Around the Atlantic: What to expect from the Leafs divisional rivals in 2023-24

Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
8 months ago
Welcome to Around the Atlantic, our weekly column that showcases any and everything going on around the Atlantic division. The Toronto Maple Leafs are heavy favourites to take home the crown at top spot, but regardless of the offseasons we’ve seen throughout the division, there’s going to be some tough tests coming.
While Brad Treliving and the Maple Leafs had themselves an offseason for the ages, here’s a closer look at what’s gone on around the Atlantic and what to expect from each team this season:

Boston Bruins

2022-23 Divisional Rank: 1st
2022-23 Record: 65-12-5
Next Game vs Maple Leafs: Thursday Nov.2 @ Boston
2023-24 Season Outlook: After one of the most historic regular seasons in sports history, the Bruins are expected to take a step back this season. With the retirements of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, the B’s are thin down the middle and this could be something that’s addressed at some point this season. For now, Pavel Zacha and Charlie Coyle are going to play heavy minutes down the middle of their top six. Boston’s defensive core is led by Charlie McAvoy and Hampus Lindholm and they are set in net with Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman. It’s all going to come down to their forward group and how much production they can mustard. Boston has inserted a few youngsters into their lineup with the likes of John Beecher, Matthew Poitras and Jakob Lauko making the team out of training camp. We know David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand will carry this team, so we’ll see how strong their backs are to carry the load, but Boston only goes as far as their big guns can take them.

Tampa Bay Lightning

2022-23 Divisional Rank: 3rd
2022-23 Record: 46-30-6
Next Game vs Maple Leafs: Saturday Oct.21 @ Tampa Bay
2023-24 Season Outlook: The only Atlantic division team in action on opening night of the 2023/24 season, the Lightning have started the year 1-0 thanks to a 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators. The Lightning’s season will depend on how well their goaltending can hold the fort down until Andrei Vasilevskiy returns from a back injury. Jonas Johansson started the season as their number one and we’ll see if management ends up addressing their depth. Up front Steven Stamkos starts the season frustrated without having contract extension talks in the summer and the team has assembled basically a new bottom six. You can’t count out the Lightning, they’ll be in the mix comes Stanley Cup Playoff time.

Florida Panthers

2022-23 Divisional Rank: 4th
2022-23 Record: 42-32-8
Next Game vs Maple Leafs: Thursday Oct.19 @ Florida
2023-24 Season Outlook: One team many feel will take a giant step back this season, the Panthers are going to be interesting to watch. The are banged up on defense with Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour expected to miss time and the Cats are hopeful Oliver Ekman-Larsson can find the reset button in the mean time. Sergei Bobrovsky will get the majority of the work in net with Anthony Stolarz beating out Spencer Knight for the backup role. Expect big seasons from their big guns up front but it’s going to be their defense that receives the brunt of the scrutiny this season. It could be a long season for the Panthers in 2023-24.

Buffalo Sabres

2022-23 Divisional Rank: 5th
2022-23 Record: 42-33-7
Next Game vs Maple Leafs: Saturday Nov.4 @ Buffalo
2023-24 Season Outlook: Look out, here come the Sabres. One team you’ll see take another step forward, the Sabres are loaded with young talent who are finding their stride in the league. Rasmus Dahlin has his contract extension behind him, Owen Power’s is next. The Sabres love what they’re seeing from goaltender Devon Levi who looks ready for a 1-A starter’s work load. Up front Tage Thompson and Dylan Cozens will lead the way and there could be some more veteran help coming in the next few weeks. The Sabres are one of the favourites to land free-agent Patrick Kane. Even without Kane, the likes of Alex Tuch. Victor Olofsson and 19-year-old Zach Benson can handle the secondary scoring. Big things are coming in Buffalo.

Ottawa Senators

2022-23 Divisional Rank: 6th
2022-23 Record: 39-35-8
Next Game vs Maple Leafs: Wednesday Nov.8 @ Toronto
2023-24 Season Outlook: Another team expected to rise this season, here come the Senators. The rebuild is over and if Joonas Korpisalo can give Ottawa his best, the Sens have a real shot at skyrocketing up the standings in the Eastern Conference. The offense will be there, led by Tim Stutzle, Brady Tkachuk and Claude Giroux and the duo of Jakob Chychrun and Thomas Chabot should be fun to watch in their first full season playing together. The battle of Ontario is going to once again but just that…a battle. The Leafs can’t laugh off these Senators anymore.

Detroit Red Wings

2022-23 Divisional Rank: 7th
2022-23 Record: 35-37-10
Next Game vs Maple Leafs: Friday Nov.17 @ Detroit
2023-24 Season Outlook: A team still in transition, it’s going to be another long season ahead for the Red Wings. They’ve added Alex DeBrincat this offseason as they search for more offense and he’ll fit right in. The secondary scoring will be led by David Perron, Daniel Sprong and Lucas Raymond. Captain Dylan Larkin will need to take his game to new heights if he’s going to be able to lead this team to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. On defence it’s all Moritz Seider all day long. He’ll be in the conversation for the Norris at season’s end. The Wings have added ex-Maple Leafs blueliner Justin Holl and have another ex-Leaf in net, with James Reimer. Reims along with Ville Husso will carry the crease for the Wings and frankly, that’s not going to be good enough.

Montreal Canadiens

2022-23 Divisional Rank: 8th
2022-23 Record: 31-45-6
Next Game vs Maple Leafs: Opening night, Oct.11 @ Toronto
2023-24 Season Outlook: The Canadiens aren’t expecting much this season as they’ll be in the mix once again for the lottery. Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki will lead the way up front, but there’s a lot of holes in the Canadiens lineup. They’ll need bounce-back seasons from the likes of veterans Sean Monahan and Brendan Gallagher if they want to compete for a playoff spot. The Habs have a weak defense led by Michael Matheson and David Savard and until they have David Reinbacher in the lineup next season, their blueline will be their weak link. Samuel Montembeault should end up carrying the load in net and he’s on his way to becoming an above-average netminder in the league. Sorry Habs fans, you’re in for another long season in Montreal.
There we have it folks, the first Around the Atlantic in the books as the puck has dropped on another NHL season.

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