Friday, September 28, 2007

Your Obligatory Ultra Super Spectacular Pre-Season Speculation Post (Part II)

Western Conference

Possible point totals are in parentheses. No scientific calculations involved, simply a ballpark figure.

“The Haves”

1. *Detroit Red Wings (116) – There’s no doubt that they’re going to win the central, but the conference title will be tricky. Nonetheless, I’m picking them.

2. *San Jose Sharks (109) – The Pacific is going to be a tough fight, just like the Atlantic. A short off-season for the Ducks and no improvement from the Stars paves the way for the Sharks. Their young players should be a big part of the team’s success.

3. *Colorado Avalance (104) – This division is going to be a tough win as well, but I believe that the Avs summer signings will pay off along with the development of Stastny, and Wolski.

4. Dallas Stars (106) – The Stars are going to be icing a similar team to the 2006-07 edition, and I believe they’ll achieve about the same.

5. Minnesota Wild (103) – Just like Dallas, I don’t expect the Wild to be any worse than they were last year. I don’t expect them to be much better, either. This will be a down-to-the-wire divisional race for sure.

6. Anaheim Ducks (102) – The Ducks are good, but Scott Niedermayer’s shenanigans, injuries to Schneider and Giguere, and a short off season are all causes for concern. I can’t imagine them having the legs down the stretch.

7. Vancouver Canucks (99) – The Canucks didn’t improve, and will be looking to Luongo to carry the defense yet again. Injuries are already mounting, which is scary when it’s still September. Don’t count them out of the divisional race yet, but it’s very hard to believe they can beat out both Colorado and Minnesota.

The Middle Ground

8. St. Louis Blues (94) – The Blues are my surprise team this year, but I don’t think anyone is going to be overlooking them this season. The team has turned things around nicely and despite his age, Paul Kariya is going to be a huge help.

9. Calgary Flames (92) – The Flames defensive carousel is worrisome, and Keenan isn’t going to help things. For their sake, I hope someone explains to him that Kipper is, in fact, a number one ‘tender. Don't count the Flames out of the playoff picture, but it's going to be a close race again this season.

“The Havenots”

10. Los Angeles Kings (84) – The Kings had some quiet but very nice summer signings, but they’re going to have to find a goaltender at some point. This team will be better, but the West is still way too competitive for them.

11. Nashville Predators (82) – I firmly believe the Preds are going to be a shell of their former selves. Chris Mason may be completely capable of being a starter, but he’s not going to have any help from his defenders or forwards. Timonen, Hartnell, Kariya, Vishnevski, Forsberg (presumably) and Vokoun are all gone. Did I miss anyone?

12. Chicago Blackhawks (76) – Things are looking up in the Windy City, and Robert Lang and Patrick Kane are going to help. Problem is; that’s not nearly enough.

13. Columbus Blue Jackets (70) – Mike Peca is the big news in Columbus. That’s a bad sign. I believe in Ken Hitchcock. Really, I do. The West is too tough and the Blue Jackets don’t have good enough pieces. That being said, their division will be lacking another +100 point team to go with the Red Wings, so the central may balance out a little more than I am accounting for here.

14. Edmonton Oilers (66) – Sorry, Alberta. It’s going to be a long winter. How’s next year’s draft class looking?

15. Phoenix Coyotes (64) – This is a team whose prize summer signing was Mike York. I’ll believe anything other than a last place finish when I see it, Kyle Turris or not.

*-Division Champs

Eastern Conference Predictions

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