Here is the Western and Eastern Conference predictions posted over the 'From the Rink'
Just to make it sure, It is not MIrtle's prejections. He had asked all readers to post their view as to how they predict the standings to be. It is merely the average standings. Well this is predicted average standings for the Western Conference:
- San Jose
- St. Loius
- Los Angeles
Lets analyse the off-season moves(not taking in the minor moves):
Mats Sundin 9-19-28 -5 in 16:50 TOI M. Ohlund 6-19-25 +14 in 21:34 TOI
Mikael Samuelsson 19-21-40 in 15:22 TOI
Other than re-signing the Sedins there is nothing else they have done in the off-season. Lets compare the 09-10 team to the 07-08 team which failed to make the playoffs. Markus Naslund, B Morrison and Taylor Pyatt have been replaced by Pavol Demtira, Steve Bernier and M Samuelsson for the forwards. On defense, M Ohlund was injured for most of the 07-08 season and will not be present for 09-10 season. His numbers and veteran leadership presence has not been replaced. Other than a few fringe players, the roster is almost similar.
Also except for Luongo and Kesler, no major impact player is playing for a contract. My observation is that players generally have higher production in their contract year. Also generally a players' production drops the season after signing a contract. This finding was documented in a blog too(not by me), however I am unable to find it.
Conclusion: the Cunucks havent really improved. Their roster is average at best and many of their players(read Sedins, Burrows, Demitra) may actually regress from their last season's production. I think Vancouver will need a herculean effort from Luongo to make the playoffs.
JS Giguere(despite his last years' woes) and Hiller should provide consistent goaltending.
Conclusion: If their Defense can hold its own, Ana should be able to make the playoffs.
1> They are depending too much on young guns-namely Voracek, Brassard and Filatov. They will be counted heavily to provide scoring. Such and expectation is natural and not unwarranted. However, in such cases there is one question- What if they dont? Brassard is coming off an injury, Voracek will be in his dreaded sophomore season and Filatov will be a rookie
2> Their D- corps is one dimensional. 5 out of the 6 D-men are one dimensional, shutdown D-men. Their only PMD is very young undersized D-man. Last season Hitchcock was able to extract the most out of his D corps, Can he do it again this season?
3> 21 year old goaltender. Of course he won the calder trophy, Came in second in the Vezina trophy and 4th in Hart trophy voting. But that doesnt change the fact that he may not be as spectacular this time around. He may not be able to bail out his team as much as he did last season.
Conclusion: This team will be a wildcard again in the Western Conference. Ideally it should make the playoffs.
- St louis
Conclusion: I am at loss to make a good analysis.
Their D corps is very unimpressive. Robidas and Niskanen are very good and effective top 4 D. However together they arent a top pairing D man unit. This will prove to be their achillies heel. Crawford's up tempo style also may not benefit the inexperienced and a very average D-corps.
Conclusion: Teams are known to over achieve at times and with a more focused Turco might help them make the cut.
- LA Kings
However, much will be dependent on the development of Drew Doughty. Jack Johnson seemed impressive during the World cup and there is not much reason to believe he will regress. However, they are still both young. However the biggest conern is their goaltending. We can never say how Quick and Ersberg will pan out. But then again they have enough cap space that they take on an experienced goalie(read: upgrade) with an expensive contract.
Conclusion: LA can really be the St louis of this coming season. They could really make the play offs this season. This should be their goal.
There is one most important change, the coaching staff. We underachieved last season. With propper guidence under Quinn and Renney, we should at least be able to bring in the compete factor day in and day out. That itself will go a long way in improving our result from last season.
Another point to be noted here is that we have 3 key players playing for a contract next season - Gagner, Cogliano and Grebeshkov. Also Horcoff should be past his post contract slump. I cant say for sure that we will make the playoffs, but we shouldnt be at the bottom of the fringe teams.
Conclusion: Oilers will be a different team(no I am not talking about Heatley) this time around. A lot will depend on the 36 year old Roloson Khabibulin on the amount of wins we rack up. Then again last time we acquired a 36 yr old goalie we reached the SC Finals!!!!!