NHL Western Conference capsules

The Canadian Press
By: The Canadian Press
Oct 3, 2006
The Hockey News

NHL Western Conference capsules

The Canadian Press
By: The Canadian Press
Oct 3, 2006

1. Calgary

GM: Darryl Sutter.

Head coach: Jim Playfair.

Out: LW Chris Simon, RW Shean Donovan, C Mike Leclerc, D Jordan Leopold, D Bryan Marchment, D Cale Hulse, G Brian Boucher.

In: LW Alex Tanguay, LW Jeff Friesen, LW Eric Nystrom, D Andrei Zyuzin, D Mark Giordano, G Jamie McLennan.

Injuries: D Rhett Warrener (knee) might miss season opener.

Good: Miikka Kiprusoff is a perennial Vezina Trophy candidate, defence corps is among best in league and some of the plodders up front have been removed.

Not so good: Tanguay helps the offence but scoring depth still a bit shallow.

Conclusion: Flames should repeat as Northwest champs and, if the goals come, they could take the conference title.

2. Anaheim

GM: Brian Burke.

Head coach: Randy Carlyle.

Out: RW Joffrey Lupul, LW Jeff Friesen, RW Jonathan Hedstrom, D Ruslan Salei, D Jason Marshall.

In: D Chris Pronger, LW Stanislav Chistov, RW Bjorn Melin, C Travis Green, F Ryan Shannon, D Sean O'Brien.

Good: Scott Niedermayer and Pronger form one of the best 1-2 blue-line punches in NHL history, top young stars such as C Ryan Getzlaf and RW Corey Perry provide zip up front, and the J.S. Giguere-Ilya Bryzgalov goaltending is solid.

Not so good: Not enough goals from players not named Teemu Selanne and Andy McDonald. Little else to gripe about.

Conclusion: The Ducks came on like gangbusters to surge into the playoffs and with off-season improvements they look more and more like a team on the rise.

3. Nashville

GM: David Poile.

Head coach: Barry Trotz.

Out: C Greg Johnson, RW Scott Walker, RW Adam Hall, C Yanic Perreault, C Mike Sillinger, D Brendan Witt, D Mark Eaton.

In: C Jason Arnott, C Josef Vasicek, RW J.P. Dumont, D Greg Zanon, D Mikko Lehtonen, D Alex Henry.

Injury: Henry (cracked foot bone) out two more weeks.

Good: One of the league's best goalies in Tomas Vokoun, a dangerous offence that has been improved, and a mobile corps of defencemen that fits right into the style of play the NHL is promoting.

Not so good: Inexperience on defence could be Achilles heel.

Conclusion: The Preds will not only close ground on the Red Wings in the Central, they'll pass them.

4. San Jose

GM: Doug Wilson.

Head coach: Ron Wilson.

Out: C Alyn McCauley, LW Nils Ekman, LW Scott Thornton, C Grant Stevenson, D Tom Preissing, D Patrick Traverse, D Jim Fahey.

In: C Curtis Brown, LW Mark Bell, LW Patrick Rissmiller, RW Mike Grier, D Matt Carle, D Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

Injury: LW Ryane Clowe (right foot) day-to-day.

Good: Joe Thornton, 56-goal scorer Jonathan Cheechoo and Bell one of best top lines in league; excellent goaltending duo of Vesa Toskala and Evgeni Nabokov.

Not so good: Offensive depth and penalty killing are suspect.

Conclusion: If everything clicks, Sharks could move up into top four in conference.

5. Detroit

GM: Ken Holland.

Head coach: Mike Babcock.

Out: C Steve Yzerman, C Mark Mowers, LW Brendan Shanahan, G Manny Legace, D Cory Cross, D Jason Woolley, D Jiri Fischer.

In: C Greg Johnson, C Brad Norton, LW Jiri Hudler, G Dominik Hasek, D Danny Markov, F Tomas Kopecky.

Injuries: Johnson (heart abnormality) out indefinitely.

Good: Seven returnees scored 20 or more, and few teams have such offensive depth; D Nick Lidstrom still one of the best players in the league.

Not so good: No team can easily replace players of the stature of Yzerman and Shanahan, and going with injury-plagued Hasek iffy proposition.

Conclusion: The Red Wings defied critics by finishing first overall last year when many predicted they'd slip. They won't do it two years in a row.

6. Dallas

GM: Doug Armstrong.

Head coach: Dave Tippett.

Out: C Jason Arnott, RW Bill Guerin, C Niko Kapanen, LW Jaroslav Svoboda, D Willie Mitchell, D Janne Niinimaa, G Johan Hedberg.

In: C Jeff Halpern, C Eric Lindros, C Patrik Stefan, C Mike Ribeiro, D Daryl Sydor, D Jaroslav Modry, RW Matthew Barnaby, LW Loui Eriksson, G Mike Smith.

Injury: Stefan (hip) questionable for opener.

Good: Fast transition capability with mobile defence well-suited to new NHL; stingy goaltender in Marty Turco; toughness factor upgraded.

Not so good: Loss of Arnott and reconstruction down the middle with addition of Lindros spells uncertainty; power play often shoots blanks.

Conclusion: Another first-place finish in Pacific Division might be out of reach given rise of Ducks and Sharks.

7. Minnesota

GM: Doug Risebrough.

Head coach: Jacques Lemaire.

Out: C Randy Robitaille, RW Alexandre Daigle, RW Kyle Wanvig, C Marc Chouinard, D Alex Henry, D Filip Kuba, D Dick Tjarnqvist, D Andrew Zyuzin.

In: C Pavol Demitra, RW Mark Parrish, RW Branko Radivojevic, D Keith Carney, D Kim Johnsson, D Petteri Nummelin, G Niklaus Backstrom.

Good: Bringing in accomplished veterans and adding quick defencemen upgrades the Wild's prospects considerably; Manny Fernandez solid in the nets.

Not so good: Lack of scoring depth and mediocre power play.

Conclusion: Too good a lineup for third straight playoff miss.

8. Edmonton

GM: Kevin Lowe.

Head coach: Craig MacTavish.

Out: C Mike Peca, C Rem Murray, RW Radek Dvorak, RW Georges Laraque, LW Sergei Samsonov, LW Todd Harvey, D Chris Pronger, D Jaroslav Spacek, D Dick Tarnstrom, G Ty Conklin.

In: C Marty Reasoner, RW Joffrey Lupul, RW Petr Sykora, RW Patrick Thoresen, LW J.F. Jacques, D Dick Tjarnqvist, D Ladislav Smid, D Jan Hejda.

Good: Despite all the changes, the Oilers remain strong up front with fast, dynamic forwards and reliable vet Ryan Smyth, and adding Lupul makes this one of the deepest offences in the conference; Dwayne Roloson's goaltending is a plus.

Not so good: Pronger can't be replaced; overall, defence corps looks weaker than last season.

9. Colorado

GM: Francois Giguere.

Head coach: Joel Quenneville.

Out: LW Alex Tanguay, RW Dan Hinote, LW Steve Konowalchuk, D Rob Blake, D Bob Boughner.

In: C Tyler Arnason, RW Mark Rycroft, LW Wojtek Wolski, D Jordan Leopold, D Ken Klee, C Paul Stastny.

Injuries: Leopold (hernia) projected to miss first four or five games; LW Brad May (shoulder surgery Sept. 28) out 4-6 months; C Pierre Turgeon (rotator cuff surgery) is day-to-day.

Good: Host of savvy veterans and outstanding special teams, and one of top rookies in Wolski.

Not so good: Suspect down the middle beyond Joe Sakic; loss of Blake depletes defence.

Conclusion: Jose Theodore would have to return to Hart Trophy form to keep Avs from slipping.

10. Columbus

GM: Doug MacLean.

Head coach: Gerard Gallant.

Out: C Jiri Hrdina, RW Trevor Letowski, D Radoslav Suchy, G Marc Denis.

In: C Gilbert Brule, C Alexandre Svitov, RW Anson Carter, LW Freddie Modin, LW Alexander Picard, C Geoff Platt, G Fredrik Norrena.

Injuries: C Sergei Fedorov (shoulder surgery) will miss at least first month of regular season; Svitov (dislocated shoulder) out at least a week; D Bryan Berard (back) indefinite.

Suspended: D Rostislav Klesla to miss first two games.

Good: Rick Nash has shot at Richard Trophy and injection of youth in Brule and Svitov adds fresh legs.

Not so good: Unimpressive defence corps will play in front of inexperienced goalie Pascal Leclaire.

Conclusion: Jackets were 21 points out of the playoffs last spring and that's too big a gap to make up .

11. Phoenix

GM: Mike Barnett.

Head coach: Wayne Gretzky.

Out: RW Mike Johnson, RW Boyd Devereaux, LW Oleg Kvasha, LW Geoff Sanderson, LW Tyson Nash, D Paul Mara, D Jamie Rivers.

In: C Jeremy Roenick, RW Owen Nolan, RW Georges Laraque, LW Mike Zigomanis, D Ed Jovanovski, D Nick Boynton, D Keith Yandle, G Mike Morrison.

Injuries: RW Fredrik Sjostrom (separated shoulder) to miss first two weeks.

Good: Jovanovski strengthens back end considerably and will boost power play.

Not so good: Too many injury-prone players and big-name additions up front on last legs.

Conclusion: Nothing to suggest the move up to playoff territory will materialize.

12. Vancouver

GM: Dave Nonis.

Head coach: Alain Vigneault.

Out: RW Todd Bertuzzi, RW Anson Carter, RW Richard Park, D Ed Jovanovski, D Keith Carney, D Nolan Baumgartner, D Bryan Allen, G Dan Cloutier, G Alex Auld.

In: C Marc Chouinard, RW Jazef Balez, RW Jan Bulis, LW Taylor Pyatt, D Willie Mitchell, D Luc Bourdon, D Lukas Krajicek, D Rory Fitzpatrick, G Roberto Luongo, G Wade Flaherty.

Injury: Chouinard (sprained right shoulder) to miss first 7-10 days.

Good: Luongo is a wizard; extraction of the Bertuzzi distraction.

Not so good: Losing Jovanovski stings; penalty killing iffy.

Conclusion: More subtractions than additions leaves Canucks out in the cold.

13. Los Angeles

GM: Dean Lombardi.

Head coach: Marc Crawford.

Out: C Pavol Demitra, C Eric Belanger, RW Mark Parrish, LW Luc Robitaille, LW Jeremy Roenick, D Joe Corvo, D Nathan Dempsey, D Tim Gleason.

In: D Rob Blake, C Patrick O'Sullivan, LW Alyn McCauley, LW Scott Thornton, RW Brian Willsie, C Anze Kopitar, D Oleg Tverdovsky, D Kevin Dallman, F Raitis Ivanans, G Dan Cloutier.

Injury: McCauley (knee) day-to-day.

Good: Addition of Blake provides hope for much-needed improvement in special teams play; impressive blue-line corps.

Not so good: Little star power up front leaves lack of scoring punch; question marks in goal.

Conclusion: Crawford would have to perform a miracle to get his new team into the playoffs.

14. St. Louis

GM: Larry Pleau.

Head coach: Mike Kitchen.

Out: C Dean McAmmond, LW Mark Rycroft, RW Scott Young, RW Jeff Hogan, D Steve Poapst, D Kevin Dallman, G Patrick Lalime, G Reinhard Divis.

In: C Doug Weight, RW Bill Guerin, RW Dan Hinote, RW Radek Dvorak, LW Martin Rucinsky, C D.J. King, D Jay McKee, D Jamie Rivers, D Roman Polak, G Manny Legace.

Injuries: RW Vladimir Orszagh (left knee surgery) out first half of season; McKee (sprained right knee) to miss at least first two weeks; D Christian Backman (shoulder) day-to-day.

Good: John Davidson's installation as team president hopeful sign for future; a healthy Eric Brewer and addition of McKee improves defence.

Not so good: Over-the-hill gang up front not in tune with way NHL is going.

Conclusion: Winning the draft lottery next year would be the Blues' biggest accomplishment.

15. Chicago

GM: Dale Tallon.

Head coach: Trent Yawney.

Out: C Mark Bell, C Curtis Brown, LW Kyle Calder, LW Mark Cullen, RW Eric Daze, LW Matthew Barnaby, RW Brandon Bochenski, G Craig Anderson.

In: C Michal Handzus, C Denis Arkhipov, C Bryan Smolinski, LW Martin Havlat, LW Matt Keith, LW Tony Salmelainen, D Lasse Kukkonen, D Jeff Hamilton, G Brian Boucher.

Injuries: F Tuomo Ruutu (sprained left ankle) out at least three weeks; D Cam Barker (broken ankle) out at least a month; G Patrick Lalime (back surgery) out 2-3 months.

Good: Young defencemen Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith can only get better; Havlat arrives as much-needed sniper.

Not so good: Offensive depth dooms 'Hawks to non-playoff status; worst power play in league last season.

Conclusion: Another long winter for hockey fans in the Windy City.

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NHL Western Conference capsules