The Stanley Cup Champions should not have any problems winning this division and the Conference. The loss of oft-injured Dave Bolland, part-timer Viktor Stalberg and hard working Michael Frolik should be not too overwhelming to replace with their plethora of young talented forwards in their system.
Decent mix of talent, size and grit up front for the Blues. Everyone’s Cup favourites last season should have enough to finish second in this division. Forward depth is a little suspect, goaltending will need to rebound but their solid defensive core will definitely be a plus.
Minny has a nice top 6 crop of forwards with some youngsters who have a lot to prove. They’ve added a ton of toughness up front which just might make them a bit tougher to play against. Backstrom/Harding will be fine in goal but the big question for the Wild, is still, their thin Defence.
Similar to Minnesota, the Jets have a nice top 6 with some skill, offence and good speed. Bottom 6 forwards are a huge question here. Back end has a nice mix of toughness, offence, defence and very good size. Clitsome has always been very good at covering the gaps.. Bounce-back season needed by Pavelec in goal this season.
The addition of Seth Jones should help a ton, Ryan Ellis’ time is now to be a top 4 D-man. Goaltending of course will be incredible with Pekka Rinne but still not sure who will be backing him up this season. The biggest problem for Nashville has always been their scoring and this season looks to be no different.
The addition of Tyler Seguin and Shawn Horcoff along with a healthy Jamie Benn should make this Dallas team respectable. Veteran Ray Whitney and, Erik Cole and Rich Peverly will help out immensely. Adding veteran D-man Sergei Gonchar will help out that offense and round out a not too bad top 4 D core. Lehtonen is always solid in goal..if he can stay healthy.
Unlike Avalanche beat writer, Adrian Dater. I feel the Avs will NOT be a top 3 team in the Western Conference. Instead, I feel they will be closer to the cellar. Scoring shouldn’t be a problem with the young crop of forwards they have but keeping the puck out of the net will be. While their forwards have offensive talent it’s hard to pick one that plays a 2-way game. Top 4 D-men for this team are Erik Johnson, Jan Hejda, Ryan Wilson & Cory Sarich. Semyon Varlamov and JS Giguere will have their work cut out for them.