Breaking news, rankings, predictions and analysis all in one place.

NHL Preview 2013: Western Conference

Henrik and Daniel Sedin
1. Vancouver Canucks
It looks like the Canucks will once more be the top team in the Northwest division. They can credit that to the return of the Sedins, Henrik and Daniel, who have dominated the past few seasons. The team improved their defense adding Jason Garrison and retaining much of last year's unit. It seems Roberto Luongo's time in Vancouver may be up. Cory Schneider will likely be the starting goalie now.
2. Minnesota Wild
After scoring just 177 goals a year ago, the Wild invested big money in superstar Zach Parise. Parise will join Dany Heatley and Mikko Koivu to form an offense that looks like it can manage 200 plus this year. Minnesota also added Ryan Suter to help the defense. The question remains whether these big signings will pay off in the long run.
3. Colorado Avalanche
The Avalanche look to also be in contention for the Northwest crown. Milan Hejduk is slow now at 36 but can still be an effective goal scorer. Colorado also has an improving player in Gabriel Landeskog who won Calder Trophy a year ago. The Avalanche had a productive off season acquiring P.A. Parenteau from the Islanders.
4. Edmonton Oilers
Pretty soon, the Oilers have to start winning. Right? Edmonton looks to continue their slow rise up but it has stalled. Led by Taylor Hall this team has the talent to at least not end up with the number one pick. Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz give the team some more to work with but their is still way too many holes for the Oilers to be playoff contenders.
5. Calgary Flames
The Flames haven't enjoyed much success the past couple of seasons but they seem to not care. Other than keeping aging stars Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff the Flames haven't done anything to try to help the team reach the playoffs. Some minor moves may help but not enough for the Flames to climb out of the cellar.

1. St. Louis Blues
What happened last year? The Blues seemed to come from nowhere to win the Central thanks to a solid score of players that are back this season. That list includes T.J. Oshie, David Backes and Brian Elliot. Elliot formed quite the tandem with Jaroslav Halak in goal last year which was one of the main reasons St. Louis had so much success. It would be tough to imagine the Blues having the regular season they had last year but they should still win the Central.
2. Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks aren't the best team in the Central, but they still have enough on the roster to at least make the playoffs. They have Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa to provide enough goals but the real issue is goalie where Corey Crawford and Ray Emery will spend time.
3. Nashville Predators
Nashville rarely has the best team in the NHL but they always seem to fight hard and end up in contention in the Central. That should be the case once more for the Preds. They lost Ryan Suter but still have Shea Weber to help on defense. They also have one of the best net minders in the league in Pekka Rinne. With a commitment to defense the Preds should wind up in the playoffs.
4. Detroit Red Wings
After years of prolonged success the Red Wings time might be drawing to a close. Nicklas Lidstorm retired, Detroit didn't add anyone significant and they are very old everywhere. Jimmy Howard won't let up much but Detroit could soon look like the Lakers of the NHL.
5. Columbus Blue Jackets
Rick Nash is now off to New York which basically erases any chance the Blue Jackets have of making the playoffs. The only decent goal scorer is going to be R.J. Umberger who scored 20 a year ago. The goalie position is also a complete mess.

1. Los Angeles Kings
Surprise could be called a complete understatement as the Kings stunned everybody on their way to winning the Stanley Cup. A lot remains including shutdown goalie Jonathan Quick, right winger Dustin Brown and defender Drew Doughty. Anze Kopitar will miss some games to start the season but by the time the games really matter the star center should be ready to go and try to defend the crown.
2. Phoenix Coyotes
Don't think LA will run away with the Pacific. The Coyotes are quite a formidable opponent led by their own goalie Mike Smith and a number of goal scorers. Phoenix gave Shane Doan a lot of money to stay and lead the squad in scoring. The Coyotes will miss Ray Whitney, who had 77 points last year but was signed by Dallas.
3. San Jose Sharks
The Sharks title window is closing as center Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle, Patrick Marleau and Brent Burns continue to age but it doesn't look like San Jose is improving at all.  Those players still have enough star talent to score a bunch of goals but Anti Niemi has struggled in goal throughout his career. The Sharks still have enough bite to be in the playoffs but nothing to deep.
4. Anaheim Ducks
Youth is not something the Ducks have had the past few seasons. They still have 42 year old Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, Sheldon Souray and a number of other old veterans. What does it all mean? The Ducks will struggle to keep up with the speedier teams in the Western Conference.
5. Dallas Stars
The Stars are in a weird stage. The team appeared to be rebuilding the past couple of seasons with such talent as Loui Eriksson and Derek Roy. Then, this off season Dallas went out and payed big money to gain 40 year olds Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney. Jagr inspired Philly in a big way but he likely won't help Dallas climb out of the cellar.

No comments:

Theme images by LUGO. Powered by Blogger.