Western Conference Outlook

Since the East has been done now, let’s take a look at the west.

Central Division

Detroit Red Wings- Continue to be a dominating force in the Western Conference. Although they lost Schneider, they gained a mirror image in Rafalski. Now that they landed Hasek, expect them to challenge for the conference once again. Although they lost Lang, and Bertuzzi, it shouldn’t be a huge deal. 

Nashville Predators- After taking a huge step forward last year, they took a huge step back this offseason. Unable to keep Vokoun, and Kariya will prove to be a huge loss. Also with trading the rights of Timonen and Hartnell, it will be interesting to see what they can do this year. Their offence is weaker, they lost their stud defenceman, and probably one of the best goalies in the world. Expect Mason to be good, but not enough to puch them out of the funk they got in this offseason. Expect them to either squeak into the playoffs or not even challenge.

St. Louis- A much better team with the addition of Kariya. Expect Andy Murray to keep drilling this team. After a very strong finish last year, the team has gone nowhere but up. Don’t be surprised if you see this team in the playoffs as a low seed. With their heart and Murray’s fire, this team could challenge. Goaltending is questionnable, but they are beginning to look like the Ducks team with a bunch of no-namers.

Columbus- Still a questionnable team. They always look like they are going to break out of it, then funk and find themselves near the basement. AFter not adding anything to monstrous expect this team to be around the same. A goaltender would be nice, but it is uncertain who is truly available without giving up anything. I hope their scouts are good because things are not promising.

Chicago- Still a team with a lot of potential. If they can get some of their younger players into the lineup night in and night out it will only help the cause. Will not contend this year but will find themselves out of the basement and possibly into a low seed. Expect nothing but good vibes coming from the Windy City this year. Looking a lot like the Penguins, a contender in a couple of years.

Northwest Division

Vancouver- Still a great defensive team with possibly the best goalie around. The team still looks to find some offensive punch, but as long as Naslund and Morrison’s woes don’t control this team again, and the Sedin’s prove they are no fluke, this team will win the division and even challenge the conference. Be interesting though who GM Nonis signs for offense.

Minnesota- I like this team. They have a lot of promise. The only thing that I question is getting rid of Fernandez. Sure Backstrom has a great year, but what if he folds. If they can pick up a solid backup, they will be a solid team. Still not enough offense to push them into the top 4, but enough defence and goaltending to get them a playoff spot. Expect Gaborik and Demitra to be lights out if they can stay healthy.

Calgary- Still the same team as last year minus Hamrlik. Don’t expect any major problems on defence because Kipper is there to save the day. With Phaneuf probably getting more time, Calgary will be a tough team to play. Now we get to “Iron Mike”. His nickname is no joke. Expect this team to be equally as good on home ice and pick up the pace on the road. A 4-6 team.

Colorado- Wow what a signing. Ryan Smyth will be a huge addition to this team and Hannan always helps. Still questionnable in goal. Budaj is good but inconsistent. Theodore, well I won’t go there. This team will be back into the playoffs but probably won’t challenge for the cup unless the goalies pull a Roloson-Markannen of 2005-06. The toughest division in the conference.

Edmonton- Well it is time for the Oilers to re-build. After Lowe traded Smyth last year, it proved to be costly. Yes, Smyth is now in the same division and he is sure to punish the Oil. Don’t expect a miracle out of this team because it won’t happen. They will have a very high draft pick come Draft Day ’08.

Pacific Division

Anaheim- This team is thriving off of Brian Burke. Just when it looked like their defence would weaken, they signed Schneider. When Selanne was contemplating retirement, they picked up a big hard-nosed winger who can put up similar numbers when healthy and on top of his game. They have the best defence in the league, a great tandem in net with Giguere and Bryzgalov and one of the toughest forward group to deal with. As long as Bertuzzi proves to be a great signing, this team as potential to repeat. Conference winners?

San Jose- Yeah they locked up Thornton and Rivet, and Cheechoo will probably be better, but still a question mark on this team. They have it all but when it comes to the playoffs, they sputter. After trading Toskala away, let’s just hope Nabokov does not get injured because it is not pretty after that. This team is no different from last year so expect a similar position.

Dallas- Similar to San Jose. Looks like they can put it all together, but flutter in the playoffs. If Turco can snap out of it, then this team could go a long way. Losing Nagy is no big deal because he wasn’t much help last year anyways. A 5-8th seed is in the cards for Dallas.

Los Angeles- The question mark of the Western Conference. Huge signings with Nagy, Handzus, Stuart, Preissing and Calder. This alone should push them into the playoffs. Goaltending is the problem here though. Cloutier has been injured way too often and they don’t have anything great to back it up after losing Garon. If they are willing to part with prospects and draft picks, they could get Raycroft who had a better year last year. A Playoff team, could be a miracle team with the right leadership.

Phoenix- Still not a stunning team. They have no goaltending and their players are washed-up. This team needs a new coach and a new face in the front office. It is time for this team to re-build.

I would like your input on this assessment of the teams.

47 Responses to Western Conference Outlook

  1. mvand77 says:

    This is why Leafs fans shouldn't make comments on Western teams.  When did Vancouver get Nylander? Anaheim's great tandem in net? Bryzgalov's 2006 playoffs were a fluke and any fan would know how badly Anaheim did while Giguere was injured.  Also, last time I checked Marty Turco was the best goaltender in last year's playoffs.

  2. Stempniak12 says:

    Yea I'm pretty sure Nylander went to the Capitals, not the Canucks

  3. prayin-for-the-wce says:

    LOL i was thinking the same thing.  We didn't sign anyone worth really mentioning in this off season.  Nylander is on Washington! not Vancouver. 

  4. stryker19 says:

    ya nylander is sure on the canucks eh

  5. stryker19 says:

    wrong about the kings wont make it far cause they have noothing in goal other thaen lets see cloutier…..he couldnt stop a beachball………and he chokes in the playoffs

  6. ipwnu says:

    ROFL! L.A should go for raycroft….thnx for the laugh bud.

  7. Lazarus says:

    Just what we need, another teams goaltending problems. We got enough problems of our own thanks. And I'm not sure if Raycroft, at this point in his career, is any better than LaBarbara.

  8. tacitus says:

    AMEN even if u write a great article the Nylander in Vancouver and Turco not being a good playoff goalie kinda wash all credibility away from the article

  9. doanerfan says:

    Does anyone check these things anymore before they are posted. The Coyotes already have a new person in the front office. GM Maloney. WOW. Great insight.

  10. Kashin says:

    I think chicago will be better this year. they probably wont make the playoffs but they can come close if everyone is healthy.

    I think LA could make a playoffs but they need goaltending help bad.

    I think calgary is better then minnesota and will rebound nicely

  11. avsjoendryan says:

    well to start with the cunucks dont got nylander…he plays in washington.. so u dont gotta worry about whos going to play with him in vancouver cuz he doesent play there!!!

    the addition of nagy and handzus to l.a doesent make them play-off contenders, u need a goalie to stop pucks so unless kopitar is throwin the stoppers on… l.a is done. cuz we all know cloutier isnt a hockey player let alone an N.H.L goaltender, well u never know maybe *****ifurjama well have a steller year..i think not!

    in anaheim theres no bryzgalov is giggy hes the #1 goalie and he"ll go on to play more the 60 games,with the pickup of schineder basically means bye bye scott but ive seen crazier things.
    and no the blues wont make the playoffs great they added kariya,tkachuk,and still got weight, u know what that spells…old… o thats right and legace..they dont got the goaltending which again u need! they got the leadershipp in different departments but they dont got the skill… i dont know do u think jay mckee is gonna be unreal..he will be at stopping pucks "pylon" and maybe eric well turn out to be a great defencemen but he wont have what it takes.. definitly not first year.

    im not going to lie buddy but u dont know hockey.so when u choose to post a huge thread make sure it says the right thing.

    great relpies to it guys they hit the spot.

  12. 92-93 says:

    i think the powerhouses of the West will be Detroit, SJ, Anaheim, Colorado.

    without a doubt.

    Dallas and Vancouver and Calgary and Minny will be competitive and have an easier time at making the playoffs than last year.

    Nashville will not make it IMO but they'll be close. Ditto for LA.

    oh, and i just read the Eastern conference outlook,


    was i reading the responses right?

    there were leaf fans who were picking the team to finish 5th or higher – even a divisional leader?!?! well, we had at least one year where the predictions from some of the leaf fans around here were reasonable. now it looks like its back to the way it used to be, lol.

    the leafs will not finish above 6th and will be in a dogfight to make the playoffs. simple as that. and what i love about the East is that the unprecendeted dogfight that was last year's playoff race is actually going to expand to include more teams.

  13. mikster says:

    Your eastern analysis was better, but i liked the effort in this one….despite the Nylander gaffe!

  14. stryker19 says:

    and im not really sure that labarbera is any better than cloutier…..

  15. egreenxc says:

    Someone else did the Eastern Conference.  Looks like some aver anxious leaf fan got bored.

  16. KingCanada says:

    I think u over-value the LA signings. Yes they signed a bunch of good players but they were al tier 2 and 3 players, no superstars. LA still doesnt have any bonafide superstars OR goaltending, 2 big needs in the playoffs. OK a bonafide superstar not neccesary if the rest of the team is solid which i still dont think LA is.

    Every team this past off-season had a better goaltender then wat LA can offer or then wat LA can trade/sign for (Raycroft, Cujo, etc) unless they can pull a JFJ and trade for a guy like Bryzgalov they wont have good enough goaltending to even come close to making 8th. Lets take a look at goaltending this past off-season.

    Eastern Conference


    Western Conference

    San Jose/Nabokov

    Now EVERY SINGLE one of those goaltenders seems to be better then wat LA can offer or watever they can sign/trade with the exception of TB's Holmqvist but then they also have Lecavalier/St.Louis/Richards/Boyle (3-4 superstars) i dono if ud consider Boyle a superstar but still.

    So with that said, LA = no playoffs

  17. KingCanada says:

    I dont know how u can predict that the leafs will finish that low, yes it is very possible but they are a better team then that, they are a wildcard IMO. They almost made the playoffs last year with the most injured team in the league, and it is COMMON knowledge that the leafs problem was goaltending which it hopefully has been addressed with Toskala. Not to mention the additions of Blake and Bell they might be some linemates Sundin can work with and make the team even deeper offensively for a team that had no problems scoring. So to assume that the leafs wont do good is just unfair biased on your part 92-93.

    I wouldnt go as far as to say they will take the division but they will compete for it if they gel right and get their acts together. If they stay healthy and Toskala plays up to wat hes been hyped too the leafs will definatly make the playoffs and maybe even have home ice in the first round.

  18. prayin-for-the-wce says:

    Vancouver only looks like were INSANELY strong because we always own the east teams.  But in reality we aren't that great.  A playoff team? Yes. A contender… NO.

  19. prayin-for-the-wce says:

    I wouldn't say that LA=No playoffs.  I think they have a strong chance to make the playoffs at the very least.  Those tier-two players are not of the Heatly, Niedermyer calibre but they are still very strong good players.  La has a wealth of good blue chip young prospects and stars such as Kopitar, Frolov, Brown, Johnson, and Patrick O' Sullivan.  Add to them Handuz, Calder, Nagy, Stuart and Priessing and tell me that doesn't look SEXY.  Yes they have a Goalie problem.  Cloutier isn't living up to what was expected of him when he signed here.  However, they were at least decent when they had that other guy(forgot his name the kings had like 5 goalies last year) in net and that was before all the great additions were added this year.  I seriously think they will make the playoffs or at the very least just barely miss it.  Will the be a contender? No, not without a good goalie in net.  But they don't need a insanely good goalie to make the playoffs with their roster.

  20. GoalJudge says:

    I don't disagree, since they basically recasted last years teams without much consideration. A huge oversight was on his ranking of St. Louis. While I don't see them playing for the cup, Legace is hardly a questionable goaltender, and did a stellar job on a very poor team. Now that team has one of the most able stay-at-home Defences in the league, and has re-uped with Tkathcuk, and Added Karyia.

    They will look like a different team this year.

  21. prayin-for-the-wce says:

    forgot to mention CAMMERILLI too

  22. DKB827 says:

    how exactly was turco the best goaltender?

  23. wingsfan13 says:

    st. louis just plain out sucks. signing crosby couldn't help that team.  legace is good but it's no use.  watching the red wings play them is like watching iraq in an aerial bombing raid, the blues get pounded and it gets old.  they have kariya, tkachuk, weight, and stempniak to provide the entire teams offense.  good luck cuz tkachuk and weight are both done.
    40-42 11th in the west

    phoenix is in an even worse situation.  tellqvist is not good enough to start consistently.  the defense is good, but doesn't focuses too much on offense (morris, ballard, michalek, Jovo).  There are no offensive threats besides shane doan and i wouldn't have him as a threat.
    37-45 14th in the west

    edmonton will be absolutely hilariously horrible this year.  horcoff and hemsky can can't it done and the defense is officially swiss cheese.  pitkanen will likely be the highest scorer on the team.  roloson is overrated.
    32-50 15th in the west

    chicago got a little bit better, not much.  they signed really questionable characters in lazy langer and sloppy samsonov.  perrault and lang are both slow too so that isn't great.  in order for all the defensive studs to reach their potential they need a veteran teacher that has some talent and brains and chicago didn't do that.  savard is a really good coach tho and khabibulin gets a bad rap.
    38-44 13th in the west

    columbus is another team that is a cluster-fu"k on ice.  federov is lazy and the equivalent of yashin.  there really is no one that sticks out on defense as being a leader let alone an ace.  nash, zherdev, vyborny, brule (maybe), modin make for an actually pretty decent set of offensive talents.  their goaltending is not too shabby either.
    39-43 12th in west

  24. Lazarus says:

    LaBarbara has shown flashes of brilliance at the NHL level and has dominated the AHL winning league MVP twice. If he can continue that for maybe 40-50 games this season, and a healthy Dan Cloutier can return to his solid, if unspectacular goaltending the Kings will make the playoffs. If not, well there's always the hope that Tavares will enter the draft early.  😉

  25. ferron says:

       with guys like Frolov, Camellari, Stuart, Handzus, Kopitar,Preissing,Calder ect won't make tha Playoffs but a team(Nashville) who lost Kariya, Hartnell,Timonen, Vokoun and Forsberg will finish fourth, i don't think so!

  26. mvand77 says:

    3 shutouts in 7 games, 2 in a row, 1.30 GAA, .952 save percentage
    More importantly, he carried them to game 7 from a 3-1 series deficit. If it weren't for him teh stars would have been swept easily. And people STILL love using the old "Turco can't play come playoffs" cliche.  Actually, only the ones who preoccuppied with the East and like to pretend they understand the West still say that.

  27. stlblues says:

    Kinda funny then that the Blues won half their games against the Wings this year… pretty good aerial bombing raid.

  28. Lazarus says:

    "the addition of nagy and handzus to l.a doesent make them play-off contenders"

    No, but the addition of Stuart and Priessing does. Handzus, if healthy, is a great two-way forward and will also help with team defense. The Kings will probably make the playoffs, most likely as the 8th seed, how the goaltending situation works itself out will determine how far they get.

    cuz we all know cloutier isnt a hockey player let alone an N.H.L goaltender"

    While I am not going to defend Cloutier for his abysmal play last year (although he was playing hurt), those comments are uncalled for. Need I remind you that he had THREE consecutive 30+ win seasons in Vancouver? From all reports, the guy is a consummate professional, he works as hard as anyone on and off the ice. After recovering from his surgery earlier in the year, he decided to show up to a mini prospects camp the Kings had in June. He wanted to show Crawford and Lombardi that he'll do whatever it takes to get back into shape and to the form he once had. How many 30 yr old NHL veterans do you know of that would do something like that?

    "well u never know maybe *****ifurjama well have a steller year..i think not!"

    I don't even know why I'm responding to this post at all, since you have obviously no clue what is going on. *****ufuji is not even an AHL caliber goaltender, he was called up from the ECHL to the AHL because of injury problems and then subsequently was called up to participate in the revolving door that was the Kings goaltending situation last year. By all accounts Erik Ersberg will be starting in the AHL this year with Jonathan Quick or Barry Brust backing him up.

    "im not going to lie buddy but u dont know hockey.so when u choose to post a huge thread make sure it says the right thing."

    You should take your own advice there, you are dead wrong on most everything you put into your comment. The only thing you got right was that Nylander didn't go to Vancouver and that Giguere will be the Ducks starting goaltender. Not to mention the complete lack of anything remotely resembling correct grammar and spelling.

  29. avsjoendryan says:

    well i'm glad u think u know hockey because the addition of preissing and stuart
    wont even come close to what they need to make the playoffs and im glad u can
    read because i was being sarcastic about *****ifijama starting. to top it all of cloutier sucks and is NOT a STARTING goaltender but thanks.

    and if spelling and grammar is a big part of your life become a teacher

  30. prayin-for-the-wce says:

    They probably still think that the east is better than the west, even when the west annihalates the east everytime we play them.  We win 2 out of every 3 games we play against them.  the canucks have only lost twice to eastern teams  in like 2 years

  31. openclose says:

    actually the thing about cloutier is he was never "solid, if unspectacular". Cloutier was a goalie that made amazing saves to cover up for the his terrible rebounds. Cloutier has tons of Athleticism just… terrible positioning and rebound control. and the soft goals he lets in are brutal.

    Cloutier with a great vancouver team in front of him could only ever win 33 games in a year.

  32. broc says:

    Who cares abotu stats… he did that against the worst offensive team to make the playoffs- Vancouver.

    Fact is, he didn't get them out of the 1st round. Luongo did. Nuff did.

  33. MR40 says:

    I’m confused, where does it say Nylander is with the Canucks?

  34. KingCanada says:

    I dono man, Brown isnt all that spectacular, u gonna name all young/decent players on every team?  And then Calder isnt great eigther, hes sucked alooot latly.  Nagy is skilled but hes a softy.  Stuart and Priessing are decent but i could think of a good 15-20 teams that have better defenders.  LA only has vishnovski, besides him those 2 are the next best, not that deep of a defence IMO.

    Its just a young team with potential WITHOUT a goalie, a team like that even with a great goalie is NO LOCK, u definatly over value this team.  Even the Penguins took a while before they ended up in the playoffs, and thats WITH Crosby, so until it happens i dont think ull have that many convinced.

  35. Oil-Life says:

    woah woah roloson overated? oh yah just because he didnt sign in detroit when they wanted him to and picked edmonton…jeeze sorry pal.

  36. Oil-Life says:

    it did, and got changed

  37. I_hate_LA says:

    You're the one that's on crack my friend. How is Bryzgalov's 2006 playoffs a fluke when you mention that Turco's the best goaltender during this years' playoffs??? Couldn't you say they're the same??? Turco didn't exactly have the best regular season stats and he chocked in every years' playoffs, with the exception of this year. You're on crack man

  38. I_hate_LA says:

    I hope they sign cloutier for to a 15 year contract lol

  39. I_hate_LA says:

    LA fans are the ones that can't read and write. 90% of the population in Lost Angeles are illiterate and unemployed. LA was better back in the 70s and 80s, but now everyone supports the Oakland Raiders, which is the reason why I jumped ship to join Anaheim.

  40. I_hate_LA says:

    They have a lot of young prospects coming up and a lot of young talent, but I think they lack leadership which is why they might blow off another season. There's a reason why top tier FAs like Drury, Gomez, and Briere decided to join other teams instead of La.

  41. PeterTheGreat21 says:

    um LA has a pretty good D now. visnovsky,blake,johnson,stuart,pressing and modry. I'd say that d is is pretty solid. LA's only real weakness is the obvious one. Their offense will do just fine with their young studs and quality vets they just pulled in.

  42. PeterTheGreat21 says:

    Turco proved this past year that hes a more than capable playoff goalie. He just gets burned when they play the avs in the playoffs; losing to them two straight years in the 1st round but I can't blame him cuz the avs are pretty nasty.

  43. mvand77 says:

    No I'm not on crack "my friend", Canadians smoke pot instead.  Is this in Bryzgalov's defense or is are you another Turco-hater? I didn't mean to blast Bryzgalov's play this year because the Giguere injury did coincide with the Pronger injury, but the Ducks still won both games with Giguere where Pronger was suspended during the playoffs.  Obviously it was losing Giguere that hurt them, not Pronger.  As for Turco- goalie stats, especially regular season stats, don't mean that much if you don't  actually watch the goalie play and see how his team played in front of him.  Obviously you didn't watch that series.

  44. nova_scotia123 says:

    I was looking for it too…..but I guess it was changed

  45. KingOKings says:

    Typical Ducks fan! One who "jumps ship." I can about guarantee I make more money than you!

  46. Lazarus says:

    And Giguere has only ever managed to win 36 games with a MUCH better defense in front of him. What's your point? Given that the Kings have vastly improved their defense and Cloutier had surgery to correct a bum hip, I would not be opposed to Cloutier splitting time with LaBarbara and playing maybe 30-40 games.

  47. openclose says:

    dude my point is… he is not very good. and the kings are in no way close to the ducks. Vastly improved…hah. must be a kings fan… or a crack fiend.

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