I’m going to warn all you non-hockey fans that you’re going to want to avoid this place for the next two posts, since they’re both going to deal with hockey. Yeah, I know, NHL previews have very little to do with personal finance. But it’s my blog and here I make the rules. Hey, everyone else is taking the next few days off to go the the Financial Blogger Conference, I’m just doing it in a different way. Don’t worry, I’ll be back to your regularly scheduled programming on Monday. Until then, enjoy the preview. Feel free to bash my picks in the comments.
Teams are ranked in the order predicted to finish the conference. I’ll predict my conference winners and Stanley Cup champion at the end of Friday’s part 2.
1. Washington Capitals
Key Additions: J. Ward, T. Brouwer, J. Halpern, R. Hamrlik, T. Vokoun
Key Subtractions: S. Varlamov, J. Arnott, M. Sturm, E. Fehr
Over the past few seasons, the Caps have been the Anna Kournikova of the NHL- always looking great, but not winning anything. They haven’t gotten past the 2nd round of the playoffs despite finishing in the top 3 of the Eastern conference for the past 4 years. They picked up probably the best goalie in the league (Vokoun) and have a great young defense pairing in Carlson and Alzner. Nobody thinks the Capitals are going to do anything this year, meaning this is their time.
Has anybody seen those Mr. Big commercials with Alex Ovechkin? Comedy gold. All of them. Also, what’s the over/under of the number of swear words Bruce Boudreau will say over the course of the season? I’m setting the line at 1.6 million. That guy swears more than I do.
2. Boston Bruins
Key Additions: J. Corvo, B. Pouillot
Key Subtractions: T. Kaberle, M. Ryder, M. Recchi
Fresh after indirectly causing the most awesome riot I’ve ever had the privilege of watching live on T.V, the Bruins are back and hungry (presumably) to defend their Stanley Cup championship. They’ve got the tools to do it too, keeping most of their team intact. They lost key trade deadline addition Tomas Kaberle to free agency, which isn’t so disappointing considering how terrible he was. Hell, they won the Cup despite Kaberle. I had more to do with their championship than he did.
Hopefully if the Bruins go on another deep playoff run this year, TV networks won’t feel the need to show us Cam Neely’s reaction to EVERY SINGLE GOAL. They either really like him or want to take every opportunity to show us the weight he’s put on since his playing days. No Cam, put down the hot dog.
3. Philadelphia Flyers
Key Additions: J. Jagr, W. Simmonds, J. Voracek, M. Talbot, A. Lilja, I. Bryzgalov
Key Subtractions: M. Richards, J. Carter, K. Versteeg, V. Leino
The Flyers decided to blow up pretty much their whole team, trading last year’s top two centers, apparently because management wasn’t happy with their boozing ways. Oh snap, take that Richards and Carter, you drunks! I guess all you guys have to fall back on is your millions of dollars, and all sorts of beautiful women, and getting to play hockey for a living. Sucks to be you guys.
Even though I think they gave Bryzgalov an entirely horrible contract, he should be better than the crap they’ve had in net over the past couple years. van Riemsdyk and Giroux are the real deal, and Braden Schenn will be some kind of good very soon. Jagr should provide the Flyers with some additional offense. This team is pretty close to last year’s. They’ll still be pretty good.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins
Key Additions: S. Sullivan
Key Subtractions: E. Godard, M. Talbot, M. Rupp, A. Kovalev
The big additions for the Pens this season will come from getting their top 2 centers back, Crosby and Malkin. Both centers missed the last half of the season with injuries, and yet the team still got within a game of the second round. That’s because the Penguins have an underrated defense corps and M.A. Fleury isn’t such a bad goaltender. The team has lost some secondary scoring though, so they may struggle to create offense if Crosby doesn’t return from his concussion soon.
And hey, if that doesn’t work for them, they can just send out Matt Cooke to injure as many guys as possible. That sound you hear is Marc Savard weeping in the corner.
5. Tampa Bay Lightning
Key Additions: R. Shannon, M. Garon
Key Subtractions: S. Gagne, M. Smith, S. Bergenhein
The surprise of last year’s playoffs, the Lightning aren’t going to be taken lightly coming into this season. Led by maybe the best goal scorer in the game Steven Stamkos, the Bolts are solid both up front and on the back end. V. Hedman has very quietly turned into a pretty solid defenseman, and Eric Brewer doesn’t suck either. The only question mark is goaltender D. Roloson, who I think is approximately 93 years old.
6. Buffalo Sabres
Key Additions: V. Leino, C. Ehrhoff, R. Regehr, A. Kotalik
Key Subtractions: T. Connolly, R. Niedermayer, S. Montador
OMG! DID YOU SEE ALL THE MOVES BUFFALO DID THIS OFFSEASON! NEW OWNER TERRY PEGULA ISN’T SCREWING AROUND!
Buffalo made the biggest splash during this past offseason, trading for Regehr and signing Leino and Ehrhoff. Ehrhoff is a solid defender and should fit in good with Tyler Myers on the powerplay. Regehr is good, and is signed at a very team friendly deal, which makes you scratch your head about why Calgary would ever trade him. (hint, it’s because their GM is a complete moron) But giving Ville Leino a big free agent contract was just plain foolish. Leino will suck, mark my words.
This team goes as far an Ryan Miller can carry it. And, if you take out his ridiculously good 2009-10 season, he’s been pretty average.
7. New York Rangers
Key Additions: Brad Richards, who cares
Key Subtractions: C. Drury
The blueshirts pretty much stayed the course over the summer, with one big exception, adding the best free agent available, Brad Richards. Adding Richards to a good group of young players will only help the Rangers going forward. Now, if only they could get some government cash to replace Madison Square Garden, which I hear is a real dump.
Just imagine how good the Rangers would be if they weren’t riddled with bad contracts. They bought out Chris Drury in the summer, mostly because he had all the skill of a sponge. And they’re parked Wade Redden in the minors because he’s actually worse than Drury. Can we stop talking about how Sather is a good GM yet?
8. Toronto Maple Leafs
Key Additions: T. Connelly, M. Lombardi, J-M Liles, C. Franson
Key Subtractions: J-S Giguere,
Yes folks, the Maple Leafs aren’t really that bad. They’re taking steps in the right direction.
The Leafs picked up two talented centers, albeit ones with long histories of injury. Liles will help a mediocre power play, and Franson is an underrated defenseman since he played in Nashville. Young guys Kadri and Joe Colbourne are both really good prospects, both of which should start to contribute this year. Young goaltender James Reimer was pretty good over the last third of the season last year, and should offer the Leafs their best goaltending option since Curtis Joseph left.
Besides, this team needs a playoff berth. Then they will get hammered in the first round. Baby steps.
9. Montreal Canadiens
Key Additions: E. Cole, P. Budaj
Key Subtractions: J. Wisniewski, R. Hamrlik, J. Halpern, B. Pouliot
The Habs didn’t do much to add punch to a weak existing forward group. I’m not sold on Erik Cole as the savior of everything that’s wrong with Montreal’s offense, considering how horrible Scott Gomez has been. Combine that with the loss of Hamrlik and Markov (for at least a couple months) and goaltender Carey Price will suddenly get a little busier. Did you watch them get pushed around by a big bad Bruins team?
Oh, and Montreal, if you get past the first round again, can you not riot? Thanks.
10. Carolina Hurricanes
Key Additions: T. Kaberle, A. Stewart, A. Ponikarovsky
Key Subtractions: E. Cole, J. Corvo
Carolina finished just short of a playoff spot last year, saving themselves from a harsh ass-whooping from Washington. The team looks pretty decent on paper, but I’m not a huge fan of their defense. Tomas Kaberle isn’t such a good defenseman, at least in his own end. They’re weak at center, unless Brandon Sutter can step it up. I doubt it. Plus, Cam Ward isn’t that good.
11. New Jersey Devils
Key Additions: A. Larsson
Key Subtractions: Nobody you’ve heard of
The big question for the Devils this year is which team will show up- the one that was 9-22 under head coach John MacLean, or the one that was 29-17 under Jacques Lemaire. The big reason for their suckitude last year was an inability to score, averaging just a hair over 2 goals per games. They score less than the captain of the chess team. This should improve with Parise coming back from his knee injury.
Any team with Martin Brodeur in goal should do okay. And with a bounce back year form Kovolchuk, the Devils could very well sneak into the playoffs. Well, if they can avoid bankruptcy first.
12. Florida Panthers
Key Additions: (deep breath) S. Upshall, B. Campbell, E. Jovanovski, K. Versteeg, T. Fleischmann, S. Bergenheim, T. Kopecky, M. Goc, J. Theodore
Key Subtractions: T. Vokoun, R. Olesz, M. Reasoner
Well, Florida certainly made a splash this summer, either signing or trading for approximately 1,242 free agents (author’s estimate). On paper at least, the team looks a lot better than the team that finished last season 28th out of 30 teams. But Florida is so bad that they only have one direction to go, and they didn’t really do it properly. A lot of the guys they picked up have problems. Whether they’re injury prone (Fleishmann, Jovanovski) or overrated (Campbell, Upshall), I’m not in love with a lot of the moves they made.
None of this matters in South Florida though, since nobody actually cares about hockey. Move this team to Hamilton already.
13. New York Islanders
Key Additions: Nobody worth mentioning
Key Subtractions: D. Weight, R. Martinek, B. Gervais
The Islanders have a decent young core. They’re a year away. Their rink is a dump. I’m bored. Next!
14. Ottawa Senators
Key Additions: N. Filatov
Key Subtractions: R. Shannon, C. McElhinney
Poor Ottawa. You didn’t used to suck. Just a few years ago you were all the way in the Stanley Cup finals. What happened?
Well, there were poor trades, (for Heatley) poor free agent signings (Gonchar) and for whatever reason, they cannot find a goaltender who doesn’t suck. Craig Anderson will carry your team for a little while, and then promptly start to suck. As an Avalanche fan, I’ve seen this story before.
They were hit with some injuries last year, and could be a little higher in the standings with a little luck. Instead, just go watch this Youtube video of Jason Spezza laughing. It will ease some of the pain of this upcoming disaster of a season.
15. Winnipeg Jets
Key Additions: E. Fehr
Key Subtractions: A. Stewart, R. Dvorak, E. Boulton
Yay! Winnipeg got their team back! It’s a good thing the Jets can ride that all season long, since this is going to be painful.
This team scores less than the captain of the chess team. Their defense isn’t horrible, and starting goaltender Ondrej Pavelec could be pretty good one day. They play the majority of their road games in cities that are a long, long away from Winnipeg. Nice work on the schedule NHL. Oh well Winnipeg, there’s always next year. No, you’ll suck then too.
Oh, and Dustin Byfuglien is fat. And drunk.
That was long. Stay tuned for the Western Conference on Friday.