IBN NHL season preview : Western Conference
posted Oct 01 2013, 11:31AM
story by David Loret
posted in NHL, Analysis

After lockout-shortened season, a brand new full 82-games season started up this week, with those powerful Blackhawks trying to defend their Stanley Cup in a realigned NHL. You can say goodbye to the Northwest, the Southeast and the Northeast Division and welcome the Metropolitan Division … But don’t worry if your lost, here is the official IBN breakdown division by division

Co-wrote by Incarcerated Bob (@incarceratedbob

 

Pacific Division

Anaheim Ducks
2013 record: 30-12-6, 2nd in West, lost to Red Wings in first round

Notable adds: LW Dustin Penner (Kings), D Mark Fistric (Oilers), RW Jakob Silfverberg (Senators)
Notable losses: C Matthew Lombardi (Swiss league), LW Bobby Ryan (Senators), D Toni Lydman, C Dave Steckel (PTO)

David’s take : They were one of the best teams of the regular season but they fell flat against the Red Wings in the 1st round. They pulled the trigger and traded Bobby Ryan to Ottawa but have failed to replace it (NO Dustin Penner isn’t a replacement…). Now, someone will have to step up (like Silverberg or Etem) but I expect the Ducks to take a little step back this year. Unless someone (Cam Fowler, for example) grows into an elite player.

Prediction : 2nd.

Bob’s take : 6TH Place

 

Calgary Flames
2013 record: 19-25-4, 13th in West

Notable adds: LW T.J. Galiardi (Sharks), RW David Jones (Avalanche), D Shane O'Brien (Avalanche), C Joe Colborne (Maple Leafs)
Notable losses: G Miikka Kiprusoff (retired), LW Alex Tanguay (Avalanche), D Cory Sarich (Avalanche), C Roman Cervenka (KHL)

David’s take : They lost two of their franchise players and team legends as Iginla got traded during the season and Kiprusoff retired.  Horizon is very dark in Calgary, they have a lot of holes in their depth chart and have one of the worst goalie situations in the NHL … They will have a Top 5 pick in next year’s draft. They will rebuild and be back to playing some good quality hockey in 2015-16.

Prediction : 7th.

Bob’s take : 7th Place

 

Edmonton Oilers
2013 record: 19-22-7, 12th in West

Notable adds: C Boyd Gordon (Coyotes), LW David Perron (Blues), LW Jesse Joensuu (Islanders), D Andrew Ference (Bruins)
Notable losses: LW Magnus Paajarvi (Blues), D Ryan Whitney (Panthers), C Shawn Horcoff (Stars), D Mark Fistric (Ducks), G Nikolai Khabibulin (Blackhawks)

David’s take : Like every year, we expect the Edmonton Oilers to breakout, especially with six top 10 picks, including three No. 1 overalls, since 2007. So far, we are still waiting. Enter Dallas Eakins, highly touted in the AHL, who will have a tough mission to make the Oilers defense better as well as transforming all of those elite prospects into elite players. I love the firepower and i expect a late playoff run, the only problem is will the inexperience and goalie situation hold them back?

Prediction : 5th.

Bob’s take : 4th Place (7TH Playoff Seed)

 

Los Angeles Kings
2013 record: 27-16-5, 5th in West, lost to Blackhawks in conference finals
Notable adds: F Matt Frattin (Maple Leafs), G Ben Scrivens (Maple Leafs), F Dan Carcillo (Blackhawks)
Notable losses: D Rob Scuderi (Penguins), G Jonathan Bernier (Maple Leafs), F Dustin Penner (Ducks)

David’s take : They still have a tough/gritty team that could easily win the division and contend for the cup. The only matter is, can they play to their full potential ? They have one of the best goalies ' Jonathan Quick ' (nah he's the best..) in the league as well as a who’s who list of stars but injuries or inconsistency seem to be holding them back. Also to be noted, Dwight King will get some Top 6 duties at left wing .. This could be a big weakness of the LA Kings. Always expect a major move as the trade deadline comes up, so don't panic if they start slow.. Kings will be fine!

Prediction : 1st.
 
Bob’s take : 1ST Place (2ND Playoff Seed)

 

Phoenix Coyotes
2013 record: 21-18-9, 10th in West

Notable adds: C Mike Ribeiro (Capitals), RW Brandon Yip (Predators)
Notable losses: C Boyd Gordon (Oilers), C Matthew Lombardi (Ducks/Swiss league), G Jason LaBarbera (Oilers)

David’s take : The Coyotes had a pretty good off season, they got sold to IceArizona Acquisition co., they managed to extend Dave Tippett and they signed Mike Ribeiro. That being said .. There’s a very good chance that the ‘yotes will struggle again to score but will the prevent them from making the playoffs once again?

Prediction : 6th.

Bob’s take : 5TH Place (8TH Playoff Seed)

 

San Jose Sharks
2013 record: 25-16-7, 6th in West, lost to Kings in conference semi-final

Notable adds: LW Tyler Kennedy (Penguins), RW Anthony Stewart (Kings)
Notable losses: C Scott Gomez (Panthers), F T.J. Galiardi (Flames)

David’s take : San Jose will make the playoffs, I see them as the 3rd best team in this division (Behind the Kings and the Ducks) but they have some questions heading to this season. Can they get more 5 on 5 goals? Can Niemi repeat his 2012/2013 season ? And, finally .. Could the best fit to ride shotgun on the wing for Joe Thornton be a former "D-Man"   .. Brent Burns ? Sharks need to stop choking in the playoffs , but i suspect that trend will continue.

Prediction : 3rd.

Bob’s take : 2ND (4TH Playoff Seed)

 

Vancouver Canucks
2013 record: 26-15-7, 3rd in West, lost to Sharks in first round

Notable adds: C Brad Richardson (Kings), C Mike Santorelli (Jets), D Yannick Weber (Canadiens)
Notable losses: RW Mason Raymond (Toronto), C Max Lapierre (St. Louis), D Keith Ballard (Wild), G Cory Schneider (Devils)

David’s take : No one can argue that they have a stacked team but they made some moves in the off season that might come back to haunt them. They rolled the dice on Luongo and decided to sign a coach that will try to shake things up. I don’t think that the Torts experiment will work out well immediately (if it works …) and I also think that the handcuffs that comes along with Luongo’s contract actually cost them their best goalie. It might be an adaptation season for Vancouver going from Vignault to Torts,question is, will this prevent them from making the playoffs?

Prediction : 4th.

Bob’s take : 3RD Place (6TH Playoff Seed)


Central Division

Chicago Blackhawks
2013 record: 36-7-5 – Champions

Notable adds: G Nikolai Khabibulin (OIlers)
Notable losses: C Dave Bolland (Maple Leafs), LW Viktor Stalberg (Predators), G Ray Emery (Flyers)

David’s take:  The champs are here. Some might say that the Blackhawks are looking like a dynasty and they might be right. The only question is CAN Corey Crawford once again show the ability to be a top notch goalie. Scoring and leadership is not a problem (Toews ' Kane ' Hossa ' Duncan ' Sharp) so expect the Hawks to make another strong run at winning b2b titles.

Prediction : 1st.

Bob’s take : 1ST Place (1ST Playoff Seed)

 

Colorado Avalanche
2013 record: 16-25-7

Notable adds: C Nathan MacKinnon (draft), LW Alex Tanguay (Flames), D Cory Sarich (Flames)
Notable losses: RW Milan Hejduk (UFA), RW David Jones (Flames), RW Chuck Kobasew (PTO), D Shane O'Brien (Flames)

David’s take: There should be an old school feeling with those Avalanche. Former Avs Patrick Roy and Alex Tanguay came back to Colorado this offseason, that should and will go a long way to helping a struggling franchise. Avs made a great pick with #1 overall pick Nathan MacKinnon, still not enough to make a playoff run just yet. They didn’t upgrade the blue line, that's still a huge hole and it's a must they get more from Semyon Varlamov.

Prediction : 7th.
Bob’s take : 6TH Place

 

Dallas Stars
2013 record: 22-22-4

Notable adds: C Shawn Horcoff (Oilers), C Rich Peverley (Bruins), C Tyler Seguin (Bruins), D Sergei Gonchar (Senators)
Notable losses: RW Loui Eriksson (Bruins), C Derek Roy (Blues), LW Eric Nystrom (Predators), D Philip Larsen (Oilers)

David’s take: They took a big risk and rolled the dice on Tyler Seguin, parting ways with Loui Eriksson in the process. It is difficult to predict if this is gonna work but despite the acquisition of Sergei Gonchar, their defense will still be porous and that might be the biggest issue on the rebuilding Stars.

Prediction : 5th

Bob’s take : 7TH Place

 

Minnesota Wild
2013 record: 26-19-3

Notable adds: LW Matt Cooke (Penguins), RW Nino Niederreiter (Islanders), D Keith Ballard (Canucks)
Notable losses: C Matt Cullen (Predators), RW Devin Setoguchi (Jets), RW Pierre-Marc Bouchard (Islanders), D Tom Gilbert (Panthers), RW Cal Clutterbuck (Islanders), D Justin Falk (Rangers)

David’s take: They made the biggest splash last year (Suter ' Parise) but the Wild still have big issues on their roster. One big issue … They have no depth. Oh and Heatley is quickly declining. They will be a playoff team, but I don’t see them going far as they will be exposed when the 1st liners are off the ice.. 

Prediction : 3rd.

Bob’s take : 4TH Place

 

Nashville Predators
2013 record: 16-23-9

Notable adds: C Matt Cullen (Wild), C Matt Hendricks (Capitals), LW Eric Nystrom (Stars), LW Viktor Stalberg (Blackhawks), D Seth Jones (draft)
Notable losses: LW Sergei Kostitsyn (KHL), RW Matt Halischuk (Jets), D Hal Gill (PTO), G Chris Mason (Italy-A)

David’s take: They got their replacement for Ryan Suter one year after his departure thanks to Seth Jones falling to them in the draft. But even if the hype will be on him … The Preds still have a way below average offense and will have to improve their PK this season (adding Cullen and Hendricks will help this part.). They will be better, but I don’t see them as a playoffs team.

Prediction : 6th

Bob’s take : 8TH Place 

 

St. Louis Blues
2013 record: 29-17-2

Notable adds: LW Brenden Morrow (Penguins), LW Magnus Paajarvi (Oilers), C Derek Roy (Stars), C Maxim Lapierre (Canucks)
Notable losses: LW David Perron (Oilers), RW Jamie Langenbrunner (UFA), C Andy McDonald (retired)

David’s take: They have one of the best defense in the entire league, a excellent coach and they will be in the hunt for Cup once again. Only issue ? Their offense. But with the additions of Roy or Paajarvi, there’s a good chance that this issue will be gone.

Prediction : 2nd.

Bob’s take : 2ND Place (3RD Playoff Seed)

 

 

Winnipeg Jets
2013 record: 24-21-3

Notable adds: RW Michael Frolik (Blackhawks), RW Matt Halischuk (Predators), RW Devin Setoguchi (Wild)
Notable losses: C Nik Antropov (KHL), C Kyle Wellwood (Swiss league), D Ron Hainsey (Hurricanes)

David’s take: They missed the playoffs last year despite having a decent season. This year, they will be in the hunt once again but they will have to meet expectations with the resigning of Bogosian and Wheeler to lucrative contracts. Thanks to the realignment, they won’t have to travel a lot but will it really have an impact on them? Evander Kane is now a superstar and he will be asked to carry these Jets down the stretch again this year, can he handle the pressure? 

Prediction : 4th

Bob’s take : 3RD Place (5TH Playoff Seed)

 

NHL WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF SEEDING

1. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

2. LA KINGS

3. STL BLUES

4. SJ SHARKS

5. WINNIPEG JETS

6. VANCOUVER CANUCKS

7. EDMONTON OILERS

8. PHOENIX COYOTES

David Loret
From Paris. Editor-in-Chief. IBN Senior MMA and WWE Writer....





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