After the NHL Draft and early days of free agency, the landscape of the Eastern Conference of the NHL is changing and certain teams are on the rise, while others are falling fast.
Teams on the rise:
Buffalo added more to their squad than just Jack Eichel
Buffalo Sabres: Starting with the NHL Draft this buffalo Sabres team is completely different to the one that had the worst record last season. First, they traded a first round pick to Ottawa for 24 year old goaltender Robin Lehner. Next, they draft the highly talented Jack Eichel. Then, they move underachieving Mikhail Grigorenko and young defenseman Nikita Zadorov along with J.T. Compher and a 2nd round pick for Ryan O'Reilly and Jamie McGinn. In free agency, the Sabres have added depth defensemen Matt Donovan and Carlo Colaiacovo. Look for Buffalo to improve by at least 25 points this season.
Justin Williams will add playoff experience to a Caps team trying to get over the hump
Washington Capitals: Washington is already a good team. They lost to the Rangers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in a devastating fashion, but definitely made moves to amend that. They got Ovechkin a lot of help for playoff success. Washington traded for T.J. Oshie and signed Justin Williams. Both should provide more secondary scoring for the Capitals that Ovechkin desperately needs to take this team to the next level.
Teams on the Decline:
Phil Kessel wil add offense to Pittsburgh, but at what cost
Pittsburgh Penguins: Pittsburgh added Phil Kessel, whcih should get them to have a video game style powerplay. They did however have to give up their best defensive prospect Scott Harrington in addition to Nick Spaling and Kaspari Kapanen. They added a scoring winger, but lost the core of their prospect pool. The Penguins aren't winners at all. They ignore defense and are a perennial first round exit. This team will continue to be a first round exit and then fall out of the playoffs as their roster continues to age. The Penguins are in big trouble as they continue to abandon the future.
Don Sweeney struggled in his first week as Bruins GM
Boston Bruins: What was this team doing this past week. They traded Dougie Hamilton for draft picks, they traded Milan Lucic for a backup goaltender in Martin Jones which they converted into a first and a prospect. They also had a bizarre time at the draft, where they drafted 3 reaches in a row. Then in free agency, they signed Matt Beleskey to an overpaid contract. Boston is looking like they are going to have to rely on Tuukka Rask again just to have a chance at a wild card spot. All in all, Don Sweeney's first week was a questionable one. The Bruins don't look like a recovering giant at all.