In a four-part series, I will examine the current state of the NHL and assess where each team will finish by season’s end. Do note, I am a suckish loser at predicting, so don’t give your hopes up if you’re a Coyotes fan. You still have Wayne Gretzky!
15. Phoenix Coyotes
The Coyotes will have to go through a season without tripping themselves. Jim Ballsillie will be haunting them like a witch on Halloween, and unless Kyle Turris turn into the boy wonder he is supposed to be, bye bye Phoenix.
14. Minnesota Wild
Chuck Fletcher has the right mindset for this team, but it’s going to take a couple of years to REALLY change this club. Havlat will be a bust in my opinion and rookies Pouliot and Sheppard won’t live up to expectations.
13. Colorado Avalanche
Um, well, they got Duchene…and Anderson. They’re depth still is pathetic and their defense won’t be able to block anything. I like Craig Anderson but he’s going to have a hard time in C-Town. 20 bucks Sacco gets sacked in the first two months.
12. Nashville Predators
I can hear Preds fans (if there are any?) going “Yeah, Bobby, you said that last year and they finished 9th!” I can understand them, but the makeup of this team will blow up. They have the grit and size but the skill just isn’t there and Pekka Rinne could suffer the same fate as Vokoun, Mason, and Ellis.
11. Dallas Stars
If the team is healthy, they’re in contention for the playoffs. But I still think there’s leadership problems on this team and a young defense plus an insecure goalie in Marty Turco means trouble in the Big D.
10. Los Angeles Kings
LA will improve big time this season. Its fast, young players combined with leadership and grit from the veterans will mean a good teeam from LA. Goaltending is still questionable but the Kings could make the playoffs.
9. Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers once again will go down to the wire for a spot but will lose precious games during the strech to eliminate them. The Oilers barely changed anything. A very responsible defense and goaltending headed by the two-headed monster of Quinn and Renney will improve this teams GAA, but out of Hemsky and Horcoff this team is a bunch of third liners crumpled to make a second line.
8. Anaheim Ducks
This 6-8 order was very difficult to choose but the Ducks will once again make the playoffs on the skin of their teeth. The offense is amazing with Getzlaf, Perry, Selanne, Ryan, and Koivu but Im suspect of the defense after the loss of Pronger and Niedermayers age and Hillers ability to prove last season was not a fluke. Overall this team was built well but wont last long IMO.
7. St.Louis Blues
The Blues shocked last year when they made the playoffs and this year will be no different. Their offense will be one year older, which means maturing for the young guns, while their defense stays solid and Chris Masons beard lives on.
6. Columbus Blue Jackets
The darlings of the NHL will have to pick thier way into their playoffs and their the team just to do that. The defense is suspect but if Steve Mason keeps trucking on this team trucks on to the playoffs and continues to improve.
5. Vancouver Canucks
The Nucks added firepower and muscle into their offense and lost a distraction in Mats Sundin. The departure of Mattias Ohlund leaves a hole which is expected to be filled by Mathieu Schneider but we will see that. Luongo will be fired up for his Olympic ass, so Canucks make the big show.
4. Detroit Red Wings
Huge losses in Hossa, Samuelsson and Hudler will hurt this team unless Bertuzzi, Eaves, Williams can replace thier offensive output. Lidstromès age starts showing this yeart but Ericsson will help this defense a lot. We will see how Osgood and Howard do, but Detroit will start to fold.
3. San Jose Sharks
Wilson pormised change, and nothing happened. This is basically the same team from last year that finished 1st, but will slide because of a much improved Western Conference. The question will be if they can finally get ride of their choker status.
2. Calgary Flames
Not only will Calgarys young guns step up huge this year, but addition of Bouwmeester to the defense and bringing Phaneufs junior coach in the mix will mean a serious playoff run for Calgary, but the chance to stop the coach merry-go-round in Calgary.
AND FINALLY, GEAR UP FANS. HE FIRST PLACED TEAM IN THE WEST IS…
1. Chicago Blackhawks
Chicagos efforts to rebuild this team will pay off this year. Brian Campbell will step up this year in a big way and Marian Hossa will give this team a much needed boost. Chicago has the tools to make the Cup Finals.