We’ve gone through the RE process and have an idea about the Oilers for 12-13. They’ll be better. Again. Is it good enough to push toward the second season?
- Vancouver Canucks: Class of the group with no team capable of pushing them (yet). The questions surrounding them are the ones asked of a team poised for greatness. Whatever we think of the Canucks, Mike Gillis has them in a spot to contend for a Stanley Cup and that’s all anyone can ask. There is more pressure on the team after ’11 and ’12 disappointments but there’s also a strong sense that no one is going to panic if they start slow or some of the veterans falter early. The reality of last season–it might have been their year, and injury might have been the difference–should motivate the team. We should prepare for the possibility that Stanley spends the summer in Vancouver. (+50)
- Colorado Avalanche: The last powerhouse team (before Vancouver) looks like they have the early lead on being the next powerhouse team. An interesting mix up front–led by impact rookie Gabriel Landeskog–and a better-than-you-think blue give this team a head start on the out of balance kids in other NW cities. The Avs have a very nice group of youngsters here, and as the Oilers improve the two teams will have some awesome battles. Expect Colorado to be the better team for the foreseeable future.. (+4)
- Edmonton Oilers: The impact kids up front should run right over opponents often enough for Edmonton to push into the spring in search of a playoff spot. I don’t think they’ll make it, but would change my mind with the addition of a top 4D and a better backup goalie option. This should be the season Taylor Hall establishes himself as an impact player, with the Nuge, Eberle, Yakupov and Paajarvi posting solid numbers. Ales Hemsky should also have a strong year. (-3)
- Minnesota Wild: This team has some gems up front, some absolute studs. Their blueline is suspect after the top pairing and there isn’t a lot of cap room to address it. They’ll be better, but you can say that about three or four teams in the division. Parise and Suter might be good enough for the Wild to stay ahead of Edmonton and pass Colorado, but there are too many holes to make it certain. (-12)
- Calgary Flames: The thing Jay Feaster refused to do will be done for him, as the clock strikes midnight. A fast start by one of the three young clubs might mean Calgary begins offloading early and often during the season. It isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that we see ‘play the pawn to set Sean’ activity in the Flames front office. Veterans Iginla and Kiprusoff–the keys to a strong team for so long–may end up in new cities by spring. I suspect Flames fans will sigh with relief, as the impending doom has gone on so long. Time to put this once valiant team out of its misery and build for a new day. (-25)