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NHL Eastern Conference Preview

Ryan Lessman, Contributing Writer

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As the NHL Preseason winds down, many teams face decisions on roster spots, electing a starting goalie, or appointing a new captain. With the regular season set to start in less than two weeks, these decisions need to be made swiftly to be compliant with league rules. Here’s a breakdown of some of the major stories coming out of training camp.  

In the Metropolitan Division, the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins will have to work even harder this season if they want to recapture Lord Stanley after an offseason which saw many key players depart including depth centers Matt Cullen and Nick Bonino. Another team who lost a glut of players this offseason is the defending Presidents Trophy champs, the Washington Capitals who amongst a cap crunch, lost three top veteran defensemen this offseason and will look to youth to fill the void. One of the top d-men lost was Kevin Shattenkirk who signed a four-year deal to join his hometown team, the New York Rangers. Many believe The Rangers have dropped off from being an elite team in the east. Cross state rival New York Islanders need to lock up franchise center John Tavares before he enters free agency next July and will easily demand upwards of $8 million dollars from another team. The New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers won the first and second overall picks respectively and will turn to Nico Hischer and Nolan Patrick to lead the franchises to the playoffs once more. The Carolina Hurricanes added some veteran players to bolster their lineup to hope to compete in this crazy division.  

In the Atlantic Division, the Montreal Canadians will look to Franchise netminder Carey Price to lead them to the team’s first Stanley Cup Final since 1993. The Toronto Maples Leafs will look to build on last season’s impressive playoff berth and will turn to soon to be 20-year-old Austin Matthews and longtime San Jose Shark Patrick Marleau to do that. In the Canadian capital of Ottawa, the Senators will need to be strong in the first few months while stud defenseman Erik Karlsson recovers from offseason surgery. In Buffalo the Sabres will look to Young Center Jack Eichel to lead them on the scoresheet this season. The Boston Bruins allowed a bunch of players to leave this offseason via free agency and did little to replace them so will have some competition in training camp for roster spots. Both the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning added some depth gritty forwards to their rosters, in hopes of being tougher teams to play against. The Detroit Red Wings were quiet this offseason.  

When the puck drops in early October, some teams will be focused on developing their youth, others on staying afloat in the conference, and others on winning the cup; however, all the teams at this point cannot wait to start another great season of NHL Hockey.  

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NHL Eastern Conference Preview