League Preview: The Atlantic Division
There’s not much sizzle in the Atlantic Division this season. The Saint John Sea Dogs looks like the team to beat in the East. They basically have the same team as they had last year. Just like a few years ago when the Gatineau Olympiques found Claude Giroux, the Sea Dogs have found their own player from Ontario. Chris DiDomenico had 95 points including 38 goals last season. They have three former 1st overall picks on defense. The biggest question mark is their goaltending
The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles look like the biggest threat to the Sea Dogs this season. All eyes will be on Olivier Roy this season as he tries to become the first goalie taking in the NHL Draft this year. Offensively they will be relying on their twenty-year-olds. Who knows what this team can do. Last season, they surprised everyone when they finished fourth in the Eastern Division.
The Prince Edward Island Rocket looks to make a strong push this season. They acquired Bobby Nadeau, a twenty-year-old goaltender. In the Import Draft, they selected Swedish forward Simon Olsson. They also have Chris Doyle, a sniper that should have a breakout year.
A team that could play the role of spoiler this season is the Moncton Wildcats. They could have the best defense in the entire league. Returning is Mark Barberio but the first year players will be able to step in right away. First round pick, Brandon Gormley looks like a good one, New Hampshire native Paul Dimitruk should have a solid year, but the wildcard will be Vjateslav Voinov. He has been playing against man in the old Russian Super League the last two seasons. He will head to Los Angeles Kings training camp and from there, it will be the King decision if he’s ready for the pros or Moncton for more seasoning.
Don’t expect the Acadie-Bathurst Titan to do much this season. Mathieu Perrault has moved onto the professional ranks. Tomas Svoboda has also moved onto the professional game. Eric Faille will be the go to guy this season for the Titan.
It looks like the Halifax Mooseheads will start from the bottom and work their way back to the top. That could take a few years. Brad Marchand and Andrew Bodnarchuk will most likely be with the Providence Bruins this season. Bryce Swan has also moved on. Don’t be surprised if Logan MacMillan gets traded during the winter trade period.
Saint John Sea Dogs
2007-2008 Season: 41-22-4-3 (2nd in the Eastern Division)
Off-Season Additions: Dillen Theriault (From Shawinigan)
Off-Season Subtractions: Scott McDonald (To Halifax), Brett Gallant (To Lewiston)
Players that Aged Out: Alexander Picard-Hooper and Scott Howes
The offense will go through Chris DiDomenico. He might not be a flashy goal scorer but he knows how to put the points up. Ryan Sparling should have a good year as one of the twenty year olds on the team. Another veteran that should have a good year is Payton Liske. He had 43 points last year but his production should jump. The wildcard is Steven Anthony. He didn’t see much ice time last year but he has talent. Is he willing to work? That’s another question that will have to be answered.
The defense should be set with three former 1st overall selections on the roster. Alex Grant provides the offense with 15 goals and 33 assists. Yann Sauve is the defensive defenseman with 6 goals, 15 assists, 21 points and 96 penalty minutes. Simon Despres is coming into his sophomore campaign where he had a goal and 13 assists in his rookie year.
With Travis Fullerton gone, Robert Mayer will need bounce back from a bad year. The Switzerland native was a highly regarded two years ago. Maybe with a season under his belt he will have a good year. I was surprised to see the Sea Dogs not go for an insurance policy in net for this season. Their back-up looks to be Troy Passingham.
Prediction: 1st in the Atlantic
Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
2007-2008 Season: 40-24-3-3 (4th in the East)
Off-Season Additions: Michael Stinziani (From Gatineau), Logan Shaw (1st Round Selection), and Artem Demkov (Import Selection)
Off-Season Subtractions: Alex Lamontagne (To Gatineau), Marek Benda (To Baie-Comeau), and Neil Sherren (To Montreal)
Players that Aged Out: Dean Ouellet and Jordan Clendenning
The Screaming Eagles have three talented overagers in Chris Culligan, Robert Slaney, and Joey Haddad. Culligan had 19 goals and 49 assists. Slaney had 55 points including 26 goals. Haddad had 31 goals and a total of 62 points. Nick McNeil should provide some secondary scoring. He had 23 goals last season. Logan Shaw could have an impact this season.
On defense, they don’t have that proven offensive defenseman, as they did last year with Alex Lemontagne. Spencer Corcoran had 15 points last season. Mathieu Brodeur, a Phoenix Coyotes draft pick, had a goal and six assists last year. Who will step up as that number one defenseman?
Cape Breton doesn’t need the defense like Saint John has because they have Olivier Roy in net. Last season he had 27 wins and 14 losses, with a 2.87 goals against average and a .896 save percentage. Chris Holden will be the back up.
Prediction: 2nd in the Atlantic
Prince Edward Island Rocket
2007-2008 Season: 30-36-2-2 (7th in the East)
Off-Season Additions: Bobby Nadeau (From Chicoutimi), Maxime Provencher (From Chicoutimi), Louis-Philippe Lacroix (From Quebec) Ben Duffy (1st Round Selection), and Simon Olsson (Import Selection)
Off-Season Subtractions: Marc-Antoine Gelinas (To Gatineau) and Jan Kana (To Europe)
Players that Aged Out: Geoff Walker, Jason Swit, Brad Gallant, and Martin Latal
The offense will go through Chris Doyle and Simon Olsson. Doyle had 63 points last year. He had 27 goals also last season. He will need to step up his game for this team to have success. Olsson is a playmaking forward. Expect him to have a good season as a 19-year-old first year player. Matthew Lachaine should be a great secondary option as he had 20 goals and 46 total points. It’s a tough loss that Jan Kana has headed back to the Czech Republic.
Defensively Maxime Provencher will step right in. Last year with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, he only had 10 points but he will be a key leader. Dylan Quaile should also have a very good year. Between the Rocket and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, he had 9 goals and 17 assists. They also acquired young defensemen last season to play a bigger role this season.
Bobby Nadeau is a solid pick-up by the Rocket. Last season he was 19-21 with a 2.68 goals against average and a .897 save percentage. He could steal a few games for Prince Edward Island. Evan Mosher will be the back-up.
Prediction: 3rd in the Atlantic
2007-2008 Season: 21-34-5-10 (8th in the East)
Off-Season Additions: Brandon Gormley (1st round pick), Louis Boileau-Domingue (1st Round Pick), Alexander Fomin (Import Selection) and Vyateslav Voinov (Import Section)
Off-Season Subtractions: Charles Lavigne (To Quebec), Alexi Pianosi (To Victoriaville), and Matt Brenton (To Montreal)
Players that Aged Out: Chris Morehouse
Two young guys need to step up this season. Matt Brown and Devon MacAusland didn’t put the points up last year. Both of them are a year older comes more responsibilities. Jesse Biduke could be a key contributor this season. They need to get the offense going. Zach Sill will be a secondary scoring option as a 20-year-old. This team won’t be a run and shoot team and will just get by offensively.
Defense is their strong suit. Mark Barberio is coming back as the leading scorer on the blue line. He had 12 goals and 37 assists last year. Brandon Gormley is an offensive defenseman. He will be able to step right in and contribute. The Moncton Wildcats are hoping that the Kings send Voinov down to Moncton. If he does show up, he should be able to jump in on the number one defensive pairing.
In net, they have veteran Nicola Riopel who had a 15-19-10 record with a 3.04 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. He showed he can keep this team in it last season. He will need to do the same again this season. Louis Boileau-Domingue was the first goalie taking in the draft this past summer. He will be the back-up and should be the starter next season.
Prediction: 4th in the Atlantic
2007-2008 Season: 41-25-2-2 (3rd in the East)
Off-Season Additions: Charles Vouligny (From Drummondville), Paul Dorsey (From Victoriaville), Jonathan Lessard (From Drummondville), Radek Vlasanek (From Drummondville), Joel Senecal (From Val d’Or), Vincent Arseneau (1st Round Selection), Stefan Fournier (First Round Selection), and Radovan Pulis (Import Selection)
Off-Season Subtractions: Antoine Tardif (To Drummondville), Dany Masse (To Drummondville), and Kyle McNeil (To Val d’Or)
Players that Aged Out: Mathieu Perreault, Tomas Svoboda, Jonathan Laberge, and Ryan Graham
The offense is losing a lot of firepower from last season after losing three of their top four scorers. Tomy Joly is coming back and he had 79 points last year. The question with him is will he be around for the entire season? Chances are high that he will be traded by Christmas. Eric Faille will need to step up and provide the goal scoring for this team.
Defensively Drew Paris is an offensive defenseman. Last year he had 55 points between Drummondville and Acadie-Bathurst. Will he be on his way out this season also? He will be a player that contending teams will keep an eye out. Maxime Renaud looks like another solid defenseman. He had 26 points last season.
Nicolas Champion will be between the pipes for the Titan this season. Last year he had 25 wins and 11 losses. His goals against average was 2.98 and he had a .894 save percentage. It will be interesting if he can keep his goals against average the same or lower and face more shots then he did last year?
Prediction: 5th in the Atlantic
2007-2008 Season: 42-23-0-5 (1st in the East)
Off-Season Additions: Scott MacDonald (From Saint John), Linden Bahm (From Shawinigan),
Off-Season Subtractions: David Bouchard (To Chicoutimi) and Guillaume Monast (To Quebec)
Players that Aged Out: Peter-James Corsi (ECHL), Ryan Hillier, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Brad Marchand, Bryce Swan, Colby Pridham and Pier-Olivier Pelletier
At least they still have Jakub Voracek for the time being. Voracek could stick with the Columbus Blue Jackets this season. If he’s sent back it will be a bidding war for his services. Since he’s European, he can be moved at any point of the season until the trade deadline. Don’t expect him to stay in Halifax this season. Logan MacMillan will also need to step up after a year where he was suffered from fatigue. If he does bounce back, is his days numbered in Halifax? Tomas Knotek will most likely lead this team offensively this season. I like Travis Randell to have a good year.
With the graduation of Andrew Bodnarchuk, Justin Pender and Graham Bona will be the defensive leaders on the team. They also have young guys like Richard Greer and Gabriel O’Connor that will need to grow as defensemen.
In the cage, Mark Yetman will be the number one goalie. He was the back-up last season he had 16-8 record with a 3.12 goals against average and a .891 save percentage. Backing him up this season is Mathieu Corbeil-Thériault.
Prediction: 6th in the Atlantic
That’s My Take