NHL Season Preview For Atlantic Division, 2022-23

NHL Season Preview For Atlantic Division, 2022-23
Tue 4th October 2022

We simply cannot wait for the new NHL season to start, and we are counting down the days until the very first puck drop. If you are like us and love the NHL, then you definitely need to have a read on below, as we take a look at each and every team from the Atlantic Division and analyze their chances for success in this brand new season.

Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins had a decent 2021-22 season with an early playoff exit which cannot be marked as a success given the team’s tradition. The circumstances that put the Bruins in fourth place in the Atlantic Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference are still existing and how good this team will be in the upcoming season is a big question.

Charlie Coyle was the only Bruins’ player who made appearances in all 82 games. Numerous injuries, including some of key players, took their toll on the team’s record which finished at 21-26-5. That was enough to lock a playoff spot but the Pittsburgh Penguins were too good in the opening playoff round.

Brad Marchand led the Bruins last season with 80 points. Unfortunately for coach Bruce Cassidy, the 34-year-old veteran will be sidelined for the first couple of months of the 2022-23 season. Defenseman Charlie McAvoy also went under surgery in the off-season and the timeline of his return on the ice is still undefined.

The absence of these two players will demand adjustments, so the Bruins will probably have a tough start to the new season. A lot will depend on Patrice Bergeron who had an excellent defensive season last year winning his fifth Selke Trophy.

After spending a season in his home country playing for HC Olomouc, David Krejci is returning to Bean Town and his experience will play a big role in the team’s success this season. Centers Pavel Zacha and Vinni Lettieri joined the Bruins from the New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Ducks, as well as goalie Keith Kinkaid from the New York Rangers and defenseman Connor Carrick from the Charlotte Checkers.

Centers Erik Haula and Curtis Lazar, left-winger Anton Blidh and defenseman Josh Brown left the team. Regardless of the injuries, the Bruins are still a force in the East. They never lost more than three games in a row last season and they will definitely be a consistent team. The Bruins will find their way to the postseason and how competitive they will be will depend on the available roster.

Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres have been one of the worst teams in the past decade. Last season they tied the record for the most consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance as they failed to advance to the postseason for the 11th straight season.

Knowing that, it seems like there is not much room for optimism but whoever watched a decent amount of the Sabres games last season would know that they are going in the right direction. Prior to last season, the Sabres unloaded many veterans, switching them for draft picks and this will be the season when the Sabres will make some kind of leap.

No, they are not going to be a playoff team, maybe not even close to that scenario but definitely, there are many reasons for optimism. The first overall pick of the 2021 draft Owen Power made his NHL debut with the Sabres and even though he played only 8 games, he showed huge potential. 

The Sabres, who finished 11th in the Eastern Conference with a 32-39-11 record, were 6-2-0 with Power in the lineup. The defenseman who will turn 20 this season, will have all he needs to develop and with him, the Sabres will definitely do so as well. Tage Thompson is another reason for optimism. The 24-year-old center recorded 68 points and 38 goals last season which was more than what he recorded in his previous two seasons. 

The question is if Thompson is a caliber of player that can be a real leader to this team and we will know that from the very start of the season. Defensemen Ilya Lyubushkin, Kale Clague and Chase Priskie are new faces on the Sabres roster as well as goalie Eric Comrie and center Riley Sheahan.

Detroit Red Wings

The Detroit Red Wings are coming off another disappointing season as the 11-time Stanley Cup champions missed the playoffs for the sixth straight season. They finished sixth in the Atlantic Division and 12th in the Eastern Conference with a 32-40-10 record.

The Red Wings were the second-worst defensive team in the NHL as they allowed 310 goals in the season. They were the only team in the entire league to allow 10 or more goals in a single game twice last season. Goalies Alex Nedeljkovic and Thomas Greiss could not find their form all season long and Greiss is no longer with the team as he moved to the St. Louis Blues.

It’s not all doom and gloom for the Detroit Red Wings. As a matter of fact, a bright future is ahead of them because they got Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond who will enter their second season. Both of them were phenomenal last season, and Seider won the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie while Raymond finished fourth in the voting.

The sky is the limit for these two youngsters and the Red Wings have nothing to worry about for their future. The feeling is that they could have done more in the off-season to strengthen their defense. Instead, they were more focused on adding offensive weapons to the lineup.

David Perron, Andrew Copp, and Dominik Kubalik were acquired who will make the Red Wings’ offense more potent. Having better luck with injuries is something that coach Derek Lalonde is hoping for as Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, Robby Fabbri and Jakub Vrana missed a significant amount of time last season.

There is a lot of hype around the Red Wings going into this season and they will probably be one of the teams that will make a leap into the postseason. They will also be one of the hottest teams to watch as usual with Seider and Raymond growing into superstars.

Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers are coming off their best season in franchise history even though it finished with disappointment. The Panthers won the Presidents’ trophy last season with an amazing 122 points which is the seventh-most points won by a team in a single season in NHL history. The Panthers were great on the offensive end scoring 4.11 goals per game which is the most the league has seen since the 1995-96 Pittsburgh Penguins.

Jonathan Huberdeau had an amazing year finishing with 115 points and setting a franchise record of 85 assists in a season. Despite his huge numbers and the team having the best regular season, the Panthers were swept in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs by the local rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Despite the fact that it was a huge blow for the team, the moves made in the off-season were unexpected, to say the least. Huberdeau left the team to join the Calgary Flames as well as Claude Giroux who will play for the Ottawa Senators and Mason Marchment who moved to the Dallas Stars.

With all these star players gone, the Panthers’ general manager Bill Zito brought in a new coach in Paul Maurice who will replace Andrew Brunette. Maurice is still only an interim coach, and we are yet to see who will become the permanent coach for the Panthers.

It is hard to believe that the Panthers will have the ability to come close to the record they had last season. The team made a few good additions with Matthew Tkachuk, Colin White and Chris Thierney joining the team. The Panthers still have Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart, Anton Lundell and Spencer Knight who all together make a good team.

Florida is still rock solid but they have pretty much changed their identity in the off-season. They will need some time to adapt to playing without their best player Huberdeau from last season but at the same time, they have plenty of guys who can step up in that role. They will definitely not be on top of the league in the regular season like they did last season, but a playoff spot will not be in jeopardy.

Montreal Canadiens

It has been a hell of a ride for the Montreal Canadiens in the past couple of seasons. In the 2020-21 season, the Canadiens out of nowhere made it to the Stanley Cup finals where they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The hopes were extremely high the following season and it is still unbelievable that the team dropped to the last place in the Eastern Conference with a 22-49-11.

The Canadiens were the worst defensive team in the NHL last season as they allowed 3.87 goals per game. They weren’t much better on the offensive end either, scoring only 2.66 per contest which ranked them in 27th place.

It was obvious from the very start that they would not come even close to the previous success, but no one could have believed that they would fall this much. A bad start which saw them losing 10 straight games in the first two months of the season got the general manager Marc Bergevin fired. Kevin Hughes took over and Canadiens fans are hoping that he will be able to put the team back on track.

Nick Suzuki was the only Montreal player to record more than 50 points last season with 61 and the team’s success will depend much on him. Unfortunately, goalie Carey Price will probably miss a major part of the season which will definitely see them have some uncertainty on that position.

Right-wing Evgenii Dadonov moved to Montreal from the Vegas Golden Knights and will need to take much of the load in the offensive end. The Canadiens got the chance to select the first pick in this year’s draft and they decided to gamble with Juraj Slafkovsky who is coming in from the Finnish league.

This will be another long season for Montreal and if anything, things cannot get any worse than last season. They will still finish deep under a playoff spot but will probably move up from rock bottom.

Ottawa Senators

The Ottawa Senators came into the last season with high expectations but ended up empty-handed. They had a terrible start losing 16 of the first 20 games. They tried to pick up the momentum but couldn’t win more than three straight games which they did only three times throughout the season.

Truth be said, some of the reasons for the Senators’ failures didn’t have much to do with the play on the ice. They were the team hit the most by the COVID pandemic, as at one point during the season, their games needed to be postponed since they didn’t have enough healthy players to get on the ice. 

Just when they took care of that crisis, the team’s owner Eugene Melnyk passed away which was another huge blow for the team. All this put the Senators in 7th place in the Atlantic Division and 13th in the Eastern Conference with a 33-42-7 record.

The Senators’ general manager Pierre Dorion shook up the roster in the off-season making some big-time moves. He sent their 2022 first-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for Alex DeBrincat, goalie prospect Filip Gustavsson was dealt to the Minnesota Wild for Cam Talbot, and Claude Giroux from the Florida Panthers was signed as a free-agent.

With the new additions, as well as Brady Tkachuk and Josh Norris, who were the only Senators players to score more than 30 goals in the past season, Ottawa seems like a better team but far from one that will make much noise in the Atlantic Division.

Coach DJ Smith will enter his fourth season and his job is far from safe. With the moves the GM Dorion made in the off-season, no one’s job is safe and if the Senators start as poorly as last season, Smith may be the first coach to lose his job in the 2022-23 season. With or without Smith, the Senators are an average NHL team and will probably miss the playoffs for the sixth straight season.

Tampa Bay Lightning

After winning back-to-back Stanley Cup trophies in the previous two seasons, the Tampa Bay Lightning fell just short last season. Despite entering the 2021-22 season with major roster changes, the Lightning had enough pieces, and most of all, the winning mentality to fight for a three-peat.

They weren’t even close to the top during the regular season but took their game to another level when it mattered the most. They survived a thriller series against the division rival Toronto Maple Leafs in the opening round being 2-3 down, then swept the best regular season team, the Florida Panthers, and came back from being 0-2 in the conference finals against the New York Rangers. 

All that proved the character of the team but the Colorado Avalanche were too good in the finals. Many are wondering if this team has much room for improvement since they have been among the top of the league in the past decade. The experience is definitely there but the real question is if this roster has anything left in the tank while still playing together.

On paper, the Lightning are still a contender. Offensively, they have Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point who are a real nightmare for any defense. Defensively, a lot will depend on Victor Hedman who is still in his prime. Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak signed new deals in the off-season and are back with the Lightning for their eighth consecutive year.

But as was the case in the previous season, the key factor for the Lightning’s success is Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Russian was one of the key players in the championship campaigns and if the Lightning want to have another deep run in the playoffs, he needs to be playing at his best.

It seems like Tampa will still be the team to beat for another year but it will not be surprising if they end up somewhere near the bottom of the playoff picture in the East and do not go past the opening round.

Toronto Maple Leafs

It is very hard to describe the Toronto Maple Leafs last season but if you really had to – it was heartbreaking. The Maple Leafs enjoyed a fantastic regular season. They set franchise records in number of wins with 54 and total points with 115. They finished second in the Atlantic Division and third in the Eastern Conference with a 54-21-7 record.

Auston Matthews made another statement that he is one of the best players in the league setting a franchise record of 60 goals in a single season and what makes his accomplishment even more impressive, is the fact that he did it in only 73 games. 

Matthews became the first player in a decade to score 60 goals in a season and he had the highest goals per game average of any player since Mario Lemieux in 1995-96. He also became the first Maple Leaf player to win the Hart Trophy as league MVP since Ted Kennedy in 1954-55.

It all seemed perfect for Toronto fans but when the playoffs arrived, it all ended pretty quickly. The Maple Leafs faced the Tampa bay Lighting in the opening round and things started pretty well as the Leafs took a 3-2 lead. 

They were so close to advancing to the next round as they had the lead in the third period of Game 6 but things fell apart and they lost in seven games. That was Toronto’s sixth consecutive first-round elimination and this one hurt differently.

With another lesson learned, Toronto will head into the next season with hopes of finally making a deep playoff run. They have one of the best offenses in the league as they were on top of the league in power play conversion with 27.3%.

Matthews and Mitchell Marner will be the leaders once again and this will be the season when they will finally win a playoff series. Expect to see the Leafs go deep in the playoffs and maybe even win the East.

When the 2022 NHL season does eventually begin, make sure SportsTips is your go-to destination for NHL picks. We will provide NHL picks for each and every game of the season from our experts, so you can place your bets with more confidence!

Marko is a former athlete who meanwhile got his law degree. He has followed basketball since the ‘90s and is very familiar with all levels of the game, from the NBA, and the NCAA, all down to European leagues and international competitions. He is also very fond of tennis, soccer, NHL and MLB and can provide reliable previews and analysis that will lead you to placing a winning bet.