All things point to success for the Canucks. Who cares if they don’t have a top D-man, they have 6 second pairing guys and they have a motivated Luongo. Their offense is one of the best around boasting Burrows, Kesler, Sedin, Sedin, Samuelsson, Torres, Malhotra. Mike Gillis deserves a lot of kudos for compiling this team - even if Nonis did a lot of the legwork, Gillis kept it all together and added pieces.
They may have lost nearly half their active roster from the Stanley Cup winning team, but any team that has Toews, Kane, Sharp, Keith, Seabrook, Bolland, Hjarlmasson, Campbell will be just fine. Turco and Crawford will be interesting to watch though, does Turco have the juice left to compete at such a high level? With Chicago’s D, does it even matter...
They let Nabokov walk and replace him with journeyman goaltender Nittymaki. Hmmm...there might be a significant dropoff in talent. At least when Rob Blake retired they replaced him with...Okay, so the two areas of intense scrutiny are in net and on D, however, coaching is not one of the deficiencies, nor are the forward core which boasts McGinn, Couture to go with Setoguchi, Pavelsi, Marleau, Thornton and Heatley. Expect them to win the Pacific, but with LA coming, this will be the last year for a long, long time.
Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen, Lidstrom, Rafalski + great coaching and a very nice supporting cast = playoffs. Pay no mind to last season, injuries decimated the Wings and they still made the playoffs without much issue. It’ll be interesting to see how Howard responds in his sophomore season, but Osgood is there to make sure.
This team is starting to shape up very well, from the young guns up from to the amazing Doughty, this team has relatively few holes. The addition of Mitchell on the back end to go with Scuderi and Greene means that opponents will pay a price for meandering around the net. Kopitar, Brown and co. are always a lot of fun to watch. The big question will be goaltending, is Quick over his playoff performance and ready to lead this team, or is it Bernier time?
What a tough division the Pacific is. Phoenix is a well constructed TEAM and I stress that they’re a team that depends on each other to get the job done. Wolski was a great addition, as was Stempniak (who just re-signed). Losing Michalek hurts, but they have a plethora of talented D-men coming up through the pipeline - most notably OEL, who could challenge for Rookie of the Year. Keep an eye on Yandle, one of the more underrated of D-men.
Every year UFAs leave Nashville and every year people predict doom and gloom - and every year Trotz and co. prove them wrong. With Weber wearing his deserved C, there will be a rock-steady D in Nashville. Lombardi has always been underrated in what he can bring to the table other than 5 on 5 play and Wilson is ready for the pros in a big way. Rinne will be key in goal.
Real tough call for 8th, but Anderson gets the Avs in. Not to mention the amazing talent that has already spent time in the NHL, O’Reilly, Duchene, Quincy, Galliardi, Stewart. It’ll be a bit tough on D for the Avs, but they’ll persevere over....
I think this will be the most interesting race to watch. Back is the heralded D-man Erik Johnson from injury and he’ll be joining a squad that just doesn’t quit. Backes, Perron, Andy Mac, Boyes (expect a big comeback year from him) and the newly acquired Halak will have St.Louis battling for 8th place all year, but do they have the horses?
One of the worst offenses in the league got no help at all this summer. In an odd move, Sutter brought back Ollie Jokinen and Alex Tanguay who’ll help, but won’t be difference makers. Bouwmeester needs to forget last year ever happened and grab hold of the Calgary D, which also includes Ian White, Robin Regher and Giordano. If they can help the offense, and ‘Kipper’ can deliver the goods again...maybe the playoffs are attainable...but I doubt it.
Their D is in shambles, but they boast one of the most intimidating top lines in the league (assuming Ryan finally signs) and the addition of Koivu last season, Lupul and the re-signing of Selanne means that this team is staggeringly well placed to run and gun. Visnovsky is an excellent defender, but they made a great decision in signing Andy Sutton. However, when they final whistle is blown next season, the Ducks will find themselves out of the race - even with Hiller as their goaltender, there are too many questions on D.
Any team with Backstrom in net is going to challenge for a playoff spot - and that’s what the Wild will do for the majority of the season, but in the end, their D isn’t good enough, their offense is acceptable at best and that means missing the post-season again.
Too many young guys that need to get their feet wet at the NHL level for this team to do any damage...this year. In future, they’ll be as good as their young guns mature, but for now, they’ll finish out of the playoffs again. Gerber was an...intriguing signing - and it looks like he may actually get a chance based on Khabby’s DUI woes.
This is a team that is spinning its wheels very badly. They have an average offense, fueled by Rick Nash and obviously Vermette and Huselius (when he feels like it), but when will Brassard be injury free and ready to compete? Columbus hopes he’ll break out this year, as they hope with Vorachek and Filatov, but it’s their D that’s weak - and when you’re starting goalie is having issues, the last thing you want is a weak D.
The Stars have some pieces in place in Benn, Neal, Eriksson and B.Richards, but their acquisition of Lehtonen doesn’t have me sold in the least. Not to mention that the Stars are very weak defensively and letting Tippett go was a disastrous decision. Not a well constructed team.