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2015-16 Team Changes Preview: Atlantic Division

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The new NHL season is about to begin. You remember all the trades and free agency moves over the off-season, right? Of course you don't! Here's a refresher of who has moved where.

Who would have thought in 2015 Luongo and Savard would both be on contract to the Panthers?
Who would have thought in 2015 Luongo and Savard would both be on contract to the Panthers?
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Buffalo Sabres

In: Dan Bylsma (Coach), Ryan O'Reilly, Cody Franson, Evander Kane, Jack Eichel, Robin Lehner, David Legwand, Carlo Colaiacovo
Out: Ted Nolan (Coach), Mikhail Grigorenko, Cody Hodgson

After a disastrous season during which he openly told the Sabres' players they were playing only to increase their trade value so they could escape such a horrific place, Ted Nolan was finally fired on April 12th. He was replaced by Dan Bylsma, who was most recently with Pittsburgh through the 2013-14 season. Bylsma certainly has his work cut out for him in Buffalo, but GM Tim Murray has given him a boost to start the season with his own work on the roster.

And it was a lot of work!

At the draft, the Sabres picked up forward Jack Eichel with the second selection, having lost the first selection in the lottery to the luckiest team in the league, much to the delight of Connor McDavid. Eichel is expected to be a future offensive dynamo that will make the team out of camp, and start having an having an immediate impact on the Atlantic Division.

Later in the first round the Sabres traded the 21st selection to Ottawa in exchange for veteran David Legwand, and goaltender Robin Lehner. With Cam Talbot on the market, Lehner wasn't the first choice of Sabres fans, but he will make a suitable starter for this season.

Still not finished trading at the draft, the Sabres unloaded the first pick of the second round, plus aging veteran Mikhail Grigorenko, to pick up Ryan O'Reilly. O'Reilly is another high octane forward, but his price tag was too high for Avalanche GM Joe Sakic. When not drunkenly crashing his antique truck into rural Ontario Tim Hortons, O'Reilly is going to be another strong offensive player for this team. Jamie McGinn also arrived in Buffalo on this deal, and will probably be a bottom-six forward. Also signed from free agency is old splodeybones, Carlo Colaiacovo.

After being dumped by the Leafs as part of a deal for Nashville's first round pick, Cody Franson's career went on a quick and noticeable slide. He clearly did not fit in to the Predator's system, and it looked like they had no will to try and change it to work for him. This must have raised a red flag for a lot of GMs, and combined with the salary cap crunch already chilling the free-agent market, Franson was left scrambling for a deal with only two weeks before the start of  training camps. He finally settled for a cheap two year deal in Buffalo.

Also making his Sabres debut this season is Evander Kane. Kane was drummed out of Winnipeg at the trade deadline last season - whether by his own problems or his teammates' is unclear - but he did not end up playing for the Sabres as he had a season ending shoulder injury. He has now recovered and is ready to play, moving the Sabres up yet another notch on the offensive ladder for 2015-16.

Detroit Red Wings

In: Jeff Blashill (Coach), Brad Richards, Mike Green
Out: Mike Babcock (Coach), Jonas Gustavsson

Cockwatch reached such a frenzy last May that people (we mean Jeffler) were actually tracking where the MLSE private jet was flying to determine if it was picking up Babcock. After much deliberation Babcock chose Toronto to win the Cockstakes and there was much rejoicing by all, even in Detroit, where they knew it was inevitable and were glad it was finally over with.

It also worked out for the Red Wings since they had a head-coach-in-waiting down on the farm: Jeff Blashill. That Blashill already knew the young core of the Red Wings from coaching them in Grand Rapids was a nice bonus. On the other hand, a problem Blashill will have to face right from the start is the aging core of the Wings; Zetterberg, Franzen, and Kronwall in their mid-30s, and Datsyuk now 37! Since that was apparently not t enough vets, the Red Wings doubled down and picked up 35 year old Brad Richards, and 30 year old Mike Green from free agency.

On the upside, they dumped Jonas Gustavsson!

Florida Panthers

In: Reilly Smith, Marc Savard (!), Lawson Crouse, a Boeing 737.
Out: Brad Boyes, Jimmy Hayes

The Panthers made one big trade at the draft, sending Jimmy Hayes to Boston in exchange for Reilly Smith and Marc Savard's contract. No doubt inspired by the Leafs' deal for Nathan Horton's contract, Florida sent Jimmy Hayes packing in exchange for a guy who will never play hockey again. Savard is sitting on a $4M AAV cap hit contract, but it is one of those pre-lockout back-diving deals that now has an actual salary of only $575k for the next two years.

Brad Boyes (the Leafs' first round pick in the 2000 draft!) was signed by the Panthers in 2013. Last season he played 78 games for the Panthers with 14 goals and 24 assists. Apparently the Panthers were not satisfied with this on a $2.6MAAV contract, couldn't find any trading partner, and so they bought out the final year.

The other acquisition was a Boeing 737, which is expected to really give the team a lift this season. Get it? Give them a lift?

ALSO GOOD ONTARIYA BOY LAWSON CROUSE WILL MAKE THE TEAM THUMBS UP!

Montreal Canadiens

In: Zack Kassian, Alex Semin, Mark Barberio
Out: P.A. Parenteau, Brandon Prust

The Habs started off free agency day with a big trade, sending bruiser Brandon Prust to Vancouver in exchange for the younger and cheaper Zack Kassian. A few weeks later they added the oft-maligned Alex Semin to their roster. Habs fans appeared quite delighted to get Semin shooting all over their opponents. The Habs also collected  Mark Barberio, who was released by Tampa who allowed him to jump to unrestricted free agency several years earlier than the CBA would otherwise allow..

One player not returning to the team this season is Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau. The Habs bought out the final year of his $4M AAV contract amid rumours they were trying to make space to trade for Patrick Sharp (he wound up in Dallas - more on that later this week). P.A.P. signed with the Leafs, and may end up being one of their best wingers this season (sigh).

Ottawa Senators

In: Matt O'Connor, Mike Kostka (pictured right)
Out: Eric Gryba, Robin Lehner, David Legwand, Erik Condra

As noted above, Robin Lehner and David Legwand were traded to Buffalo in exchange for a draft pick. Clearly the Senators are going all in on Andrew Hammond being the real deal, as an aging Craig Anderson transitions out of the number one spot. The Sens also picked up NCAA free agent goalie Matt O'Connor, whom you may recall from this disaster. He will have to fight for the backup role until Anderson is done or someone is traded.

Meanwhile at the draft, the Senators dealt defenceman Eric Gryba, best known for his brutal open ice hit on Lars Eller in 2013, to Edmonton in exchange for a late pick and a prospect. They had a log-jam on defense and they thought this was the best way to solve it.

Erik Condra decided he'd had enough of Ottawa winters and left the team as an unrestricted free agent. Where did he go? Keep reading and find out!

Oh and the Senators signed Mike Kostka. KOSTKA!!!!!!!

Tampa Bay Lightning

In: Erik Condra
Out: Brenden Morrow, Mark Barberio, Steven Stamkos (after this season)

It doesn't snow in Tampa, something which perhaps appealed to Erik Condra who signed a three year contract with the Bolts. Condra will once again play under Jon Cooper, who was also his coach in junior 11 years ago.

The Lightning chose not to resign Brenden Morrow and it looks like his career may be over, barring a PTO in the very near future. They also chose not to give Restricted Free Agent Mark Barberio a Qualifying Offer, allowing him to jump to free agency, where as mentioned above he found his way to Montreal.

Boston Bruins

In: Don Sweeney (GM), Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, Matt Irwin, Zac Rinaldo Martin Jones, Jonas Gustavsson (?)
Out: Peter Chiarelli (GM), Dougie Hamilton, Milan Lucic, Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille, Matt Bartkowski, Reilly Smith, Marc Savard (!)

If you had to sum up the Bruins off-season with a single image, what would it be? Hmmmmm (NSWF).

New GM Don Sweeney quickly endeared himself to Bruins fans by trading an amazing young talent in Dougie Hamilton to Calgary in exchange for some magic beans that have a small chance to one day turn into a player like Dougie Hamilton. If that were not bad enough, there were reports a better offer was on the table, but was declined.

Naturally, immediately after trade was complete, the Boston media published reports from 'anonymous sources' that 'the entire team hated Dougie Hamilton'. It was like the Seguin trade all over again.

On the plus side for every team in the Eastern Conference, half-neanderthal/half-board-with-a-nail-in-it Milan Lucic was unceremoniously dumped on the Kings in exchange for a draft pick, defence prospect Colin Miller, and goalie prospect Martin Jones. Jones was then flipped back out west to San Jose for their 2016 first round pick.

Sending Lucic away did clear up a lot of cap space. The Bruins used it to sign Lucic-like free agent Matt Beleskey, give a raise to Adam McQuaid, and to bring in noted facepuncher and otherwise useless player, Zac Rinaldo.

They opened up even more space by letting Gregory Campbell, Matt Bartkowski, and Daniel Paille go for nothing to free agency. Campbell wound up in Columbus, and Bartkowski in Vancouver. Paille is presently sitting beside his phone, waiting for his agent to call while looking at brochures about the Swedish Hockey League.

There is quite a competition to make the team as backup goaltender to Tuuka Rask. Malcolm Subban, Zane McIntyre and a goalie they picked up on a PTO, Jonas Gustavsson are all in the running.

As previously mentioned, Marc Savard's contract was moved to the Panthers, along with Reilly Smith, in exchange for Jimmy Hayes

So that's it for the Atlantic Division

Oh, wait. There's also the Leafs, but you already know all about what happened to them!

Next up: The Metropolitan Division.