Trade: Colaiacovo, Steen for Stempniak

 St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs  Comments Off on Trade: Colaiacovo, Steen for Stempniak
Nov 242008

It is no surprise that the Leafs have trade a defenseman since they had an abundance of them. What might be a surprise is they did so when they are suffer from several injuries on defense (Van Ryn, Frogren and Colaiacovo himself) and possibly just days before Brian Burke takes over as GM.

If you subscribe to the theory that the team who gets the best player wins the trade, you have to give the edge to the Leafs. But I am not convinced that the Blues didn’t do very well in this trade. Yes Colaiacovo had his health issues and it seemed apparent than new coach Ron Wilson wasn’t enamored with his conditioning but Colaiacovo is still highly talented and can play a physical brand of hockey. If the Blues can get him on the right track they could have a very good top 4 defenseman on their hands.

Also, Alex Steen is a very useful player. His offense hasn’t developed as many would have liked, and this year was definitely a step back when he had the opportunity to do so much more, but even if he only gets you 30-40 points he can still be a solid defensive player and penalty killer.

In Stempniak the Leafs get another skilled forward and although scoring hasn’t been a problem so far this year they do have a lack of (perceived or otherwise) young skilled top 6 level forwards. Stempniak is should fit that role and he has the speed and skill that Fletcher has been adding to this team ever since he took over from John Ferguson Jr.

Interestingly enough, likely incoming GM Brian Burke is more known for wanting to play a big physical game so who knows what he is going to think of guys like Grabovsky, Stempniak, etc.

St. Louis Blues

 St. Louis Blues  Comments Off on St. Louis Blues
Oct 132008

Like the Islanders and Thrashers, the Blues just never seem to be able to commit in a singular direction. After being one of the West’s powerhouses for two decades, including a string of 24 consecutive playoff appearances, the Blues are undergoing a youth movement and building the team up piece by piece. However, for a team that’s been dedicated to rebuilding, there is little to build upon in terms of young talent other than Erik Johnson. Sure, the Blues have some talented youngsters, but none of their forwards come with the same pedigree as Johnson, which could prove to be a big problem.

Don’t expect the Blues to be any better offensively than they were last year (26th). The Blues’ offense isn’t anything to be scared of, and if it wasn’t for Brad Boyes their offense could’ve very well finished dead last. Paul Kariya, their big free agent splash, had a disappointing year last year and proved to be a marginal factor to their success. The team’s counting on him to improve on last year’s campaign, but for a team that lacks a veteran leader on offense, Kariya’s a curious choice for the coaching staff to expect to shoulder the load. Kariya isn’t short on talent, that’s for sure, but he has stopped shooting the puck less and less every year and even during his glory days in Anaheim he was never touted as a leader. The same goes for the other veteran on the squad, Keith Tkachuk. Another one of the Blues’ surprise (27 goals were the most since the lockout, not to mention the only other player on the squad to pot 20+), Tkachuk has never really relished or excelled in a leadership role either. That means that the Blues will have to rely on their youngsters’ maturity to really improve themselves. Andy Murray is a methodical coach and isn’t the best guy to help along players with their ups and downs, but he makes his players accountable, not to mention he had reasonable success with a relatively young Kings squad as well. There will be growing pains for sure, especially for Jay McClement and Lee Stempniak, both of whom took a backwards step in their sophomore seasons. With so many question marks in the air, it means that Patrick Berglund and TJ Oshie will have to chip in regularly, and given the signs and noise they made during the preseason, it shouldn’t be too difficult, although it’s tough to gauge exactly how well the Blues’ youngsters will do until roughly 25 games into the season.

If the Blues have any strengths on their squad, it’d be on defense where, thanks to Murray’s X’s and O’s, the Blues’ penalty kill ranked 7th overall in the league – a stark contrast to the other aspects of their game, in which none were ranked higher than 21st. Eric Brewer and Barret Jackman return as the shut-down and franchise pair, and are expected to provide much leadership, on and off the ice, for the team, especially when the team’s two best prospects, Johnson and Alex Pietrangelo, are defensemen. Jay McKee hasn’t been the same shot-blocking robot since his Buffalo days, and injuries have shortened his games played in a Blues jersey, but when he’s in the lineup the Blues’ defense is as tough as any to get shots on net. The Blues will have plenty of young defensemen to choose from as the season goes along, and will very much have a defense-by-committee approach to the other three spots. Pietrangelo has started the season but it remains to be seen if he’ll stick around for the entire year.

Manny Legace isn’t starting material, and with Marek Schwarz‘s development coming along at a snail’s pace, management opted to sign Chris Mason, another goalie who isn’t quite number one material, to back up Legace. Neither goalie is expected to take this team anywhere, but merely stopgaps until the Blues can find a permanent situation to the problem, especially if Schwarz continues to struggle at the pro level. Legace played 66 games last year with a winning record, and it’ll be interesting to see how the Legace-Mason tandem pans out, and Murray may instead to opt for going with the hotter goalie, meaning it may result in a 50/50 split, which Legace won’t be too thrilled about, after having been backup for many a seasons.

The Blues aren’t challenging for anything, and the best part of it is, Larry Pleau and John Davidson know that. They’re not going to give up any young players for a shot at the Cup, and spending money for a short-term fix. They’re too smart for that. The Blues may not be a dangerous team (yet), but management has drafted well enough over the years to keep their pipeline stocked with some good talent. However, it’ll be a long re-building process, and perhaps another 3-4 years before we see the Blues return to the playoffs. Johnson and Pietrangelo are going to be fantastic defensemen, but nobody else in their pipeline in goal or up front come with the same pedigree. They still have a lot of work to do, but they’re definitely going in the right direction. The Blues are perhaps one top 5 draft pick away from seriously contending down the road, and this summer may be the summer the franchise forward lands in their lap.

Paul Kariya – Patrick Berglund – David Perron
Lee Stempniak – Andy McDonald – Brad Boyes
Keith Tkachuk – TJ Oshie – David Backes
Chris Porter – Jay McClement – Cam Janssen

Steve Wagner – Eric Brewer
Barret Jackman – Alex Pietrangelo
Roman Polak – Jay McKee

Manny Legace – Chris Mason

Coach: Andy Murray
GM: Larry Pleau

Predicted finish: 5th Central, 14th West

Sep 272008

Old news, but Mathieu Schneider is now a Thrasher, pending physicals on Brad Larsen and Ken Klee, the players going the other way. Klee and Larsen are in the last years of their contracts and were not part of the Thrashers’ plans going forward. Schneider makes the Thrashers defense better, but they won’t be making the playoffs anytime soon. It also means that perhaps Atlanta isn’t too interested in finish first in the draft sweepstakes. Don Waddell was not interested in Schneider through waivers saying he was too expensive and wasn’t the right fit. The Thrashers’ payroll increased by about $4m in the deal. So much for Waddell’s explanation.

It looks like David Bolland has an uphill battle to get the coveted second line centre spot behind Jonathan Toews, and coach Denis Savard has noted his current top six are Toews, Patrick Kane, Andrew Ladd, Martin Havlat, Dustin Byfuglien, and Patrick Sharp. Savard put Kane at centre for a couple shifts but didn’t like what he saw, and the Hawks may end up with either Ladd or Sharp at centre. Kyle Beach made a good impression in his pro debut, but the hot-headed junior star will be hard-pressed to stick around. Keith Carney might also make the team.

Ken Hitchcock
is really liking what he sees from Jakub Voracek and Derick Brassard. The Jackets were absolutely dangerous offensively against the Predators last night, and more impressive were the plays of Fedor Tyutin and Kris Russell. Russell, still listed at a paltry 165 lbs., needs to put on more bulk to play in a tougher West. Courtesy of Michael Arace, the Jackets’ strategy for the season. Nothing too special, but have a gander anyway:
1. Keep the tempo high
– short shifts
– fast changes
2. Make the goalie work
– funnel the puck
– real traffic
3. Outwork the opposition
– on contact, our 2nd before their 2nd
4. Manage the puck the right way
5. Pack mentality
– 5 up, 5 back
6. Check to score
– the harder we check, the more we score

In Florida, on a radio poll Peter DeBoer was voted as the coach who would do the best job this season. Todd McLellan of San Jose finished second, Scott Gordon on Long Island third, and Jon Anderson in Atlanta fourth. There’s definitely a hometown bias there, McLellan will be blowing the other three out of the water by virtue of having a very good team.

In a very un-Nashville like move, the Preds may be giving the second line right wing spot to Patrick Hornqvist, who has spent the last three years in the Swedish leagues. Alexander Radulov‘s defection and Steve Sullivan‘s injury history means that there are a lot of holes to fill up front.

Forget about having two all-star centres on separate lines. Like the Sharks who are putting Patrick Marleau on Joe Thornton‘s wing, the Rangers have followed suit and have lined up Chris Drury on Scott Gomez‘s right wing, despite the fact that Drury had a better face-off winning percentage. Markus Naslund is the third of the trio. This means that Brandon Dubinsky, who had a lot of success last year on spot shifts with Jaromir Jagr, will have to step up after being pegged as the team’s number two. He will have Nikolai Zherdev and Nigel Dawes as linemates.

The Blues absolutely destroyed the Thrashers, scoring 9 goals. The Blues aren’t supposed to a high-scoring team this year, but they got production from all four lines. This might be a preview of what’s to come this season:
Stempniak – McDonald – Boyes
Kariya – Berglund – Perron
Tkachuk – Oshie – Backes
King – McClement – Porter
As noted before, Patrick Berglund is set to centre Paul Kariya and the pair has looked good. Keith Tkachuk seems to have moved back to his original left wing position and Jay McClement may be ill-suited for a fourth line role considering his offensive game is better than his defensive game.

Barry Melrose likes what he’s seeing from Evgeny Artyukhin (I think it was a mistake letting him go in the beginning) and may see himself on Steve Stamkos‘ line. Jussi Jokinen, who has been the subject of many trade rumours this summer, has moved to centre on the third line and is making it hard for management to cut him. Radim Vrbata has apparently been invisible and is dropping on the depth charts.

Sep 202008

The Thrashers were interested in Mathieu Schneider, but felt that given the veteran’s price tag and current skill set it was just too expensive. Don Waddell claims that Schneider’s age was not a factor in the decision.

Nikolai Khabibulin is looking forward to the start of the season, but admits he was surprised when the Hawks signed Cristobal Huet to a multi-year deal. He also admits that even though he hasn’t been at his best, he didn’t have a “championship calibre” team in front of him either. Not exactly the words management wants to hear, but Khabibulin has to make do with what he’s got in front of him (and it’s not bad) and hope to land another fat contract. Meanwhile, veteran Keith Carney has been invited to camp.

The Jackets are prepared to possibly enter the season with rookie Derick Brassard as their new number one centre. Ken Hitchcock reportedly liked Brassard and Kristian Huselius on the top line with Rick Nash, while the second line consisted of rookie Jakub Voracek, RJ Umberger, and Fredrik Modin.

The Stars have also tinkered with their lineup, with Mike Modano lining up to the left of Brad Richards and Sean Avery. It gives Modano some playing time in the top six and getting him away from the checking line role that’s better suited for someone else.

Marian Gaborik certainly isn’t helping his own case after being listed as day-to-day with a pulled right quad. The sniping winger is expected to land a lucrative contract this summer – whether it’s with the Wild or someone else remains to be seen. The injury-prone winger has to have another healthy season if he wants to cash in big time.

It’s obvious, so don’t expect Martin Brodeur to play 77 games like he did last year. Both Brodeur and Brent Sutter admitted that the games took a toll on the veteran goalie, and that Avery didn’t help in that department either. Look for Kevin Weekes to do a little more than usual last year to collect his six-figure paycheque.

Tom Renney and the Rangers remain mum on Brendan Shanahan, and says that his focus is now on training camp.

Derian Hatcher‘s career seems to be in jeopardy due to a bum knee, and Wayne Fish believes that it’ll really hurt the team’s chances this year (I beg to differ), but claims that with the addition of Ossi Vaananen and camp invite Bryan Berard it should lessen the pain (Fish is comparing the “irreplaceable” Hatcher to two journeymen? Okay.)

The Sharks are ready to open up their camp with the following lines:
Marleau – Thornton – Clowe
Michalek – Pavelski – Cheechoo
Goc – Mitchell – Grier
Plihal – Roenick – Setoguchi
Ron Wilson also had Patrick Marleau on Joe Thornton‘s wing in order to get his game going last year, but it didn’t last.

The Blues kicked off their training camp with a snooze, and I daresay that the rest of the season wouldn’t be too different. Coach Andy Murray suggested that the Blues could start the season with rookie Patrick Berglund on the top line with Paul Kariya. Murray also acknowledged that the losses of Ryan Johnson, Jamal Mayers, and Bryce Salvador, all three great locker room guys, means that veterans Kariya and Keith Tkachuk, neither been known as vocal captains, will need to step up.

Move aside “Seen Stamkos.” It’s time for “WWGRD?” in Tampa. Now that wunderkind Steve Stamkos is officially signed the focus moves to training camp. For the Lightning, who had a major overhaul in its front office staff and approach to the new season, it’s a chance to capitalize on a resurgence of interest in Lightning hockey. Just ask yourself, What Would Gary Roberts Do?

The Caps are excited and raring to go. So much so that they had to ask sophomore Nicklas Backstrom, who was early and the first on the ice, to get off after half an hour for precautionary reasons. When your rookies are that excited, you know your team is in good spirits, and for the Caps, why shouldn’t they?

Sep 042008

For Mats Sundin, whose latest press conference revealed no new information about his hockey career. The Swede is still contemplating offers from as many as 6 teams, and potentially be the stumbling block of all the trades that would’ve been made already. Sundin now says that he will not make a decision before the NHL season, which means that guys like Mathieu Schneider, who was expected to be moved depending on where Sundin signs, won’t have to anymore. The sitting Duck has been itching to find out his new home, and sources say it is rumoured to be a strong Eastern Conference team. The Sundin saga has dragged itself out for far too long, and I doubt any new news will surface until he puts the ink on the paper.

And all smiles also to…

Brad Isbister, who has now found a home in Ottawa, thanks to Bryan Murray‘s new-found hobby of collecting former Canucks, including the speedy yet diminutive Ryan Shannon.

Jarret Stoll, who has finally inked a contract with the Kings worth $3.6m/year over 4 years. The two-way centre was on his way to a breakout season with the Oilers after an impressive 68-point season, but sputtered to start the season and never regained his form. The Kings are also happy that they are now $3.6m closer to the cap floor. $9m more to go, Dean.

Alex Pietrangelo and Zach Bogosian, who have agreed to entry-level contracts with the Blues and Kings, respectively. Pietrangelo will be a long-shot to crack the Blues’ regular lineup, but Bogosian, with a strong camp, may be able to secure a spot on the Kings’ blueline.

The American Dream

 Los Angeles Kings, media, Phoenix Coyotes, St. Louis Blues  Comments Off on The American Dream
Aug 282008

“It’s very important for us to put on a great show in Kansas City. We owe it to Kansas City. Because we have so many good young players, we’re able to do this.”

Those were Kings president Luc Robitaille‘s words, when asked about the Kings’ exhibition game on September 22, reported by the Kansas City Star. The Kings kick off their preseason with two simultaneous games on the 22nd, splitting up their training camp roster of 60 to play against St. Louis in Kansas, and Phoenix in LA. Paul McGannon, who is the head promoter of the game, had this to add:

“They are bringing their best players. We went over that before we scheduled the game. They want Kansas City to work, and they want a good showing, and as owner-operators of the building, they want to put their best step forward… Those folks wouldn’t be coming up for a B-squad.”

Question, Mr. McGannon, who, exactly, is “we,” “they,” and “those folks”? It’s probably the NHL’s worst kept secret that they want their preseason games in non-NHL cities to work (financially), especially in Kansas City and Las Vegas, where it’s being held at the prestigious MGM Grand. These preseason games will be auditions for future destinations for folding or re-locating franchises – Hamilton, of course, is not an option, having no NHL preseason games scheduled there. Apparently, Robitaille has promised McGannon that the Kings will send their best players to Kansas City, including the likes of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Jack Johnson, and Drew Doughty. While I’m all for promoting hockey throughout the States and Europe, this move does not speak highly of the NHL or the Kings.

For the NHL, to the surprise of no one, Gary Bettman is more interested in money matters than the game itself. Bettman’s trying to sell the game too hard, in my humble opinion. His rule changes, made to allow for more scoring and hence more excitement, is obviously not working as well as league revenue reports make them out to be (Honestly, isn’t a 2-1 nailbiter more exciting than a 7-3 blowout?). A lot of the NHL’s revenue these days is based upon the strong Canadian dollar and very low revenue expectations from the onset of the new CBA. To ensure that this whole Kansas City experiment isn’t a bust, the Kings are sending (perhaps Bettman asked) their top players to that game, in the hopes of generating more hype… because apparently Los Angeles is already bit by the hockey bug. Bettman needs to realize that he needs to fix the status quo. McGannon made reference to Kansas City as possibly a potential destination for a NBA team (there’s going to be exhibition game there too) , and I can’t help but wonder if Bettman’s trying to compete with the NBA. I say drop it, Bettman, there’s no way you can win that battle.

For the Kings, it’s really a dumb move to stockpile all your good players on one team for an exhibition game. I don’t think there’s any need to elaborate more on that. The Kings seem to be the puppet, the test rat, the human experiment, of the NHL. The Kings should be more concerned about how to flesh out the rest of their roster than figuring out who to send to Kansas.

The Kings and the NHL don’t owe Kansas anything.

Aug 162008

The Hockey News’ Rankings in the Yearly Yearbook were released, and for the West they’re as follows:

1 Detroit Red Wings
2 San Jose Sharks
3 Minnesota Wild
4 Dallas Stars
5 Anaheim Ducks
6 Edmonton Oilers
7 Chicago Blackhawks
8 Calgary Flames
9 Nashville Predators
10 Phoenix Coyotes
11 Vancouver Canucks
12 Columbus Blue Jackets
13 Los Angeles Kings
14 Colorado Avalanche
15 St. Louis Blues

Detroit at the top is an absolute no-brainer. They won the Cup and somehow got better by adding Marian Hossa. They’ve got Pavel Datsyuk locked up for awhile, and it’s hard to see Henrik Zetterberg not follow suit. Niklas Kronwall, and to a lesser extent, Jonathan Ericsson, look to take over Nicklas Lidstrom‘s mantle when he retires. They’re going to remain a powerhouse for years to come.

I have a hard time believing Minnesota will finish atop the Northwest Division. They lost key offensive pieces in Pavol Demitra and Brian Rolston, and replaced them with two aging veterans (Owen Nolan, Andrew Brunette) and a mid-level winger in Antti Miettinen. Their biggest acquisition is Marek Zidlicky, but the Flames have improved more – Calgary’s the early division favourite.

I don’t think the Oilers will finish that high. Adding Lubomir Visnovsky was huge, but they will miss Jarret Stoll‘s shot on the PP. Erik Cole was also another nice add, but I don’t think Visnovsky and Cole makes them better than the Coyotes. Their biggest question mark remains in net, and with some quality goaltending in the West that might be their downfall.

The Coyotes to me are a playoff team – they’ve got a talented forwards, a responsible captain, a respectable defense highlighted by a rejuvenated Ed Jovanovski, and good goaltending from Ilya Bryzgalov. The dogs have tons going for them, and with Kyle Turris expected to make the squad out of training camp the team will be loaded with offense, led by the newly-acquired Olli Jokinen, who might get his first taste of playoff hockey this season.

How the Kings are ahead of the Avs and Blues is beyond me. Technically, they don’t even exist in the NHL because they’ve yet to reach the salary floor. Even with they do be re-signing all their RFAs, their team is laughable at best, and just might win the Calder Cup. This team needs at least two more season to grow before they’re even a playoff contender – it looks like they’re going for the John Tavares sweepstakes and rebuilding Pittsburgh-style.

The Avs, even without Joe Sakic for most of the season, remained competitive until the late stages of the season. Should Sakic retire, they don’t have a player to take over as captain or offensive dynamo yet, although Paul Stastny comes close. A healthy Ryan Smyth and having Adam Foote for a whole season, with some of Darcy Tucker‘s toughness, will make them a respectable squad, but like the Oilers, their biggest question mark remains in net.

Stay tuned for the East.

Central Division Preview

 Detroit Red Wings, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues  Comments Off on Central Division Preview
Sep 252007

Chicago Blackhawks
-Two prime young prospects in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
-Good talent with Martin Havlat and Tuomo Ruutu
-They added Sergei Samsonov
-Lack a quality top pairing defenseman
-Lack depth up front
-Khabibulin makes way too much money.
Question Marks:
-Can Ruutu and Havlat stay healthy?
-Are Jonathan Toews and especially smallish Patrick Kane ready for the NHL
-With a couple of high draft picks the past two drafts the Blackhawks have added a couple of quality young prospects in Toews and Kane which gives Blackhawks fans something to be optimistic about down the road but they probably aren’t yet ready to star in the NHL. That means another subpar season and likely another quality draft pick in next seasons draft which is supposed to be a good one. If they can draft a top end defence or goalie prospect to go with the young forwards it wouldn’t be all bad.

Columbus Blue Jackets
-Doug MacLean is gone
-Sergei Fedorov and Adam Foote’s salaries come off the books after this season freeing up over $10.5 million for next summer’s free agent frenzy.
-Rick Nash
-Pretty much everything except maybe coaching with Ken Hitchcock.
Question Marks:
-Can Rick Nash take his game up another notch into 40 goal, 70 point territory.
-Can Gilbert Brule improve on a weak first season and establish himself at least as a second line center.
-Will either Fredrik Norrena or Pascal LeClaire establish themselves as a quality #1 goalie.
-It looks all but certain that the Blue Jackets will miss the playoffs once again but Blue Jacket fans should look for whether Ken Hitchcock can instil better consistency, work ethic and defensive system in the team. I think that should be the measure of success this season because in the standings we aren’t likely to see a lot of success.

Detroit Red Wings
-Experience and leadership.
-Solid core of top 6 defensemen (among the best in the league) led by star Nicklas Lidstrom and newcomer Brian Rafalski.
-Exellent top end forwards in Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Holmstrom.
-A decent complement of young forwards in Hudler, Franzen, Filppula, and Kopecky.
-Age of their goaltending tandem, particularly Hasek.
-The loss of Lang, Shanahan and others over the past couple seasons has cost them some of their quality experienced depth.
Question Marks:
-Does Hasek have another good, healthy season left in him?
-Will a couple of their young forwards have a break out season.
-The Red Wings arguably have the best mix of players in the NHL with some quality veterans, some players in their prime, and some younger players ready to take their game up a level. They also have a good mix of offence, defence and goaltending. All-round they are a very good team and once again should compete for top spot in the west as well as for the Stanley Cup. Possibly the best team in the NHL.

Nashville Predators
-Potential future star players in winger Alexander Radulov and defensemen Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.
-Despite losing Timonen they still have a pretty good group of 6 defensemen.
-Lost a lot of talent and depth up front with the losses of Forsberg, Kariya, Hartnell and with Steve Sullivan out with injury likely at least until January.
-The trading away of Tomas Vokoun puts a lot of pressure on new starting goalie Chris Mason.
Question Marks:
-Can Radulov replace Paul Kariya’s offence and then some?
-Can goalie Chris Mason handle playing 60+ games as a true #1 goalie with not a lot of support at backup.
-The Nashville Predators lost a lot in the off season, probably more than any other team, but despite that they still could compete for the final playoff spot if goalie Chris Mason take what he did in parts of the past two seasons and make it work for a full season and if Radulov can jump to 30 goal, 75 point territory this early in his career. They probably still won’t be as good as some other teams competing for playoff spots but they have the advantage of playing Columbus and Chicago 8 times each which should keep them in the race.

St. Louis Blues
-They have the makings of a pretty good defence group if rookie Erik Johnson can come close to matching his hype and Jay McKee and the others can remain healthy..
-A potential top line of Kariya, Tkachuk and Stempniak has the makings to be a very good line as all three players have 30 goal potential.
-Not a lot of depth up front after the first couple lines.
-None of Legace, Bacashihua or Toivonen have proven themselves to be top level starting goalies on a consistent basis.
Question Marks:
-How good will Erik Johnson be.
-Can their defence remain healthy, something they didn’t do last year.
-Will one of the goalies step on and be a true consistent #1 guy
-New president John Davidson has done an admiral job rebuilding the Blues. They took a small step forward last year and should take another one this year which if all things go well could put them in a battle for a playoff spot and compete with the Predators for second spot in the division.

Sep 112007

I was going to write up team by team reports, and I may still do that for some teams, but I decided to first post some numerical evaluations of each team in nice and easily readable table format. I have divided each team up into Forwards, Defense and Goaltending and then divided each of those groups into Talent, Depth and Experience/Leadership and ranked each of those nine categories based on a score out of 10. I then summed up all 9 categories to get an overall team score. Below are my results for the western conference. Let me know what you all think. For the most part I am happy with them but if you can provide a good arguement I may consider making slight modifications.

Note: I made the assumption that Niedermayer will not play for the Ducks and I also factored in a few long term injuries (i.e. Steve Sullivan is expected to miss 3 months due to back surgery).

Update:While working on the eastern conference (and in conjunction with Triumph’s comment) I have decided to tweak the overall formula. The new forumula will weight experience significantly less and also give more weight to #1 goalie and less to depth (Vancouver, Calgary, New Jersey, etc. hardly need a backup goalie). This is the new updated table.

Forwards Defense Goaltending Total
Talent Depth Exp. Talent Depth Exp. #1 goalie Depth Exp. Score
Detroit 8 5 7 10 8 8 8 6 10 54.3
Vancouver 7 6 6 7 8 6 10 7 6 52.5
Anaheim 7 7 6 9 6 8 8 7 8 51.8
Dallas 6 7 7 7 7 8 8 8 7 50.3
Calgary 7 6 7 8 7 6 9 4 7 50.2
San Jose 9 7 7 6 7 5 8 5 7 49.8
Minnesota 8 6 7 6 8 7 7 6 4 47.5
Colorado 8 7 7 7 7 6 6 6 5 47.0
Edmonton 6 6 5 7 7 6 7 7 7 46.0
St. Louis 7 6 7 6 7 6 7 6 6 45.8
Nashville 6 7 6 7 7 6 7 4 5 45.2
Los Angeles 6 7 6 7 7 7 5 5 5 43.0
Chicago 7 5 5 5 5 4 7 6 7 40.8
Columbus 6 6 6 5 5 5 6 6 6 39.7
Phoenix 4 5 5 7 7 7 5 6 5 39.2
Jan 302006

St. Louis has played 49 games this year and has won just 11 of them and they have just traded their two best players, Mike Sillinger and Doug Weight. Keith Tkachuk is sure to be traded as soon as he is healthy and guys like Dean McAmmond, Scott Young, Eric Weinrich and Dallas Drake are all surely on the trade block too. So my question is, how many of the Blues final 33 games will they win? Enter you choice in the poll in the right side menu.