NHL 2012-13: What we were expecting in the West | Hockey | CBC Sports

NHLNHL 2012-13: What we were expecting in the West

Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2012 | 01:05 PM

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Had the season started on time, Alex Burrows (14) and the Canucks might have topped the Kings in the Western Conference. (Harry How/Getty Images) Had the season started on time, Alex Burrows (14) and the Canucks might have topped the Kings in the Western Conference. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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The puck was supposed to drop on the 2012-13 NHL season tonight.Here's a quick look at how the Western Conference teams might have stacked up had the season started on time.
The puck was supposed to drop on the 2012-13 NHL season tonight.

Alas, we're left wondering what might have been.

Here's a quick look at how the Western Conference teams might have stacked up had the season started on time:

1. VANCOUVER CANUCKS Their deadline day moves didn't seem to work out (the Zack Kassian experiment continues) and they're taking a chance on replacing the departing Sami Salo (Tampa Bay) with Jason Garrison (career-high 16 goals in 2011-12). However, they have faith in new starter Cory Schneider and their strong offensive core remains.
(Last Season: 51-22-9, 111 pts)
2. LOS ANGELES KINGS Stanley Cup hangover? Maybe it won't be as much of an issue for the Kings after being the first No. 8 seed to win it all. They were lucky to get into the playoffs (15 "loser" points, ie. 10 more than Dallas, who had two more wins) and remembering that may keep them from being too relaxed early on.
(Last Season: 40-27-15, 95 pts)
3. ST. LOUIS BLUES The Blues will follow up their strong regular-season campaign with more of the same: defensive-minded play courtesy Ken Hitchcock, who continues to have the two-goalie system of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott at his disposal.
(Last Season: 49-22-11, 109 pts)
4. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS They were the victims of a hot goalie (Mike Smith, 1.81 GAA, .950 SV%) in the first round last year but the team is still a young, exciting and offensively minded bunch. No real movement of note but the status of Marian Hossa after the hit by Raffi Torres is worrisome. He only started skating at the beginning of October.
(Last Season: 45-26-11, 101 pts)
5. NASHVILLE PREDATORS Their captain is staying put after a tumultuous off-season that almost saw him don the orange and black of the Flyers. Shea Weber staying (14-year, $110M contract) is good news for "Smashville" considering he's the pillar of a team that's strength is its commitment to defence and that's lost Ryan Suter to free agency.
(Last Season: 48-26-8, 104 pts)
6. DALLAS STARS Out with the old and in with the ... older? Mike Ribeiro left the team through free agency but a pair of 40-year-olds (Jaromir Jagr, Ray Whitney) join a squad looking for its first playoff appearance since 2008. The addition of Derek Roy, a relative spring chicken at 29, will add even more offensive depth.
(Last Season: 42-35-5, 89 pts)
7. MINNESOTA WILD The Wild made the biggest splash in free agency, landing top targets Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Expectations have been raised tremendously for a team already boasting Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi. Aside from offence not involved in a shootout (they had a league-high 20 games decided in the skills competition), they also need something that has eluded them: a healthy Niklas Backstrom in net.
(Last Season: 35-36-11, 81 pts)
8. PHOENIX COYOTES The biggest addition to this team, which may have surprised some by reaching the conference final, would be an owner. Greg Jamison's commitment was enough to convince captain Shane Doan to stay, which is important in both practical and symbolic terms.
(Last Season: 42-27-13, 97 pts)
9. DETROIT RED WINGS It's the first season since 1991 without Nicklas Lidstrom minding the team's blue-line and the Red Wings may miss their former captain's steady play. Oft-injured defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo joins the rearguard while an otherwise aging cast of stars may struggle to compete with younger upstarts in their division.
(Last Season: 48-28-6, 102 pts)
10. SAN JOSE SHARKS Is that the sound of a window closing? The Sharks certainly hope not. The perennial playoff disappointments felt in SoCal have only grown more and more soul crushing as key players grow older and older and the "Cup contender" years seem to grow thin.
(Last Season: 43-29-10, 96 pts)
11. EDMONTON OILERS While the Oilers wait for their young core of forwards to grow and mature (and eventually cost a bundle to keep), the real development needed is on defence and in goal. Namely, will Justin Schultz be happy and produce in Edmonton after holding out on the Ducks and is Devan Dubnyk really a No. 1 goalie going forward?
(Last Season: 32-40-10, 74 pts)
12. ANAHEIM DUCKS The "will he stay or will he go" rumours around Bobby Ryan resulted in exactly no movement of the young sniper. That said, not much difference in the Ducks besides head coach Bruce Boudreau, who joined midway through the season.
(Last Season: 34-36-12, 80 pts)
13. COLORADO AVALANCHE Shootout specialist and late bloomer P.A. Parenteau signed a four-year deal with the club, which just named (soon-to-be) sophomore Gabriel Landeskog as captain. Growing pains will continue but they're on the right side of them.
(Last Season: 41-35-6, 88 pts)
14. CALGARY FLAMES One of the oldest teams in the league in 2011-12 certainly didn't get any younger through free agency (veterans Jiri Hudler and Dennis Wideman are the newbies) but will look to Mikael Backlund and Sven Baertschi to step up and play like vets. Also, Miikka Kiprusoff (35) shouldn't be on pace for his usual 70+ game but likely will be.
(Last Season: 37-29-16, 90 pts)
15. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS Positives: A new netminder in Sergei Bobrovsky (to push Steve Mason) joins Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Jack Johnson as the freshest faces on the club. Negatives: Just parted ways (less than amicably) with captain Rick Nash. It will be another rough year as the team sorts out life post-Nash but at least the all-star festivities will be in Columbus if the playoffs decide not to visit.
(Last Season: 29-46-7, 65 pts)

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