The Goldmine: 2014 NHL Season Preview


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By Samuel Goldman
Sports Blogger

Pacific Division Preview

Los Angeles Kings

The defending Stanley Cup champions rely on a destructive disruptive defense. Jonathon Quick is arguably the best goalie in the league. Dustin Brown creates matchup problems. Addressing defense in the draft was a smart strategy. The Pacific Division is extremely competitive. Consistency will help LA avoid a championship hangover.

San Jose Sharks

San Jose continues to remain relevant. Joe Thorton is still dangerous. Last season’s playoff collapse was discouraging. An outdoor matchup against the Kings will increase local exposure. CHL Player of the Year Nikolay Goldobin adds longevity to the experienced organization.

Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks acquired key offseason acquisitions. Last year’s 54 win season was impressive. Tenth overall pick Nicolas Ritchie possesses a combination of athleticism and strength. Anaheim is the division’s dark horse. Young goalie John Gibson has a bright future. Former Canuck Ryan Kessler will give the offense a boost.

Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers continue to benefit from struggling. Their lines are overflowing with top young talent. Chemistry can be an issue. The legendary franchise will benefit from their new arena. Their front office strategically drafted more developing talent. Edmonton no longer has an excuse – this is the year they have to reach the next level.

Vancouver Canucks

Parting ways with Luongo created needed closure. Vancouver still processes playmakers. The Canucks must avoid continuing to tread water. Hiring a new staff is a positive step forward. New GM Jim Bennings has the tedious task of filling the rosters holes. The 2014-2015 season will determine if the current roster remains intact.

Calgary Flames

Sean Monhana represents the future. The fans must patiently endure the teams rebuilding process. New GM Brad Treliving continues to improve the team throughout the offseason. Fourth overall pick Sam Bennet could make an immediate impact on the team this year. Jiri Hudler’s consistency is beneficial. The Flames are a year away from becoming a playoff contender.

Arizona Coyotes

The new ownership’s decision to keep the team in Arizona is bad for hockey. Seventh overall pick Edgars Kulda is a steal. A name change gives the team a fresh start. The decision to keep the coaching staff intact is risky. The Coyotes are a few star players away from relevance.

First place is up for grabs in this extremely competitive division.

 

Metropolitan Division

Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins have one of the best lineups in the league. Their inability to build a consistent winner is scrutinized. Early playoff exits continue to plague the team. The team’s strategy is adding experienced role players. The Penguins are Chicago’s biggest threat if Sydney Crosby can stay healthy. 

Philadelphia Flyers

The team’s old school defensive tactics cause disruptions. Their interstate rivalry continues to cause excitement. Philadelphia sports are beginning to improve. Timonen’s health could affect the team’s future success. 17th over all pick Travis Sanheim is a speedy aggressive player that fits the teams new mold. The Flyers are the division’s dark horse.

New York Rangers

The Rangers failed to capitalize on a major opportunity. Backup goalie Cam Talbot represents the future of the historic franchise. Ending the New York title drought will be a legendary accomplishment. Briefly claiming the Knicks spot as the most popular winter sports team was beneficial. The current offseason features more opportunities to improve the team. Is New York prepared to embark on another title run?

Washington Capitals

Alexander Ovechkin is a forgotten superstar. The Captials front office has struggled to surround him with key players. Drafting strategically and or trading the star player typically solves this problem. Washington’s offseason moves are a positive change. The nontraditional hockey city continues to patiently watch their team tread water.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Ohio is obsessed with sports. The Buckeyes remain the most popular ticket in town. Increased successes has helped their fan base grow. A 6-5, 202 pound defensemen was selected with the team’s 47th overall pick. He is originally from Bloomington Minnesota. Local recruiting has enabled the Buckeyes to thrive. Utilizing this tactic will help the Blue Jackets take the next major step forward.

New York Islanders

The planned Brooklyn relocation is bittersweet. Potential financial offers could change the team’s future direction. A sub average roster will represent the team on the ice this season. The loyal fan base continues to embrace the team’s rich history. Teams rally around inspiration. Do the Islanders have one final title run in them?

Carolina Hurricanes 

Ranking 23rd in the ESPN attendance list indicates poor performance or a fair-weathered market. NHL teams that are relocated into tropical cities fall into a new category. Carolina possesses talent. Jordan Stall is ready to have a breakout season. In 2006, they won a championship. Relocation has ruined professional sports. The Hurricanes, I mean, the Whalers, are victims of the tactic.

Central Division

Chicago Blackhawks

The potent duo of Patrick Kane and Jonathon Towes will remain intact. A deep bench gives the team an edge. Defense wins champions. Strategic drafting replenished the farm system. The Hawks are in position to add another championship ring to the collection.

 St. Louis Blues

The Blues have enjoyed recent success. Alex Pietrangelo helps anchor their aggressive defense. Undersized 21st first overall pick Robby Fabbri is a balanced offensive threat. St Louis features multiple key role players. Adding depth during the offseason is a smart strategy. The Blues need to prove they’re capable of reaching the Stanley Cup finals.

Minnesota Wild

Veterans Zach Parise and Ryan Suter continue to play consistently. Determination and patience have created progress. The Wild’s defensive keeps them alive in close games. Niklas Backstrom is underrated. Minnesota will embark on a deep playoff run this season.

Colorado Avalanche

Nathan Mackinnon’s immediate impact justified his selection. Key cornerstone pieces remain. Retaining Paul Stastny was a top priority. Proving last year wasn’t a fluke is an achievable goal. A balanced draft increases the team’s future depth. The Avalanche are a few years away from ending their title drought.

Winnipeg Jets

The last three years haven’t been kind to the Jets faithful. Building around the few cornerstone pieces they have appears to be a tedious task. Adding new non-impactful players won’t drastically change anything. The “Dallas Cowboys on Ice” are in for another rough stretch. Drafting smaller players is an interesting strategy. Hockey revolves around superstition. Reverting back to their original sweaters / logos will rekindle their previous success.

The Dallas Stars

Dallas is the only NHL team in a nontraditional market that has achieved longevity. Last year’s record was disappointing. Left Wing Jamie Bean has enjoyed Olympic success. Jim Nill’s aggressive offseason approach, produced a win now mentality. Track and field star Alexander Peters was an interesting third round pick. The Stars need to create a blueprint if they want to succeed.

Nashville Predators

The nontraditional hockey market has witnessed local playoff games. Aging stars have guided Nashville. Emerging superstar Seth Jones is capable of creating a Peyton Manning effect. Relocating Nashville to Quebec or Seattle will help the NHL grow.

 

Award Predictions

Hart Trophy: Patrick Kane 

Vezina Trophy: Jonathan Quick. 

Norris Trophy: Ryan Suter 

Calder Trophy: Aaron Ekblad 

Selke Trophy: Jonathan Towes  

Jack Adams Award: Ted Nolan