As the 2014-2015 NHL season is shortly about to begin, here is a preview on how each Canadian team will do.
1) Montreal Canadiens
2) Ottawa Senators
3) Vancouver Canucks
4) Toronto Maple Leafs
5) Winnipeg Jets
6) Calgary Flames
7) Edmonton Oilers
1) Montreal Canadiens: After a season that saw the Habs go all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, they once again made significant changes. They signed faceoff specialist Manny Malhotra who will definitely take some pressure off Tomas Plekanec and Lars Eller on the defensive front while signing defenseman Tom Gilbert who will help with the powerplay along with acquiring forwards Jiri Sekac (free agent) and PA Parenteau (Trade with Colorado) who will provide the team will some scoring. While these additions will help the team going forward, the Canadiens leadership took a huge hit with captain Brian Gionta and defenseman Josh Gorges leaving to Buffalo via free agency and trade respectively. The Canadiens have the tools but if they want to have another deep run in the playoffs, they need the core players to play hard every night and hope that Carey Price can stay healthy the whole way through and steal a few games here and there.
2) Ottawa Senators: For the second straight year, the Ottawa Senators will have a new face as captain as Erik Karlsson replaces Jason Spezza as he was dealt to Dallas in the offseason. The Sens still have the same pesky core with Kyle Turris, Karlsson, Craig Anderson, Chris Phillips, Bobby Ryan and Clarke Macarthur. While they were able to sign David Legwand who is a reliable two-way forward who provides great leadership but will not produce at the same rate that Spezza did throughout his time in Ottawa. The Sens have a good chance at making the playoffs if guys like Ryan and Anderson can stay healthy throughout the year and get more production out of Turris and Macarthur.
3) Vancouver Canucks: After a horrific year that saw the Canucks perform like circus acts, changes were definitely necessary. GM Mike Gillis was fired based on the teams poor performance and the way he handled the goaltending situation as he finally traded Roberto Luongo back to Florida. He was not the only one as Head Coach John Tortorella was also gone after just one season being replaced by Willie Desjardins. The new era with GM Jim Benning has proved to be starting on the right foot. He traded disgruntled forward Ryan Kesler to the Ducks for Nick Bonino and defenseman Luca Sbisa. He also signed goalie Ryan Miller to a three year deal as well as signing forward Radim Vrbata. The Canucks are heading towards the right direction but there chances of making the postseason rests on how Desjardins can handle being a coach in the NHL and how well the Sedin twins and Miller perform over the 82 games schedule.
4) Toronto Maple Leafs: After making the playoffs for the first time since 2004, everything seemed to be turning around in Leafsnation except it did not. After playing some solid hockey throughout the majority of the year, everything fell apart down the stretch. After goalie Jonathan Bernier went down with injury and eventually made his return, the Leafs finished 2-12 in the final 14 games and once again finished on the outside looking in. To fix this situation, the Leafs hired hall of famer Brendan Shanahan as team president. He kept both GM Dave Nonis and Coach Randy Carlyle along with making moves that improved team toughness. Leo Komarov returns after a one year stay in Europe while new defenseman Roman Polak and Stephane Robidas add more sandpaper on a defense corps with captain Dion Phaneuf and Cody Franson should he stay healthy. The Leafs chances of making the playoffs however rests on the core guys staying healthy throughout the year and if Bernier can play great night in and night out.
5) Winnipeg Jets: The novelty of hockey returning to the peg is clearly gone. After another slow start to begin the year, the Jets replaced Head Coach Claude Noel with Paul Maurice. While the team showed signs of improving it was not enough as they missed the playoffs for a seventh consecutive year. The Jets made minor acquisitions signing forwards TJ Galiardi and Mathieu Perreault. The team does have a good core with forwards Andrew Ladd, Brian Little, Blake Wheeler and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien being joined by youngsters in defensemen Jacob Trouba and forward Mark Scheifele. If the Jets want to make surprises this season, they will have to hope that goaltender Ondrej Pavelec and forward Evander Kane wake up and start performing on a consistent basis.
6) Calgary Flames: Year 1 of the rebuild in Calgary was not as bad as what people had anticipated. After finishing October with a 5-5-2 record, things fell apart due to injuries and poor play. To fix the issue, the Flames hired Brad Treliving as the new GM and made some moves signing players like forwards Devin Setoguichi and Mason Raymond and signing a new goalie in Jonas Hiller. Theses three will help improve a core with the likes of Curtis Glencross and Mark Giordano. The youngsters look good as Sean Monahan will try and build off his successful rookie season as well as drafting Sam Bennett except he will be missing time due to injury. The future looks bright in Calgary except there only a few years away from returning to the postseason.
7) Edmonton Oilers: Another year filled with promise ended up being another year filled with disappointment. The Oilers failed from the beginning winning four out of their first 21 games to start the year. This was based on poor play from goalie Devan Dubnyk and forward Nail Yakupov. While the goaltending situation improved with the acquisition of Ben Scrivens, the Oilers still failed to get production from the forwards. To improve the situation, GM Craig Mactavish signed forwards Teddy Purcell and Benoit Pouliot as well as drafting Leon Draisaitl. If the new players can contribute with the established core of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle and if Scrivens can give the Oilers a chance of winning every night, the Oilers will move up in the standings and may fight for a playoff spot. If they fail to, it will end up as the same old story since the past couple of years.