I've decided to bring back this series in the begining of the year to encapsulate the Eastern teams and assess the progress (or lack thereof) during this off season. Will any of these teams finally dethrone the Chicago dynasty? The balance of power has shifted a little more back to the east with thanks to some of the Eastern conference teams building for the future. Youth movement seems to be the way to go with a lot of these franchises. Soon these teams collecting up high draft picks will mature and built around them.
Boston: They've traded away their core to again keep back from the cap and make room for the roster turnover. Lucic and Hamilton are gone with an aging Chara to work the blueline. Their coach is already on the hot seat even before the season begins. Downgrade
Buffalo: So many additions to this roster from new owners to coach, general manager, and to several franchise players. Eichel is definitely looking like an elite player in Buffalo. Look for him to make a splash with Ryan O'Riley. UPGRADE!
Carolina: What little they could do was attempt to shore up the blueline and make Eddie Lack challenge for Ward's starting position. Wisniewski and Versteeg are good veterans to help this new generation along. Even
Columbus: They dumped a lot of players along the way that held them back. They need to grow the game in Ohio and the only new player of note is Brandon Saad. Rebuilding continues. Even
Detroit: A team that holds on to their players longer than they should is again realizing that you shouldn't need to fix that isn't broken. New coach can show the players a fresh new perspective while Eric Cole is the old man in the "NHL's retirement center"Even
Florida: Youth movement. Marc Savard will bring his Boston luck to south beach. But the roster remains mostly the same.Even
Montreal: They've shifted a few players out and picked up some more role players in hopes to advance to the Stanley Cup finals. Semin is a streaky player often criticized for his non existent work ethic, but maybe this set of players will motivate his scoring. Upgrade
New Jersey: It's a new regime for the NJ Devils. Stempniak will keep the puck moving in a defense first system. But it's not enough to get any better than last year. downgrade.
NY Islanders: Their new home is the most interesting storyline of the year. New dashers and environmental sounds to get used to. It's another "don't fix it if it aint broke" team. Even
NY Rangers: Raanta will be the backup which brings a winning program over to the Rangers. Stoll is from the LA Kings who needed to get their centermen in order. Marty St. Louis retired and won't be replaced with his intangibles. They lost more than they replaced. downgrade
Ottawa: It's the same roster this year from last. Do we expect any better with a year of veteran seasoning? Even
Philadelphia: They are always looking for that one steady goaltender to count on in the clutch. Can Nieuvirth bring what he learned in DC? They also get Umberger back. He likes it there. Upgrade!
Pittsburgh: Having one of the elite wingers in hockey right now and giving up almost nothing for him was a real steal. Kessel will keep up with Crosby and Russian import Plotnikov will get Malkin's line. They've balanced out their team from being centerman heavy to a more balanced attack. Upgrade!
Tampa Bay: Will this be the year that Tampa wins it all again and follows history's trends? They've kept their team in tact for another deep run to the Stanley Cup finals provided everyone stays healthy. Even
Toronto: They are clearly in a rebuilding phase and going to stock their farm system until it's time to use them. Parenteau is going to be a decent replacement on the top line and the biggest acquisition is their coach Babcock. Hopefully, it will mean a better watchable product worth the price of admission while they stock up on talent. Downgrade
Washington: In the biggest steal of the NHL century, the Capitals have got themselves the "American hero" TJ Oshie and brought him to the nations' capital. He should work well as a secondary scoring threat when they need it most. I'm interested in how well Penner will do for them the whole season since coming over in the deadline. Upgrade!