Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Western Conference 2006-07 Overview

Okay, the new NHL season is set to launch tonight, so I'll analyze the Western Conference today.

Anaheim: I am torn about judging this team's offseason. On one hand, they got Chris Pronger's wife and sold her on the sunny southern California climate. They were also able to secure Temmu Selane who continues to be a recognizable face for the franchise. But on the other hand, their new uniforms are uninspiring and not colorful at all. Look for Anaheim to challenge for the top 3 seed in the playoffs all the while purging the Disney legacy from their team identity.Upgrade!
Calgary: They got somebody to help with the scoring so that Iginla doesn't do it all. Tanguay will flourish in Calgary where he was a 2nd liner on a super strong Avalanche team. Kipper will be strong in goal again, but you already knew that. Phaneuf will have to show there is no sophomore jinx in his play. They will ascend to the top 4 in the playoffs for years to come.Upgrade!
Chicago: Okay, who are you and what have you done to the Wirtz family? The BlackHawks, as some bloggers would have you believe, is competing against the Islanders for worst ownership group by reputation. Getting Havlat in a trade will make it look like this franchise cares about winning again. But the local fans in Chicago won't be able to see that on TV. What local TV contract? New head coach Trent Yawney will be under the microscope this season to look like he knows what he is doing. Look for Chicago to move back to respectability but not out from the bottom of the Western Conference. Upgrade!
Colorado: The shine is off the brass in Rocky Mountain High. The franchise is still losing their stars that they were once able to hoard pre-CBA. Svatos may or may not be the future, but they must learn to rely more on their farm system instead of just writing checks. Jose Theodore should have put his personal mess behind him in time to play better than he did last season. Look for plenty of "Burnaby Joe" highlights just hanging his head low. The good news is that you will have yet another season of Bill Clement's lips perpetually wrapped around the Avalanche collective... buttock.Downgrade!
Columbus: So, the Bee-Jays were able to have their cake and eat it too. Doug McLean was pressed into finding replacements to Zherdev, only to have success and sign him at the 11th hour. So, Anson Carter will hopefully make this team better and give the Bee-Jays the street cred that a young franchise needs. Nash may press for the scoring title and that kind of competition will only benefit the Bee-Jays. Of course, there is the cult following of the man, the myth, the legend - Jaroslav Balistik. Upgrade!
Dallas: Who in their right mind decides that Mike Modano gets passed over for the "C"? So, he pulled a "Farve" this summer. But Morrow has proven himself to be a dependable star among Stars. They will make the playoffs, but only get in the 4-8 seed finish. Their acquisitions this summer aren't paying off well as I have heard. But getting back Darryl Sydor was a good thing.Downgrade
Detroit: They lost Shanny and are trying to get younger. You can't replace Stevy Y or Jiri Fisher, but the Wings are forced to do just that. The Wings are going to trust on their farm system to get back to their elite status and re-acquiring Osgood and Hasek will only set them back in developing young goaltenders for the future. Downgrade
Edmonton: There wasn't much for the Oilers to fix in the offseason, but there certainly enough to lose after getting to the Stanley Cup finals. They will have Dwayne Roloson for the whole season and that will help their overall standing at the end of the year. Lupul will not lose a step in Edmonton. They won't be the 8th seed this season, but it will be speculative if they win their division. Look for more Joey Moss-sploitation this season. Upgrade!
Los Angeles: LA got the steal of the century by adding Jack Johnson as a future defenceman. They also added back Blake who will hopefully anchor a new stable Kings franchise. Admittedly, the Kings have been always disappointed with injuries and now with a new GM and coach Crawford will right the ship in regal fashion. Look for the Kings to make baby steps to looking like a professional franchise again.Upgrade!
Minnesota: To keep Gaborik happy, they went out and got Demitra and a whole slew of help. Kim Jonnson will be the biggest key acquisition and provide some more options on offense. The Wild will score themselves into a 4-8 seed at the end of the year. Upgrade!
Nashville: Getting J.P. Dumont was great for a pesky franchise. Had their franchise goaltender Vokun not get sick, they would have shown up in the playoffs. Look for Kariya to open up now that the bulk of the load will be passed on to FA's Arnott and Dumont. No changes on defense, but none was needed. They will be lucky if they get the 8th seed in the post-season.Upgrade!
Phoenix: 4 words: Owen Nolan Owns You! Team Gretzky gears up for another run and opened up the wallet to do so. Acquiring Ed Jovanovski was a steal and gives them new options that they didn't have last year. Roenick will be comfortable having spent a previous tour of duty with the desert dogs. Glendale residents will have to wait on getting those playoff tickets for another season.Upgrade!
San Jose: I would like to thank all my readers out in Silicon Valley. If the Sharks don't finish #1 overall in the Western Conference, I would be shocked. Joe Thorton, Marleau, and Cheechoo will score a lot this year as they will have the entire season to work together. They will be my pick for the Stanley Cup finals contenders.Even!
St. Louis: Bad News: You will be in last place, St. Louis. Worse News: Their #1 Erik Johnson wont be in uniform this season either. There is very little hope for the post-season, there is some key changes to the Blues lineup. Manny "I need my head checked" Legace will give the franchise a steady goaltender for the year instead of the goalie-by-committee system they had last year. They got Weight back with a little more jewelry on his hands and picking up Guerin was a good deal of familiarity to his team USA counterpart Keith "so I am a little bit on the chunky side" Tkachuk. Look for Stempinak to play like he wants to stay the whole year. Basically, the highlight of the year is for the Brett Hull number retirement ceremony against the Wings in December.Upgrade
Vancouver: The team had to rebuild into a winning franchise and rid themselves of the dead weight. They just weren't going to win with that previous collection of players. Ever. In steps Roberto Luongo, a franchise goaltender that is already compared to long time franchise goaltender Kirk McLean. They also purged themselves of the Bertuzzi distraction and got themselves a faster younger defense in Lukas Krajicek.upgrade
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