NHL Canadian Team Preview

The NHL season is almost upon us, and hockey fans across Canada are wondering if their team will be the one to break the twenty-year drought of Canadian teams not winning the Stanley Cup. Compared to the 2011-2012 season, where just two Canadian teams made the playoffs, this season boasts several Canadians clubs with a real chance of hoisting the cup. But some teams have better chances than others…

Montreal Canadiens

Major Additions: George Parros, Daniel Briere, Douglas Murray
Major Subtractions: Michael Ryder

After a high-flying regular season and an ugly exit from the playoffs, the Montreal Canadiens are looking to build upon the lessons learned from last year.  The Canadiens had a reputation of being soft and the hard time they had against physical teams and their poor playoff performance didn’t help shake that reputation. They addressed this by acquiring George Parros and Douglas Murray. They also brought in Daniel Briere hoping playing in his home province does him good.

But success for the Montreal Canadiens truly rests in how their young core performs. Can P.K. Subban and Carey Price replicate last year’s success? If they can, another division title (this time in the aptly named  “Atlantic division”) is a distinct possibility.

Prediction: Playoff spot, but how deep can they go?

Ottawa Senators

Major Additions: Bobby Ryan, Clarke Macarthur
Major Subtractions: Daniel Alfredsson

The Daniel Alfredsson era in Ottawa is over, but the Senators wasted no time replacing him when they traded for Bobby Ryan mere hours after Alfie said goodbye. Alfredsson was a major leader in the locker room and it’ll be interesting to see who steps up to take his place. Expect some major firepower with the likes of Spezza, Ryan, Macarthur and Karlsson in the line up. And speaking of Karlsson, how he bounces back from his Achilles injury from last season will determine how far this team can go. And don’t forget Craig Anderson. When he played, he was one of the best goalies in the league. But it may be hard for him as he gets older and older.

If this team can stay healthy (it didn’t last year, and they still made the second round of the playoffs) then they are dangerous.

Prediction: Possible division title, but the team has a history with injuries, so nothing is for certain.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Major Additions: David Clarkson, Jonathan Bernier, Dave Bolland
Major Subtractions: Michail Grabovski, Matt Frattin, Ben Scrivens

Last year’s team was ten minutes away from knocking out the Boston Bruins, the eventual runners-up in the Stanley Cup finals. How the team moves on from that heartbreak will determine if they can grow or backslide.

The Leafs were one of the busiest teams during the offseason, picking up David Clarkson, Jonathon Bernier and Dave Bolland. These players that symbolize stable goaltending and tough, but sound defensive play. With these additions and the growth shown from Kessel, Kadri, van Riemsdyk and Joffrey Lupul last year, the Leafs are a young, tough team that is built for the postseason. All they have to do is get there.  It will be interesting to see how the duo of James Reimer and Jonathon Bernier fight for the number one spot. Will it be a distraction or make each goalie better?

Prediction: Playoffs, and they should be near the top of their division.

Winnipeg Jets

Major Additions: Devin Setoguchi
Major Subtractions: N/A

The Winnipeg Jets are out of the Southwest division and into the Central, a division that includes Chicago, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Dallas, and Colorado. This means their competition is about to get a whole lot harder. And while their division has switched from the easiest to one of the toughest, the Jets did very little to improve themselves this offseason. Their only major acquisition was Devin Setoguchi. That can’t inspire a lot of confidence.

But still, the Jets finished just four points out of the playoffs last year, and expect the core of Kane, Ladd, Wheeler and Byfuglien to grow. Especially Evander Kane, who is poised for a breakout season.

Prediction: Tougher division, not a lot of improvement, playoffs are unlikely.

Edmonton Oilers

Major Additions: Coach Dallas Eakins, Andrew Ferrence, David Perron
Major Subtractions: Ryan Whitney

The fans of the Edmonton Oilers are wondering how much longer it’s going to take the first round drafts picks to get this team into the playoffs. With the  Leafs making the playoffs last year,  the Oilers now have the longest current playoff drought in the NHL, at seven seasons. But the future looks bright for the Oilers. Devon Dubnyk showed everyone last year that he can be a capable starting goalie and the the addition of Andrew Ferrence will likely bolster the defensive corps.

The real interesting thing to watch will be how Dallas Eakins coaches the young guns. Eakins was the most sought-after minor league coach this summer and will likely bring his magic to the likes of Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins and Yakupov. It could be one heck of a season in Edmonton.

Prediction: This is the year they make the playoffs.

Calgary Flames

Additions: N/A
Subtractions: Miikka Kipprusoff, Alex Tanguay

The first full year without Jarome Ignila is about to commence in Calgary, and all signs point to it being a rough year for the Flames. Also gone are veterans Miikka Kipprusoff and Alex Tanguay, major facets of the Flames for the past several seasons.

So what can Flames fans hope for? Karri Ramo having a spectacular year, because that is the only way this team can challenge for a playoff spot. But hey, weirder things have happened

Prediction: Tough year in Calgary. They could get the first overall pick in the next draft.

Vancouver Canucks

Major Additions: John Tortorella
Major Subtractions: Cory Schneider

Well, the goaltending controversy is over, but with John Tortorella now at the helm, there’s bound to be another controversy hitting Vancouver soon. Those two moves, adding Tortorella and trading Cory Schneider will define this team.

But how will they turn out? Luongo is still a pretty good goalie, never mind what his contract is. Expect him to do what he usually does play Vezina worthy goaltending. As for Tortorella, his gruff persona could go either way with the current atmosphere in Vancouver. Will he push the players buttons and get them to go the extra mile? Or turn off the team, fans and media and sink the ship?

No matter what happens in net and behind the bench, expect the Sedins to play god-like and Ryan Kesler to have a bounce back season.

Prediction:  They’ll likely make the playoffs, but their dominance over the Pacific is at an end.

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