Monday, September 7, 2009

NHL Summer Update: Western Conference Review

[Today Darren Coslov breaks down the favorites in the Western Conference and what we can expect from the San Jose Sharks, Chicago Blackhawks, and Vancouver Canucks.]

Top Guns or Question Marks? Sharks and Hawks Have Lots to Prove

As we move along in September, training camp is a week away. Is it my imagination or are the San Jose Sharks no better then they were at this time last year? After a devastating elimination in the 2009 post season, GM Doug Wilson let his intention be known to clean house and shake it up in San Jose, California. A shakeup to me is moving popular assets for future pieces to the puzzle and new blood. It is my understanding however, that maybe healthy scratches, 4th line players, and spare parts to the blue line will do the trick and have the Sharks right back in the swing of things. Well, that’s what Doug Wilson has done, by parting ways with forward Michael Grier, Marcel Goc, Tomas Plihal and defensemen Christian Erhoff and Brad Lukowich, but maybe he isn’t done yet?

Adding NHL veteran forward Dan Hinote to the camp roster on a tryout, and signing 4th line material in forwards Jed Ortmeyer and Scott Nichol to contracts, maybe this is the start of what’s yet to come, maybe not. Sharks fans, I am afraid to admit, it’s going to be the same story over and over again. Unless Doug Wilson lowers his demands for aging assets, and once and for all turns the page on a team that dominates in the regular season and disappears off the face of the earth when it comes time to battle for Lord Stanley. Whether it’s Dany Heatley, or Phil Kessel, or the other guy, it’s time for Doug Wilson to make an impact trade and allow this team to take the next step. That’s how you shake it up.

The Chicago Blackhawks are on the verge of becoming one of the most dominant forces in the NHL. Their talent level speaks for itself and their depth chart will serve them well for the next several seasons. Dale Tallon had a plan and went with it. So far so good, unfortunately not for GM Tallon himself though. Dale Tallon was relieved of his duties as GM of the Blackhawks for reasons that are still essentially unknown, some of which we may never know. Stan Bowman is the new man in charge and has inherited a roster absolutely loaded with talent.

Where are the Hawks headed though? Are they taking the Pittsburgh Penguins approach and putting ideal veteran talent around a core group of young All Stars? It’s yet to be seen how Stan Bowman plans to proceed, but what it comes down to is this...the Chicago Blackhawks must continue to build around the core group in place. Not necessarily with 12 year contracts a la Marian Hossa, but with tier 2 talent on one or two year contracts, giving them flexibility each year on the cap. Martin Havlat is out; Hossa and Former Red Wings teammate Tomas Kopecky are in. It’s only a matter of time until we see what Stan Bowman has in store, until then; there is a big question mark on the board.

Canucks: Is This the Year?

The Vancouver That is all I have to say. From the extension of Roberto Luongo, to the renewal of the Twins, to beefing up their blueline, GM Mike Gillis has done a tremendous job, and has put this hockey club in great position for the 2009-10 season. Mats Sundin is a long shot to return to Vancouver, but truth of the matter is, it’s probably the best thing for the Canucks. A slower, older vet doesn’t bode well for the fast paced, hard-nosed offense that now exists in Western Canada. The Vancouver Canucks will without question compete for a top spot in the Western Conference this year. If you're a Canucks fan, the best part about it is you don’t have to worry about moving into this season with the uncertainty of the Sedin Twins and Roberto Luongo contract status'. You can watch them now, and for years to come. Nice luxury to have if you ask me.

- Darren Coslov

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Mobile-phone-blog said...

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