In the first installment of what will become a weekly occurrence this season, I have released my first Western Conference Power Rankings. Very similar to what you may read on ESPN, but with the expert opinion of yours truly. This generally wil include teams’ current records, etc, but since the season hasn’t started, that part is a little difficult. Read ’em and weep.
Western Conference Power Rankings (10/1/09)
1. San Jose Sharks
- Dany Heatley is on board, and that just makes the Sharks’ offensive attack even scarier. Why the number one ranking for San Jose? It’s the regular season, people. This isn’t a playoff edition of power rankings.
2. Chicago Blackhawks
- Great team all around, and Joel Quenville is one of the best in the business. The big question is their goaltending situation: do Cris Huet and Corey Crawford have what it takes? The players in front of them certainly do.
3. Vancouver Canucks
- A divisional crown re-peat is in store for the Olympic hosts this year. No team with Roberto Luongo in between the pipes can be counted out. Oh, and that whole Sundin debacle is behind them, too. That’ll help.
4. Calgary Flames
- The best defensive group in the Western Conference, hands down. Arguably the best goaltender in the West as well. The offense? Not so much.
5. Detroit Red Wings
- The Wings will sorely miss Marian Hossa this season, but the losses of key role players like Mikael Samuelsson (VAN), Tomas Kopecky (CHI) , and Jiri Hudler (KHL) will hurt the defending Western Conference Champions more.
6. Anaheim Ducks
- The West’s proverbial “Dark Horse” this season. Great collection of youth and veterans. If the duo of Hiller-Giguere holds up, this team could be going places.
7. St. Louis Blues
- Story-book playoff appearance last year, after battling injuries the better part of the regular season. Andy Murray is a genius behind the bench and gets no credit. Look for Eric Johnson to break out this year, now that he’s healthy.
8. Los Angeles Kings
- Rob Scuderi. Ryan Smith. Two reasons why this team is snapping the playoff drought this year and they’ll have to keep making ice in the Staples Center until May.
9. Columbus Blue Jackets
- Rick Nash has a fat, new contract. Antoine Vermette is back. Steve Mason, can I get an encore?
10. Dallas Stars
- The Stars have some nice pieces, and a strong coach in Marc Crawford. However, this team is still a year or two away from legitimately being a threat in the West.
11. Minnesota Wild
- Never have been a fan of Marty Havlat. Consider me no longer a fan of the Minnesota Wild.
12. Edmonton Oilers
- The history is there. The current stardom is not. Sam Gagner, spotlight’s yours. Nik Khabibulin should provide some stability between the pipes.
13. Nashville Predators
- This team has been in a dreadful down hill spiral ever since rumors surfaced of the club moving to another city. Losing usually doesn’t help a team in turmoil’s cause.
14. Phoenix Coyotes
- S-H-A-M-B-L-E-S…What’s that spell? COYOTES!
15. Colorado Avalanche
- Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The Avs used to be consistently amongst the NHL’s elite. The die-hard fans in Denver deserve a better on-ice product.