Atlantic Forecast, Vol. 3

D-FENS part two of two

If you missed volume one or volume two of our Atlantic Division Forecast then here are the parameters: we look at the eight teams in the Atlantic division, and how their players 24-or-under stack up. We also take a look at their cap situation for the next few seasons. I’ve already analyzed goalies, and given the Sabres, Panthers, and Bruins a slight advantage there. Boston came out decently well in terms of defenders with Detroit and Tampa Bay also looking pretty threatening. Again, this is the second half of my series on defenders. So if you're looking for, say, Lassi Thomson, and you don't see him in today's piece, go check out the previous instalment. Today we wrap up defense, and as usual we start here in the nation’s capital.

Ottawa Senators

Right off the bat, you can write Thomas Chabot’s name in ink atop your defensive depth chart on the left side. Having signed a $64-million dollar extension, Tommy’s locked in. After that, Ottawa has Mike Reilly and Christian Wolanin (who just missed the age cutoff) signed for next season with Mark Borowiecki and Ron Hainsey as possibilities to return next year although having both would seriously clog up the pipeline.

  • Olle Alsing 0.56 points per game in the SHL
  • Erik Brännström 0.85 points per game in the AHL and 0.13 NHL
  • Thomas Chabot 0.55 points per game in the NHL
  • Andreas Englund 0 points in the AHL and 0.13 points per game in the NHL
  • Maxime Lajoie 0.35 points per game in the AHL and 0 points in the NHL
  • Jonathan Tychonick 0.46 points per game in the NCAA/

As we all know, the crown jewel here, and slated to line up behind Chabot, is Erik Brännström. Even though he didn’t produce points-wise in the NHL, he put up great on-ice numbers and he had a great age-adjusted season in the AHL. The safest bet long term in Ottawa would likely look like Chabot-Brännström-Wolanin. As I’ve written before, I don’t know that Alsing or Englund have ceilings above the AHL. Lajoie took a big step back this year and will have to prove his worth again in 2020-21 if he wants to carve out an NHL role with Ottawa. Tychonick hasn’t quite lived up to expectations with the University of North Dakota and will likely get a fresh start with a new school next season.

Boston Bruins

There are a lot of moving parts in Boston this off-season. Zdeno Chara (retirement?) and Tory Krug could leave in free agency leaving John Moore and Matt Grzelcyk on the left side with one spot for a youngster like Jeremy Lauzon. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned about the Bruins researching for this project, it’s that despite all of their success, they haven’t hamstrung themselves long-term with bad contracts.

  • Roman Bychkov 0.42 MHL
  • Jeremy Lauzon 0.29 AHL and 0.11 NHL
  • Dustyn McFaul 0.23 NCAA
  • Wiley Sherman 0.30 AHL
  • Urho Vaakanainen 0.26 AHL and 0 NHL
  • Nick Wolff 0.30 NCAA
  • Jakub Zboril 0.33 AHL/

When factoring in age, none of these players’ numbers really jumped off the page at me. Vaakanainen took a bit of a step back this season after a strong 2018-19 and Zboril has more or less plateaued since he went pro. Of course, Boston has enough talent down the right side courtesy of McAvoy, Carlo, and Clifton that they can live with shut-down type roleplayers on the left and there remains the possibility of retaining Torey Krug to lighten the burden for the next two players on the depth chart.

Buffalo Sabres

Much like Chabot’s position in Ottawa, you can go ahead and write Rasmus Dahlin’s name in ink atop the left defense depth chart indefinitely. The former first overall pick currently leads a trio including Lawrence Pilut and Jake McCabe. And with about $40-million coming off the books in Buffalo over the next two years, there will be plenty of opportunity for young defenders to line up behind Dahlin.

  • Jacob Bryson 0.44 AHL
  • Rasmus Dahlin 0.68 NHL
  • Brandon Hickey 0.09 AHL
  • Ryan Johnson 0.22 NCAA
  • Linus Lindstrand Cronholm 0.21 Allsvenskan
  • Lawrence Pilut 0.62 AHL and 0 NHL
  • Mattias Samuelsson 0.47 NCAA
  • William Worge Kreu 0.12 SHL and 0.46 SuperElit/

After Dahlin, the next young defender to keep an eye on in Buffalo is Jacob Bryson who has had success in both the NCAA and AHL since the Sabres drafted him in the fourth round. Mattias Samuelsson and Ryan Johnson somewhat resemble Tychonick in terms of development. Buffalo drafted both in that lat first- early-second rounds and both have had modest NCAA numbers. It would be too early to dismiss either of them and Buffalo will have the resources and flexibility to make things interesting, as I stated earlier.

Detroit Red Wings

As it stands now, the Red Wings have Patrik Nemeth, Danny DeKeyser, and Brian Lashoff under contract for next season with only DeKeyser on the books for 2021. If, however, you read volumes one or two of this series then you know that Detroit likes quantity in their prospect pipeline and they have a lot of young talent in North America and overseas competing for positioning on the organizational depth chart.

  • Dennis Cholowski 0.43 AHL and 0.22 NHL
  • Joe Hicketts 0.54 AHL and 0.33 NHL
  • Albert Johansson 0.27 SHL and 0.56 SuperElit
  • Kasper Kotkansalo 0.24 NCAA
  • Alfons Malmstrom 0.08 Swedish Division I
  • Jared McIsaac 0.68 QMJHL
  • Cooper Moore 0.60 BCHL
  • Malte Setkov 0.40 Allsvenskan and 0.07 SHL/

Despite the fact that neither player has numbers that jump off the page this season, Cholowski and Hicketts look prepared to take on NHL roles in Detroit. Johansson intrigues me the most of the group. Although, at just 19-years-old, the Red Wings may be in no rush to bring him over from Sweden just yet. Former second-round selection McIsaac has a decent ceiling, but he probably still requires some seasoning in the AHL before the Red Wings really know what they have in the young defender.

Florida Panthers

If you’re hoping for a “lolpanthera” joke here, then you’ll be mighty disappointed because the Cats have some pretty decent young defenders in their system. The problem lies in Florida’s mess of salary expenditure. The Panthers have Keith Yandle and Michael Matheson locked up a three- and six-years respectively with substantial cap hits and then you have Aaron Ekblad and Sergei Bobrovsky’s contracts, as I alluded to in previous articles.

  • Carter Berger 0.32 NCAA
  • Max Gildon 0.85 NCAA
  • Tyler Inamoto 0.20 NCAA
  • Vladislav Kolyachonok 0.62 OHL
  • Cole Krygier 0.17 NCAA
  • John Ludvig 1.03 WHL
  • Jake Massie 0.17 AHL
  • Linus Nassen 0 SHL
  • Riley Stillman 0.24 AHL and 0.15 NHL/

Ludvig, Kolyachonok, and Gildon all immediately jump off the page for me and have more than lived up to their draft pedigree as former second- and third-round picks. Florida should have time to get Yandle off the books before any two of these three could make the jump to the NHL (although Matheson’s contract will block the way for a long time). Riley Stillman remains the shoe-in for that third spot in the meantime, albeit with modest numbers.

Montreal Canadiens

More bad news here, folks, as the Habs have a pretty decent stockpile of young defenders this time around. I guess the silver lining is that Montreal has obstructed the path with Karl Alzner, Ben Chiarot, and Brett Kulak all on the books for another two years (and to think they had Mike Reilly in the fold too before shipping him over to Ottawa). In 2022, Montreal will only have to navigate the combined cap hits of Carey Price, Shea Weber, and Jonathan Drouin (at a very manageable combined $23.857-million).

  • Gianna Fairbrother 0.68 WHL
  • Jordan Harris 0.64 NCAA
  • Otto Leskinen 0.42 AHL
  • Victor Mete 0.22 NHL
  • Mattias Norlinder 0.53 Allsvenskan
  • Alexander Romanov 0.16 KHL
  • Kieran Ruscheinski 0.17 BCHL
  • Jayden Struble 0.48 NCAA/

At age-21, Mete has already carved out a place for himself in the NHL with solid results. At age-20, Romanov has established himself in the KHL and could likely slide right into the NHL if he chooses to come over to North America. Harris, Norlinder, and Struble stand out as the highest ceiling prospects in the group. You can really see here how it has paid off for Montreal to load up on second- and third-round picks in recent years. They have the talent here potentially to offset what I had deemed an underwhelming crop down the right side.

Tampa Bay Lightning

With Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh locked up long term and Braydon Coburn on the books for at least next season, opportunities are few and far between in the Lightning system on the back end. And at age-21 and already over 200 NHL games under his belt, don’t expect to see Mikhael Sergachev go anywhere anytime soon. Even with the depth chart seemingly set in stone, it does us no harm to familiarize ourselves with Tampa Bay’s prospects.

  • Dominik Masin 0.27 AHL
  • Radim Salda 0.22 Czech Extraliga
  • Quinn Schmiemann 0.62 WHL
  • Mikhael Sergachev 0.49 NHL
  • Oleg Sosunov 0.05 ECHL
  • Devante Stephens 0.16 AHL
  • Ryan Zuhlsdorf 0.24 NCAA/

Despite his higher draft pedigree, Masin hasn’t had eye-popping numbers since going pro and I don’t see as much more than a warm body in the Lightning system. If you only remember one name on this list, make it Scmiemann. He has put up some solid numbers with Kamloops and still has lots of time to grow. He’ll have his work cut out for him trying to dethrone one of the Lightning’s established blueliners. Although at age-18, he has plenty of time to make his case in both the WHL and, likely, the AHL. Beyond Sergachev and Schmiemann, you can tell that this is the farm system of a team in win-now mode.

Toronto Maple Leafs

I enjoy writing these paragraphs about as much as you enjoy reading them so I’ll try to keep them brief. For the foreseeable future, it looks like Morgan Reilly and Jake Muzzin will top off the depth chart with Martin Marincin and Calle Rosen currently sharing the third spot. With their top six forwards and half of their defensive corps signed to long-term contracts, don’t expect a tonne of year-on-year change in Toronto.

  • Travis Dermott 0.20 NHL
  • James Greenway 0.29 NCAA
  • Teemu Kivihalme 0.33 AHL
  • Mikko Kokkonen 0.24 Liiga and 0.30 Jr. A SM Liiga
  • Mike Koster 0.49 USHL
  • Filip Kral 0.92 WHL
  • Ryan O’Connell 0.24 NCAA
  • Rasmus Sandin 0.29 NHL and 0.71 AHL/

Sandin and Kokkonen stand out here among their peers with the former having a few strong seasons in North America and the latter enjoying success back in Finland. Dermott has established himself as a useful NHL-calibre player albeit without much offensive upside. And while I feel tempted to crack wise about Toronto never having the cap space to get all their young players under contract when the time comes, you and I have seen this movie before.

Stats, as always, courtesy of capfriendly and eliteprospects.


NameAffiliationDraftedAgeLeagueGamesPointsContractCap Hit
Brannstrom, ErikSenators1520AHL2723RFA 20220.863
Bryson, JacobSabres9922AHL6127RFA 20220.889
Cholowski, DennisRed Wings2022AHL3013RFA 20210.894
Englund, AndreasSenators4024AHL220RFA 20200.700
Hicketts, JoeRed WingsNA23AHL5027RFA 20210.700
Hickey, BrandonSabres6523AHL232RFA 20200.925
Kivihalme, TeemuLeafs14024AHL5518RFA 20200.793
Lajoie, MaximeSenators13322AHL4817RFA 20210.710
Lauzon, JeremyBruins5222AHL4513RFA 20220.850
Leskinen, OttoCanadiensNA23AHL5222RFA 20210.925
Masin, DominikLightning3524AHL5916RFA 20200.700
Massie, JakePanthers15623AHL295RFA 20210.770
Pilut, LawrenceSabresNA24AHL3723RFA 20200.925
Sandin, RasmusLeafs2920AHL2115RFA 20220.894
Sherman, WileyBruins15024AHL206RFA 20200.768
Stephens, DevanteLightning12223AHL386RFA 20200.743
Stillman, RileyPanthers11422AHL256RFA 20210.773
Vaakanainen, UrhoBruins1821AHL5414RFA 20220.894
Zboril, JakubBruins1323AHL5819RFA 20200.863
Lindstrand Cronholm, LinusSabres11719Allsvenskan398ELC 2022NA
Norlinder, MattiasCanadiens6419Allsvenskan3418ELC 2023NA
Setkov, MalteRed Wings10021Allsvenskan2510ELC 2021NA
Moore, CooperRed Wings12819BCHL5533ELC 2024NA
Ruscheinski, KieranCanadiens20619BCHL366ELC 2021NA
Fairbrother, GiannaCanadiens7719CHL3725ELC 2021NA
Kolyachonok, VladislavPanthers5218CHL5333RFA 20220.809
Kral. FilipLeafs14920CHL5349ELC 2020NA
Ludvig, JohnPanthers6919CHL6062ELC 2021NA
McIsaac, JaredRed Wings3619CHL2517RFA 20220.778
Schmiemann, QuinnLightning18218CHL6037ELC 2021NA
Salda, RadimLightning20621Czech Extraliga378ELC 2022NA
Malmstrom, AlfonsRed Wings10721Division 1252ELC 2020NA
Sosunov, OlegLightning17821ECHL211RFA 20210.722
Kokkonen, MikkoLeafs8419Jr. A SM Liiga103ELC 2023NA
Romanov, AlexanderCanadiens3820KHL437NANA
Kokkonen, MikkoLeafs8419Liiga389ELC 2023NA
Bychkov, RomanBruins15419MHL6226NANA
Berger, CarterPanthers10620NCAA3110ELC 2023NA
Gildon, MaxPanthers6620NCAA3429ELC 2021NA
Greenway, JamesLeafs7221NCAA3410ELC 2021NA
Harris, JordanCanadiens7119NCAA3321ELC 2022NA
Inamoto, TylerPanthers13320NCAA357ELC 2021NA
Johnson, RyanSabres3118NCAA378ELC 2023NA
Kotkansalo, KasperRed Wings7121NCAA348ELC 2021NA
Krygier, ColePanthers20119NCAA366ELC 2022NA
McFaul, DustynBruins18119NCAA317ELC 2023NA
O'Connell, RyanLeafs20320NCAA297ELC 2022NA
Samuelsson, MattiasSabres3220NCAA3014RFA 20230.925
Struble, JaydenCanadiens4618NCAA2110ELC 2024NA
Tychonick, JonathanSenators4820NCAA2411ELC 2022NA
Wolff, NickBruinsNA23NCAA3310RFA 20210.793
Zuhlsdorf, RyanLightning15022NCAA379ELC 2020NA
Brannstrom, ErikSenators1520NHL314RFA 20220.863
Chabot, ThomasSenators1823NHL7139UFA 20288.000
Cholowski, DennisRed Wings2022NHL368RFA 20210.894
Dahlin, RasmusSabres119NHL5940RFA 20210.925
Dermott, TravisLeafs3423NHL5611RFA 20200.863
Englund, AndreasSenators4024NHL243RFA 20200.700
Hicketts, JoeRed WingsNA23NHL62RFA 20210.700
Lajoie, MaximeSenators13322NHL60RFA 20210.710
Lauzon, JeremyBruins5222NHL192RFA 20220.850
Mete, VictorCanadiens10021NHL5111RFA 20200.748
Pilut, LawrenceSabresNA24NHL130RFA 20200.925
Sandin, RasmusLeafs2920NHL288RFA 20220.894
Sergachev, MikhailLightning921NHL7034RFA 20200.894
Stillman, RileyPanthers11422NHL345RFA 20210.773
Vaakanainen, UrhoBruins1821NHL50RFA 20220.894
Alsing, OlleSenatorsNA23SHL3620RFA 20210.858
Johansson, AlbertRed Wings6019SHL4111ELC 2023NA
Nassen, LinusPanthers8921SHL350ELC 2020NA
Setkov, MalteRed Wings10021SHL282ELC 2021NA
Worge Kreu, WilliamSabres18719SHL253ELC 2022NA
Johansson, AlbertRed Wings6019SuperElit95ELC 2023NA
Worge Kreu, WilliamSabres18719SuperElit2411ELC 2022NA
Koster, MikeLeafs14618USHL3718ELC 2024NA

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