Sept 27 (Reuters) - Following are brief profiles of the 16 teams in the Eastern Conference ahead of the 2013-14 National Hockey League (NHL) season.
Head coach: Claude Julien
2012-13 record: 28-14-6 (Lost the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final on home ice in sixth game of the championship series)
Loui Eriksson and Jarome Iginla were among the offseason additions that will try to help Boston erase the sting of last season, where they were 76 seconds away from forcing a decisive seventh game in the Stanley Cup Final, only to see the visiting Chicago Blackhawks score two goals in 17 seconds for the decisive win.
Head coach: Ron Rolston
2012-13 record: 21-21-6 (Disappointing season included the firing of long-time head coach Lindy Ruff after 16 seasons)
After finishing last in the Northeast Division and missing the playoffs for the fourth time in six seasons, Buffalo may opt for a rebuild if goalie Ryan Miller and sniper Thomas Vanek, each in the final year of their contracts, are unable to get the team back on track.
Head coach: Mike Babcock
2012-13 record: 24-16-8 (Eked into the playoffs and then came one win shy of reaching the Western Conference final)
A veteran team with plenty of playoff experience, Detroit kept their core intact by signing Russian forward Pavel Datsyuk and goalie Jimmy Howard to contract extensions in the offseason while signing second-line forward Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss in free agency for added depth.
Head coach: Kevin Dineen
2012-13 record: 15-27-6 (After winning their division in 2012, the Panthers struggled last season)
The Panthers finished with the league's worst record last season and will be hard-pressed to finish significantly higher in the upcoming campaign with a very inexperience roster. Team also signed two-time Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas, who may offer stability in goal but finding his top form after a year away from the game could take time.
Head coach: Michel Therrien
2012-13 record: 29-14-5 (Went from last place in the Eastern Conference two season ago to second place last season)
The Canadiens will look to recover from last season's surprise first-round playoff loss to the rival Ottawa Senators and are banking on another stellar year from reigning Norris Trophy-winning defenseman PK Subban. Addition of Danny Briere should help in the scoring department.
Head coach: Paul MacLean
2012-13 record: 25-17-6 (Shrugged off injuries to key players and made the playoffs before falling in the second round)
Senators acquired four-time 30-goal scorer Bobby Ryan from Anaheim in a bid to fill a hole left by the departure of long-time captain Daniel Alfredsson to Detroit. After making the playoffs last season despite a rash of injuries, Ottawa will be looking to build on their surprise first-round playoff win.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Head coach: Jon Cooper
2012-13 record: 18-26-4 (Weak goaltending and defense were key factors in the team's struggles)
The Lightning will be missing a familiar face when the 2013-14 campaign begins as they have since parted ways with captain Vincent Lecavalier. Head coach Jon Cooper enters his first full season in charge and will be looking to instill his fast brand of hockey while free agent signing Valtteri Filppula will be counted on to help replace Lecavalier's production.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Head coach: Randy Carlyle
2012-13 record: 26-17-5 (Made the playoffs for the first time since 2004 but fell at the first hurdle)
After a stunning Game Seven collapse that ended their season in the first-round of the playoffs, Toronto had a busy offseason fine-tuning their roster, most notably in goal with the addition of Jonathan Bernier and at forward with former 30-goal scorer David Clarkson.
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Head coach: Kirk Muller
2012-13 record: 19-25-4 (A dismal 7-17-3 record down the stretch cost the team a playoff berth)
Coming off a campaign that fell apart after starting goalie Cam Ward went down with a season-ending knee injury, Carolina will need the former Conn Smythe Trophy-winning netminder to rediscover his top form to get back into the playoffs. Linemates Eric Staal and Alexander Semin will continue to provide the Hurricanes with scoring punch.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS*
Head coach: Todd Richards
2012-13 record: 24-27-7 (A disastrous 5-12-3 start to the campaign created too deep a hole to climb out of)
Columbus erased memories of a dismal start to the 2012-13 campaign season with a late-season surge but missed out on the postseason by virtue of a tiebreak. The return of reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky and forward Marian Gaborik, who is entering a contract year, give the Blue Jackets reason to hope.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
Head coach: Peter DeBoer
2012-13 record: 19-19-10 (Fell well short of duplicating the previous campaign where they reached the Stanley Cup Final)
Ageing team will be banking on offseason acquisitions Jaromir Jagr, 41, and Michael Ryder, 33, to help fill the void left by the sudden retirement of Russian sniper Ilya Kovalchuk. Future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur, 41, will be the team's starting goalie but young backup Cory Schneider could take over that role should the former falter.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Head coach: Jack Capuano
2012-13 record: 24-17-7 (Second-half turnaround breathed new life into a long-suffering franchise)
The face of the franchise, 23-year-old captain John Tavares, earned his first Hart Trophy nomination last season and will be expected to lead an Islanders team filled with confidence after qualifying for the playoffs and nearly pulling off a first-round upset of the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins.
NEW YORK RANGERS
Head coach: Alain Vigneault
2012-13 record: 26-18-4 (Fell to eventual Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins in second round of the playoffs)
New head coach Alain Vigneault, who led the Vancouver Canucks to five consecutive Northwest Division titles and a Stanley Cup Final berth, will be expected to help get the most out of an offence that
Head coach: Peter Laviolette
2012-13 record: 23-22-3 (Struggled early, never winning more than two straight games in season's first three months)
The Flyers added former Tampa Bay captain Vincent Lecavalier to their already-talented group of forwards but questions remain in net, where either Ray Emery or Steve Mason will be counted on to put a stop to what has been a goaltending carousel in Philadelphia for years.
Head coach: Dan Bylsma
2012-13 record: 36-12-0 (Entered playoffs as a top seed but goaltending let them down in the Eastern Conference Final)
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will power the offense of a dynamic team that lost in the penultimate round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last season while Marc-Andre Fleury remains the starter in net despite his struggling in last season's playoffs.
Head coach: Adam Oates
2012-13 record: 27-18-3 (Were one win away from second round of playoffs until consecutive shutout losses knocked them out of the first round)
Alex Ovechkin, who won last season's Rocket Richard trophy as the NHL's top goal scorer and Hart Trophy as most valuable player, gives Washington one of the league's top snipers, while Braden Holtby is coming off a strong year where he had a .920 save percentage, 2.58 goals-against and 23 wins that was one off the league lead.
* Played previous season in Western Conference. (Compiled by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Julian Linden)
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- Vincent Lecavalier
- Danny Briere
- Daniel Alfredsson