Sunday, September 30, 2007

Eastern Conference 2007-08 Overview

Okay, the new NHL season is only but a few days away, so I'll analyze the Eastern Conference today and the Western Conference tomorrow. Here is my "stock reports" as who is getting upgraded or downgraded for the year compared to last season.

The NHL seems to be producing an encore production of "Let's piss off and alienate the Canadian fans more". The last three Cup champs have been in city climates that never seen any snow. Did they whine this much during Dallas' dynasty?

Atlanta: Ownership issues off the ice has hamstrung the team regarding any free agent commitments. Basically, it will be the same team as last year, but with a stronger Eastern Conference, Atlanta - who snuck in the post-season last year, may very well be on the outside looking in.Downgrade!
Boston: Boston, an Original 6 team, can't stand being this long on rebuilding. Chiarelli seems to be producing young talent and it will only take another year or two before they contend for a division or playoffs. They seem to have Fernandez in goal to answer their problems there.Upgrade!
Buffalo:Again and again, Buffalo comes up short - in cash to go around and in wins when they really count. Drury and Briere walked out the door when it should have been a real Ruff time instead. Lindy will again be the Achilles heel until Sabres fans realise that the one constant to get over the Cup failures lands on the coach's bench.Downgrade!
Carolina: If E-Staal returns to form, I will buy him a beer. Wait! That isn't funny. Carolina tried the UFA's that can get more depth in the 3rd and Checking lines. I like the Hamilton pick up. And with "Ronnie Franchise" Directing talent, the Hurricanes will contend for the southeast division.Upgrade!
Florida: They are in trouble. Too much inexperienced youth and poor decisions on veteran talent is really tarnishing their once good start since expansion. Vokoun will be their only key pickup worth a darn. Roberto who? even
Montreal: Les Habs need to get over that hump and start winning in the playoffs. Goaltending is still young and inexperienced. This team needs to re-tool with a high draft pick. downgrade
New Jersey: Gomez and Rafalski walk out the door in order to graduate the young core of Devils talent. But they still insist on riding Brodeur until his wheels literally come off. They will soon find themselves up against it in the salary cap and with no goaltending heir. Just like the situation the Avalanche are in. downgrade.
NY Islanders: Wow. This is the damage that a GM with no prior experience and an owner with deep pockets can do. The future with Guerin and company will make this team into immediate playoff contenders. Now just stay healthy, Billy.Upgrade!
NY Rangers: The Rangers are starting to listen to me and may now start to trend a little less Euro on their rosters. Team Jagr is always too weak to go deep into a NHL playoff system, so it was really wise to get Gomez and Drury - both Americans. Major upgrade!
Ottawa: A team that made the Stanley Cup finals needs very little. Despite finding a starting goalie who isn't mentally unstable, The Sens are just going to play their game and hit harder. But the team who has lost the Stanley Cup in years past have failed to make the playoffs the following year.Even
Philadelphia: Anything different from what they had last season is and upgrade. Holmgren got out the broom and whisked away players and reloaded with Briere. and Biron in goal. They may not make the playoffs, but at least they will look more competitive.Upgrade!
Pittsburgh: When FA's laughed at the thought of signing with the Penguins, they have now switched over and are lining up at the gates to play with Sid. My "Pittsburgh insider" says Sykora's agent actually wanted to sign with Pittsburgh first and right away. Now, the team has added Stanely Cup vets to the roster who know how to get through the long playoff haul.Upgrade!
Tampa Bay: TB made no significant FA signings and didn't answer their goaltending woes. But keeping the franchise core together of Vinnie/Brad/Martin may work out as they were very high scoring. But where is the D? Downgrade
Toronto: The mirage of Toronto almost making the playoffs despite Raycroft was only a mirage. This team is still not as solid as their farm system has not produced anyone significant yet. Blake and Toskala will make them competitive, but not playoff material.upgrade!
Washington: Just another year for the Capitals to realize what they have with young top talent and maybe they can be playoff contenders. "Sweaty Teddy" and company are using the Penguins model to success and collecting all these top picks. Poti and Nylander will make them more respectable and actually watchable.Upgrade!
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