performance, the Penguins look to have a major bounce back this season. After a season where their top players didn’t play a full season, health is the number one thing to focus on going into the season to create any sort of success. After health, it will come down to new additions like Kasperi Kapanen, Colton Sceviour, Mark Jankowski, Mike Matheson and Cody Ceci to play well and step up when needed to. Veterans like Crsoby, Malkin and Letang will have a big impact on the group and newcomers need to step up and play well and this group of guys has the capabilities to.

Highest Scorer Prediction: Sidney Crosby

1. Philedalphia Flyers

The Flyers have put together a really strong roster in the past few years, and now could challenge for the Stanley Cup. Getting goaltender Carter Hart up and playing was a massive W as he’s been unbelievable at 22. Only adding Erik Gustafsson this offseason doesn’t mean they’re going to be worse because they didn’t make many moves; it just means the management knows what they have in the team on the ice as it stands, and that’s why I have them winning this division. The group of players they put together is complete and tight and has a great chance of going far in the playoffs.

Highest Scorer Prediction: Claude Giroux

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