Pacific division preview

Over the next week I am going to be posting brief reviews of what we can expect from each team in the NHL for the upcoming season. Included will be some team strengths and weaknesses as well as some question marks for what to look for and a final outlook. The question marks will be an indication of what might occur and if it does they could finish better than I expect. Finally, once all the previews are complete I will post my final standings predictions. So, lets start off in the Pacific Division.

Anaheim Ducks
-One of the best goaltending tandems in the league.
-The experience of winning the Stanley Cup.
-Young talent in Getzlaf, Perry, Ryan.
-Chris Pronger (and Niedermayer if he returns)
-For whatever reason, recently teams that make the Stanley Cup finals have struggled the following season.
-The loss of Selanne, Niedermayer and Penner takes a lot away from last years cup wining team.
-Questionable health of newcomers Bertuzzi and Schneider
Question Marks:
-Will Niedermayer or Selanne return at some point?
-Can Bertuzzi become the 25 goal, 60+ point guy the Ducks need him to be?
-Will they eventually trade Bryzgalov for some help elsewhere.
-The Ducks should easily make the playoffs but defending the Stanley Cup is going to be difficult with the current lot of players as they likely haven’t adequately replaced the performances of Selanne, Niedermayer and Penner. Of course, that all changes should Niedermayer return because the Ducks would then have an insanely good defense that no team could come close to matching.

Dallas Stars
-Goaltending with Marty Turco and Mark Smith.
-One of the better defensive teams in the league.
-They will struggle to score goals.
Question Marks:
-Can Mike Modano, at age 37, return to a point per game player after a sub-par year in 2006-07.
-How much does 37 year old Sergei Zubov have left in the tank to anchor their power play.
-When you look at the Dallas roster you wonder how they managed to have back to back seasons of 112 and 107 points but you have to give them credit for getting them done. It is probably fair to expect more or less the same this season and a playoff spot but unless they can figure out how to score some goals they can’t be considered a true cup contender.

Los Angeles Kings
-Young talent in Frolov, Cammalleri, Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Patrick O’Sullivan, Jack Johnson and Jonathan Bernier.
-Added some good depth (for the short term) with the signings of Nagy, Handzus, Calder, Preissing and Stuart.
-Lots of salary cap space going forward to continue rebuilding process.
-To say goaltending is a weakness is an understatement. They were bad last year and probably their best goalie Mathieu Garon walked via free agency. That leaves Jason LaBarbera, who had a solid year in the AHL last year but isn’t generally highly regarded, a very weak backup in Aubin and a 19 year old prospect in Bernier.
Question Marks:
-Will they risk Bernier’s confidence/development and give him an opportunity to play or will the trade for a goalie (Martin Gerber??).
-This is no doubt going to be a transition year for the Kings. I can’t see them making the playoffs, or even being close, but as a franchise they are headed in the right direction. They have lots of young talent and I expect them to be big players in next years free agent market as they have a lot of cap room and the free agent market has the potential to bee better than this years (Dany Heatley and Marian Hossa being two potential prime targets).

Phoenix Coyotes
-Hmmm. Shane Doan maybe?
-They have some decent talent on defence with Jovanovski, Michalek, Ballard, Morris and Boynton.
-Pretty much everything but mostly they lack any top end forwards outside of Doan who is more of a second line player.
-Several backup goalies but no starters.
Question Marks:
-How bad will this team be?
-There isn’t much positive going to happen in Phoenix this season so the best Coyote fans can probably hope for is a last place finish and the first pick in next years draft.

San Jose Sharks
-Quality and depth of forward with Thornton and Marleau being one of the best one-two center tandems in the league and Cheechoo and Michalek providing some scoring from the wings.
-Excellent young talent in Michalek, Bernier, Carle, Pavelski, and Vlasic.
-The defense lacks a true #1 guy and the loss of Scott Hannan will be felt.
-Overall experience and/or depth at forward, on defence and in goal.
Question Marks:
-How quickly can San Jose’s young players really take their game to the next level.
-Can Nabokov stay healthy and/or will San Jose acquire a quality backup for him?
-The Sharks have the makings of a really good team but they are still missing some parts, particular a true #1 defenseman, and some experience this will hold them back from being true top tier Stanley Cup contenders. I think they need another year or two.

This article has 8 Comments

  1. David –

    I think there’s a good chance that the Stars collapse like the 2006 Flyers. Almost everyone on the team is old and there’s no real goal scorers either.

    And I expect the Stars to land Heatley or Hossa.

  2. Scott Niedermeyer isn’t lost to the Ducks. He hasn’t announced his retirement. He’s just “suspended”.

    I bet you he’s going to pull a “Roger Clemens” — sometime around the All-Star game he’ll rejoin the team for another run to the Cup.

    The Ducks won’t have to trade draft picks for an upgrade — and at half his contract, it’s a small hit to the salary cap.

  3. I find it interesting that people continue to say Chara had a down year. His numbers, aside from +- were pretty much identical to the year before. The poor +- was a function of the team. When you’re on the ice for half the game, you’re going to get a lot of minuses that have little to do with you.

  4. Kristian Huselius: Last year’s performance was not a fluke. He led the Swedish Elite league in scoring the year of the lockout with players such as Hossa and Forsberg in that league. He is a fantastic talent.

  5. You kind of posted these randomly, but:

    Chara had a down year because his team didn’t win anything. The truth is, Zdeno Chara just isn’t that good a defenseman – he’s a top 10 defender in the NHL, but he’s overrated both on defense and offense – neither are that fantastic.

    As for Huselius, there’s never been much question about his talent – just his drive. Florida stuck with him for a long time, so there was definitely something there.

  6. Triumph… your post about Chara makes no sense:

    Chara had a down year because his team didn’t win anything. The truth is, Zdeno Chara just isn’t that good a defenseman – he’s a top 10 defender in the NHL, but he’s overrated both on defense and offense – neither are that fantastic.

    How can you be a top 10 defender in the NHL but not be fantastic?

    He’s had 4 seasons in a row of 39+ points. He’s had 6 straight seasons of 100+ PIMs.
    While on the Island he was -27 for both of his last 2 years, then in Boston last year he want back to -21.

    After he left Ottawa, who took a bigger stride backwards? Chara or Redden? Chara’s points were stable, and he was -21 on a team with a collective +/- of -75. Redden’s point totals dropped down to 36 points from 50, and he went from a regular +20 to a +1. After 5 years of +20 or better, dropping to +1 on a team with a collective +/- of +70.

Comments are closed.