8. Montreal Canadiens
This team may have reached the Stanley Cup Final only a few months ago, but the Montreal Canadiens own the second worst record in the NHL as 2022 draws near. The steep drop off from last year’s magical run has been highlighted by key players being absent from the lineup for a variety of reasons.
I don’t think that many people believed that the Canadiens would have the ability to repeat last season’s performance, but at this point, it is abundantly clear that they will not even come close. At this point, the Habs feel like a lock to finish in last place in the Atlantic.
7. Ottawa Senators
The Ottawa Senators lie only one spot ahead of the Canadiens and therefore belong in the same conversation. Sixth place feels like the ceiling for a Senators team that has been reeling since its double overtime loss in the Game 7 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Final.
Goaltender Matt Murray has not worked out in Ottawa, Evgenii Dadonov moved on after only one season, and while a few young stars give Senators fans some reasons to be optimistic, the benefits of that optimism will not be realized until at least next year.
6. Buffalo Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres have as little chance to win the Atlantic as the two previously mentioned teams, but they at least looked at one point this year as though they may contend for a playoff spot. In typical Sabres fashion, that faded quickly into disappointment, and now Buffalo will simply attempt to not finish in last place.
Star forward Jack Eichel has officially been shipped out of town, meaning that any direction the Sabres might have had has been scrambled. The future is uncertain for this team, and like the Habs and Sens, fans will have to wait until at least next season before they see their team turn things around.