2013 Western Conference Preview
Before the puck drops we’re taking a look at both conferences. Here’s how the West stands to shake down.
Anaheim Ducks (2012 record: 34-36-12; 5th in Pacific)
Key Additions: Daniel Winnik, Sheldon Souray, Bryan Allen, Brad Staubitz
Key Losses: Niklas Hagman, George Parros, Lubomir Visnovsky, Dan Ellis
Season in three sentences: Anaheim’s big three of Getzlaf-Perry-Ryan could ignite some magic during Teemu’s final ride. Coupled with a rested and healthy Jonas Hiller, the Ducks stand to be a playoff threat. A deep Pacific will likely be too tough, however, and they should be on the outside looking in.
Calgary Flames (2012 record: 37-29-16; 2nd in Northwest)
Key Additions: Jiri Hudler, Dennis Wideman, Bob Hartley (coach)
Key Losses: Scott Hannan, Olli Jokinen, David Moss
Season in three sentences: The Flames will go into the season with the same pillars from the last eight years — Iginla and Kiprusoff. That being said, the same process generally gets the same results. They will be a fringe team on the outside of the post-season.
Chicago Blackhawks (2012 record: 45-26-11; 4th in Central)
Key Additions: Michal Rozsival, Sheldon Brookbank
Key Losses: Sami Lepisto, Andrew Brunette, Brendan Morrison
Season in three sentences: The Blackhawks have been a consistent threat to do big things since Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane joined the squad and that won’t change in 2013. Question marks surround Corey Crawford and whether or not he can be “the guy” but he will be relied upon nonetheless. They will be a contender in 2013.
Colorado Avalanche (2012 record: 41-35-6; 3rd in Northwest)
Key Additions: P.A. Parenteau, Greg Zanon, John Mitchell
Key Losses: Peter Mueller, Ryan Stoa, Jay McClement, Kevin Porter
Season in three sentences: Colorado stands to be a fringe team in 2013. With goaltending questions and an uncertain blueline their deficiencies in the back end may do them in. Matt Duchene & Co. up front may need to do the heavy lifting.
Columbus Blue Jackets (2012 record: 29-46-7; 5th in Central)
Key Additions: Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Nick Foligno, Tim Erixon, Adrian Aucoin, Sergei Bobrovsky
Key Losses: Rick Nash, Kristian Huselius, Marc Methot, Radek Martinek
Season in three sentences: The post-Rick Nash era begins in Columbus with an interesting roster. A lack of high end talent is clear, but the roster is deep and filled with hard nosed, two-way players. Could improved goaltending make them a headache in the tough Central division?
Dallas Stars (2012 record: 42-35-5; 4th in Pacific)
Key Additions: Derek Roy, Jaromir Jagr, Ray Whitney, Cody Eakin, Aaron Rome
Key Losses: Steve Ott, Adam Burish, Radek Dvorak, Mike Ribeiro, Sheldon Souray
Season in three sentences: The Stars, after narrowly missing the playoffs two seasons in a row, appear poised to take a run in 2013. Adding Jaromir Jagr and NHL
First Second Team All-Star Ray Whitney in free agency after picking up Derek Roy from Buffalo have them much deeper up front. If Kari Lehtonen is healthy, they are a darkhorse threat in the Western Conference.
Detroit Red Wings (2012 record: 48-28-6; 3rd in Central)
Key Additions: Mikael Samuelsson, Jordin Tootoo, Damien Brunner, Jonas Gustavsson
Key Losses: Ty Conklin, Jiri Hudler, Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart
Season in three sentences: The Detroit Red Wings have been a lock in the NHL for the last two decades, but it appears cracks are finally showing in the armor. With Nicklas Lidstrom retired, they are left with a massive hole on their blueline on a rapidly aging team. They should make the playoffs once again, but it isn’t as obvious as it has been.
Edmonton Oilers (2012 record: 32-40-10; 5th in Northwest)
Key Additions: Nail Yakupov, Justin Schultz
Key Losses: Cam Barker, Taylor Chorney
Season in three sentences: Edmonton’s days as a rebuilding team are — ideally — coming to a close very soon. They’ll ice a team this year with
four three first overall picks, and will add Justin Schultz to the blueline who is a first overall calibre blueline talent. Holes still exist on the back end, but a solid year from Devan Dubnyk could put them in the post-season.
Los Angeles Kings (2012 record: 40-27-15; 3rd in Pacific; Stanley Cup Champions)
Key Additions: None
Key Losses: None
Season in three sentences: The Kings are coming off of their simply dominant Cup run looking to overcome some early injuries and repeat as the top team in the NHL. With depth up front and on the blueline to go alongside one of the best goaltenders in the world, it’s tough to pick out a weakness. They are lockout winners as time away may curb the championship hangover we’ve seen in the past.
Minnesota Wild (2012 record: 35-36-11; 4th in Northwest)
Key Additions: Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Zenon Konopka, Torrey Mitchell
Key Losses: Guillaume Latendresse, Kurtis Foster, Jed Ortmeyer
Season in three sentences: The Wild were the clear winners of this past offseason. Adding Parise and Suter to an already up-and-coming team has given them four lines of depth and a bolstered blue line. A team that has steadily declined over the last five seasons should return to the playoffs in 2013.
Nashville Predators (2012 record: 48-26-8; 2nd in Central)
Key Additions: Chris Mason
Key Losses: Francis Bouillon, Andrei Kostitsyn, Anders Lindback, Alexander Radulov, Ryan Suter, Jordin Tootoo
Season in three sentences: Despite losing Ryan Suter in free agency, the Predators are still one of the deepest teams in the NHL. Barry Trotz has made this one of the most well coached teams in the NHL, and they should still execute his system flawlessly. Goal scoring may remain a problem, but their defensive fortitude will be what catapults them into the playoffs.
Phoenix Coyotes (2012 record: 42-27-13; 1st in Pacific)
Key Additions: Steve Sullivan, David Moss, Zbynek Michalek
Key Losses: Adrian Aucoin, Daymond Langkow, Taylor Pyatt, Michal Rozsival, Ray Whitney
Season in three sentences: The Coyotes have consistently found a way to squeeze diamonds from coal since hiring Dave Tippett. Mike Smith had a surprise MVP-type campaign last season and the Coyotes may need a similar effort from him this season. It’s unclear whether or not they have enough skill up front to advance deeper in the playoffs, should they make it.
St. Louis Blues (2012 record: 49-22-11; 1st in Central)
Key Additions: None
Key Losses: Jason Arnott, Carlo Colaiacovo, B.J. Crombeen, Kent Huskins
Season in three sentences: The Blues had a breakout season under Ken Hitchcock in 2012 and will look to build on that in 2013. With depth up front, on the blueline and in goal, they are an early favorite to win the Western Conference. Having David Perron from opening day will be a big boost to their offence which sputtered at times last year.
San Jose Sharks (2012 record: 43-29-10; 2nd in Pacific)
Key Additions: Adam Burish, Brad Stuart
Key Losses: Dominic Moore, Jim Vandermeer, Colin White, Daniel Winnik, Ben Ferriero
Season in three sentences: After many years as a juggernaut in the West the Sharks declined last season. With an again core of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle, their window appears to be closing quickly. They should be a playoff team, but need a lot to go right to be a contender.
Vancouver Canucks (2012 record: 51-22-9; 1st in Northwest)
Key Additions: Jason Garrison
Key Losses: Samuel Pahlsson, Aaron Rome, Sami Salo
Season in three sentences: The Canucks are the back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy winners, and will be in good shape to win a third. The Stanley Cup has eluded them to this point, but they will be a favorite to win it in 2013. Much of the season will ride on what they get in return for Roberto Luongo.
How do you think the West will play out?