Wednesday, 5 October 2011

NHL preview among Canadian teams

 As the 2011-2012 NHL season is knocking on the door, here is how each Canadian team will do.

1) Vancouver Canucks
2) Winnipeg Jets
3) Montreal Canadiens
4) Calgary Flames
5) Toronto Maple Leafs
6) Ottawa Senators
7) Edmonton Oilers

1) Vancouver Canucks: The Stanley Cup finalists still have the main core that got them to the finals last season minus Christian Erhoff who signed a 10 year with the Buffalo Sabres. Expect to see Cody Hodgson to stay on the roster as a top 6 forward due to Mason Raymond recovering from major back surgery after sustaining the injury in Game 6 of the finals vs the Bruins.

2) Winnipeg Jets: Hockey is back after the original Jets left in 1996 to become the Phoenix Coyotes. The second incarnation of the Jets still have a great core that unfortunately faded last year when they were still in Atlanta with youngsters Alexander Burmistrov and Evander Kane, great leadership with captain Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien and good goaltending with Ondrej Pavelec between the pipes.

3) Montreal Canadiens: The Canadiens finally adressed the need for a big power forward by signing Erik Cole who would usually have his best games when he would play vs them, but their hopes of making the playoffs for a 5th consecutive season will be if Carey Price can have another solid season like he did last year and for Scott Gomez to bounce back after a dismal season.

4) Calgary Flames: The Calgary Flames made a couple of tweeks to their roster. Out are longtime defenseman Robyn Regehr and forward Daymond Langkow who both waived their no trade clauses respectively. In are Scott Hannan, Lee Stempniak who was part of the Langkow trade, and Chris Butler from the Regehr trade but their hopes of making the playoffs is if they can repeat that second half surge that almost got them their meaning that goalie Mikka Kiprusoff, Jarome Iginla, Jay Boumeester and Alex Tanguay half to jump to an early quick start.
5) Toronto Maple Leafs: After failing on the Brad Richards sweepstakes, the Leafs ultimately went to Plan B which was signing Tim Connolly away from the Buffalo Sabres, but his health is a concern as he is known as being injury prone. If James Reimer can have another spectacular season as he showed during the second half of last year and if the defensive corps led by newly acquired John-Michael Liles, Dion Phaneuf and rookie Jake Gardiner can step it up, then they have a legitmate shot at making the playoffs.
6) Ottawa Senators: After a dismal season last year, the 20th season in the nations capital will be a bounceback year with young talent with David Runblad, Stephane Da Costa, Nikita Filatov and Tim Conboy and a somewhat decent core with Daniel Alfredsson who could possibly play in his final season as he looks towards retiring, Chris Phillips, Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, and both goaltenders Craig Anderson and Alex Auld.
7) Edmonton Oilers: Another last place finish meant another first overall pick in the entry draft as the Oilers selected Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to join the already young core with Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi, Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner and shootout specialist Linus Omark. To add to that, the Oil acquired grit by adding 6'2 Ben Eager, 6'1 Darcy Hordichuck, a faceoff specialist in Eric Belanger and leadership from a familar face as Ryan Smyth is back for a second stint. The Oilers will not finish last for a third straight year, but the playoffs still remain a long road ahead.