Hey team, just wanted to start off with corrections from last week, there were a lot of them lol. First off chel 09 come out on the 9th I saw a preview and it said 11 but it must have been old. Also, the “3 years of lackluster play on McCabe’s part” was, I admit undeserved. Anyways, this week I am excited because this is one of my favorite topics, because you get to see how right you were at the end of the season. So, without further ado (I can’t believe that’s how “ado” is spelled, thought for sure I spelled it wrong and while I was telling you this I ruined the whole point of the comment in the first place) oh well here it is…
Top Seven with Stanley in Sight
Top Seven with Stanley in Sight
7. Edmonton Oilers: With the addition of Erik Cole to presumably be on a line with Horcoff and Hemsky, expect a lot of production and Cole to have career bests across the board, add that to a healthy Souray(?) paired with the newly acquired Visnovsky there is a lot to be excited about in Oilville. Also, the emerging superstar Sam “don’t call me Gag’s” Gagner along with Cogliano and Nilsson makes for a very potent (and very green) second unit. The rest of the offense is rounded out with Penner, Brodziak, Pisani, Moreau, Pouliot, and Stortini with fringe players Shremp and “draft bust in the making” Gilbert Brule. Moving backwards they have a relatively young and improved defensive corpse including the aforementioned Souray(32) and Visnovsky(32) with Grebeshkov(25), Gilbert(25), Smid(22), and of course Staios(35), look for them to improve on their 26th place in GAA this year(to give you an idea on how bad they were in that department, they were ahead of only TML, L.A, Hotlanta and Tampa). Now when we get closer to the net things start to get foggy: could Rolly get the starting job from Garon? and if so can he return to former glory or will that push from Andrew Ladd in game 1(you know what game 1) be a metaphor to his career? Oh what could have been. All in all I feel pretty good about this club and its future, maybe we could see Conference finals featuring Lowes Oilers and Burkes Ducks. How close are they? A lot closer than anonymous posters who chirp are to a purple heart.(I’m not saying constructive criticism isn’t cool, so find something else)
6. Washington Capitals: With an every-year hart favorite and a supporting cast that includes Semin, Backstrom, Fedorov, Nylander and Kozlov this team sounds more like a KHL team, a very good KHL team. Add that explosive offense with a slew of prospects knocking on the door like my favorite Karl Alzner, Eric Fehr and Chris Borque the Caps are definitely not lacking in potential, but they are lacking on the blue line. After future-stud Mike Green and Jeff Schultz (who are lacking something themselves, experience) it’s pretty much downhill from there, you got Poti, Pothier and Morrision so, nothing to write home about. In goal is the medium, with Jose’s new home he is a comeback player of the year Candidate with him trying to prove he is still what he used to be, Brent Johnson will be backing and prospect Semen Varlamov will be waiting in the wings. Just like their two superstars the caps and the pens are the powerhouses of the next decade. How close are they? Almost as close as…President Bush is to discovering how the Grinch stole Christmas.
5. Le Club de Hockey Canadien: The Habs came out of nowhere last season but, before I get into that I want to talk about their offseason. They traded a first(Nemisz) and a second in 09 to the Flames for Tanguay, who is looking to bounce back after a somewhat off year. They signed Laraque for three years and Marc Denis to a one year deal, they lost Ryder to free agency but Beantown can have him for 4mil a pop and mark Streit which may hurt them a bit but look for Patrice Brisebois to step up , in all I like these moves. The first unit consists of Tanguay on left, last year’s comeback player of the year AK47 on the right and an aging Saku Koivu down the middle, those three are money in the bank but that doesn’t mean the second unit is any sort of a drop off. Plekanec down the middle has improved every year he’s been on the roster, expect that trend to continue. I think A.Kostitsyn will also have a big year, but not Higgins or Latendresse(yet). One thing that sticks out when looking at the roster is it’s bolstered with a world of young gunners like the Kostitsyns, Latendresse, Lapierre and of course the next great Montreal backstop Carey Price. Price is currently ranked Third on HockeysFuture’s top prospects, and I still think their lowballing him. The only worries I have are the fact that the following list is made up of UFA’s after this season: Tanguay, Saku Koivu, Alex Kovalev, Steve Begin, Tom Kostopoulos, Mike Komisarek, Francis Bouillon and Mathieu Dandenault. How close are they? Not quite as close as X-box Live is to heaven, but close.
4. San Jose Sharks: The annual prediction of the Sharks going all the way up here based on nothing but pure talent. TALENT wins game 1 to 82, after that attributes like grit, persistence, selflessness and leadership win. LEADERSHIP, something the Sharks don’t have or didn’t have. They additions of Blake(who should assume a leadership role) and Boyle will more than make up for the loss of Campbell, and they’re new coach former Detroit assistant Todd McLellan should shake things up a bit. They also added Brian Boucher to help with the workload with Nabokov next season. With emerging stars like Michalek and Vlasic along with Joey T, Cheech and Marleau I couldn’t leave these guys off the list. How close are they? As close as Fletch is too being put in a home.
3.Anahiem Mighty Ducks: Top pairing uber-studs Pronger and Niedermayer alone will get you a playoff spot, even with the leafs offense, enough said. The addition of Brendan Morrison is risky because his best years are most likely behind him. But it doesn’t really matter when you’re sporting the best defense in the league and Giguere in net. Though they are getting pretty long on the tooth they’ve shown it doesn’t matter, while youngsters and future stars Getzlaf, Ryan and former member of the Memorial cup champion London Knights Corey Perry round off the roster. Questions marks around Schnieder and Temmu are still up but it’s pretty much known they’ll trade Schnieder and sign Temmu. All in all I expect the Ducks to fair well in the playoffs and like the looks of the roster. How close are they? As close as Savard is to a comatose. Watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3f-HRbIGnCs
2.(or 1B)Pittsburgh Penguins: The Cup finals will be a rematch, and what a rematch it will be. Obviously there’s Crosby and Malkin, their a lock but I’m excited for third year player Jordan Staal. Staal will have a monster season(if last one wasn’t) and I expect him to retain the crown of the “Greatest Staal on Skates”. Like the Canadiens They’re young all over, even more so. But there is a good mix with wryly vets like Gonchar, Sykora, Satan(who will greatly benefit from Staals performance) and Hal Gill. Although, the losses of Roberts, Laraque, Malone and Hossa will hurt, they won’t be anything more than flesh wounds. Also, Fleury finally proved he is an elite goalie in this league and his rise to the top will continue, people I implore you take him as your fantasy backstop I know I am. The NHL’s next(and maybe last) dynasty is smooth sailing into the 2008/2009 season. How close are they? Closer than Kevin Dyson in Super Bowl XXXIV.
1.Detriot Red Wings: Ok so you won the cup, and added the best free agent on the market, that don’t impress me much. Actually it does, Zetterberg, Datzyuk, Lidstrom(not Lindstrom), Franzen, a blossoming Dan Cleary(better late than never), an newly signed Filppula, Lebda and of course Hossa. I can’t imagine what it is like playing against these guys, Sid must have lost a lot of hair last June. Between the pipes is probably their weakness, but I’m an Osgood believer(this guys just shut me up to many times) topple that with the wings extraordinary defensive play and voila, Lord Stanley’s Cup(again).How close are they? Closer than Greedo was to hitting Han Solo.