Detroit Red Wings: Predicting how the Atlantic Division will Shape Up

DETROIT, MI - APRIL 07: Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin (71) is congratulated by his teammates on the bench after scoring a goal during the third period of a regular season NHL hockey game between the New York Islanders and the Detroit Red Wings on April 7, 2018, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. New York defeated Detroit 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - APRIL 07: Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin (71) is congratulated by his teammates on the bench after scoring a goal during the third period of a regular season NHL hockey game between the New York Islanders and the Detroit Red Wings on April 7, 2018, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. New York defeated Detroit 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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Tampa Bay Ligtning
(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Tampa Bay Lightning will win the Atlantic Division.

The Lightning we suspect will win a close division race with the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs.  I would say the Leafs are the deepest upfront of the three teams.  The Bruins are solid all around but don’t have quite as much depth.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have the best defensive group of the bunch.  Also a Vezina Trophy candidate in Andrei Vasilevskiy.

The Stars:

Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are both perennial goal scorers.  Both players have the opportunity to achieve 40 goals each every season.  Brayden Point is a player who sort of broke out last season for the Lightning, expect an encore performance out of Point this season.

Tyler Johnson isn’t a star, but he is the Detroit Red Wings killer, I feel obligated to write him in because of that alone.

Victor Hedman is one of the best defensemen in all of hockey.  Hedman plays nearly 30 minutes a night and can take over the game when he is feeling up to it.  I wouldn’t say he is anything near Nicklas Lidstrom, but he has the same type of impact on a nightly basis for his club, similar to what Chris Pronger did when he was going right.

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The Lightning traded for Ryan McDonagh last season, another impact defender added to the stable.  They were able to re-sign Ryan locking him and Hedman both up for the long-term.  Expect McDonagh to be paired with his old friend from the Rangers days, Dan Girardi.

Hedman often plays with the reliable Anton Stralman.  TB traded Jonathan Drouin last offseason to the Montreal Canadians for Mikhail Sergachev.  Mikhail is currently a third pair defender.  I expect him to take a step forward; he is heading towards being an impact NHL defender.

The Ugly:

How much ugly can there be with the team expected to win the Eastern Conference?  The only weakness is the bottom 6 forwards.  The Tampa Bay Lightning are a top-heavy scoring forward club.  They have the players and scorers to carry the club, but they could look to add depth if they can fit it under their salary cap.

Next. Potential 30 Goal achievers for the Detroit Red Wings. dark

The 5th and 6th rated defenders are old and play up and down throughout the season.  Brayden Coburn is anything but a gifted skater, and Dan Girardi has lost a step.

That is about it; the Lightning are Cup contenders, expect them to finish around 110 points.