30 Thoughts on the Beach Episode V: The West Strikes Back

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30 Thoughts on the Beach Episode V: The West Strikes Back

Post by GigantorTheGoalie » Fri Apr 01, 2016 1:00 am

In the words of Red One who famously died in the trench run in the attack on the first Death Star, we are “Almost there….”. It’s true, we are 5 days away from getting back down in the trenches and fighting for 82 games to get an invitation to the big dance aka the playoffs. Lots of ground to cover from the end of the playoffs to the draft to the start of training camp so let’s get started.

1. First off in case you missed it the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup. It was an impressive Cup run where they never played a team that was a lower seed then the Bruins until the Stanley Cup Final.

2. There they played a team that maybe had an even more impressive run, the Minnesota Wild. The Kings, Coyotes and Blues all fell before the Wild under new GM Luka. I just want to say though that before the playoffs the Wild were my one team I would bet on to be a team causing upsets.

3. After that Cup run, the two Stanley Cup Final teams went in completely different directions. The Bruins are staying the course with minimal moves while the Minnesota Wild are employing a firesale mentality.

4. Koivu, Parise, Suter, Granlund, Coyle, Nino, Brodin, etc. are all gone while their former teammates are sure to be next. Thomas Vanek is on the block and sooner or later someone will bite.

5. Does all these changes mean that the Minnesota Wild are up for a lottery pick this upcoming season? I would say no. The Wild seem to be employing a new model or team structure. Rather than trying to rely on elite talent with an average supporting cast, the Wild are looking towards creating a new with depth from top to bottom. A strategy that was useful for the 2015/16 Florida Panthers.

6. It’s hard to bet against another playoff berth from the Minnesota Wild when they add quality players like Adam Henrique, Tyler Johnson, and others who can move up and down the line up with ease.

7. Speaking of new additions, the WHL has welcomed new GM’s into the fold. The New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames have leadership that is looking to make an impact on the league. The WHL is happy to bring these new GM’s on board and wish them luck as we look forward to 2016/17 season.

8. At the end of the season a lot of things happen. First up is the draft. It was a long process but nearly every team went home happy with its selections. If you had a 1st round pick you were definitely a team that is going to be looking forward to the future of your respective club.

9. There is no way to pick a winner among the 30 Franchises though as there is no way to figure out who the steals of the draft are or who the duds are. Although maybe a winner could be the Boston Bruins who picked 2nd overall (and chose Jacob Chychrun) and won the Stanley Cup.

10. Through free agency, trades, development and regression a big part of the off-season are Power Shifts. A team that went far in playoffs and is full of vets could be facing a rebuild year while a team who missed the playoffs due to its young talent could make playoffs through their young players developing into better players.

11. Let’s start with the West. St. Louis, Los Angeles, Chicago, Nashville, Edmonton, Arizona, Minnesota and Anahiem all made the playoffs in the previous season. I believe it’s fair to say that the top 4 teams are all locks to make playoffs barring an anti-miracle.

12. In order for the bottom 4 to fall out there needs to be a combination of teams below them getting better and their own teams either stagnating or becoming worse. Which leads to the question who are the contenders for a playoff spot that missed last season?

13. Dallas, Colorado, and Calgary are the top tier contenders with Winnipeg and Vancouver as the dark horse teams.

14. Dallas just missed the playoffs last season with a Seguin injury happening in the final stages of the season. They’ll be competitive for sure this season.

15. The Avalanche are going to be a significant contender with all that offense firepower plus Semyon Varlamov. Not to mention a somewhat new defense featuring two new Russians in Nikita Zadorov and Dmitri Kulikov. With a more dedicated GM along with a more improved offense, the Central should be worried. Mikko Rantanen will be a contender for the Calder Trophy.

16. The Calgary Flames didn’t make as many new additions to their team as the Avalanche did but the base is there along with a new goalie in Michael Neuvirth. Let’s not forget Steven Stamkos who can easily become the catalyst a team needs to make playoffs.

17. Now for the darkhorses, the Winnipeg Jets and Vancouver Canucks. Both teams had near bottom finishes which of course is never a good thing if you want to show competitiveness. However the Jets are going to a have a full time GM and the Canucks have added Parise. Both of those are X-Factors.

18. At any rate lots of excitement in the Western Conference. Will the St. Louis Blues be able to dominate the West like they did last season is the biggest question.

19. To recap in the East these are the teams that made playoffs: Montreal, New York R, Florida, Boston, Washington, Columbus, Detroit and Tampa.

20. Looking at those teams, it’s easy to point to Detroit and Tampa as the ones on the bubble. However when you look at the teams that missed and are looking to get back in, there are more than two teams on the bubble in the East.

21. The better question might be who of the 8 teams that didn’t make it into playoffs last season are NOT competing?

22. Two teams, the Devils and the MapleLeafs are the ones that more than likely, won’t be competitive.

23. So that leaves Buffalo, New York Isles, Philadelphia, Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Ottawa.

24. Out of the six teams, it’s Buffalo and Ottawa that have the best chance at making it into the playoffs.

25. Both Ottawa and Buffalo deserve the title of being Playoff Threats because of the additions made to each team.

26. Ottawa has corrected last season’s mistake and is making Cody Ceci a top 4 defender on the roster. Plus added one more threat to the offense in James Van Reimsdyk. Ottawa barely missed playoffs last season (were actually the 16th best team in the WHL) so expect them to get close again at least.

27. Buffalo is ready this year to compete big time. I could list the trades but that would take all day. Just go look at that roster. It’s impressive. Only question is can they find the chemistry needed to win?

28. Ottawa and Buffalo with these moves have caused a bit of an arms race in the Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay went out and added Mikael Granlund, Jonas Brodin, and Joe Colborne. Detroit has been getting nervous and is looking for a 1C to keep that streak going (4 more seasons to tie the record, 5 more to take the record.)

29. And last but not least is the Florida Panthers whose biggest addition was bringing in Team Canada Gold Medalist Ryan Getzlaf.

30. As good as the first season was, I predict this one will be a lot more competitive. The West should be better than last season by a decent margin. The Eastern Conference is looking bulked up even more then last season as well. Good luck to everyone in the upcoming season and see you next time.

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