NHL Preview: Teams Trending Up/Down
I think the Edmonton Oilers are due for a break out season, their draft picks have all matured, and they’ve added a couple pieces to the puzzle. The Oilers probably won’t make the playoffs, but I do think they’ll be in contention. The lock out season was hard to get a gauge on how good the Oilers are or can be. But I think with the full season they can really make a good run for themselves. Adding Ference and Perron were key additions this off-season but they also bought in Boyd Gordon and Eric Belanger to shore things up. I think the biggest decider this season will be Devan Dubnyk in net.
The Flyers were in bad shape going into last season with numerous injuries to their defense, and they struggled to rebound from it. The person to get held responsible was goalie Ilya Bryzgalov who was bought out of his contract due to a compliance buyout. And the Flyers have had an active off-season in addition to that when they signed F Vincent Lecavalier and G Ray Emery. With the addition of D Mark Striet coming via a trade with the Islanders and a healthier defense the pressure could and should fall on Ray Emery who was almost perfect as the back up to Corey Crawford in Chicago last season.
The Hurricanes I think will have a much better season, without a 1-13-1 stretch last season the Hurricanes probably make the playoffs. So even with no significant roster additions I think the Hurricanes will be a contender for a playoff spot, they have too much firepower not to make it with the Staal brothers and Cam Ward in net. I think the only thing that might hurt the Hurricanes would be the defensive side of the puck.
I know, I know, the Flames were bad last year too. But I think the Flames might actually get even worse. Without Mikka Kiprusoff in net and an offense that just never seems to get it done even with some good scorers such as Cammalleri and Iginla in prior seasons, it is hard to figure out the Flames offensive struggles. Surely they weren’t entirely balanced, but with those two players the Flames should have had a chance to do some damage on the scoreboard. With Iginla gone and the lone scorer in Cammalleri, the Flames offense looks like it could get even worse in a year where they are without a true number one goalie.
What is this pick on Western Canada day or something? But no, it’s not that. I just don’t think John Tortorella’s coaching style fits the Canucks at all. Tortorella is a defense first type of coach whereas the Canucks have been notoriously known for their offense over the last several seasons. I just don’t think the type of players the Canucks have fit his scheme and I can see serious problems for the Canucks this season. And the pre-season has only set this in stone for me to this point. Do I think the Canucks will make the playoffs? Sure, but I don’t think they’ll go far. It will mostly be determined by how much the players buy in to Tortorella’s system.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets had a good season last year and that is no small accomplishment for this franchise. However I think last season was a somewhat of a fluke and somewhat benefiting from the shortened season. I do think the Blue Jackets have a good team but I just don’t see them making too much noise during a full schedule, there is just something about them that I can’t put my finger on about them that screams to me that they are not that great of a team. I think part of it has to do with the fact that they really do not have that one player that I think will carry an entire team on his back for a year.
Last season was a product of great goaltending and getting contributions from players such as Vinny Prospal and Mark Letestu, and who knows how the team would have done if Brandon Dubinsky was healthy all year long. But the big story for the Blue Jackets was Sergei Bobrovsky winning the Veznia trophy last season as top goalie in the league but without him they probably don’t even sniff the playoffs.
Teams to Watch
New Jersey Devils
I think teams to watch this season could be Dallas and New Jersey, both teams missed the playoffs and it is rare that they both miss the playoffs in the same season. The Devils lost David Clarkson and replaced him with Ryane Clowe who signed a ridiculous contract. Clowe is a similar type of player to Clarkson except for not nearly as good of a goal scorer. The Devils also lost Ilya Kovalchuk to retirement which was a surprise to many outside the organization. The Devils ended up signing Jaromir Jagr after the fact though to hopefully off-set the loss of talent in addition to signing Michael Ryder. The Devils also bought in G Cory Schneider via a trade.
The Stars will be an interesting team to watch out for after acquiring Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley despite losing Loui Eriksson in the trade with the Bruins that came together on July 4th. The Stars still have Ray Whitney, Erik Cole and Jamie Benn up front to complement those two players along with Sergei Gonchar, Alex Goligoski and Trevor Daly in the back end. The Stars might make the playoffs this season, I like their chances of replacing the Red Wings in the Eastern Conference’s top 8 teams over the likes of the Oilers and Blue Jackets.
Posted on September 26, 2013, in All Sports, Hockey, National Hockey League and tagged calgary flames, carolina hurricanes, columbus blue jackets, dallas stars, edmonton oilers, hockey, national hockey league, new jersey devils, nhl, philadelphia flyers, vancouver canucks. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.