8.28.2007

Atlanta's Yearbook/Outlook/Better or Worse?

Atlanta's roster is relatively the same as it was last year at this time. A great trio of wingers (Kovalchuk, Kozlov, Hossa) followed by some, not horrible, but just average guys (Perrin, Dupuis, Larsen). The centers each have their good side, however none happen to specialize in offense (Newcomer Todd White comes the closest). The defense looks sharp in names (Zhitnik, Havelid, Exelby, Klee, McCarthy), but is inexperienced in the playoffs (minus Havelid, and Zhitnik). The goaltending remains exactly the same, other than having Kari Lehtonen aware of the pressure in the playoffs. But, even with these slight changes, could Atlanta be better than last year?



According to my sources...........The Thrashers may look the same on the outside, but with nearly every man on the roster having knowledge of playoff pressure, they can do much better. Hossa can repeat 100 points if he has Kozlov on his line again, and the upgrade from Eric Belanger to Todd White should be noticed. The somewhat young defense should benefit from a full season from Alexei Zhitnik and Ken Klee is also a good leader. Last year it was all about gaining experience, and this year, they have it.



But from what I see..................The Thrashers will have a season very similar to the one they had last year. The wins could go up if some of the centers (Holik, Slater) use their offensive abilities to their best, and if Brett Sterling can bring his scoring game to the next level, the three will become four. The defense will be better having Zhitnik for a whole year, and if Klee has another surprisingly good season, all the better. Lehtonen is still going (and growing) up, but if he ever falters, Hedberg is still reliable. However, with all the changes that everyone else in the Eastern Conference received, a first round exit is the best to hope for.


In the near future...............The Thrashers savior (if they end up needing one) will come in the form of Bryan Little. Although his name matches his stature, it nowhere near describes his skill. The 5' 10" center is IMHO largely overlooked when people rank prospects. He scored 107 points in the OHL last year, and although he could use some AHL time, I think he could be amazing by next season (08-09). Brett Stirling is also a rookie, though more ready due to his 55-goal rookie AHL season.

All in all, the Thrashers will get to the first round, get out (though likely in 5-7 games instead of four) and become even better in the next offseason. They are definitely on the upswing, and could be serious contenders soon.

8.24.2007

My "Yearbook/Better or Worse?/Outlook/" (for Anaheim)

Everyone does it. Hockey fans just have a sense of needing to rank all 30 teams once they know who will be where. I've got my own, and now I'll start with Anaheim.

The Anaheim Ducks

So, the Ducks finally have a Cup. Now, if NHL teams just randomly died down on their own choice, this would be their time to go, on a high note. But...

According to my sources.......The Ducks are in for a repeat. Sure, it hasn't been done in a decade, but then again, look at the roster. Despite off-season losses, they still have two dynamic duos on offense (Andy McDonald and Chris Kunitz, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry), the tremendous trio of 'D' (Niedermayer, Pronger, Beauchemin) gets a fourth big name (or a replacement for Niedermayer should he retire) in Matt Schneider, and J.S. Giguere is sticking for another four years. All this, plus the return of THE checking line (Moen, Pahlsson, Rob Niedermayer) and the additions of Todd Bertuzzi and Shane Hnidy makes this Ducks team a repeat for sure. But...

I see it this way..........There's no doubt that the Ducks are going to be atop the league. But with Teemu Selanne being replaced by Todd Bertuzzi, and no sure left winger for Getzlaf and Perry, offense could get shaky, although, if Travis Moen builds on his 12-point playoff performance, which included several goals in the Final, he has the potential to fit on line 2. However, if Moen does end up in Penner's role, it would compromise the chemistry of the checking line. Brad May, who would be first in line for the empty space, plays a whole different game from Moen. Defense is perhaps in the best shape. Even if Scott Niedermayer leaves the team, Schneider can fill his spot, and Shane Hnidy wouldn't stay in the AHL long anyways. Goaltending is also tight, with prospect Jonas Hiller ready should Ilya Bryzgalov be part of a trade.


What is to come...Every team has its potential Sidney Crosby or Erik Johnson in the wings and the Anaheim Ducks are no different. Bobby Ryan, drafted right behind Sid the Kid, has all the symptoms of a super-power forward. Perhaps another year in the AHL would do him well, but he could definitely slip in on the fourth line, or possibly even replace Penner on the youthful second line. Mark Mitera is the most promising blueline prospect, but he is two or three years away.


All in all, the Ducks will once again be a dominant team. A Stanley Cup repeat isn't guaranteed, but definitely within reach.

8.21.2007

Foppa and Peca (hey, they rhyme!)

I am kriffing tired of all the speculation.



"It's most likely that Peter Forsberg, the symbol of Swedish hockey, will return to his homeland and bring back all the glory that MoDo hockey has lost."



"A news report today strongly indicated that Michael Peca will sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets. This will almost certainly boost Columbus beyond the first round of the playoffs. Long live the Blue Jackets!"



"Foppa should join the Senators because they almost won the Stanley Cup again."

"Mike Peca ain't never not comin back to the NHL cuz he don't wanna play."

I mean really. I am exaggerating on some of those, but I'm sure someone somewhere actually believes one of those 'comments' strongly.
How about we just let these guys sign with a team. Then you can go rant about how Peca was stupid to choose to end his career with the Phoenix Coyotes, or wonder why Forsberg chose to sign a $600,000 contract to play with the L.A. Kings even though Colorado was offering him $6,000,000 plus incentives. Let the poor guys choose on their own, instead of letting them see strange articles about how they reportedly signed with the Atlanta Thrashers when they really were just deciding to join the Dallas Stars.


Sorry again, short writing. But hey, that's summer + hockey news.

8.19.2007

Summer....

First of all, sorry for the horribly long absence. I just got bored. Now look at this.

A normal person's view of summer- Relax, hang out with family/friends, take a vacation (if you are in school, the whole thing is a vacation), basically a two-and-a-half month long special event.

A crazy hockey fan's view (like mine)- YAWN.........Not much to do....check out whether Chris Chelios gives his age consideration........Sure, free agents are good, but I can still guess the majority of playoff teams again.........

I mean come on, people! Don't you see what the sports world does to us? We have to sit through two-and-a-half months (minus from about July 1st to July 10th) waiting to see if someone famous retires, if someone unretires, anything cool, and we get very little.
To the NHL: Create something interesting during the summer. I know the players like a little relaxing time, so don't make like extra games. I know what foul stuff would be spewing from fans' mouth's like mine if you made, say, a post-post-season-pre-season. Instead, make like a special AOL/MSN/Yahoo/blog/e-mail address that gets made/answered/used by every NHL player that wants to, do it like one player a day, and let any fan from anywhere use it. I think that would be good.

Ok sorry for my lack of writing again, but I will continue to write from now as long as I can.
FFTI man out.