The Great Skate Summer Sale is returning for the 32nd year and once again the deals offered during the sale can’t be beat.
Discounts from 30-to-80 percent off can be found under the tent in addition to 20% off in-store during the event that runs from August 12 to the 16. The sale runs from 10am to 9pm each day – both in-store and under the tent – so you won’t miss a single deal during the entire week. While the sale starts Wednesday, the tent opens Thursday, August 13th at 10:00 am.
Purchases of player and goalie gear will be discounted 20% in-store (with some restrictions), meaning that the prices on some of the best gear on the planet will be slashed for the week. Whether you’re in need of a new helmet, a pair of skates or perhaps a pair of elbow pads, the 20% off sale will ensure you’re getting the best deal.
Goalies won’t be excluded either as the 20% offer extends to the crease. So for goaltenders in need of a new stick or two before the season begins, a new blocker or even a mask, you can expect to find the best deals in Western New York – and online – during the Great Skate Summer Sale.
As always, Great Skate’s shooting range will be open to try out any stick on our shelves so you aren’t buying blind if you’re looking at the Warrior Covert QR1, the new Easton Stealth CX or the trusty Bauer Vapor 1X.
Other highlights from the sale include incredibly low prices on shoulder pads starting at $39.98, bags from $24.98 and even select skates starting at $49.98. The Great Skate Summer Sale will also be featuring sticks from Warrior, Easton, Bauer, CCM and more starting at $39.98! You won’t find a stick starting lower than that anywhere.
Meet Buffalo sabers captain Brian Gionta Thursday Aug 13th between 2-3:30 for a meet and greet and answer your questions.
Test you shot with the New Easton CX stick at the Easton shooting gallery Thursday and Friday 11am-6pm
For those stopping by the tent, be sure to grab a burrito from Buffalo’s first food truck, as Lloyd’s Taco
Truck will be on hand both Thursday and Friday afternoon. Sabretooth will be stopping by to take pictures and sign autographs from 1-2pm on Friday as well.
Additional prizes and promotions will run throughout the week, so don’t miss your chance to grab new gear from Bauer, CCM, Easton, Warrior and more at prices that won’t be beat during the Great Skate Summer Sale.
As always map restriction apply Bauer items excluded
The most eagerly anticipated arrival in Western New York this summer was that of Jack Eichel. He made his on-ice debut with the Sabres at their annual development camp and while his number hadn’t been decided when he took the ice, his decision on equipment was.
Eichel appears to be continuing to wear the same equipment he did at Boston University and through a photo on the Sabres Facebook page, we also know what he wears as protective equipment as well.
Protective: CCM Ultra Tacks – Eichel sports CCM Ultra Tacks shoulder pads and elbow guards, which utilizes CCM’s new D3O technology which minimizes weight while maximizing protection. Floating spine and sternum protectors ensure additional protection in key areas on the shoulder pads. The elbow pads utilizes the same D3O technology and molded foam armor as the shoulder pads.
Helmet: Bauer IMS 9.0 – Possibly the most comfortable helmet in Bauer’s line. A strong combination of the best features of the ever popular 4500 and the newest technology in the IMS helmets. Poron XRD foam reinforcements and a VN Foam liner ensure maximum comfort in addition to impressive protection.
Skates: Bauer Supreme TotalOne MX3 – The flagship skate of the Supreme line is a lightweight, powerful skate built on an anatomic fit profile that utilizes CURV composites for an unparalleled fit.
Stick: Bauer Supreme TotalOne MX3 – Like the MX3 skates, the TotalOne stick is a perfect combination of power and strength. Eichel’s game is often described as a smooth combo of those exact traits, as his heavy shot is one of the hallmarks of his game and was on display early during development camp.
Gloves: Warrior Covert QR1 – One of the only non-Bauer items Eichel wears is the responsive, anatomically designed QR1 gloves. The QR1 introduces new features such as the Axis Flex thumb for increased dexterity in addition to the previous features from the original DT1 gloves which provided a tapered, responsive fit.
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 lineto 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 Protectiveline. 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.
A new study from the Virginia Tech Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics has shown that many hockey helmets are deemed unsafe with regard to concussion prevention. The study, highlighted by ESPN’s Outside the Lines this past weekend, indicated that many hockey helmets fall below the standard set by the Virginia Tech rating system.
Concussions and concussion prevention are already a very touchy subject these days as injury prevention is being taken at every level of the sport and manufacturers are researching new technologies in an attempt to make players safer on the ice. However, this new report shows that each manufacturer needs to keep pushing.
The STAR rating system works on a scale of one-to-five, with five being the highest. Of the 32 helmets Virginia Tech tested, only one met the standard for three star protection. The other 31 helmets were either rated at two, one or zero stars.
The Warrior Krown 360 helmet was the lone helmet to rate at three stars, showing that it offers the most protection from impacts that can result in a concussion. The CCM Resistance 300 and 100, Bauer 5100 and 2100, the Warrior Krown LTE and the CCM Fitlite (previously the Reebok 11K) each tested at two stars.
Bauer RE-AKT 100
Warrior Krown 360
Bauer IMS 7.0
Bauer IMS 11.0
CCM/Reebok Fitlite (11K)
Bauer IMS 9.0
CCM Resistance 300
CCM Resistance 100
Warrior Krown LTE
Now, it’s important to remember that no helmet can prevent concussions altogether. Collisions or impacts that cause concussions seem to vary on a case-by-case and player-to-player basis. A fairly innocent bump along the board may not concuss me but it will concuss you. Conversely, a monster hit in open ice may not be as concussive as the impact caused when you fall to the ice after the hit.
The variables and differences in each of these cases make the marketing (from manufacturers) and the results of this test difficult to process. For example, the test itself was studying the results from direct impact to the head. This can be caused from everything from a tumble into the boards or net, an errant stick or puck to the head or even an opponent’s body part. What’s hard to identify is if (or how) Virginia Tech studies the results of hits that don’t impact the head. For example, a heavy open ice hit may not cause any direct impact to a player’s head, but the g-force caused by the check itself could still result in a concussive impact to the brain. This is why it is so important to consider both linear and rotational impacts (as the testing did).
Of course, the latter scenario is also a perfect example of how no helmet could truly prevent a concussion.
The other side of the coin here is how helmets are being marketed by manufacturers. The highest price point models consistently introduce new shell construction and interior upgrades. Yet, the study didn’t rate any elite model at higher than two stars – except for the Krown 360. Further, the test showed that different helmet models, which all share the same shell mold, performed at drastically different levels. The best example is the Bauer 5100 and 2100 garnering two stars while the 7500 was given one star and the 9900 was not recommended. Each of these helmets share a similar, if not identical shell design yet each performed at a different level in the testing environment. It’s an odd conundrum without taking the liner materials into consideration.
There are a few things that need to be taken away from these results. First, the HECC stickers that adorn all of the hockey helmets sold at Great Skate are not irrelevant. The HECC ratings are primarily focused on preventing injuries such as skull fractures. While a HECC sticker doesn’t ensure a helmet is concussion-proof, it doesn’t mean a helmet is unsafe either. Second, these ratings help to identify which helmets prevent against both linear and rotational impacts. This means that the tests identify more than just what happens if your head is struck by a stick or the boards. It works to identify the various types of events can potentially cause concussions. Lastly, no helmet can prevent concussions. The helmet industry as a whole is nowhere near finding the answer for this, so bear in mind that there isn’t a magical helmet on the horizon that will keep you safe in all scenarios.
What is important is for the industry to adjust to this study. Companies like Bauer, Warrior and CCM/Reebok need to step forward and do more than offer spin on the results. Each company should not only begin to take steps to make their helmets safe, but they should be displaying their STAR ratings in catalogs and on the boxes for each helmet.
If you’re looking to upgrade your helmet from what you’re currently wearing, Great Skate sells nearly every helmet utilized in the study, including the Warrior Krown 360, which received the highest rating of three stars.
The new CCM FITLITE helmet features engineered subshells to create a lightweight professional level of protection. Designed to better manage rotational acceleration by integrating CCM’s groundbreaking R.E.D. (Rotational Energy Dampening) System to its innovative comfort liner, the CCM Fitlite helmet is combining the advantage of a fully customizable lightweight fit with innovation in safety protection.
R.E.D System: The R.E.D. System is a series of liquid-filled bladders that allow for improved rotational deceleration of the head. Customizable Fit: Microdial II system and low density flexible EPP with Lycra laminated cushions for a comfortable 360o wrap around the head.
PETG SUBSHELL: High density PE shell with PETG subshell for a lightweight professional level of protection. Liner: Low density flexible EPP with
Lycra laminated comfort cushions Offers a lightweight professional level of protection and a state of the art comfort. Microdial II Allows a 360o wrap and adjustment Optimal fit and comfort with an occipital lock to best keep the helmet in place during play. Shell: Two tone high density PE shell with PETG subshell Lightweight protection with team customizable color .
There’s something very important that has been overlooked recently in virtually every facet of sporting culture; helmets alone don’t prevent concussions.
That can be a bit unnerving to read and think about because if the helmet you’re wearing can’t prevent you or your child from getting a concussion, how can you be at ease? Don’t worry, the helmets on the market today are the most technologically advanced helmets ever made and offer protection from a wider variety of injuries than ever before. The point that needs to be considered is that the helmet alone won’t prevent from concussive impacts.
Plenty of research has been done in this field and a great deal of it paints the picture that all the bells and whistles in the world won’t limit the impact and results of high speed collisions. Helmet’s like the Bauer RE-AKT and CCM Resistance have added groundbreaking features that help keep the head protected from both direct and rotational impacts experienced during a hockey game. This was a big step forward in both design and safety as limiting the effect of an impact against a player’s head.
So what does this all mean? Does it mean that you’re no safer with a mop bucket on your head versus a state of the art helmet like the IMS 11.0? Of course not. But simply picking the most expensive helmet you can find and expecting your problems to be solved is far from the solution as well.
When it comes to buying a new helmet, comfort and fit are just as important as the protective qualities of the helmet. I have a handful of helmets in my locker and they all offer a different fit. There is one that I don’t ever wear because it doesn’t provide a snug, safe fit that will keep me protected. The helmet in question is a CCM V08. It’s a phenomenal helmet that is wildly popular at the NHL level that simply doesn’t fit my head. It looks great and I was incredibly excited when I got it. And then I found out it wasn’t going to fit and I’ve never worn it on the ice.
Meanwhile, my Bauer IMS 9.0 is the most comfortable helmet I’ve ever owned. It sits a little higher on my head than other helmets, but the combination of HD foam, Poron XD foam and other protective elements provides a great fit that I know provides adequate protection.
Obviously none of that means that if I was to hit my head on the ice the wrong way I wouldn’t be concussed, because the most likely result of that would indeed be a concussion. The key is that I made sure to try on a number of different sizes of helmets with a Great Skate sales representative before making a decision. I tried on different makes and models of helmets before settling on the one that had the best overall fit and, therefore, offered the most overall protection.
After making my purchase I’ve made sure that all the hardware is up to par and that the helmet is stored properly. This ensures it dries properly after games and the padding will stay intact. BY making sure the hardware is taken care of means that I won’t lose a screw halfway through a game. Proper maintenance and care for your helmet is just as important as finding the right helmet with the right fit. If padding is falling out of your helmet due to poor care, it’s time to reconsider how you store and take care of your equipment. Furthermore, if padding is falling out of your helmet, it’s probably time to get a new one.
It can be worrisome to hear that as different and protective a helmets can be, that they all can’t prevent against concussions. New helmets are able to lessen many impacts – and in turn help to reduce concussive impacts – but many times concussions aren’t avoidable. It’s important to do all the necessary research when you’re planning to buy a new helmet. Know your pricepoint, know the style you want and then make sure to find the model that fits you best.
Take some time to fully evaluate the helmet you wear. Maybe you’ll find that the fit isn’t idea or that some of the interior padding has deteriorated. If that’s the case, take the time to research a replacement before heading to Great Skate for a new lid.
Hockey apparel wasn’t always as prevalent or as readily available for purchase as it is today as there was a time not too long ago that branded apparel was very hard to come by. Now every manufacturer has a bevvy of hats, t-shirts and sweatshirts adorned with their logo and products. The same goes for hockey lifestyle brands like Gongshow which cater exclusively to hockey players.
In the event that you haven’t found the right gift for the hockey player you’re shopping for, take a look at the hockey apparel at Great Skate. Great Skate’s hockey apparel includes products from CCM, Bauer, Easton, Gongshow, Reebok, Warrior and many others.
Whether sporting it at the rink or just when they’re hanging out, products like Bauer hoodies and CCM hats are always a go-to for hockey players of all ages. What’s even better is that these great gifts can be found without worrying about breaking the bank.
The Bauer New Era 3930 hat might be the hottest item of the year as it’s nearly impossible to walk into a rink without seeing one or two of the great looking hats. CCM’s national pride inspired hats are also popular with every age group and they have a very cool set of knit winter caps out for this holiday season. Another great hat for the cold winter months is the Great Skate Bauer winter hat. It’s warm, attractive and sports the very cool Great Skate logo on the front.
In the event that the player you’re shopping for isn’t a hat guy (or girl), there are plenty of other apparel options available with Great Skate. For example, Warrior’s hockey t-shirts are expressive and unique. They also happen to share many similarities with other popular athletic apparel shirts that are popular on the market today. Given that so many hockey players have to trudge through sub-30 degree temperatures and snowy sidewalks, a hoody is always a great option for a gift around the holiday. You can find Bauer hockey hoodies along with many other outerwear options from nearly every manufacturer at Great Skate
These products represent a small portion of the terrific hockey apparel at Great Skate that could check off the gift needs of any hockey player on your shopping list no matter how young or old they happen to be. Whether shopping online or at our store you’ll be sure to find what you’re looking for.
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.
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.
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!
Pittsburgh Penguins – Until 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 Rangers – The 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 Jackets – A 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 Flyers – Claude 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 Islanders – The 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 Devils – Like 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 Capitals – I’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 Hurricanes – Carolina 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.
Boston Bruins – Much 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 Lightning – The 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 Canadiens – PK 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 Wings – There’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 Leafs – Toronto 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 Senators – I 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 Panthers – Dale 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 Sabres – The 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.