NHL 2001-2002 SEASON REVIEW

Predicting stats, trades, or standings is guessing, unless you can read the future. Here are the reviews of every team for the 2001-2002 season.Anaheim Mighty Ducks

This team is lucky to be partially owned by Disney. The Ducks look like a team to not worry about at all for this season. Some people think the Ducks will not get anywhere after trading Teemu Selanne. The truth is that the Ducks are re-building, faster than you think. This team finally has two solid goaltenders, Giguere and Shields. They are concentrating on the defense, since they added Young and Carney on their team. The Ducks are starting improvements from the defense to the offense. They have Paul Kariya who is still their main scorer. Should they trade Kariya? Well, if the Ducks want a full re-building process, then they should analyze the other team’s offers for Kariya. If not, then they should always keep Kariya, not lose him in UFAgency, and build young players around him. The Ducks are not that far to be a better team. They have better goaltending, better defense, but the offense needs to improve.

Atlanta Thrashers

The Thrashers keep building this team as if it should be a playoff team in a few years. The player who is still waiting to show his talents is Stefan. I still like this player, although he seems fragile, but I am sure that if Stefan plays with a good winger, then he will be better…much better. Who could that winger be? Well, I would like to see Kovalchuk make the team and play with Stefan, sure why not? The goaltending is a problem. Damian Rhodes is a questionable goalie for the team. Rhodes needs to be traded. Since the Wings are making a huge run at the Cup (team reminds me of the 94 Rangers), they should trade Osgood, and grab a veteran back up. Why not trade Osgood for Rhodes and more? Rhodes can be a big help if he has a winning team and plays 25 games or so. Atlanta needs to make the major moves. They are a very rich team and they could be as rich as the Rangers. As soon as they get better and start reaching 9th seed and maybe 8th seed, they should start signing some big name veterans to mix in with the youngsters. This team has yet to accomplish a strength; offense, defense, and goaltending.

Boston Bruins

Good offense, good defense, pretty good goaltending, but terrible management. Here is a team who added Thornton, Guerin, Allison, Samsonov, and Dafoe on the roster, and now might lose almost every one of those players. Sure, rumors say that Allison will re-sign, but if you’re a Bruins fan, don’t feel relaxed until you see Allison re-signed. Guerin had a stellar year for his career, but it is mostly because of Allison. I don’t belive Guerin can carry a team, even with Thornton and Samsonov. The Bruins must re-sign Allison in order to make the playoffs. Their defense is solid but not mobile. Expect the Bruins to score less goals this year because of a more defensive style game. Ftorek coached the Devils and used the trap, so expect him to use it with a solid defensive team. How will Dafoe do? Just fine as usual and hoping he will not get injured again. Sure, the Bruins could make the playoffs, but they need to sign Allison. They have scoring depth, they have toughness (Lapointe), and they got the defense.

Buffalo Sabres

They are still a good team. With or without Hasek, they will still make the playoffs and to tell you the truth, they will be a tougher team to beat. They have the same defense that play their usualy style of game. The Sabres improved their offense by acquiring Connolly and Pyatt and lost…well…nothing. They did not have Peca last season and they played just as good, so they lost nothing in that trade. Some people hate the Hasek trade. Kozlov will have a good season with the Sabres, his best of his career, and I always considered him a playoff player, which is what the Sabres need. I also see a great kid-line as a possibility for the Sabres. Ruff could try to put Pyatt, Connolly, and Afinogenov as line-mates. I like Afinogenov’s talents a lot, I think he has a Bure style, but what he needs is a playmaker to feed him the puck, and Connolly will be the answer. Afinogenov is not big and neither is Connolly, so Pyatt would add the size and be the power forward/enforecer on the line. The Sabres made a great move. So many people were talking about Essensa and I would have never guessed that the Sabres would have signed Essensa. I say it might have been a useless move because of Biron and Noronen. But, these questions come to mind. Is Noronen 20 games NHL ready? Is Biron ready to be a starter and play 40 games? I could answer yes to all of those but the Sabres management knows more than I do. Essensa was a great pick up. The only thing that this team lost is toughness/grit. Gilmour was the gritty and fiesty player, and Andreychuck was the strong player. I see Pyatt taking Andreychuck’s place, who knows. Anyway, this is still a playoff team with a stronger offense.

Calgary Flames

The Flames, what can I say about this team? This team seriously does need a change as their GM Craig Button told the press. This will be the first time we see Turek prove that he is a starter. Losing Bure was not big at all, and it was very obvious that Bure himself wanted to go and join his brother. The Flames are re-building, and they are still in phase one, which is they need goaltending, offense, and defense. Iginla will have the same season as he had last year, and Savard will just improve. Morris will be a top 15 defenseman on the leader board. As of now, this team can’t go anywhere. They only have two players who can score 25+ goals, and their team is mostly made up of 3rd line players. They have toughness, which is a good thing to have, especially the youngster Gauthier, and they added Boughner. So, their defense will be the best on paper, but they still need to improve it, especially if Turek fails to become a real starter. They need more offense, Savard and Iginla is not enough. However, if the Flames grab two more players who can score 20 goals, then they could compete for the 8th seed.

Carolina Hurricanes

I always wonder if this team gets better or worse. They have goaltending and they have a decent defense with a good system, but the offense is not as strong. The Canes finally have a player who can score 30+ goals a season, since Keith Primeau, and that is Jeff O’Neill. O’Neill is a good player who will lead the Canes in scoring. They have Irbe in net who keeps the team alive and had a good season. The problem is that Irbe plays too many games and the Canes helped prevent that happening by signing Tom Barrasso. It is hard to say that Carolina will not make the playoffs this season because they got better and they can always grab 8th seed. Do they have a bright future? Well, they should keep Brind’Amour or trade him at the deadline. I think it is best to trade Brindy and receive something very valuable in return. Shane Willis is also an important part of the future for the club and he could deffinately be a future 30 goal scorer. The Hurricanes are not going to miss the playoffs by many points, they will always compete.

Chicago Blackhawks

So many questions, yet not many answers. The Hawks have players who can score, they have some solid defensemen, and they have a decent goaltender. So why does this team not make the playoffs? Well, the only answer I can come up with is the rebuilding process. This is a very strange rebuilding process because the team does look pretty good, yet it is not complete. They do not have a number one defenseman, and they do not have a good 3rd and 4th line. Don’t count this team out though, they can always slip in the 8th seed. With Amonte, Sullivan, and Daze, the Hawks can deffinately score, and Sullivan has to keep up with his performance. If Sullivan does not perform as he did last season, the Hawks will be in trouble.

Colorado Avalanche

The Stanley Cup champions who played with all their heart and might to win it all. The question is, will this team repeat? They can, but they do not have a high chance. They lost some players, especially in the defense, who they have to replace. Klemm was a pretty big loss, but Gill was a good addition. The Avalanche mostly lost the forechecking and toughness. They still remain the same powerfull offensive team with great speed, but they need to get tougher and meaner. That is why they should have Parker play the whole season as a 4th line player. I am not a fan of the team itself, but I love the way this team is built. When teams have youngsters and older veterans playing together and scoring 30 goals a piece, they win. Look at this team’s offensive threats: Sakic, Forsberg, Tanguay, Drury, and Hjeduk. Plus, they have the depth of Reinprecht, Hinote, and Nieminen. This offense deserves pretty much an A for the way it is built. I would leave doubts on the defense, however. Skoula has to step up his game and Blake has to play the best he could. For a fantasy team, I would have Blake on my team as a first choice on the defense. The problem with Blake in L.A was that he had a so-so +/-, but on the Avs he will have a +#. Patrick Roy has got to play as the number one goaltender in the league because he will compete with Hasek in Best of the West. Another question I have for this team is the payroll. They are spending $8+ million dollars a year for pretty much 4 players. Forsberg is making a whole lot of money as well, and who knows if he could be used as a trade bait. I consider Forsberg as the most complete NHL player in the world. He has finesse in scoring goals and passing and he has the strength and toughness to check hard and play well in the defensive zone. The Avs are still the same with a few losses, but they should still be a strong team, and better experienced.

Columbus Blue Jackets

A great season for an expansion team. The Jackets proved that they could have a bright future ahead in a small number of years. They have a bright future in goaltending with Denis. Tugnutt was a great pick up, and he should stick with the team but could have a high possibility of being traded to a playoff contender, and don’t forget, Tugnutt is not that old…he is still 33 years of age. The forwards and the defensemen need to get better, especially the offense since they only have Geoff Sanderssonas as the scorer. The best thing to do for this team is to start fixing the defense. They have the goaltending, and with a better defense upfront, the team can win more games. The offense needs to be fixed, and Knutsen will be better this season, but they have no depth on the other lines. They made a good deal in acquiring Whitney, who could have a good 20 goal season. Vyborny is said to have a bright future, and it is a high possibility. The Jackets look physically strong, also in the defense, but they will not improve majorly in the next few years. Although, they are in the hands of a good GM, Bob MacLean.

Dallas Stars

The Stars, the team who will compete in the playoffs because of their players’ age and payroll. The team has made some big changes, aqcuiring Audette, Turgeon, Kamensky, Lumme, and DiMaio. They have a strong offense, a strong defense, and a good gaoltender with bad temper. Sure, the Stars have a great chance to endup in the finals, so do not worry Stars fans. The problem with this team is their future. The Stars do not have great prospects to add on the team. The Stars will not always last like this, they need to start building with young players. The Rangers proved that by having marquee players for years and years, and proved that a team does not always win like that. Dallas could be in trouble in 3 or 4 years from now. The Stars are a respected team for doing well and being a tough contender, as always. Turgeon, Audette, Nieuwendyk, Modano, Lehtinen, and Langenbrunner will have a good season, along with the improvement of Morrow. Kamensky will be a questionmark, but he could always play well in the West…although he does show he is not a team player. Belfour needs to keep focus and he also needs to stay with the team, and not leave them during the season. The Dallas Stars stay as a Cup contender, and GM Bob Gainey has done a good job.

Detroit Red Wings

This team reminds me of the 1994 Rangers. The Red Wings are deffinately making a run at the Cup by “buying it” as some people say. If the Wings do not win it this season or next season, then they are in trouble. They don’t have a bright future ahead of them in the offense and the defense. But, that is left to see so let’s review the present team. Great goaltending, good defense, and good offense. I look at The Hockey News Inside Report (Yearbook Edition) of the Wings and I disagree with it. They put down that the team does not have second line players and they graded Chris Osgood with a C, and gave Legace an A. That is ridiculous. A goalie who played 52 games, won 25, lost 19, tied 4, had a 2.69 GAA, and a .903% save percentage does not deserve a C. Osgood deserves to be traded, he still remains a starter at the age of 28. The Wings have depth, especially since they signed Brett Hull. Shanahan, Robitaille, Federov, and Hull need to score 30 goals. Yzerman needs to score 20ish and mainly lead the team into the playoffs and bring a positive atmosphere in the locker room, and Hasek needs to stay healthy with his usual performance. Bowman is starting a new style of game called the Torpedo, which was mentioned months ago. The topedo originated in Sweden, and it appears it could work in the NHL, however, you need a speedy team to play the torpedo, can the Wings use it then, are they fast enough? The Wings sure look like a Cup contender and maybe a winner…but they have to win the Cup in the next two seasons. Watch this team start well, get hot, and heading into the playoffs…a bit bumpy. But, they are a great playoff team.

Edmonton Oilers

One of my favorite young teams. The Oilers are a well built team which had a low budget. Sather built the Oilers young talent, and soon they will become a great team. The only thing that could worry an Oilers fan is the loss of Doug Weight. The Oilers will lack a captain like Wieght and a player like Weight, but they will have the chance to prove themselves that they can make it without Weight. As long as they keep themselves steady, with good goaltending, strong defense, and tough offense, the Oilers will make the playoffs. Salo is having the best part of his career with this team, but he needs a reliable back up goaltender. To me, this team is making the playoffs, unless something goes wrong with injuries. All you can do though is watch this young team get better and better every season.

Florida Panther

From a decent team to a terrible team. It is not a doubt that the Murray Brothers would have destroyed the Panthers, as done with other teams in the past. But, the Panthers are not in a terrible situation. Let’s start from the defense. A good goalie starts a good defense. Roberto Luongo has proven, especially to the Islanders, that he is a future goalie star. Luongo’s stats are indeed very impressive when you look at a young 21 year goalie who won only 12, lost 24, tied 7, finished with a 2.44 GAA, and with a .920% save percentage. Usually, when you just look at the wins and losses, you’d think that this goalie is not that good, but if you look at the GAA and S% with the wins a losses, that is impressing. It’s hard for a goalie to keep a good GAA and a S% when losing many games. What about Kidd? I think Kidd deserves a chance to compete for a starting role. Don’t expect Kidd to be traded before the first 10 games of the season. GM Torrey is keeping Kidd just in case Luongo goes through a sophomore jinx. The defense looks very weak. Their defensemen need to step up their game and fight to get the higher spots. Svehla needs to have a better season, and he must be traded if he does not start well. A big loss for the Panthers was Spacek. They traded Spacek to the Hawks for Eriksson and where is Eriksson now? On the Leafs. So, that was a bad trade to give up a young guy and get nothing in return. The defense has the size and toughness, but they need to follow coach Sutter’s orders and play tough. The offense is awkward. The Panther could possibly have the best line of this season with Pavel Bure, Viktor Kozlov, and Valeri Bure. The Bure brothers played an All-Star game which was truely one of the best. They will provide scoring, and watch both Bure’s points raise, this time giving Pavel 60 goals. What about the rest of the offense? Well, Marcus Nilson showed signs that he will provide the scoring needed on the 2nd line, but the other players show no signs at all. The Panthers need to fill in the 2nd and 3rd line wholes, but watch the Panthers become a much better team in 2 or 3 years.

Los Angeles Kings

The good news about this team is that they are able to be a good and tough playoff team to beat. The bad news is that this team could do lousy this season. By losing Robitaille and Blake, the Kings will lack scoring. Sure, they have Palffy who can net 35 goals, but Smolinski and Stumpel need to chip in 25 each. The defense is very decent, and Schneider fits perfectly in it. Felix Potvin finally found himself again, and he knows that he has to carry the Kings in the playoffs. What about Storr and Fiset? Expect Fiset to be traded, but Storr is a great back up goaltender. If the Kings goaltedning does not do well…then the defense won’t do well. Basically, the Kings need to keep a better defense than a better offense, because with just the offese, count Lucky Luc out, the Kings won’t win an 8th seed. They have a better future ahead of them, but they need to make the playoffs, and it was a great move signing Steve Heinze. He will help the team score and forecheck. Although, they already look good on the forechecking lines with Deadmarsh, who can score, Emerson, Leperriere, and Buchburger.

Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild will make the playoffs sooner than you think, but not in the next two seasons. With coach Jacques Lemaire, this team will become rough with a good defense. Their goeltending looks good with 27 year old Fernandez in net, putting up some impressive numbers, and Jamie McLennan who had a horrible season in wins and losses, but kept his GAA under 2.70 and S% .905. He is a good back up. The Wild have a bunch of good skaters, young skaters. Gaborik has a bright future and so does Filip Kuba in the defense. I could see the Wild becoming a 94-95 New Jersey Devils team, mostly because of Lemaire. They have good forechecking, and they have players who can score 20 goals. What the team needs however, is a solid number one center. When they get better in the next years to come, they will be a competative team, but as of now, the offense needs to be worked on.

Montreal Canadiens

Habs fans who are French Canadian, do not be upset that the owner of this team is a US citizen. Soon, your team will become what they were in the 20′s, 30′s, 40′s, 50′s, 60′s, 70′s, 80′s, and early 90′s. Montreal Canadiens do have a bright future ahead, yes…with the players, but mostly with the payrolls. For now though, let’s worry about this season’s team. The have good goaltending, and Hackett will be traded sometime soon, maybe to the Rangers, Blues, Canucks, or Penguins. The defensemen look ok, but they need major improvements. On THN, almost every defensemen has a C, except for Robidas. Some people complain that the team should trade Brisebois, and they might, but Brisebois helps the team score the important goals on the Powerplay. Andre Markov has a bright future ahead, and he too might start scoring 10 goals this season. The rest of the defensemen should be bruisers who play safe and make few mistakes. Don’t expect that to happen though, the defense will be the only reason why the Canadiens will not make the playoffs. The offense needs to stay healthy as well. Koivu is good, but he has to play 75 games the least to give the Canadiens points. Chad Kilger will get better this season, or at least should, but he was mentioned a few times in trade rumors. When the Candiens traded Zubrus and Linden for Bulis and Zednik, I consider it a steal, it was a move to improve the team with youth. Bulis and Zednik need to score near the 20 goals range. If Koivu, Kilger, Petrov, Bulis, Zednik, can score 20 goals each, then the offense is good and improving. Plus, with the impressive numbers of Marcel Hossa, not Marian, in the WHL, he might be brought up and show signs that he can be a scoring leader. Quintal is finally back where he wants to be, and he might have a good season, then Perrault was a great addition, for face off situations, and he might deffinately add 20 goals too, and adding Juneau and Dackell are simply improvements for the team. They will not make the playoffs this season, but they will make a huge change in years to come.

Nashville Predators

Why does this team look so tough to beat when seen on ice, yet on paper they look like an easy team to beat? The Predators look so tough to beat because of great forechecking and because they are a rough team, a very rough team. They have the goaltending which looks great on paper and on ice, with Dunham and Vokoun. They have a very decent defense, but what they don’t have is offense. The only two players who are able to reach 20-25 goals are Ronning and Walker. The rest are either 3rd or 4th line players. They deffinately will not make the playoffs, but if this team had a 30+ goal scorer, they could easily grab 8th seed. They will look better this year and maybe meaner with Stu Grimson, but they need an offense. A way to get one or two good offensive players is to trade either Vokoun or Dunham.

New Jersey Devils

A very strange dominant team. Usually, when you think of the word dominant followed by team, you want to think of a team with super stars, a huge fan base, and a team where high salary players play. Yet, the Devils are a low budget team, with not a huge fan base, but with low paid players who can deffinately score. There are some concerns with the team, like Holik, Stevens, and Brodeur, but as of now they are still a Cup contender and possibly a Cup winner. Mogilny was a huge loss for the scoring part, but Elias and Sykora will only get better and better. Plus, the Devils have a young player who might join the team, his name is Dagenais, who looked good when he played with the team. Brodeur might have been hurt in the playoffs, which is not an excuse for the team to lose the Cup, but he is still one of the best goalies in the world, well…on the Devils he is. If Brodeur has a so-so season, and either young Ari Ahonen or J-F Damphousse has an outstanding season, expect a huge deal to happen, but I doubt that would occur. The defense still looks good, and Colin White will get better, but the defense needs to score more goals on the Powerplay. If your powerplay unit has every player on the ice, including defensemen, that can score, then it is a huge threat. The offense looks good as well, and pretty much the samething. The Devils will be a dominant team until they lose players because of money situations. But, even if the Devils lose Elias or Sykora, or even Arnott, they will still be a top NHL team.

New York Islanders

Will they make it? No, impossible. By just adding Yashin and Peca, this team will not make the playoffs. First of all, “Mad Mike” is not done dealing yet, he still is going after Jason Allison. Second, Yashin will not score as he did in Ottowa, and he still has not signed with the Isle’s. Sure, he will have Czerkawski as his winger, wich could be a threat, but the team still does not have enough scoring depth. They have very weak RWers, besides Czerkawski, and the only LW who might score 25 goals is Isbister. The centers look good, especially because of Yashin and Peca, both are not team players. This is all they have. The defense does not look like the one to bring you to an 8th seed, including the goaltending. DiPietro has a bright future, but he is not a starter, and Snow might have a surprise year, highly doubt it, so their goaltending is not enough for a playoff berth. The Islanders could easily lose to the Carolina Hurricanes, simply because of the better defense and goaltedning. Soon though, the Islanders will be back in the playoffs, but as of now, sit back and watch this team improve.

New York Rangers

This is a team where THN made some wrong remarks. They mentioned that if the Rangers do not get Lindros, they will not make the playoffs, but if they do…then they will. Well, I disagree with that because with or without Lindros, the Rangers will not make the playoffs if the goaltending is not decent. So, pretty much, this season all depends on Richter, not on Lindros. The Rangers have the scoring depth, on the RW, LW, and C. They got Lindros because they needed a big size number one center, who can score 35 goals. Jan Hlavac is a loss on the LW, but prospect Pavel Brendl was not at all a big loss. After failing to show any sings of improvement in the youth training camp, Brendl was interviewed and he commented stating “Why ruin my summer by working out?”. He showed those signs for sure by being 10 pounds over weight. The Rangers defense looks better. They added tough team players, with Ulanov and Karpa. Also, Malakhov will start a healthy season, which should help Leetch. They have the offense and the defense this season, but they need the goaltending. Richter should start the season healthy, as he is currently practicing with shots, but how long will it take for Richter to get back in shape? Or, even harder to answer, will Richter ever get back in shape? Another question is, will Richter be traded.? The questions are based on the goaltending, Lindros’ health, and also on coach Ron Low. Basically, if the goaltending does a decent job, then the Rangers will make the playoffs, which is also common sense for a team that got better.

Ottowa Senators

A team which had a huge disappointing post-season, lost Alexei Yashin, and lost Jason York, is still looking good enough as a playoff team. The Sens lacked toughness, and they added it by acquiring Chara. Their defense looks solid as well with Lalime as a proven starter, and as Hurme as a good back up, given a C+ by THN (W:12,L:5,T:4, GAA 2.50, S% .904). This season however, Alfredsson, Bonk, and Marian Hossa have to step up and play the best they can. As long as this team does well on the offense, defense, and goaltedning, they are still a playoff team. But, they do not look like a Cup contender with all the other teams that are predicted to be in the playoffs. Watch Havlat become better and better, yet maybe having a so-so season, which will improve the Sens future.

Philadelphia Flyers

Now they are said to be a Cup finalist, and THN mentions that this is the best Philly team in years. They just have to prove that though. This is the first time that Roenick plays on an Eastern team, and if you noticed, players who played from the East and then play for the West are still good, but the players from the West who then play in the East are not as good in the first season. Does that matter for Roenick? No, he will still score 30 goals or so because he is a team player, not worth the money he is given now, but he is a good player. Basically, the Flyers have improved in offense, and the defense looks better with newly acquired Kim Johnsson. Johnsson might have a 10 goal season, which is great, but he does need ice time in order to show what he has, he is not a 5th or 6th defenseman. Jan Hlavac will chip in 20-25 goals, even if he is a 30 goal scorer, because of the ice time and where he’ll play, 3rd line. Basically, the Flyers need to stay healthy both on offense and defense in order to have a high chance of winning the Cup. The goaltending situtation. Clarke will keep Boucher as a back-up in case of cold streaks from Cechmanek, or if Cechmanek does not have a good season. Even if Boucher deserves to be a starter, he will not be traded until the trading deadline, or he will never be traded, unless Clarke wants to add something more to the team. The Flyers seem to be the number one Easter Conference team, but they’ll just have to prove that.

Phoenix Coyotes

It is hard for a team to do so well in the first half of the season and be a top 3 team of the conference, and then the team loses and loses and does not make the playoffs. It was not hard for the Coyotes. The goaltending is not superb, but it is good. Burke will have a pretty good season for sure, but Esche is a question mark whether this kid can become a starter or not. The Coyotes are still a tough team to beat, but look for them to not reach a 10th spot. This team is too young and the only players who could score 20-25 goals are Berezin, Doan, Wilson, and Lemieux. The defense looks better than the offenese and they will develop quicker. It will take a few years for the Coyotes to be as good as they used to be. As of now, just watch the youngsters show their talents. The Coyotes are not a playoff team anymore.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Some people rate this team still as a high rank, 5th or 6th, and some rank them as low as 12th. So what does THN do? Rank them 8th, which could be more correct. This team depends on the goaltending and defense, because if they only have the offense, they will end up 12th. Hedberg is a question mark, and Aubin is too…although he could have a good season. The defense still looks shaky because they lack toughness. Kaspiritis, being the only major tough defenseman, is not enough if you want to compete for the playoffs. Comments on the offense? Well…”Oh no! No Jagr!?”…reaction to that is “Oh…boo-hoo”. Look at the offense of this team, Straka, Lemieux, Kovalev, and Lang. What is the only problem on the offense? Well, they only have one strong RW, Kovalev, and only one strong LW, Straka. Lang and Lemieux are the two strong centers, which is great when Lemieux does not take a day off. The future of the Penguins is still full of questions, since they are paying a whole lot more for Straka, Lang, and Kovalev. I still do not understand how the team could have problems when they not only freed $10 million dollars a season, but also received around $4.5 million dollars from the Jagr trade. If Lemieux can stay healthy, then the team will make the playoffs, and if Hedberg does well, then they will make the playoffs. The defense is a question mark, however. This team has no “maybe’s”, either they make it or they don’t.

St. louis Blues

For two straight seasons, the Blues tried to reach the Stanley Cup Finals, but failed. This time, the Blues might have a good chance. If the team stays healthy, especially Pronger and MacInnis, then they can make it. Rumors of the Blues acquiring Jason Allison from the Bruins seem to be possible, but don’t get so excited about it now. The team has a tough offense, very good defense, but the goaltending has a bunch of questions. It was a good idea to trade Turek, he was not going to carry the Blues to the finals. Now, they have Fred Brathwaite and Brent Johnson to fight for the number one spot. Is it a good idea to just keep these two goalies and try to reach the finals with them? No, they need an experienced goaltender. Probably, the goalies the Blues would be after are Osgood, Richter, and possibly Tugnutt. They might have to give up either Johnson or Brathwaite and Corso. The Blues are risking it here. The traded away almost all of their youth and future players for veterans, especially Reasoner. They acquired Doug Weight, which is not a gain since he simply replaces Turgeon’s spot. The Blues are not better than the Avs, Red Wings, and Stars on paper because of the goaltending situation. The offense looks pretty good, very strong physically. Tkachuk, Mellanby, Mayers, Simpson, and Reed Low are all tough guys. They improved by acquiring Mike Keane and Cory Stillman. Scott Young needs to have the same point total season as he did last season, it would make a difference if Young does not score 30 goals. Demitra is a question mark, he is an injury prone player, and he too might be traded. This is the type of team I’d like to see play against the Flyers in the finals. Bottom line is, they are a good team, but they need to fix the goaltending situation.

San Jose Sharks

The Sharks are the sneaky team that can beat the number one seed, as they have done in the past. Their style of game fits with the team name, Sharks. They are sneaky and they are a nasty. Selanne finally gets a full season, and he should score 35 goals with the team. Was Graves worth getting? Yes, Graves needed a new scenery, and the Sharks are the perfect team for Graves to play. He will not score 30 goals, but he has a good chance of chipping 25 goals. Graves had a disappointing 2000-2001 because of his father’s and infant born son’s deaths. If Graves stayed in New York, he would have had the same season every year, about 10 goals and lots of minuses. The Sharks are a speedy and very rough team, which is perfect for Graves. A line of Nolan and Graves together means a line of brutality for the opponents. Nolan reminds me of a young Messier, and he acts like one on the ice. Even if Nolan plays well on the PK and PP, and even makes a great play, he still needs to score 30+ goals. The goaltending is great. With Nabokov and Kiprusoff, both played in playoffs, the Sharks have a very good defense, and like mentioned before, good goaltending starts good defense. There is nothing much that the Sharks need, they look very complete and ready to finish in the playoffs. The one thing that the team needs is a defenseman that can score 10+ plus goals, especially on the PP. Everything else looks good on this team. All they need to do is score and play nasty…reminds me of an old Flyers team.

Tampa Bay Lightnging

Some hockey fans laugh when their team plays the Lightning. What those fans don’t know is that in a few years, the Lightning will be a playoff contender. The Lightning has some great young players that any team would want to have. Modin, Richards, and Vincent Lecavalier. These three players could be future 30 goals a season stars. The goaltending looks good, and Khabibulin, what a steal, could turn out to have a good season, and Weekes is a perfect back up. The defense is the trouble. The Lightning could be a heck of a lot better if the defense does a good job. This team has young players who will learn from the few veterans on the team. Lecavalier needs to have a better season, and THN predicts that he will have a much better season. As of now, this team will just grow and grow, and get better and better.

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs look good on paper, but on ice they still could be a problem. Yes, Sundin now has help and he won’t be the only one scoring, but Reichel and Renberg might not do so well in the NHL. Mogilny was a great acquisition, especially to replace Berezin. The Leafs got bigger in size, and they might have more scoring. Roberts,Tucker, and Corson, a line that almost defeated the Devils, could be one of the top forchecking lines in the NHL. The offense looks pretty strong, but Reichel and Renberg must score 20-25 goals or more. The defense looks a bit better. Eriksson should help, but he cannot finish another season with 0 goals. What the defense needs is more strength and toughness. They need to have the defensemen that would just knock an opponent down. Curtis Joseph was always bullied around, and that needs to stop. The goaltending situation does look suspicious now. Curtis Joseph is looking to get paid around $8 million dollars a season, while the Leafs offered around $7 million dollars. I know Cujo is good and all, but he is not worth Roy’s salary. The best thing for the Leafs to do is to sign Cujo for a year, and then have talks for a long term contract. The Leafs cannot afford to lose Cujo, everyone knows that. Curtis Joseph is 34 years of age, and he still has many years left to play. The Leafs have to sign Cujo and if there is no possible way of signing Cujo, then they should avoid forcing Cujo to hold out, meaning they either trade him or sign him. In a trade, the Leafs deffinately need a professional goaltender, so they should go after a veteran goalie. Another option though, is to trade Cujo to the Blues for some good prospects or player, and then go after Osgood. These are just minor possibilities in case Cujo never signs with the Leafs. Joseph is not worth the same as Roy, he should be making a bit less and 7 million dollars a year is already too much for his value, but for the Leafs value he means a lot, since he is their only goaltender. Tellqvist will have a chance to play this season, but he won’t be able to carry the Leafs if Cujo is injured or holding out. Right now, Curtis Joseph is the only Leaf to be talked about, as for the rest, the team looks ready for the regular season and playoffs.

Vancouver Canucks

A young team that made the playoffs, got swept, but played very hard. The Canucks are an incredible team. GM Burke and coach Marc Crawford have done a great job building this team. The Sedin Twins will get better every year and did pretty good last season. Naslund and Cassels are a great pair, and if they both stay healthy they can have a superb season for the Canucks. Goaltending is a problem for this team. I seen Cloutier play on the Rangers and on Tampa Bay, and he sure does have a bright future ahead of him. But, I still think Danny is not ready yet to be a starter, and that means the Canucks need a goalie. Burke is looking for a goalie to actually split season with Cloutier, showing he believes Cloutier needs to play more games. I look at Cloutier as a starter when he is 28 years of age. Rumors say that the Canucks might go after Predator’s young goalie Vokoun. What would they have to give up? Some offense that the Predators need, but the Canucks need as well. What about Osgood? Well, if Osgood costs less in trade value, then he should be worth it. The Canucks cannot afford to lose any young offense. This team will get better next season, but the defense needs a goalie to make it better. I mean, it’s worth a shot to see how Cloutier will perform as a starter in the pre-season, but not a great risk to take. My favorite Canuck player is Jovanovski, a future captain. The other defensemen need to be a bit more solid because of the weak goaltending. The Canucks look good this season, and that is important, but this team will be better in the next seasons ahead, and that is very important. I like the way this team is built now and for the future, but they just need a goaltender.

Washington Capitals

How does this team look with Jagr? Stronger for sure. Not only did they get Jagr for basically nothing, but the team is much stronger on the offense. How will Jagr perform? As of now, forget about Hrdina coming in, Jagr will do pretty well but might be heading into a 95 point season, he might not reach 100 this season. Remember, Jagr was always given everything he wanted on a silver plate, even having his former coach Constantine fired. Jagr also played with Super Mario, and with good Czech mates. Oates still needs to be traded, and you could take him off the roster as a number one center. Who will be on Jagr’s line? Maybe Halpern or Linden. The Caps do not have a great 2nd and 3rd line. Bondra and Jagr will not be playing on the same line because they are both RW. Halpern is a good player, but he is no Lemieux, Straka, or Lang, and neither is Linden. Finally, the Caps will have two great scorers with Bondra and Jagr. Their Powerplay will probably be one of the best in the league, very lethal. A Jagr, a Bondra, and a Gonchar on a PP means a goal. The Caps defense is solid as usual and they have a top10 goaltender, Olaf Kolzig. Kolzig is the perfect goalie for the Caps, and he will lead them in the playoffs. The Capitals might have taken a risk here though. If Jagr will not like the Caps, then he will neither play well nor re-sign. Jagr has this season and the next to become a UFA. The Capitals will lose this trade if they fail to win the Cup and if they fail to keep Jagr. This is a good solid, very solid, team which might surprise everyone, and they have a great chance to make it to the semi finals.

This season should be very interesting to watch, both Eastern and Western Conferences are interesting. What is so great about this season? More competition and teams starving for the Stanley Cup. I disagree with predictions before the regular season starts, because if I predict that the Wings will finish 1st in the league, and they do, it was just a lucky guess I took, it does not make me a genius. The reviews of these teams are to show how teams look with their goaltending, defense, and offense, which makes the reader learn more about other teams and what they have. Thanks for reading.

Micki Peroni

micki@hockeytraderumors.com