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Thursday, September 5, 2013

GM On a Couch’s Glorious Predictions (That Will Probably Be Wrong)

Hellow Caps fans!  The season is almost upon us.  So, why not look to see how some of the new divisions will shape up?  In this years segment of….

The GM On A Couch’s Glorious Predictions (that will probably be wrong)

First up, let’s see how the how the Pacific Division might shape up:

1.  LA Kings - Easily one of the most complete teams in the NHL.  LA has become a hockey powerhouse, and has done so by securing their franchise players for a long, long time.  Their acquired Flyers have never played better in Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.  Anze Kopitar is one of the best centers in the league.  Dustin Brown is one tough, goal scoring dude.  And forwards don’t come up in the clutch as well as Justin Williams.  Newcomer Matt Frattin should see some quality minutes, and they added a little more feistiness in Daniel Carcillo.  And their defense?  Who cares that Rob Scuderi walked?  They have one of the best in the league in Drew Doughty, and a budding superstar in Slava
Slava Voynov
Voynov.  But, as long as they have the best goaltender in the world behind them in Jonathan Quick, there is no stopping them.  The sky is the limit for this team.

2.  San Jose Sharks - The Sharks will continue to add on the second highest current consecutive playoff appearances again this year.  The team will slowly but surely turn more and more into Logan Couture’s team.  The Sharks still have the core of Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, but each player is in the last year of their contract.  Could they see a change of scenery?  The Sharks locked up 29 year old Joe Pavelski for five more years.  The defense is solid, lead by Dan Boyle and Brad Stuart.  Goaltender Antti Niemi had a stellar shortened season, and if he carries that play into this next season, the Sharks can do some damage.

3. Edmonton Oilers - I said last year was their year to make the playoffs.  It wasn’t.  Now, I think it’s this year.  I mean, it’s gotta be soon, right?  They have three number one draft picks in their top two lines.  While they are still young, they are developing into superstars.  Taylor Hall could be one of the best players in the NHL this year, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be his set up man.  Nail Yakupov is an electric goal scorer.  They added even more offensive production in David Perron, and I haven’t even mentioned Jordan Eberle.  The defense is improving.  Justin Schultz was very impressive in his first season, and adding Andrew Ference won’t hurt.  Their success may fall into the hands of goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who doesn’t have Nikolai Khabibulin behind him anymore.  If he can’t play like everyone in Edmonton believes he can, it will be another disappointing year for Edmonton.

4.  Vancouver Canucks (first wild card) - The Canucks Stanley Cup window is closing.  The Sedin twins aren’t getting any younger, and both are in the last year of their contract.  Their goaltender saga was put to rest with the trade of Corey Schneider for New Jersey’s number nine pick, which they used on Bo Horvat (which makes me super jealous.  He could be a Patrice Bergeron type player).  The Canucks didn’t add anyone that is too significant beside Brad Richardson and Yannick Weber.  Oh, unless you count John Tortorella.  This season will make or break Tortorella.  If he can find the right formula for this team, it will result in another division championship for the Canucks.  But, I have my doubts.  Will it be more of the same, great team, lackluster playoff appearances, or will Vancouver finally get that cup?

5.  Anaheim Ducks (second wild card) - The Ducks had quite a year last season, finishing second in the
Teemu Selanne
Western Conference, then following that up with a first round playoff exit to the Detroit Red Wings.  The Ducks made one of the bigger trades this offseason, shipping off Bobby Ryan to Ottawa for Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen, and next years first round draft pick.  While Ryan’s offensive production is a big blow, Silfverberg has the potential to add 20 or so goals, especially if he plays with center Ryan Getzlaf.  Corey Perry will continue his scoring ways, and the ageless Teemu Selanne will continue to amaze.  Every one of Anaheim’s defensemen played extremely well last season, including Francois Beauchemin, who tore his acl and may miss the first part of the season.  Anaheim is very deep at the goaltender department, and should have no issue between Jonas Hiller or Viktor Fasth.

Sven Baertschi
6.  Phoenix Coyotes - Phoenix just does not have enough offensive production to make the playoffs.  They did add former Cap Mike Ribeiro, who will be their first line center, but it is still just not enough.  Ribeiro will not see nearly as much success in Arizona without the offensive weapons he had to play with in DC.  Phoenix’s defense is respectable, led by Keith Yandle, Zbynek Michalek and budding superstar Oliver Ekman-Larsson.  Mike Smith agreed to a six year deal in the offseason, which is great for Phoenix.  But, ultimately, the offense will be their downfall.

7.  Calgary Flames - This season could be really ugly for the Flames.  After trading away their captain in Jarome Iginla at the trade deadline, it appeared that the Flames were officially in a rebuilding state.
They don’t really have any offensive talent, their best defenseman is Dennis Wideman, and after goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff retired, they are turning to Karri Ramo, who has just 11 wins in 48 NHL games.  Yeesh.  The Flames do a have a potential superstar in Sven Baertschi, who is just 20 years old. But the Flames need to get a lot more talent before they can be relevant again, starting with a fight for the 1st overall draft pick this season.

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