An Early Look at the New-Look Northwest Division | The Province Blogs
In response to the Province's article about how the NW will look this year, I will offer my two cents. If you look at the standings of teams that missed the playoffs last year they go like this:
9th-Dallas with 95 pts
10th-calgary with 94 points
11th- st louis with 87 points
12th-minny with 86 points
13th-columbus with 81 points
14th-colorado with 68 points
15th-edmonton with 62 points
Of those teams the only two you can argue that made significant improvements would be Minnesota (heatley, settoguchi) and Columbus (Jeff Carter).
Lets do a team by team breakdow of the NW:
Calgary Flames- Their defense has gotten a lot younger over the past few years. Trading away Regher opens an enormous leadership void to be filled and it will be interesting to see who fills in; most likely J-bow or Gio. The Flames still have some of the worst prospects in the league and it doesn't seem like anyone will be making the jump to the big club on forward. Brett Carson and Brendan Mickelsson will get the opportunity to play with the big club when there are injuries and could leave a lasting impact. But it is tough to see them taking a roster spot away from any of the big six: gio, bow, sarich, Hannan, Babchuk, Butler. Butler will definitely get the nod otherwise the Flames traded away Regher for essentially nothing; except getting Kotalik off their hands. Butler looks like a solid pickup because the Sabres are excellent at graduating their prospects. See Marc Andre Gragnani for proof.
My Prediction- Calgary just barely squeaks into the playoffs
Minnesota-It still has to be a rebuilding year for Minnesota. Hopefullly they get some better goaltending from Backstrom as Brent Burns will be missed very much on defense. Heatley and Set-o-Hands are a big imprvement on offense, but you still can't expect the Wild to be able to compete with the big-wigs in the Western Conference
My Prediction: Minnesota finishes 7th-10th
Edmonton Oilers-This team still has a long way to go when it comes to developing their players. The next few years will be clutch in determining if Edmonton will be a juggernaut in a few years or have some of the biggest young busts in NHL history. The youngstars are in good hands with Smitty and Horcoff, even though both players are extremely overpaid for the hockey skill they bring to the team. Still they are smart players and great in the locker room and it will be exciting to watch edmonton again this year. The fourth line will be really awesome with Ben Eager who is a physical force to be reckoned with. Not to mention Kartikainen who will likely get time on Edmontons third line this season after he has shown an ability to score points and make big hits. This guy is a Finn that is 6 foot 1, 215 pounds from the 1990 draft class. With all the talk about Hall, Nugz, Eberle, Pjarvi, and Omark a lot of people will forget the man with a Heart of Kinen. Don't!!! this guy is a stud. video of him killin an Av:
My Prediction: Oilers Finish 10th to 15th this year.
Colorado-Talk about a team of bums. I think Paul Statnsy has gotten too comfortable in his role with Colorado. He was such a stud a few years ago when he was with Sakic but his point production has never been able to take it to the next level. With new goaltenders Giguere and Varlamov expect the same level of suckage and chokeage that Craig Anderson brought to the team last year. Landeskog might crack the team but the Avs got a long way to go before they can be a powerhouse in the West again. A lot of pressure will be on Erik Johnson this season to play strong. The Avs gave up their best point producer last year in Chris Stewart to acquire the former first overall draft pick.
My Prediction- Avs finish 10th to 15th.