Sunday, September 18, 2005

2005/06 Predictions: Pacific Division

On Thursday I posted my predictions for the Northwest Division. Today, I will try my luck with the Pacific Division. Again, my predictions are likely to be incorrect, but that is the nature of predictions. Nevertheless, they are fun and I cannot resist trying.

1. San Jose Sharks- This team emerged in 2003/04. They have a good young core of Patrick Marleau, Brad Stuart, Scott Hannan, Evgeni Nabokov and others who are coming into their prime years. This team could be one of the teams to beat in the season.

2. Anaheim Mighty Ducks- In general, I do not think that buying a bunch of 31 plus year old free agents, which to some degree this team did. They brought in Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne. They have a very good young goalie in JS Giguere who was good enough for a run to the cup finals in 2003 and a very good unsung defence with Keith Carney, Vitaly Vishnevsky, Ruslan Salei and Sandis Ozolinsh. I think this team was due to take a step forward even before signing free agents.

3. Dallas Stars- This is the aging remnants of a Stanley Cup champion. Mike Modano, Bill Guerin and Sergei Zubov were very good players who are in the decline phases of their careers. They still have some good younger talent in guys like Marty Turco, Brendan Morrow and Jere Lehtinen. They are good enough to be competitive, but I do not think they can win the division.

4. Phoenix Coyotes- This team has a good core of young players who could take a step forward in Shane Doan, Ladislav Nagy, Derek Morris, Paul Mara and Mike Comrie. They have some respected veterans in Brett Hull and Curtis Joseph. However, I am not sold on this team. They have an unproven coach in Wayne Gretzky (a man who has never coached at any level and yet has an NHL head coaching job). I don't think that will set up the conditions for a young team to make a big step forward.

5. Los Angeles Kings- This team lacks any proven goaltending (Garon is the worst potential starting goalie in the division) or standout defenceman. They have a few decent forwards in Pavol Demitra and Alexander Frolov, but I don't think its enough to succeed.

I'd say the Kings very much have a standout defencemen in Mattias Norstorm.
Norstrom is a good defenceman, but not exactly a standout. How many games does he dominate? Does he have any legit shot at the Norris Trophy?

I admit his name popped into my head when I wrote that LA lacks any standout defencemen, but I don't think he is good enough to be listed in that group.
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