COMMENTARY | Summer is coming to a close and training camps are scheduled to start up in about a month. It's only a matter of time before the Detroit Red Wings' first season in the Eastern Conference is underway.
The added benefits of moving to the Eastern Conference have been discussed ad nauseam at this point. Not only will the Red Wings benefit from less travel, but they will also benefit from the weaker opponents they will see more of in the Eastern Conference.
Just in their own division, they have Buffalo, Tampa Bay and Florida, which were 12th 14th and 15th, respectively, in the Eastern Conference last year. Tampa Bay added Valtteri Filppula, and Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis always have the capability of scoring in bunches, but they aren't contending for a Stanley Cup anytime soon.
As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, the Panthers have a lot of young talent but also are a few years away from being put in the serious Cup-contending discussion. Buffalo traded Jordan Leopold and Jason Pominville at the deadline last year and is in a rebuilding stage. The Sabres shouldn't give the Red Wings much of a problem.
In the Metropolitan Division, New Jersey, Winnipeg and Carolina will be the bottom-feeders the Red Wings will get to beat up on. Philadelphia and Columbus are on that cusp of potentially doing well, but goaltending could hurt them.
I'm not convinced Sergei Bobrovsky is as good as advertised. He had a phenomenal season last year and almost led the Blue Jackets to a playoff berth, but one good season is not enough for me to forget his time with the Flyers where he struggled to get any sort of consistency behind Ilya Bryzgalov.
The Red Wings have fared well against the Bruins, going 3-0 against Boston in their last three meetings. They didn't do so well against the Penguins, going 1-2 in their past three games.
The Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens are two more teams that have the potential to give the Red Wings fits -- Ottawa, especially, as it would love nothing more than to beat its old captain who gave up on the team last year.
The Red Wings will have their share of tough competitors in the East, but they'll still flourish as they'll play a lot of teams who are rebuilding or simply can't compare talent-wise.
Tom Mitsos is a Michigan native who covers the Detroit Red Wings for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He also is a high school sports reporter at MLive Media Group. You can follow Tom on Twitter.
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