Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Ok, while I would love to do a team by team analysis of the eastern teams as I did with the west, work has gone bananas, my wife is running a half marathon in 11 days (see link at the end of this post), my kids are turning 3 and 1 in the next month, my own hockey season starts tomorrow (keep your head up mudcrutch) and we are off to London at the end of the month.
In other words, things are superbananas.
So without further adieu, your Prince Chaz conference, in what I figure for a general order of finish, right now. I will do my actual season prediction after training camp is over but for now, here goes.
1./ Les Sabres - lost the useful Mike Grier and shotblocker Jay McKee, walked away from JP Dumont's contract, added Jaro Spacek - the team to beat in the east, methinks, although they better hope Tim Connolly's concussion woes don't sideline him for long - enough young talent that should take another step forward, the right motivation and steps back for the Sens and the Canes mean this team is the one to beat, imo. Also doesn't hurt to have two good goalies, even if Biron is tradebait.
2./ Rangers - picked ahead of the Devils for now due to the cap mess Lou is in, adding Shanahan, Aaron Ward and Matt Cullen will help, at least in the regular season. Would have been interesting to see how they fared in the playoffs if healthy. Also interesting to see Sather's success now that he actually has to put a real team together rather then putting together a fantasy team worth 90M of overpaid crap.
3. Carolina - losing the rent a players isn't a killer and Matt Cullen going opens up icetime for a kid; can Cam Ward carry the load for a full season - maybe not but I would say yes; too bad because having he and Gerber was a big reason for this team's success. Aaron Ward will be missed but a bigger worry for this team - Kaberle and Stillman gone for long periods of time to start the year. They are still the best in their division, I think, have to respect them, especially with that talent up front, but they are no longer as deep, especially on the back end and this might be their undoing, especially with everyone gunning for them - weak division helps them along though
4./ Ottawa - another opportunity lost for the Sens - why they thought bringing in noted regular season success/playoff choker Bryan Murray would be the answer is beyond me but with Chara and Havlat gone who is left to blame for the annual failures? They will be part of the mix again this season - they have too much top end talent not to be - Tom Preissing is a nice addition - Antoine Vermette and their new Russian kid will have to help Fisher and Schaeffer take some of the load off the top line
5./ Jersey - keeps rolling along although even if Lou can finesse Mogilny and Malakhov as injured players and thus not counting against the cap he will still be over and will still have to part with some useful talent - having Elias for a full season means they will be there and possibly they will overtake the Rangers, easy to see that, but their D is a shadow of what it once was
6./ Philadelphia - bold move by Clarke with Kesler but with the Canucks sure to match, not sure what he was trying to do - maybe he's pissed at Nonis? The Flyers may be seeing their window closing with Primeau retiring and Forsberg injury prone and the Sabres ran roughshod over them last season - have to hand it to Clarke - they have some nice young talent so the Flyers will be around, again, but their blueline is looking kind of thin
7./ Habs - Sergei Samsonov was certainly not the impact player Oil fans expected - I figured with that talent he would win or help win a few games in the playoffs but while he was useful there was not the oomph factor - interesting to see how he does playing with Kovalev and the other skilled Habs' forwards. Two good goalies, a player any team would want in Saku, a lot of good players - why then so streaky?? If they could get a higher seed then an easier road might ensue - the Canes thought them their most dangerous foe in the East last year amongst those they played (uhh, Buffalo?) - anyhow, maybe Carbonneau helps bring that consistency
8/ Boston - signing Bergeron longterm was a good idea - imagine - committing to your young talent - what a concept - seriously while the Bruins have been straying into Chicago territory for a while they seem to have accumulated some decent talent and not the garbage they had last season either - Bergeron, Boyes, Savard, Sturm and Murray will score, Axelsson, Primeau and Donovan will do the heavy lifting or some of it and their D, while not great, is pretty decent with Chara and Stuart leading the way. Can Tim Thomas do it again? Doubt it and these are the Bruins so while they get into the playoffs I can't, in good conscience, rank them any higher. It goes against my principles.
9/ Tampa - adding Denis is well and good but losing veteran D Kubina and Sydor as well as 30 goal man Freddie Modin - the Bolts struggled last year and with Jay Feaster having painted them into a salary cap corner with his top heavy roster - I think they slide right out of the postseason
10/ Florida - the more I think about it the more I think the Canucks got the better of their deal - Bertuzzi may be motivated and the Panthers definitely have some high end young talent - Jokinen, Van Ryn, Bouwmeester, Horton, Weiss - but something doesn't feel right - a lot of old creaky guys too - and that D doesn't impress me - Alex Auld is solid but he's more Rick DiPietro then Roberto Luongo - wonder if he can cash in too? This team is one that might make a move though
11/Atlanta - everybody's sexy pick to break through, much like Columbus in the west - here's a newsflash - just because a team has a lot of young talent and has been bad for a while doesn't mean they are going to be Ottawa or Quebec - sometimes they just end up being young and bad forever - if I was the Thrashers' fan - I know he's out there somewhere - my question would be this - who is their #1 centre - uh, former Sudbury Wolves' captain and my parents' next door neighbour's grandkid, Derek MacKenzie? I remember him playing ball hockey in their driveway when he was 5. he's not much bigger now, either. Seriously they have nobody up the middle and are thin everywhere else. And I hate Kovalchuk's guts. Someone end his career already.
12/Toronto - ahh, 39 years and counting but at least Richard Peddie is selling a lot of condos - its a shame because Leaf fans are as passionate as you get but they have only themselves to blame - they fill that arena night in and night out no matter what shit they put on the ice - remember the Ballard years - want to see Peddie and the money men get serious about getting it together - stop going to the games - note how when Raptor attendance suddenly took a dive they suddenly actually brought in a qualified GM. This team has so many ifs its unbelieveable - if Sundin proves the end of last season was the norm and not the beginning, if Jeff O'Neill ever got his confidence back, If Steen and Wellwood and a pile of other kids make a quantum leap, if Darcy Tucker can prove last season was not his career year, if Kubina shows last season was the exception and Paul Maurice can teach anyone, anyone how to play defence and Hal Gill can learn how to skate and Raycroft can stop anything, anything at all then this team may sneak into the playoffs. Get the picture? Most teams have two or three question marks. This team is loaded with them front to back. Poor Mats Sundin.
13/ Islanders - But it could be worse, he could be an Islander. GM Garth Snow had to buy himself out and mediocre (I mean seriously how many goalies are better then this guy) goalie Rick DiPietro has a lifetime contract. If he turns into Patrick Roy then its a bargain. Otherwise... As for the players who this team has dumped over the years with little or nothing to show for in return - Zdeno Chara, Bryan McCabe, Eric Brewer, Wade Redden, Roberto Luongo, Jason Spezza, Todd Bertuzzi, Tim Connolly, Oli Jokinen, Raffi Torres, Taylor Pyatt - you know who I feel sorry for - their scouts! I look at their roster and I see maybe four or five guys I would want on my team. Ted Nolan, keep your head down and mouth shut, do your best and hopefully this leads to something down the road for you - there's one good move Wang has made anyway.
14/ Pittsburgh - Crosby and Malkin and a whole lot of hurt - still a long way away but they'll be fun to watch
15/ Alexander Ovechkin
Now, if you made it this far go to this site and click on donate here. In the list of top fundraisers is Jennifer McLean, mother of two, 31 years old, running the Toronto Waterfront half marathon in 11 days. Money donated here goes fully 100% into research at Sick Kids Hospital - the foundation has no overhead - and the research will benefit kids worldwide. So ... if you have kids, are planning on having kids, are a kid at heart, etc etc. give 10 bucks, 20 bucks - whatever you can. My wife has been busting her ass all summer getting ready to run this thing. The most she has ever run at once until now is 10K - she ran 16 two Saturdays ago as part of her training.
Posted by Black Dog at 10:45 AM