Metropolitan and Atlantic Division Predictions

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With the new season set to start on Tuesday, we at NBC Sports EDGE are going to give you our predictions for the upcoming season.

Today we are going to give our thoughts and predictions on the Metropolitan and Atlantic Divisions. The divisions are going back to the way they were two seasons ago after last season’s decision to have a Canada-only division due to the border closing, and having each division play only amongst themselves until it was time to play the semi-finals.

The asterisks will indicate the playoff teams.

Metropolitan Division

Michael

1. New York Islanders *

2. Carolina *

3. New York Rangers *

4. Washington *

5. Philadelphia

6. Pittsburgh

7. New Jersey

8. Columbus

I’m expecting a big season from the Rangers and that will knock the Flyers out of a spot. The Islanders have gone to the Conference Final in each of the last two seasons and I think they are the best in the division. Carolina will be strong if their goaltending doesn’t fall apart and Washington will make the playoffs yet again with Ovechkin having a comeback season.

Corey

Carolina *

Washington *

New York Islanders *

Pittsburgh *

New York Rangers

Philadelphia

New Jersey

Columbus

This division could be the most competitive one this season. The Islanders have been a popular pick to win it thanks to their recent playoff success, but their lack of scoring punch makes them a risky choice over the course of a longer regular season. Pittsburgh and Washington have some injury concerns going into the year, but they have managed to overcome issues of a similar type in the past.

Ryan

1. Washington*

2. Carolina*

3. NY Islanders*

4. NY Rangers*

5. Pittsburgh

6. Philadelphia

7. New Jersey

8. Columbus

This is a very competitive division and any of these teams making the playoffs wouldn’t surprise me, so I don’t feel particularly confident in my predictions here. That said, I really like how the Rangers are built and I think this will be the year that they transition from being a rebuilding squad to a genuine contender. The Penguins are entering the season with injury problems and given how strong their rivals are, this might be the year that years of pushing a “win now” approach begin to take their toll. Philadelphia is the big X-Factor here because they could far exceed my projection, especially if Carter Hart bounces back.

Joey

1. Carolina Hurricanes*

2. Washington Capitals*

3. Philadelphia Flyers*

4. New York Islanders*

5. Pittsburgh Penguins

6. New York Rangers

7. New Jersey Devils

8. Columbus Blue Jackets

Is this the year of the Hurricanes? Carolina has a lot of young talent, but they still lost a big piece in Dougie Hamilton. Still, I think they’re good enough to make a long run in the playoffs. The Metro is kind of hard to predict though. I think the Penguins’ window is closing (it might be slammed shut) and the Flyers should be better. But the race for the playoff spots will be tight and difficult.

Anna

1. New York Islanders*

2. Carolina Hurricanes*

3. Washington Capitals*

4. New York Rangers*

5. Pittsburgh Penguins

6. Philadelphia Flyers

7. New Jersey Devils

8. Columbus Blue Jackets

The Metropolitan remains the more competitive of the two Eastern Conference divisions. The Islanders continue to develop and grow every season, and it would be safe to assume that they will continue on their progression this season. The Islanders could very well be one of the final two teams standing at the end of the playoffs. Giving them fierce competition are the Carolina Hurricanes and the Washington Capitals. Battling it out for a wildcard spot will be the Rangers, Penguins, and Flyers. It can be expected that all three of those teams will finish their regular season in the same point range and any of the three could wind up with a playoff spot.

Mark

1. New York Islanders*
2. Washington Capitals*
3. Carolina Hurricanes*
4. Philadelphia Flyers*
5. New York Rangers
6. Pittsburgh Penguins
7. New Jersey Devils
8. Columbus Blue Jackets

The Rangers have the core — a nice mix of youthful talent like Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko blending with savvy veterans like Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad — to potentially make a playoff push, but there just might not be enough depth on this roster to hang with the big boys for a whole season, not quite yet. However, should New York start to string something together, look out. If the Rangers are on the upswing, the Penguins seem to be on the downswing. Sidney Crosby’s wrist injury is merely the loudest headline, here, but the issues go beyond Sid the Kid. This team still has name value, but I’d question whether it has much more going for it than that.

Jeff

1. Carolina Hurricanes*

2. New York Islanders*

3. Philadelphia Flyers*

4. Washington Capitals*

5. New York Rangers

6. Pittsburgh Penguins

7. New Jersey Devils

8. Columbus Blue Jackets

It seems odd to have the Pittsburgh Penguins as missing the playoffs but with captain Sidney Crosby already dealing with some sort of injury and Evgeni Malkin once again sidelined due to a knee issue, it’s fair to wonder if the wheels are starting to fall off this wagon. All those draft picks traded has left the cupboard bare of young talent as well. I’m bullish on the Hurricanes but can definitely see them moving down in the standings after losing Dougie Hamilton. From this division, I’ll be closely following the New York Rangers and I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if they explode.

Matt

1. New York Islanders*

2. Carolina Hurricanes*

3. Washington Capitals*

4. New York Rangers*

5. Philadelphia Flyers*

6. Pittsburgh Penguins

7. New Jersey Devils

8. Columbus Blue Jackets

The Pittsburgh Penguins haven’t missed the playoffs since the 2005-06 season, but they’ll be without Evgeni Malkin for the first two months of the season, which is a massive hit to their team. The New York Islanders have arguably one of the deepest teams in the East and will certainly be a threat to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Stanley Cup title. I’m not the biggest fan of Carolina’s goaltending so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Capitals leapfrog them in the standings. And look out for the New York Rangers – they will be a dangerous this season.

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Atlantic Division

Michael

1. Florida *

2. Toronto *

3. Tampa Bay *

4. Boston *

5. Ottawa

6. Montreal

7. Detroit

8. Buffalo

The top four teams in the Atlantic are better than any other top-four by a lot. Florida is looking awfully good and if Bobrovsky can’t do the job, Spencer Knight is waiting in the wings. The Maple Leafs will continue to play very well during the regular season while the Bruins grab fourth. The Lightning are without their third line from last season due to expansion and UFAs but will still be good enough to finish at least third. Ottawa and Detroit will be much improved and the Canadiens will finally miss the playoffs after a couple of lucky regular seasons.

Corey

Tampa Bay *

Florida Panthers *

Toronto Maple Leafs *

Boston Bruins *

Montreal Canadiens

Ottawa Senators

Detroit Red Wings

Buffalo Sabres

The Lightning lost some important players in the offseason, including their entire third line, but remain deep up and down roster with impact players at every position. Florida, Toronto and Boston feel like locks for the next spots, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the order I have is different.

Ryan

1. Tampa Bay*

2. Florida*

3. Boston*

4. Toronto*

5. Montreal

6. Ottawa

7. Detroit

8. Buffalo

Right now there seems to be a significant gap between the top-four and bottom-four in the Atlantic Division, though there are some X-Factors. Boston and Florida will be looking for rookie goaltenders Jeremy Swayman and Spencer Knight respectively to take on significant duties and if they suffer through some growing pains then that will have an impact on the team. There’s also Montreal, which made it all the way to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, but expectations are much lower for them this season given that they’re without Shea Weber and will enter the season without Carey Price either. Still, the Canadiens surprised with their recent run and can’t be completely dismissed.

Joey

1. Toronto Maple Leafs*

2. Tampa Bay Lightning*

3. Florida Panthers*

4. Boston Bruins*

5. Montreal Canadiens

6. Ottawa Senators

7. Buffalo Sabres

8. Detroit Red Wings

The Leafs flamed out of the first round last year, but I expect that they’re going to take a step this year. Sometimes, a group has to go through some adversity before they can make a long postseason run and that’s how I see the Leafs. They have so much offensive talent, but I think this is the year they win at least one round. The Bolts lost some key pieces this off-season, so they’ll take a small step back.

Anna

1. Tampa Bay Lightning*

2. Florida Panthers*

3. Toronto Maple Leafs*

4. Boston Bruins*

5. Montreal Canadiens

6. Ottawa Senators

7. Detroit Red Wings

8. Buffalo Sabres

The top four teams in the Atlantic division are vastly separated from the other four teams in terms of contending for a playoff spot this season. Tampa Bay and its incredibly talented roster is likely to finish as a top seed. The Maple Leafs having a good regular season would not be surprising; however, come playoff time the team still struggles to secure wins when they matter most. The only team to keep an eye on outside the top four listed above would be the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens made a run all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals last season and despite their roster changes, that cannot be outrightly discounted. Cole Caufield’s performance this year for the Canadiens will also be something to note.

Mark

Tampa Bay Lightning*
Florida Panthers*
Boston Bruins*
Toronto Maple Leafs*
Ottawa Senators
Montreal Canadiens
Detroit Red Wings
Buffalo Sabres
Once you climb out of the cellar in the Atlantic, the upper-tier talent in the division is elite, with Tampa Bay, Florida, Toronto and Boston all strong contenders for the postseason. The defending champion Lightning, my pick for the division, have the nucleus to win it all again — we haven’t seen a three-peat since the Islanders pulled off the feat on their way to a four-peat in the 80’s — but it would not be a surprise if the Panthers slugged their way out to the top of the Atlantic, either. The return of Aaron Ekblad from the broken leg which kept him from playing down the stretch last season should be huge for Florida.

Jeff

1. Florida Panthers*

2. Tampa Bay Lightning*

3. Toronto Maple Leafs*

4. Boston Bruins*

5. Montreal Canadiens

6. Ottawa Senators

7. Detroit Red Wings

8. Buffalo Sabres

Of all the divisions, it seems like the Atlantic is the most easily predictable of the four. The top four could go in any order but it’s those four teams who seem to be cemented as the top four in the division. If the Florida Panthers can get solid goaltending this year, sky is the limit. The bottom two teams seem to be a lock but it will be interesting to see if the young Senators can leap frog the Canadiens in the standings.

Matt

1. Tampa Bay Lightning*

2. Florida Panthers*

3. Toronto Maple Leafs*

4. Montreal Canadiens

5. Boston Bruins

6. Ottawa Senators

7. Detroit Red Wings

8. Buffalo Sabres

The top three teams of the Atlantic are pretty much written in stone, however the order of the standings could be an interesting race. It’s the next two slots that pique my interest as there are questions surrounding both the Canadiens and Bruins. The Canadiens have a bunch of talented forwards that could make for an entertaining brand of hockey but the indefinite loss of Carey Price will be felt. The Bruins certainly got tougher during the off-season but I just don’t see sufficient talent level in goal to bring them back to the playoffs. I think the Ottawa Senators are a year or two away from entering playoff contention. As for Detroit and Buffalo, well, their fans are probably in for another long season.

Consensus

Metropolitan

Carolina – 1.75

New York Islanders – 2

Washington – 3.63

New York Rangers – 4.5

Philadelphia – 4.75

Pittsburgh – 5.38

New Jersey – 7

Columbus – 8

Atlantic

Tampa Bay – 1.5

Florida – 1.88

Toronto – 2.88

Boston – 3.88

Montreal – 5.13

Ottawa – 5.75

Detroit – 7

Buffalo – 8



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