Tag Archives: Hockey Gloves

CCM Tacks protective

CCM Tacks protective — UltraTacks gloves, shoulders shins and elbows

Ultra Tacks Protective and Gloves
Ultra Tacks Protective and Gloves

Among the many innovative features being introduced to the hockey world by CCM this year, few are more impressive than their new D3O technology.

Almost a direct answer to Bauer’s Poron XRD foam that’s featured in the company’s helmets and protective equipment, the D3O technology is featured in specific impact areas of each piece of the new CCM Tacks protective line.

The D3O foam is designed to absorb high impact collisions while remaining soft and flexible. Upon impact, the foam contracts and then redirects the energy away from your body. Ultimately the foam is made to reduce the direct force felt by each hit.

CCM features the D3O foam in each shoulder cap of the Tacks shoulder pads, the kneecap of the shin guards and the elbow cap of the elbow pads, the hip section of the pants and the backhand and fingers of the gloves.

The Tacks protective line also features a new ventilated armor system that is easily noticeable on the chest portion of the shoulder pads, the bicep guards on the elbow pads and the interior portions of the pants. The molded foam armor is included in the 6052, 4052 and 2052 models while the 6052 shoulder pads also utilizes the new D3O lined shoulder caps.

In fact, the 6052 line is one of the best value buys in all of hockey as each model not only features the D3O foam but also nearly every other feature of the Ultra Tacks models.

The Ultra Tacks shin pads are built with an anatomical calf wrap reinforced with HD foam while both the 6052 and Ultra Tacks shin guards have a new neoprence lock strap which differs from any used in previous years. Ideally, the neoprene wrapped strap won’t lose elasticity nearly as fast as the moisture-repellent reinforcement will keep the elastic strap dry and fresh.

While the pants don’t differ much from the RBZ line with the +1” adjustment feature and the floating HD back protector. The new Ultra Tacks gloves, however, feature pro-level protection with the D3O reinforced back hand and fingers and the snug backhand fit opens to a mobile cuff for improved mobility.

The entire Tacks line brings a new set of options for CCM fans while pulling from some of the newest technology in the entire industry. Great Skate carries the entire CCM Tacks protective line both in store and online.

New products arriving daily

Bauer Vapor 1X Hockey Skate
Bauer Vapor 1X Hockey Skate

Spring is a time for flowers to bloom, the snow to melt and for new hockey equipment to hit the shelves.

While almost everyone in the northeast is ready for the thaw to come, hockey players have only one thing on their mind; what new products do we have to look forward to for next season? April is the time when many of these new products are released – or announced – for the next season.

This spring is not different as there will be many new, exciting products in stock and ready to ship out by mid-April. These products will be available in store and online by April 20, 2015.

Many players are eagerly anticipating the new Bauer Vapor equipment as the new Bauer 1X skates will  be available soon. The new Vapor 1X skates feature a brand new Form Fit Lite felt tongue that gives a pro look while providing peak protection thanks to a CURV composite insert. The ankle and upper on the boot are fully composite as well, giving the boot a massive weight reduction while maintaining rigidity.

The 1X skates feature a new footbed designed to increase the amount of contact made between your foot and the skate, thus maximizing explosiveness compared to other skate models. When combined with the higher angle of attack from the Lightspeed Edge holder, the skate really promotes explosive traits. The Vapor 1X skates promise to be a hot item this spring as the new features have pushed the Vapor skate line to the next level.

Bauer has also redesigned the Bauer Supreme protective line to include Bauer’s FlexOrb padding inserts in key protective areas. The line, which is designed to provide a snug, anatomical fit, features FleXorb inserts in key areas on the knee joint, elbow joint and sternum region.

The new Supreme equipment (and the 1X skates) also feature Bauer’s revolutionary 37.5 technology that represents a brand new type of moisture wicking material. The 37.5 material won’t just keep you cool and dry during a game, but it is specifically designed to dry itself, which means your gear will stay fresh longer and eliminate smelly rooms full of gear.

 As the CCM transition hits high gear, the current Ribcor stick and skate line will become CCM products and there will be a new CCM Ribcor stick hitting the shelves this fall. CCM will also be introducing the new CCM Jetspeed skates as the successor to the very popular RBZ skate line. The Jetspeed skates won’t be on the shelves until July of this year and CCM will have a brand new RBZ stick this fall as well. The Speedburner won’t be available until August, however. We got a sneak peak at the new Speedburner stick and we’ll have a write up on that soon, so stay tuned for that.

One additional entry for 2015-16 will be the new CCM Tacks Protective line. The new protective line from CCM highlights the new D3O technology being used all over new CCM products. The D3O technology is featured in specific impact areas of each piece of the new CCM Tacks protective line. The new Ultra Tacks gloves are unique in look and next-level in terms of protection, much like the entire line.

The entire Tacks line brings a new set of options for CCM fans while pulling from some of the newest technology in the entire industry. Great Skate carries the entire CCM Tacks protective line both in store and online.

 Easton has steadily ramped up their production away from their sticks and will continue that trend with a new line of protective gear for this season. Easton’s new gear will hit the shelves in May along with the new Easton Stealth which revives the old name with new technology.

The new Easton Stealth CX will feature the elliptical taper profile that debuted on the S17 stick line while introducing a stiffer, more durable blade construction. The commitment to the blade profile is evident as there are a number of new features built into the blade construction of the CX stick.

Easton will also utilize the Hyperlite Design feature to shave weight from the stick in order to increase performance. As a stick line that has long defined elite, lightweight stick design, the new Stealth CX will most certainly continue that tradition.

 The new kid on the block, STX broke in with a strong first showing last year as the Stallion and Surgeon sticks and gloves won over fans of the lacrosse giant. Now, STX is ready to step up their game. There will be a new STX stick line that releases in September. Additionally, STX is ready to introduce the Stallion and Surgeon protective line in a few weeks.

The new line will carry on the Stallion and Surgeon names that adorn STX’s entry into the stick and glove market. With the Stallion line geared more towards a heavier, durable game, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Stallion protective equipment follow the same design standards. In a similar manner, I’d expect the Surgeon – which shared many traits with the Bauer Vapor line – to carry on in that vein as well.

The fun starts in just a couple of weeks as the newest toys to hit the market will be hitting the Great Skate shelves. We guarantee the lowest prices on any US Manufacturer authorized web site which means you can shop with confidence at www.greatskate.com.

 

Ultra Tacks Protective and Gloves

Ultra Tacks Protective and Gloves
Ultra Tacks Protective and Gloves

Designed for state-of-the-art protection, the CCM Ultra TACKS family redefines the standards by adding the innovative D3O® foam technology to its line. Engineered to react to fluctuating intensities, the round-breaking smart foam will keep its soft consistency to absorb low impacts while instant hardening at higher intensity impacts to protect against big hits.

CCM Ultra Tack Protective
CCM Ultra Tack Protective

CCM Ultra Tack Shoulder Pads offers Dual Core HD Foam shoulder caps with D3O smart foam and adaptable shoulder systems. While the Shin Pads offers PE Cap with D3O smart foam on the knee joint and new Neo wrap lock strapping system. With an already popular design by Jofa/Reebok CCM redefines the art of protective equipment in the elbow pads with the joint discharge PE cap with D3O smart foam and new Lycra strap & lock strap.

What is D3O? D3O is an extremely clever, globally unique technology that is based on the innovation of capturing the benefits of non-Newtonian shear thickening material in polymers that can then be engineered for real world impact protection solutions. These enhanced properties offer a number of different performance benefits depending on the base polymer used and the intended application.

How D3O works? D3O materials in their raw state flow freely when moved slowly, but on shock, lock together to absorb and disperse energy, before instantly returning to their flexible state. This reaction is counter intuitive. The greater the force of the impact, the more the molecules lock together and the greater the protection.

CCM Ultra Tack Shoulder Pad
CCM Ultra Tack Shoulder Pad

 

Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers

Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers
Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers

Hockey is almost tailor made for stocking stuffers. Well, aside from 40” leg pads, and sticks that don’t lend themselves well to wrapping paper. But take those out of the equation and there may not be a better sport for finding stocking stuffers than hockey.

Training aids like the Smart Hockey Training Ball or the Green Biscuit Training Puck are the perfect size to slip into a stocking and are even better gifts since they can be used at home or at the rink with ease.

Of course every hockey player needs tape and there never seems to be enough of it no matter how many rolls you buy. Toss a few rolls of white or black tape into a stocking with a couple rolls of clear tape for a fail-safe gift that will never need to be taken back because it was the wrong size. One note on buying tape, double check the color the person you’re buying for uses as hockey players are a finicky bunch when it comes to superstitions like the color of their tape.

There are even some cool accessories from the hockey apparel at Great Skate. For example, Bauer’s skate lace bracelet would make for a very cool, unique stocking stuffer that many hockey players would love to have.

Some of the hockey stocking stuffers at Great Skate are a bit more practical than a skate lace bracelet or even a composite mini stick. Everyone loves having sharp skates but sometimes you’re running too behind to get a sharpening taken care of. A Sweet Stick solves that problem as the pocket-sized blade re-edger can fit into a side pocket of a bag and be used in a pinch when a sharpening is out of the question. Another skate-related accessory that makes for a great stocking stuffer are Elite skate guards. These are the exact same skate guards used around the NHL and offer protection for skate blades while also preventing rusting. The Elite skate guards can be found in many different colors to match the team of the player you’re buying for.

One newer item that could make for a nice addition in a stocking this holiday season is the Tacki-Mac stick grip. Great Skate carries three different versions of the Tacki-Mac grips and each provides a pre-cast, tacky butt end for a stick. Colors and styles all vary but these are becoming more and more popular as they’re designed to extend the life of gloves while offering more grip and command than a regular tape buttend offers.

If you find yourself without a few extra stocking suffers as the holiday season wraps up, check with a Great Skate sales associate to help round out the final items on your shopping list this year.

Gift Guide: Gift Cards

Gift Guide: Gift Cards
Gift Guide: Gift Cards

Not all the items on a hockey player’s wish list can be picked up in one shopping trip. Maybe you know a goalie who is hoping for a new Bauer NME 8 mask or a defenseman who is hoping the STX Stallion stick will help bring a bit more power to their slap shot. While you may not be able to check off a box that big you can certainly help to check it off by picking up a Great Skate gift certificate.

Gift certificates at Great Skate Hockey are available in any denomination you can think of and serve as the perfect gift for the player whose wish list is a little too long. A Great Skate gift certificate also absolves you of having to pick the right colorway on the new Warrior Dynasty AXLT gloves. Rather than picking the wrong color or the wrong size of an item, why not buy a gift card and let the player pick themselves?

That’s the beauty of picking up a gift card at Great Skate. If you’re unsure of the size or style a certain someone wears, you can sang a gift certificate for the amount you were going to spend and let them pick out the present on their own.

This is an especially effective practice when it comes to tricky items like skates and helmets. In fact, if you’re planning on getting a stick as gift for someone you may be better off grabbing a gift certificate lest you know the proper hand, flex, lie and blade pattern you need to buy. It may seem a little odd to think that you would need to consider each and every one of those factors when buying a stick, but never underestimate the intricacies of a hockey player’s preferences.

If you think that a Great Skate gift certificate will allow the hockey player on your holiday shopping list to get the gift they really want this year, you can stop into our store to pick one up.

Great Skate Black Friday Sale

Great Skate Black Friday Sale
Great Skate Black Friday Sale

Starting on Friday November 28, 2014 for 12-hours, receive 25% off your purchase at both Great Skate and Greatskate.com. If you are going to be shopping online you can take advantage of early shopping and In-Store pickup.When shopping online please use Promotional Code BLACKFRIDAY (Please note that your discount will be deducted at the time of shipping)

Great Skate will be opening a bit early on Friday morning starting at 6am, so if you or someone you know is out shopping at Best Buy, Target, and Kohl’s tell them to stop by and check out our great deals. Choose from all major manufacturers such as Bauer, CCM, Easton, STX, Reebok, Warrior, & Vaughn. If a Bauer ToalOne MX3 stick is on your list this year you won’t find a better deal than at Great Skate!

Don’t forget to ask about our door buster deals such as Bauer Vapor X70 Sticks at $29.98, Warrior HB AX3 Hockey bags $19.98, All Composite Mini Hockey Sticks $19.99 . How can you beat these deals?

When it comes down to Fit, Feel, Performance, Dedication look no further than Great Skate. Stop by Friday morning at 3395 Sheridan Drive / Amherst / NY / 14226. If you aren’t from WNY give us a call at 1-800-828-7496. As always some restrictions may apply (MAP) This will Exclude minimum advertise price item. see the full offer here

Take advantage of this sale today. It won’t last long. GAME ON!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Teams going with more custom looks with alternate uniforms

Teams going with more custom looks with alternate uniforms
Teams going with more custom looks with alternate uniforms

The Pittsburgh Penguins took to the ice in their new third jerseys on Wednesday night, marking yet another alternate uniform to grace the NHL’s growing collection of jerseys.

While those fans who collect jerseys and add all the newest duds to their collection each year are abundant, I’ve noticed something even cooler than the jerseys themselves in recent years. As teams get more creative with their marketing strategies, implementing more unique designs and traits to third jerseys is a growing trend. Unique socks – which are always cool to add to your practice or pick-up arsenal – special pants or pant covers and even different decals for the helmets are all common for teams who add alternate jerseys.

The Penguins and Islanders have taken that to the next level by adding new gloves to their alternate uniforms that work perfectly within the design of the overall uniform. The Islanders decision to add white fingers to their gloves is interesting and unique. It took some adjusting, but now seeing the entire uniform in use makes me think there is more than enough room for more contemporary designs when it comes to alternate jerseys (Buffalo excluded).

Pittsburgh’s gloves, however are a real treat. As their new uniform hearkens back to their Cup wins in the early 90s as do the gloves. Leaving no detail unnoticed, the Penguins are donning black based gloves with basic white trim just as their team gloves looked back in the 90s.

This is an awesome addition. Many “throwback” uniforms feature the team’s normal or slightly altered gloves that use the same colorway. Not this time. The Penguins went full-on 1991 with their look and it really helps bring everything together.

Luckily virtually every company features a basic black and white colorway with their gloves. Which means that you can replicate the Pens’ look with relative ease. The Bauer Nexus, Warrior Dynasty and CCM 4Roll Prime both offer a vintage look and feel, especially if you’re going the black and white route.

If you’re thinking of switching your look around for the upcoming year, consider grabbing a pair of alternate Reebok Edge Socks and a pair of gloves that give a vintage feel to bring it all together.

What They’re Wearing: Matt Moulson

What They’re Wearing: Matt Moulson
What They’re Wearing: Matt Moulson

Matt Moulson is the poster boy for STX’s entry into the NHL after he took to the ice with a prototype STX stick early last season. As STX’s line was refined and officially launched, Moulson added another unique piece of equipment to his arsenal, the yet to be released STX gloves. Not much has changed this season as he is still sporting the STX gear as he takes his second turn with the Sabres.

Skates: Bauer Vapor APX2 – Mouslon’s choice in skate is similar to that of many other NHLers. The APX2 is perhaps the most impressive of Bauer’s line and suits the skating and playing style of a wide spectrum of NHLers. A lightweight skate built to promote speed and explosiveness with a  stiff, durable boot.

Gloves: STX Stallion – While STX doesn’t have a true flagship for either their stick or glove line, the Stallion is the model Moulson has chosen for each. The STX Stallion glove is built for a power player with a happy medium between the traditional fit of a four-roll glove and the snug anatomical benefits of a tapered glove. A goal scoring winger, Moulson benefits from the traits of the glove that compliments his strengths shooting the puck.

Stick: STX Stallion – A stick formulated for power players who need more control and pop from their shots and passes, the Stallion has been Moulson’s choice for over a calendar year. The stick features a solid construction designed to take a beating at the NHL level while still helping to load up heavy shots each and every night.

Helmet: CCM V08 – Moulson’s choice in helmets is pretty basic. The CCM V08 utilizes traditional VN foam and is a very popular choice amongst NHLers. As it has been described in this space many times, the V08’s good looks and comfortable fit and feel make it a go-to choice for countless NHL players.

CCM/Reebok changeover

CCM/Reebok Hockey  Changeover
CCM/Reebok Hockey Changeover

Keep your eyes peeled this season. You’re going to start seeing more and more CCM products around the rink and on television.

While they never technically left, CCM’s return to the rink just over five years ago was a notable milestone for the manufacturer. Part of the Reebok family (which also took over Koho, Jofa and Titan in the early 2000s), CCM has a strong presence in today’s equipment landscape. Sticks like the RBZ SuperFast and the return of the Tacks skate have elevated CCM to new heights in equipment design and innovation.

Of course, their line offered, in some ways, a direct competition to the equipment being built and sold by Reebok. Instead of having the two companies fight for attention and players, they altered the landscape they operate on. CCM will maintain their status as a brand leader for elite equipment while Reebok will be entry level to mid-price point in senior, junior and youth equipment.

That means that players who previously used Reebok equipment in the NHL will be wearing more CCM just as products like the Ribcor stick will now be sold with CCM branding as opposed to Reebok. The quality certainly won’t change, just the window dressing.

It’s still a cool development, particularly with the strength Bauer has shown in recent years and the obvious push coming from CCM. The RBZ stick line is beyond revolutionary and both the RBZ and Tacks skates are excellent products which offer a true challenge to Bauer.

There is one other front that could see CCM grow even more and that’s in the crease. The Reebok goal line is still being worn by quite a few netminders and exactly what will come of the Reebok goal collection doesn’t seem as clear as the player line. However, the CCM Extreme Flex goal pads are a monster hit and continue to find their way into more and more locker rooms in the NHL and beyond.

The CCM goal mask line was far superior to that of the models released by Reebok a few years prior and the same can be said for many other aspects of CCM’s goal equipment line. Perhaps the only sector Reebok truly had an edge in was skate design. The Reebok skates – both goalie and player – have been quite popular since their inception and while the RBZ and Tacks are phenomenal skates, models like the Ribcor are still elite in their own right.

While many of CCM’s products may be seen as superior to begin with, the company ought to see a boost thanks to the quality in skate design that Reebok has established.

At the end of the day this transition doesn’t change much in terms of the big picture. In fact, based on equipment that I’ve personally used, much of CCM’s elite level gear is superior to begin with. So while there will be more exposure and equipment choices for CCM, the product quality certainly isn’t going to change. Simply put, this is a wise decision to allow a growing industry leader get that much bigger.

As the changeover continues, players will see more and more Reebok products change over to CCM. In the meantime, have fun scavenger hunting for the CCM logo in places you’re not used to seeing it.

CCM Tacks Hockey Gear
CCM Tacks Hockey Gear
CCM RBZ Superfast Hockey Sticks
CCM RBZ Superfast Hockey Sticks
CCM Resistance Hockey Helmet
CCM Resistance Hockey Helmet
CCM Ribcor Hockey Sticks
CCM Ribcor Hockey Sticks
Reebok Hockey
Reebok Hockey

 

Great Skate Blog NHL: Eastern Conference

Great Skate Blog NHL Preview: Eastern Conference
Great Skate Blog NHL Preview: Eastern Conference

Metropolitan Division

Pittsburgh PenguinsUntil proven otherwise, the Penguins boast the world’s best player and another dynamic superstar who is likely in the top-5. Changes behind the bench and along the blueline defined Pittsburgh’s offseason and as the reigning division winner I expect to see much of the same from the Pens. Marc-Andre Fleury is perhaps their biggest question mark but his play was far more stable last year than in 2012-13. The Penguins still sit atop the Metro Division and will be in the President’s Trophy conversation if Fleury plays well.

New York RangersThe Rangers seem to have found a way to improve but stay nearly the exact same team as last year. They unloaded the contract of Brad Richards, re-upped with their key core players and made some interesting signings. They also let a key player walk in Anton Stralman and will not be without Derek Stepan for a number of weeks. They still have the world’s best goaltender and an impressive blue line. The addition of Dan Boyle ought to give their power play a nice jolt and should Stepan return from injury in full form, they’ll be a formidable opponent again this year.

Columbus Blue JacketsA slightly tumultuous offseason followed a very promising 13-14 season for the Jackets. Another serious injury to Nathan Horton is likely to shelve the forward for some time while Ryan Johansen remains unsigned. Sergei Bobrovsky has proven that he wasn’t just a one year wonder and has been dominant at times for Columbus. This is still a team whose parts don’t eclipse the sum of its whole. Johansen is the star in waiting and Horton is perhaps their biggest name and it looks as if they’ll be without each to start the year. However, I still count on the Jackets to improve and finish third in the Metro.

Philadelphia FlyersClaude Giroux could wrap himself in bubble wrap each summer and manage to get injured ahead of camp. This year’s ailment is far less severe than the cut tendon he suffered last year, but he probably won’t be 100% at the start of the year. As is always the case, the Flyers will live and die with their goaltending. Steve Mason, despite his improvement last year, still doesn’t represent a confidence inspiring goaltender and if his play is average the Flyers will be as well. Philadelphia made an interesting decision in parting ways with Scott Hartnell and they could have a little trouble scoring goals in some areas. I still expect to see him in a wild card spot, but they’ll be battling down to the wire for it.

New York IslandersThe stats say that even with average goaltending the Islanders would have been an average team last year. The arrival of Jaroslav Halak should represent the improvement between the pipes that the Isles need to improve in the win column. John Tavares headlines a young, talented forward group who will be able to provide the necessary goal support for their new netminder. There may be a few defensive question marks that remain but the Isles have a lot of youth to be excited about. I’m expecting to see them finish just shy of the wild card.

New Jersey DevilsLike the Islanders, the Devils should have been far better than their record showed last year. However, their inability to win a single shootout cost them a number of wins and a number of precious points in the standings. In fact, those shootout losses accounted for more than enough points to make the playoffs had they found a way to win. Ultimately I think the Devils fall short of a playoff berth this year. Not because they haven’t improved but because they’re in a deep division that will be tough to succeed in.

Washington CapitalsI’m expecting regression for the Capitals this year. They overpaid both Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen and I’m not sure they represent the defensive improvement the Capitals need. Niskanen will likely rack up power play points as he feeds one timers to Alex Ovechkin but I still think he was able to cash in on a big year on a great team. The Capitals still have a number of holes to fill and I don’t think they plugged each of them last year.

Carolina HurricanesCarolina wasn’t going to be a great team before Jordan Stall was injured. With Staal on the shelf for upwards of four months, the Hurricanes are closer to the Connor McDavid sweepstakes than they are to competing for a playoff spot. Depth and goaltending are among the biggest question marks they will deal with and with rumors of Eric Staal being available via trade doesn’t help those who are worried about the outlook for the Canes.

Atlantic Division

Boston BruinsMuch in the same way the Penguins will likely earn the Metro Crown, the Bruins enter the year as the prohibitive favorite in the Atlantic. No team has demonstrated that they’re better over the course of a season and I don’t expect that to change this year. While Zdeno Chara is beginning to show signs of aging, the Bruins are far too well constructed for that to be a major issue. The Bruins will have the first seed in the east at the end of the year and will likely be the team who is predicted to represent the East in the Cup Final.

Tampa Bay LightningThe Bolts bolstered their lineup this offseason with some very smart moves. Anton Stralman is a possession driving two-way defenseman and Jason Garrison will add another dynamic to the power play. Ryan Callahan will be on board for a full season and should Steven Stamkos stay healthy he’ll likely lead the league in goal scoring. It’s possible that the Bolts would have knocked off the Canadiens in the playoffs had Ben Bishop been healthy and he’ll be a big part of any success Tampa has this season. They probably don’t have enough to get by Boston in the Atlantic, but I won’t be surprised to see them in the conference finals.

Montreal CanadiensPK Subban is under contract, PA Parentau is in the fold (coming over in a great trade for Marc Bergevin) and Carey Price is still Carey Price. I still wonder about their play at center, but the Habs were impressive down the stretch last year and managed to knock off the Bruins on their way to the conference finals. I think Tampa took more steps forward this offseason, so I don’t see Montreal’s spot in the standings changing at all, but they’ll most certainly be a playoff team.

Detroit Red WingsThere’s a strong possibility that the standings in the Atlantic are the exact same this year. The Red Wings are still a strong club but they’re aging. They have a quality goaltender, one of the game’s most dangerous two-way players and a supporting cast that doesn’t have too many holes. They’re still flimsy on the blueline and it seems that their Eastern Conference rivals have done more to improve in the offseason. They’re still a full head better than Ottawa, Toronto, Buffalo and Florida which means they’ll be in the thick of the wild card race.

Toronto Maple LeafsToronto has been funny to watch the last couple seasons. They overachieved and took Boston to seven games two years ago. Then they couldn’t maintain last season and were on the outside looking in. The Leafs will live and die with Jonathan Bernier, Phil Kessel and James van Reimsdyk. I’m waiting to see if Jake Gardiner has a breakout season or if he’s stuck in the dog house again. There is some quality talent in Toronto and if the chips fall right they could certainly leap frog Detroit for a wild card spot.

Ottawa SenatorsI don’t see the Senators being a very good team this year. In fact, they are going to rely heavily on Craig Anderson to win them games based on their offseason work. Not only do I expect to see them miss the playoffs, I have a sneaking suspicion that Bobby Ryan will head out the door in free agency in the summer. Kyle Turris and Ryan should form a nice duo up front and Erik Karlsson remains one of the elite offensive defensemen in the world. However, there isn’t too much depth on the roster and I see this year as a step back for the Sens.

Florida PanthersDale Tallon still has plenty of work to do in Southern Florida. Aaron Ekblad is a very nice addition. He, along with other lottery picks Jonathan Huberdeau and Sasha Barkov will help drive the club. The Panthers do have some very impressive talent on their roster but it ultimately feels incomplete in some areas. Roberto Luongo’s presence alone should account for a number of wins and while the Panthers may not make any progress moving up in the Atlantic, I can see them beating out at least two teams from the Metro in the conference standings.

Buffalo SabresThe Sabres were woefully short on goal scoring last year. They also happened to be woefully short on defense, the power play and penalty killing. Before and after Ryan Miller’s departure the goaltending was strong, but that was really one of the few silver linings from last year. The Sabres did a lot of work to bring in more veteran support and skill and that will account for a few things. First, a full year of Matt Moulson and Brian Gionta will help in the locker room and on the scoreboard. Drew Stafford and Chris Stewart are both in contract years and have looked motivated in the preseason. The defense corps is an interesting group as Ted Nolan is going to have some very difficult decisions to make regarding his lineup. The Sabres lone competition this season will be for last place, although the hockey should be a bit more tolerable this time around.