So, instead of pretending I know anything about Cesar Hernandez, I just ask. And then he tells me, and then I know.
When it comes to hockey, I admittedly do not know as much about non-Metropolitan teams as I should. The Atlantic, for example, is a division that I should probably be way more educated about that I am.
Thankfully, The Hockey News (I think it might just be Dom Luszczyszyn) is rolling out their season previews for all 30 NHL teams, so we can learn new things to make us sound smarter. And as we all know, sounding smart is the only thing that matters on Hockey Twitter.
Projected Atlantic Division Standings
- Tampa Bay (85.7% chance of making the playoffs)
- Boston (80.2%)
- Florida (79.1%)
- Montreal (78.5%)
- Ottawa (36.4%)
- Detroit (31.5%)
- Toronto (16.2%)
- Buffalo (3.6%)
Boston being that high might be a surprise, but they have a stellar group of top-six forwards and their struggles on defense might be over-exaggerated by people around the league. I would have expected Florida to be above Boston, but it appears the only difference between the teams in this model is Tuukka Rask being better than Roberto Luongo.
The playoff race is the Atlantic is a four-horse race, because Ottawa and Detroit both have to deal with the two-headed monster of A Lot Of Crap At The End Of The Roster and Questions About Their Goaltending.
Toronto and Buffalo are going to stink, and they aren't going to care. Load up those prospect pipelines, baby!
I'm going to list the top-ranked players by position, and I'm cutting that ranking off at guys considered either first-line forwards, number one defensemen, or top-ten goalies. THN ranks everyone in the league by Game Score Above Replacement Per 60 Minutes and Game Score Value Added.
Best Forwards In The Division
- Patrice Bergeron, Boston (2.05 GSAR/60, 3.4 GSVA)
- Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay (1.73, 2.7)
- Brad Marchand, Boston (1.71, 2.6)
- Max Pacioretty, Montreal (1.66, 2.6)
- Brendan Gallagher, Montreal (1.72, 2.5)
- Tomas Tatar, Detroit (1.58, 2.1)
- Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay (1.24, 2.0)
- Mark Stone, Ottawa (1.22, 2.0)
- David Pastrnak, Boston (1.42, 1.9)
- Alexander Radulov, Montreal (1.30, 1.9)
- Mike Hoffman, Ottawa (1.24, 1.9)
- Reilly Smith, Florida (1.19, 1.9)
- Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay (1.18, 1.8)
- Vincent Trochek, Florida (1.16, 1.8)
- Jussi Jokinen, Florida (1.19, 1.7)
- Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay (1.18, 1.7)
- Dylan Larkin, Detroit (1.12, 1.7)
- Kyle Okposo, Buffalo (1.11, 1.7)
- Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida (1.08, 1.7)
- Aleksandr Barkov, Florida (1.03, 1.7)
- Alex Galchenyuk, Montreal (1.03, 1.6)
- Gustav Nyquist, Detroit (1.12, 1.5)
- William Nylander, Toronto (1.05, 1.5)
- Frans Nielsen, Detroit (0.98, 1.5)
- Nazem Kadri, Toronto (0.94, 1.5)
- David Krejci, Boston (0.90, 1.5)
I guess I should mention that I don't really understand what those two GS stats stand for or mean, but obviously more of both is good. Patrice Bergeron is the best in the divison in both categories. It shouldn't be a surprise to anybody, but he's the most valuable forward in the division.
Best Defensemen In The Division
- Erik Karlsson, Ottawa (1.39 GSAR/60, 3.3 GSAV)
- Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay (1.30, 2.7)
- Torey Krug, Boston (1.14, 2.2)
- Anton Stralman, Tampa Bay (0.80, 1.6)
- Mike Green, Detroit (0.84, 1.5)
- Aaron Ekblad, Florida (0.78, 1.5)
- Keith Yandle, Florida (0.69 (nice), 1.3)
Here's another one that shouldn't be a surprise to anybody. Karlsson is the best defenseman in the division, and probably the whole league - though Hedman is closing the gap on both counts.
You'll notice that the Montreal Canadiens don't have any players on this list, and that's because they don't have any defensemen that rank as Number One Defensemen according to THN's rankings. Hmmm. The Leafs and Sabres, likewise, do not have a number one blueliner, but those two franchises also did not recently trade away a guy who projects at 0.94 GSAR/60 and 2.1 GSVA.
Best Goalies In The Division
- Carey Price, Montreal (0.29 GSAR/60, 3.3 GSAV)
- Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay (0.20, 2.3)
- Tuuka Rask, Boston (0.18, 2.1)
This should be even less of a surprise than Bergeron and Karlsson. Carey Price dominated the league before he got hurt last season, and Montreal's personnel moves this summer seem to indicate that they plan to protect him even more than they used to.
Worst Players In The Division, Starting Lineup
Winger: Drew Miller, Detroit (-0.77, -0.8)
Center: Zac Rinaldo, Boston (-0.93, -0.6)
Winger: Nicolas Deslauriers, Boston (-0.86, -0.7)
Defenseman: Mark Borowiecki, Ottawa (-0.50, -0.7)
Defenseman: Josh Gorges, Buffalo (-0.55, -0.8)
Goalie: Jimmy Howard, Detroit (-0.06, -0.3)
Fun fact: Jimmy Howard's cap hit is almost $5.3 million, and he's signed through 2018-19 (with a No Movement Clause through next season).
Here are the full rankings/projections: