Okay I promised a Western conference predictions, and It is here before the puck drops at 10 tonight. Better late then never right? Here we go.
15. Colorado: You’re in a rebuild. You already know this. Look for positives out of some young players and build on that as the season goes. What you want to figure out by the end of the season will be how long your rebuild will be. Take it from a fan who has seen a few rebuilds from his team.
14. Phoenix: Thank God your drama from the summer is over. Too many new players, but you have young talent with a blend of veterans. You go as far as Shane Doan will take you. This year, like the Avs fans, see what you have, and build from there.
13. Nashville: The Preds have a lot of teams to fight through to get into the playoffs. Getting Sullivan back will help, but it won’t be enough. Goaltending should be good, Shea Weber will be a Norris candidate, and the offense should be decent. I just don’t think they have enough to get past so many other teams.
12. Minnesota: New coach, new system, new atmosphere. A few new players, but like Nashville you’re going to need help. Goaltending is solid, defense should be okay, but it’s your offense, and depth that worries me, especially with a new system. If the Wild buy into the new coach and system, you always have a chance.
11. Edmonton: You’re players need to step up this year if you want in. They’re small, but fast, and they have skill on both offense, and defense. The goaltending will be in question because he just signed a new contract, and he doesn’t pick up his game until it’s the last year. If the players are driven to win, you’re in the playoffs.
10. Dallas: If the Stars stay healthy, they’ll be in it till the end. Modano should take a curtain call at every place this year. Stars go as far as Marty Turco will take them. If he can bounce back from a sub par year, and if they make a move or two during the season, I wouldn’t want to play you in the playoffs.
9. Dark Horse Kings: You’re growing as a team, and this could be your year. Nice addition of veterans, and forwards should be really good. The young defense is one more year experienced, and the goaltending is my only concern, but it’s not a huge ordeal. If the team starts out of the gate hot, Kings may be in.
8. Columbus Blue Jackets: Columbus will win a playoff game this year. You signed your star player for a long time, and you have one of the up and coming goaltenders in the League. They will be buyers come trade deadline, and again, depending on who you play, will be harder to beat in the playoffs.
7. St. Louis: Some may say what you did last year was just luck. Well you’re getting a few stars back from injury, which is better then the free agency market. But the Blues must stay healthy this year if you want to make it. If you don’t, teams like LA, and Dallas will take a spot from you.
6. Anaheim: You traded Pronger, but got some nice talent for him. Same as St. Louis, not a lot of injuries, and your forwards must produce for a full season, not just your famous three. You have a good problem in net, and both of them will always give you a chance to win every night.
5. Calgary: Goaltending should be solid for the year. The defense is one of the best in the League. Those two combinations alone, and I will not be surprised if the Flames lead the League in one goal game wins. The offense is fine for now, but if you want the Cup, look for them to make a move or two by the deadline.
4. Detroit: This is not an insult. Two-time Western Conference Champs, and two years older. A lot of games plus a few new younglings, means your points will drop, but only during the regular season. A few moves before the trade deadline, and like Calgary, you’re back going for the Cup.
3. Vancouver: In my honest opinion, the only team that can beat the Canucks…..are the Canucks. Stop killing yourselves and start believing you can beat anybody. Take it to the other teams. The Canucks go as far as their captain. There is enough depth everywhere and now, there are certainly no excuses.
2. San Jose: See Vancouver. As far as going as far as your captain goes, you go as far as Joe Thorton. Danny Heatley is a big plus, but make sure he doesn’t turn into a cancer. Goaltending must be stellar this year, from both. No more drama.
1. Blackhawks: The deepest team of this year, but not next year. Huet must step in to replace the Bulin Wall. I think he can. There is just too much on this team that can help him out. Kane must put his summer behind him, and he along with Toews will only improve. The defense is good and deep, and need to get Campbell on the same page.