Eastern Conference Naughty List
Boston Bruins: Yes I know I am bound to catch flak over this one, but it is only my opinion after all. The Eastern Conference champions and Stanley Cup finalists are, in my mind, worse off then after they had to watch the Chicago Blackhawks lift the trophy in late June. The Tyler Seguin trade will, at least in the short-term, hurt them until the development of prospects they received becomes more well known. Loui Eriksson is a real nice player but not of the quality of Seguin in terms of speed and potential offensive production. Taking Jarome Iginla on a 1 year/6mm contract might have been a decent signing but something really gets me in the way this whole scenario played out. After spurning the Bs last season to play with Sid and making a failed run at the cup, he comes groveling back and gets accepted by the club he left at the altar. Who knows if Boston is able to overcome Chicago in a very tight finals with Iginla in the lineup. Seems very feasible to me to at least consider. With Nathan Horton, Andrew Ference and Rich Peverley also saying good-bye, the Bruins could struggle in the very short term.
Buffalo Sabres: For a team with so many holes, they did absolutely nothing to fill them. Facing a cap crunch with goaltender Ryan Miller and winger Thomas Vanek, they put both on the trade market and inflated the cost so much that teams, I can imagine, were hesitant to even pick up the phone to inquire. Miller has a new found high school drama attitude to match his mediocre stats and as mentioned previously in regards to Garth Snow locking up Nabokov, the goalie market has dried like a sack of quikrete. Small but skilled forward Nathan Gerbe was bought out using the amnesty clause and Cody Hodgson still needs to be signed. When your biggest moves of the summer include the signing of defenseman Jamie McBain and the acquisition of Henrik Tallinder, it all spells the makings of an especially cruel winter in upstate New York.
Washington Capitals: The Capitals were supposed to take the playoffs by storm in 2013 after adjusting to new coach Adam Oates and his transition, counter-attacking system. Instead they bowed out to the New York Rangers, giving a classically atrocious performance in game seven. With faux-MVP Alex Ovechkin (who somehow manages to get nominated to both first and second team all-star) and really nobody else up front in support, the Capitals lost Mike Ribeiro, Matt Hendricks, Joey Crabb and Jeff Schultz. With Tom Poti and Wojtek Wolski sure to not return as well, I cannot see this current Capitals team even making the playoffs in 2014 to be perfectly honest. Do not take the subtraction of Hendricks lightly. He was a very good, hard working grinder who played to 125% every night, which is much more than can be said of their current captain. If you don’t believe me, ask the Rangers how losing Brandon Prust affected their overall style of play last season.
Let me know in the comments who you think had a good and bad off-season so far and I will review the Western Conference in part II of my series coming up later in the week.