Originally posted on Bleed Black & Gold  |  Last updated 12/7/11

Earlier today BB&G informed our readers about the NHL realignment plan that was approved.  With this realignment plan, there is sure going to be some fun races.  There are a lot of winners and losers though in the refined system though, so I figured it might be best to break down who those might in each new conference and how all of this will affect the Penguins.

Conference “A” -- Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, L.A., Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver.  

Argueably this might be the worst of the conferences from top to bottom, however it lines up well geographically and some surprises might be in store.  Young talents like Colorado and Edmonton could potentially be big time players by the time this is implemented.

Winners -- San Jose and Vancouver -- In the short term, these two are probably the cream of the crop.  Watching these heavyweights go out it should be fun moving forward.  Should present an interesting rivalry.

Losers - Anaheim and Colorado - Anaheim will be put up against a couple of younger and faster teams and the unexpected woes this season could reach into the future if those teams reach their full potential.  Colorado is one of the teams on the hump of making the turn towards improvement, but inconsistant play could end up hurting this team.  They must beat the teams they should if they are going to survive.

Conference “B” -  Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg. 

This is going to be a tough division.  Beyond C-bus, there are no slouches here.  Winnipeg is already showing signs of improvement and Dallas is on its way towards a complete turnaround.  Meanwhile, Minnesota shows no signs of slowing down as they currently lead the league in pts.  Chicago and Detroit will have their hands full.

Winners -- St. Louis and Dallas. St. Louis can play with anyone now with their new defensive system.  They will be a player in this division.  Dallas is full of energy and are the kind of team that could give the Wings some trouble down the road.

Losers -- Detroit and Columbus.  Columbus has no shot for the foreseeable future.  Meanwhile, Detroit will be tested.  Chicago has pushed them to their limits the last couple years and adding Minnesota and Dallas to your conference isn’t going to help the W/L record.

Conference “C” -- Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto. 

A lot of middle of the road teams stuck in this division.  Every team in it will be competitive and should be one of the tightest races in the short term.  Behind Boston, it’s a Crap shoot.  It really is. 

Winners -- Boston and Ottawa -- Only a 7 team conference means that more teams make the playoffs than don’t which play well for Ottawa as they rebuild.  They are showing promise already this year so bringing in teams from the Southeast Conference will only help them.  Boston is hands down the best here and should handle this division pretty easily for a few years.

Losers -- Any team coming from the Southeast (Florida and Tampa Bay) - That disaster of a division made the Capitals look way better than they should have for years.  Florida is playing well, but that will change once they see teams from the Northeast.

Conference “D” -- Carolina, New Jersey, The Islanders, The Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington

The Atlantic scoops up the Caps and Canes.  Should make for some fun games with the Capitals and Penguins seeing each other more often, but things should be pretty much the same here as they have been.

Winners -- New Jersey and New York Rangers- New Jersey will benefit from having 4 of 7 teams make the playoffs while the Rangers, usually a bubble team, should soundly play a role in the playoff picture moving forward.

Losers -- Washington and New York Islanders -- Washington will be pushed towards the edge of the playoff picture against the Atlantic division teams.  They aren’t better than Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, or the Rangers, so they will have to battle it out with the Devils for the next few years to get in.  The Islanders don’t have a snowballs chance in hell any time soon now.  They can fight Carolina to finish 6th I guess.

What this means for the Penguins -- For the Penguins, no real change is happening.  They are adding a struggling Hurricanes team and the Washington Captials who honestly felt like a division rival already.  Although that one time marquis matchup isn’t quite as glamorous as it was a year or two ago, it should still be fun to watch. The playoffs will be easily achievable for years to come for Pittsburgh.


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