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Buccigross: Flyers, Thrashers are early winners

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In no particular order, let's look at how each team stacks up in the Eastern Conference. Next week, we'll look at the Western Conference. These are not official season previews -- that comes in late September when all the rosters are set.

Atlantic Division

New Jersey Devils

They are starting to resemble the Columbus Blue Jackets, except they have Martin Brodeur. Small up the middle and not a lot of goal-scoring punch on the wings. Losing Scott Niedermayer is devastating. He controlled games with his skating. After such an amazing run, the Devils have issues. Of course, they are in good hands. If I bought an NHL team tomorrow, Lou Lamoriello would be my GM -- hands down. I bet right now he's thinking, "Do I trade Marty and start over again?" And he's also thinking, "I think if everything falls right, we can win the East." But, the first thought will win out. Not that he will trade Brodeur, but he needs to think about trading him -- and John Madden and Brian Rafalski. At the first sign of a struggle this season, I would trade all three guys and start again. Get draft picks, get prospects, get younger, get Wade Redden, get Phil Kessel and get ready for the new arena. The salary cap requires one to think in such cold, unthinkable terms.

New York Islanders

At this point, I find them small, soft and generally uninteresting.

Philadelphia Flyers

Clearly the class of the division. They will win the Atlantic by at least 25 points. Strong up the middle, strong on the back. Simon Gagne is the key in a lot of this to me. A 35-40-goal season from Gagne makes the Flyers elite. The Flyers have that beautiful mix of young and old. However, the question remains: Will they have a steady goaltender come playoff time?

New York Rangers

Trade Jaromir Jagr now. This team is in that might-kind-of-barely-make-the-playoffs-and-draft-ninth-overall-forever mode. Clear cap space, develop players who want to be Rangers, hope you win next year's ping-pong ball contest, draft Kessel, and let Joe Thornton and Vincent Lecavalier's people covertly know that huge money and term years await these Broadway-bound darlings next summer. Does Glen Sather even think this way? Or is he thinking about his next cigar and next fishing expedition? Martin Straka? Are you kidding me?

Pittsburgh Penguins

I'm surprised the Penguins didn't sign Paul Kariya. Two years at $4.5 million per year seems reasonable and within their cap budget. I think it would have brought a little more certainty to the Pens. Can Evgeni Malkin step in and play? I loved him at the World Juniors -- he had Mats Sundin qualities. Can Ryan Whitney step in and have an impact on defense? Do they roll the dice with Marc-Andre Fleury and sign a veteran backup? Or do they spend a little more and sign Curtis Joseph just in case? Tough call. But with Ziggy Palffy agreeing to a deal this weekend, the Penguins can now think playoffs and maybe even win a round.

Northeast Division

Buffalo Sabres

Very curious. I thought for sure Tom Golisano was going to spend some of his billions to add to this interesting roster. There isn't much left out there via free agency. Perhaps their plan is to keep plenty of cap space, give their young players another year to develop and go for it next year. If the NHL is truly an exhibition of speed and skill, Buffalo is ahead of the curve. But I just don't see much semblance of any defense here, and I still believe we will not see an explosion of goals this season. Defense will still win the Stanley Cup.

Boston Bruins

The fact that Peter Forsberg was there to be had and Boston didn't make it happen is very troubling if you are a Bruins fan. Did the Bruins offer two years at $12 million? If not, why not? Would Forsberg have taken it? I think Boston would have been a better fit for Forsberg. He could have played with the incredibly smart and fast Sergei Samsonov and Patrice Bergeron. That would have been the highest IQ line in hockey. I assume the Bruins will plug in Brad Isbister with Thornton and Glen Murray, setting Isbister up for a Mike Knuble-like career year. The Bruins are good and will make the playoffs. But they could have been really good and had a shot at the Stanley Cup. I don't see that right now.

Montreal Canadiens

Nothing real exciting to talk about here. They are a very competent organization. Run well. Great tradition. Good, young players. Solid veterans. But they have Radek Bonk, and for me, he is akin to Gloria Estefan. I don't want to hear, see, or have anything to do with Gloria Estefan and Radek Bonk. They are the only two people on Earth I feel that way about, and I can't give you an intelligent reason why. I do find great joy in watching Mathieu Dandenault.

Ottawa Senators

If these new rules do mean more goals, no one is scoring more than these guys. But if they are counting on Dominik Hasek to win them a Stanley Cup, they'd be just as well off if John Muckler was running things in Ottawa. What? He is?! My bad.

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs are obviously a bit bloated and aging. If Jason Allison is healthy, the Leafs should have enough to make the playoffs. But this team needs to make a decision, and my decision would be to blow it up. Strip thyself of salary, get a high draft pick and go after unrestricted free agents in the next summer or two. This team is like Journey or some other band that continues to tour with the name and keeps plugging in new people when others in the band die, go bald or become David Lee Roth. They need a whole new identity.

Southeast Division

Atlanta Thrashers

This team is going to the playoffs. Bobby Holik gives the Thrashers much-needed size up front. Their defense is solid, they have grit and goal scoring up front and Kari Lehtonen is the real deal in net. Also, come trade-deadline time, GM Don Waddell will have enough young resources to make a deal and tidy things up.

Carolina Hurricanes

They look like an expansion team. Serviceable veterans to plug holes until the high draft picks are hopefully ready. The Hurricanes need to get into the lottery and hopefully get the No. 1 pick to draft Kessel. They will have loads of cap room in the coming years, so if they stay the course, they will be fine.

Florida Panthers

When you have Roberto Luongo, you have a chance. But can this team score enough goals? They will be tough, but if the veterans get banged up or suddenly lose a step, it could be difficult to compete with Atlanta's and Tampa Bay's offenses. But if the Panthers can beat up on Washington and Carolina, they may be able to make it three teams from the Southeast in the playoffs.

Tampa Bay Lightning

This team is loaded, but what is the plan in net? Does the team make the goalie? Nikolai Khabibulin had a .910 save percentage and three shutouts during the regular season in 2003-04. If they can find someone to equal those numbers, they should still win the division and be a Stanley Cup contender.

Washington Capitals

This is obviously the worst team in the NHL. But that is good. This is the team that drafted American-born Bobby Carpenter and they will be rewarded for that by winning the NHL draft lottery next May for the right to draft Kessel. That should be the Caps' plan this season. Be as bad as possible. Alexander Ovechkin is the real deal and will be reason enough to buy a ticket in D.C. Everyone can't become instant contenders via free agency. The Caps need to stink, draft, stink, draft for a couple of more years, and then they can see where they are. Otherwise, they are just wasting money. The NHL will come to resemble the NFL in terms of parity. The NHL will also become very young. In some respects that is good, because the game is going to become much faster. We already know the NHL is a much better game than the NFL's six-seconds-of-action, 30-seconds-of-walking-around show. Relax, Capital fans. You could be raising a Cup in 3-5 years. There is hope."

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I dont like the guy to much but with the whole maybe trade marty and madden and rafalski and start over..

If Lou would definately stay around.. why not.. but if he doesnt than i wouldnt do it. With Lou at the helm the devils can rebuild no problem.. i honestly dont see a problem with this. Who knows.. i know itll never happen.. but.. Maybe Buccigross could be right for once in his life

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New Jersey Devils

They are starting to resemble the Columbus Blue Jackets, except they have Martin Brodeur. Small up the middle and not a lot of goal-scoring punch on the wings. Losing Scott Niedermayer is devastating. He controlled games with his skating. After such an amazing run, the Devils have issues. Of course, they are in good hands. If I bought an NHL team tomorrow, Lou Lamoriello would be my GM -- hands down. I bet right now he's thinking, "Do I trade Marty and start over again?" And he's also thinking, "I think if everything falls right, we can win the East." But, the first thought will win out. Not that he will trade Brodeur, but he needs to think about trading him -- and John Madden and Brian Rafalski. At the first sign of a struggle this season, I would trade all three guys and start again. Get draft picks, get prospects, get younger, get Wade Redden, get Phil Kessel and get ready for the new arena. The salary cap requires one to think in such cold, unthinkable terms.

Bucci, are you fvcking kidding me? The Devils don't rebuild, they reload. The loss of Scott Niedermayer does not signal the end of days. The Devils might not be serious Cup contenders at present, but they're not garbage either.

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fvck Stan Fishler, this guy is the stupidest hockey writer.  An obvious Devil-hater much?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Quick to diss Fishler? ...it was Bucci's article? lol

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What cough medicine did Bucci take when he wrote this?

The Devils aren't trading Brodeur.

I did find the line about Sather's next fishing expedition priceless.

The Flyers are winning the Atlantic by 25 points??? :rofl:

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The Devs are in a crossroads... they are in one every year, and we are annually in the playoffs. Every year, even the rangers are ranked above us... Thats because hockey writers base things off paper, they dont base it off results.

Lou can envision chemistry; and knows how to build a lockerroom. Meanwhile, reporters think the Rangers of old method is to stack a team with stars and you'll net their results. Unfortunately, this doesnt work.

Mark my words, Philly WILL NOT win the division by 25 points. Philly may indeed win the divison, but it will not be such a domiant (at least 15.432% better than any division rival) force.

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I hope John can hook me up with the guy selling him dope, 'cuz it's gotta be awfully good stuff !!

y8574.gif

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It bothers me when writers on any sport suggest that a team rebuild.

A team should only rebuild in any sport when it has completely blown apart its salary structure and is operating with a mix of over the hill veterans with virtually untradeable contracts and minor league all-stars masquerading as major league players. These types of teams can make the playoffs with some trades and free agent acquisitions, but they're just giving themselves an even worse future by doing so - it is at this point that they should consider cutting as much salary as possible and forgetting about playoff contention for a few years, to put themselves in line for a championship six to ten years down the road.

How often have teams in any sport seriously undergone 'rebuilding' consciously? Not very many. I suppose the Padres did it in the 90s, the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals are doing it now, and there are some others, but teams should NEVER 'rebuild' unless forced to by drastic economic issues or a complete lack of talent.

Edited by Triumph

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fvck Stan Fishler, this guy is the stupidest hockey writer.  An obvious Devil-hater much?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Quick to diss Fishler? ...it was Bucci's article? lol

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yeah I know...the post should read "the hell with Stan Fishler, this guy (Bucci) is the stupidest hockey writer."

It's kinda obvious...

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I realized it on a second read, but was too lazy to modify my post...

Regaurdless, theres very few hockey commentators I look fwrd to reading nowadays... I think thats a sad point in hockey right now.

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I bet right now he's thinking, "Do I trade Marty and start over again?"

I'm sorry but this is the stupidest thing I've ever read regarding the Devils. And that's saying something.

Edited by Devils30

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I use to respect Bucci ... until I read this, what is he talking about?! Is this the same guy they let host NHL2NIGHT , come on now. What a stunod.

"Relax, Capital fans. You could be raising a Cup in 3-5 years. There is hope"

Two lines before that he had them still stinkin and draftin 3 years from now. Did John Buccigross really write this?

Edited by CaptainRafalski

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Regaurdless, theres very few hockey commentators I look fwrd to reading nowadays...  I think thats a sad point in hockey right now.

I *used* to look forward to reading Bucci, but he's been putting out pure crap lately. It's almost like he went out to lunch when the lockout started and hasn't bothered to come back.

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I really loved bucci...but i think this lockout made him go insane...look at this crap for writing. I mean its still signature bucci style in terms of HOW he's writing, but its just...awful in terms of what...

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Please, Philly will be nothing special. They lost a considerable amount of depth and veteran leadership. Also, does chemistry mean anything to anyone? The Flyers overturned their first two lines pretty much. Pittsburgh is bringing in different youngsters and vets from all over the league and the world. The Devils, minus a couple players, have very much the same core of players they won the cup in 03 with. New Jersey will win the divison.

He's saying start over? Within 3 years, the Devils will have turned over 6-7 of their forwards with young prospects.

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Good let these writers keep penning crap, then maybe Devils fans will unite and rally behind the team instead of posting similar stuff (to what Bucci wrote) on the board :lol:

There's no way you scorch-the-earth rebuild and maintain your credibility as a franchise when you are a three-time champion, you had 100 points the last time there was an NHL season and you still have: Brodeur, one of the best checking lines in the league, depth - if not star shut-down players - at D, offensive forces like Elias, Gomez and hopefully Parise and a bunch of solid role players. The Devils are not going to be so far out of the playoffs in February that they'd even have to think of dumping players, much less Marty. Marty's still what, 32? If he was 39 and a UFA at the end of the year I could see the point (though at that point you'd rather he retire as a Devil anyway).

While I'm at it let these stupid writers keep talking up Philly as a shoo-in. They have a nice mix on paper, but some of their top end players do have injury issues and their prospects have all been great in the AHL but who knows how that translates to the NHL, certainly this year they're not all going to play like ten-year vets.

Edited by Hasan4978

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I bet right now he's thinking, "Do I trade Marty and start over again?"

:blink: Uhhhh..... I don't think Lou's thinking that Bucci. Try again.

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Right now Lou is thinking "Why am I the only GM who understands how this cap system will unfold over the next 5 years?"

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Right now Lou is thinking "Why am I the only GM who understands how this cap system will unfold over the next 5 years?"

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

"Because I wrote it! Muhahaha!"

Edited by sammyk

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Right now Lou is thinking "Why am I the only GM who understands how this cap system will unfold over the next 5 years?"

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

"Because I'm the only GM that had a hand in writing it. That and most of the other GMs are dumber than your average Philthy fan."

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Right now Lou is thinking "Why am I the only GM who understands how this cap system will unfold over the next 5 years?"

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

"Because I wrote it! Muhahaha!"

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I guess I'm just a little slow on the draw. :hail:

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Right now Lou is thinking "Why am I the only GM who understands how this cap system will unfold over the next 5 years?"

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

"Because I'm the only GM that had a hand in writing it. That and most of the other GMs are dumber than your average Philthy fan."

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

A lot of GM's are dumb- but not dumber than the average Philthy fan. I know amoebas that are smarter than the average Philthy fan.

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Right now Lou is thinking "Why am I the only GM who understands how this cap system will unfold over the next 5 years?"

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

"Because I wrote it! Muhahaha!"

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

:hail:

:wub: Love the avatar

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