Sunday, August 08, 2010

Best Sixes in the Northeast Division

Nathan HortonDerek RoyTomas PlekanecDaniel AlfredssonPhil Kessel
Patrice BergeronTim ConnollyScott GomezJason SpezzaKris Versteeg
David KrejciJason PominvilleMike CammalleriMike FisherNikolai Kulemin
Zdeno CharaTyler MyersAndrei MarkovSergei GoncharTomas Kaberle
Dennis SeidenbergJordan LeopoldRoman HamrlikFilip KubaDion Phaneuf
Tuukka RaskRyan MillerAlex AuldBrian ElliotJonas Gustavsson

I am liking the look of this Northeast Division, if we were just looking at these top six guys. Again, this is just the top three forwards, two defense and goalie, that has to be signed with the club, sorted by points in the pool. This is not a starting line-up or trying to be a starting line-up, this is just a comparison of players in points.  Between right now and next weekend, I expect this table to change a bit, especially with names like Kaberle and Auld on it right now.  I will compare it nonetheless...

If I was to pick a favourite top three out of these five teams, I kind of like Montreal's more than the others.  Adding Horton to Boston has chemistry questions, Connolly in Buffalo is such a wild card, Kulemin really isn't top three material in Toronto and Ottawa is so close, but I like Cammalleri the most between Montreal and Ottawa and he's the Habs 3rd guy.  There's plenty of offense from the 15 forwards on this table, but I like what Montreal did in the playoffs and I think it could roll into the regular season much easier than the other teams.

Top two defense pairings are crazy in this division and there is still some shaping left to do.  Even Toronto, at the moment, is not bad looking from an offensive standpoint.  I think it's kind of a wash right across the board, especially since each team has elements of size, offense and a good two-way game, playing well in their own end.  I, personally, may not ever pick Phaneuf, but I can realize that he is an offensive force when he wants to be and doesn't look bad on this table.

The defense may be a wash, but the goaltending isn't.  Ryan Miller is by far the best and brightest goalie on this list, although there is going to be a good push from Tuukka Rask in 2011, but I don't think there is much doubt who number one is going into the season.  Carey Price is still to be signed in Montreal and his place is where Alex Auld is right now, but he doesn't touch those two at the moment.

If this game was just these top six players, I would say it would be a good race between the Sabres and Canadiens right now, but it's a much bigger game than that and there are some deep teams here, which should make this division fun to watch.

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