Addition of Brad Richards boosts Atlantic Division

PHILADELPHIA, PA - FILE: Brad Richards #91 of the Dallas Stars skates against the Philadelphia Flyers on February 5, 2011 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was reported that free agent Brad Richards agreed to a contract with the New York Rangers July 2, 2011. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

After the flurry of free agency has settled down, the Atlantic Division has taken on a new look.  How have the Pittsburgh Penguins division rivals done so far this summer and who's improving, holding ground or has a lesser roster on paper for the upcoming season.

New Jersey Devils


Added: nothing of note
Subtracted: nothing of note
Retained: Johan Hedberg, Andy Greene

Verdict: Same


Not much activity going on in New Jersey, who's biggest free agent signing is still to come as they try to reach agreement with restricted free agent forward Zach Parise.

New York Islanders

Added: Marty Reasoner
Subtracted: Zenon Konopka, Nathan Lawson, Doug Weight
Retained: Trevor Gillies

Verdict: Same

Not much happening on the Island either, who only really swapped one checking center for another in Reasoner and Konopka.  This team will have to improve not through free agent signings but by continued growth of young players like former first round picks Nino Neiddereiter and Ryan Strome.



Brad Richards and the rest of the division after the jump..

 

New York Rangers

Added: Brad Richards, Mike Rupp
Subtracted: Matt Gilroy, Alex Frolov, Bryan McCabe, Vinny Prospal
Retained: Ruslan Fedotenko

Verdict: Improved

Richards is an elite center and could provide much needed support for sniper Marian Gaborik.  Rupp should add a little jam and be good in the locker-room.  As always, the Rangers may have spent a little too much, but no doubt they've improved their team's skill and size.

Philadelphia Flyers

Added: Ilya Bryzgalov, Jaromir Jagr, Max Talbot, Andreas Lilja, Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds
Subtracted: Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Kris Versteeg, Ville Leino, Dan Carcillo, Brian Boucher, Sean O'Donnell, Nikolai Zherdev

Verdict: Lesser

Enough has been spoken here about Jagr and Talbot, so we'll leave that at that.  Philly's huge shake-up sees them deal team mainstays in Richards and Carter for young players and then over-haul the team with Jagr and letting Versteeg and Leino go.  Finally addressing their lack of franchise goalie the Flyers signed Bryz to a huge deal.  Now the question is with all the turnover and new faces, will the chemistry be there right off the bat?  We'll give them a grade of lesser, because on paper their forwards have stepped back and young players like Voracek, Schenn and Simmonds will not contribute as much next season as the stars they dealt for them will.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Added: Steve Sullivan, Boris Valabik, Alexandre Picard
Subtracted: Max Talbot, Mike Rupp, Alex Kovalev, Mike Comrie, Eric Godard, Chris Conner
Retained: Tyler Kennedy, Pascal Dupuis, Arron Asham, Craig Adams

Verdict: Same

Adding Sullivan gives the Pens potential skill on the wing, but the 37 year old injury ridden 5'7" forward is far from a guarantee.  The major losses are Talbot and Rupp, two players who may have contributed more in the locker-room than actually on the ice.  Being able to keep "glue" players like Dupuis and Adams is a plus.  The Pens don't have the cap room to make big free agency splash, of more importance is getting their top players healthy.

 

What teams did the best to improve themselves so far this summer?  How many playoff contender teams do you see coming out of the Atlantic?  Is the addition of Richards enough to get the Rangers back into the conversation?

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