Aside from Tampa Bay, who’s the best team in the Atlantic?
IAN SHEPPARD: It’s so hard not to say Tampa Bay! The best team in the Atlantic other than them for me though would have to be the Boston Bruins. They’re a playoff contender every year and their young depth is gaining experience now putting them in a better spot. They also bring that patented Bruins nastiness that I think gives them an edge.
The other reason I take Boston is that the only other possible team you could mention is Toronto and I’m just not sold on them as being a team that could actually give Tampa Bay some legit competition.
WYATT ZIEGER: It’s gotta be the Boston Bruins for me. Top to bottom they’d be the best team in the division (other than TB) they had an 18 game point streak, mostly without Pastrnak and Big Z is still showing no signs of aging even at 42 years young. The Leafs are going to have their work cut out for them in that first-round matchup.
TYLER YAREMCHUK: Boston is more proven than Toronto so I will say them. Toronto’s forward group makes me think about this one, but I really like Boston’s defence. Goaltending a wash between the two of them. The Bruins playoff experience also attributes to me going with them over the Leafs.
Aside from Washington, who’s the best team in the Metro?
IAN SHEPPARD: The Islanders for me! I would like to say Pittsburgh because they have the playoff experience and could make the deeper run, but ultimately New York has the better team for me. For a roster that isn’t necessarily deep, they’ve been playing better than most people would think. With a goal differential of +28 this year the Isle are being led by one of the best coaches ever and for me are the best team aside from Washington.
Goaltending is also a factor that sets them apart right now with Robin Lehner having an outstanding season landing in the top-5 in GAA a stat he’s had as his best of his career as a starter so far.
WYATT ZIEGER: How could you not say Pittsburgh? I know based off this year that they may not seem like the most dominant but get them in he playoffs and anything could happen. They have everything you want in a team and they’ve done it all before lead by Crosby.
TYLER YAREMCHUK: Am I a fool for continuing to doubt the Islanders? Maybe, but I will. I don’t trust their goaltending and they don’t have the star power up front that someone like Pittsburgh does. Despite their struggles during the regular season, I look at Pittsburgh and see an experienced team, a dynamic forward group, and a goaltender that has been through a few long playoff runs. I wouldn’t want to play them in the first round.
Who’s the best NHL prospect not currently playing in the NHL?
IAN SHEPPARD: My knowledge on NHL prospects doesn’t span very widely so bare with me over this portion of the blog. Rather than me listing who I think the best prospect is and risk looking foolish with my lack of knowledge I’m going to name a few obvious ones not currently the NHL that I look forward to seeing in the future.
Filip Zadina in the Red Wings organization who’s been up and down this year certainly ranks high up on the list. Zadina has put up 31 points in the AHL this year and his permanent stay in the NHL is one many are excited to see. From a goaltending view, Carter Hart is an obvious choice but he’s currently with the big club right now.
I’ll go with Michael DiPietro had a tremendous World Junior tournament this year and has made a start for the Canucks this year, although it was rushed. DiPietro has 23 wins this year in the AHL and 4 shutouts.
WYATT ZIEGER: HOMER PICK TIME: Maxime Comtois, he’s had an injury-plagued season but still has 31 goals in just 25 games and 48 points. He captained Canada at the WJC and finished with 5-1-6 in 5 games. The only reason he’s not in the NHL right now is the fear of losing him to Seattle in the expansion draft. Expect him to have a long, fruitful NHL career.
TYLER YAREMCHUK: Going to give a little bit of love to the AJHL and say Cale Makar. The former fourth overall pick was good with Team Canada is having a hell of a season with U-Mass with 46 points in 36 games. Those are historic kind of numbers in the NCAA. He’s a little undersized, but he’s dynamic and can move the puck very efficiently. He’s the exact definition of what a modern NHL defenseman should be.