The 2021-22 NHL Western Convention preview

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In our newest NHL preview for the 2021-22 NHL season, we check out the Western Convention and why you need to imagine in each workforce, not imagine in each workforce, and what their real looking probabilities for reaching the Stanley Cup Playoffs are for this season. 

 

Anaheim Ducks: Pick a direction

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Motive to imagine within the Geese: John Gibson might be top-of-the-line goalies within the league when he’s at his finest, however he may actually use some assist in entrance of him. The Geese even have two actually excellent younger gamers in Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale to start out constructing round.

Motive to not imagine within the Geese: The roster as a complete is simply not excellent. Even worse, they don’t appear prepared to choose a path by which to go. They aren’t near being a contender however additionally they refuse to go all-in on a full-scale rebuild. That simply leaves them caught in impartial.

Playoff workforce: No. Not even in a weak Pacific Division. 

 

Arizona Coyotes: The rebuild is on

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports activities

Motive to imagine within the Coyotes: They not less than appear to have some form of a long-term plan. The short-term state of affairs is awful, and this isn’t going to be an excellent workforce, however they’re not less than giving themselves loads of future belongings to try to construct with. Will it work? Who is aware of. However not less than you can’t accuse them of not having a path. 

Motive to not imagine within the Coyotes: Effectively, they’re merely gutting the roster. They’ve virtually no long-term commitments, they’re buying and selling each veteran not named Jakob Chychrun, and the roster simply seems to be like one of many league’s worst. That is going to be an extended season.

Playoff workforce: No. However Chychrun would possibly get some Norris Trophy votes. 

 

Calgary Flames: What to do about Johnny?

Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports activities

Motive to imagine within the Flames: They play in a weak division and do have some expertise on the roster. It isn’t a BAD workforce. It’s simply merely not an important workforce, both. They positively have a path to the playoffs with Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm, and Sean Monahan on the roster. Chris Tanev was nice on the blue line final yr, and Jacob Markstrom might be higher. 

Motive to not imagine within the Flames: Whereas the roster just isn’t unhealthy, it’s also probably not on par with the contenders within the NHL. Plus, they’ve the entire Gaudreau contract state of affairs looming over their heads. Buying and selling him might be not an possibility resulting from his no-trade clause and the management he has over the place he goes, however they should determine one thing out right here. He’s too good to lose for nothing. 

Playoff workforce: The general weak point of the Pacific Division completely places them in play. 

 

Chicago Blackhawks: Will all that money spent pay off?

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports activities

Motive to imagine within the Blackhawks: They’re getting Jonathan Toews again, Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat are high scorers, they usually added the reigning Vezina Trophy winner in Marc-Andre Fleury this offseason. These are the positives.

Motive to not imagine within the Blackhawks: They spent a ton of cash this offseason however there are some severe questions with that. Will Fleury, at age 36, have the ability to duplicate his 2020-21 efficiency? It was an outlier from latest years and he’s not enjoying behind an important defensive workforce. They spent a ton of cash on Seth Jones who has not been good for 2 years now. Will he bounce again? They nonetheless have some top-line expertise, however the depth is a severe query mark.

Playoff workforce: Most likely not. Even with the offseason additions this nonetheless seems to be just like the fifth or sixth finest workforce in its personal division on paper. 

 

Colorado Avalanche: Stanley Cup expectations

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports activities

Motive to imagine within the Avalanche: That is nonetheless top-of-the-line rosters within the league on paper with loads of key gamers nonetheless within the prime of their careers. Nathan MacKinnon is a top-five participant (possibly top-two), Mikko Rantanen is dominant, Cale Makar has Norris Trophies in his future, and the protection as a complete is incredible. They’ve every part a Stanley Cup-winning workforce ought to have. Superstars. Depth. Protection. All of it.

Motive to not imagine within the Avalanche: The one query that may be lurking is in objective. Is Darcy Kuemper going to be the man? In addition they should get by means of the Second Spherical ceiling, however proficient groups like this in the end determine it out and get there. 

Playoff workforce: Sure. High Stanley Cup contender. 

 

Dallas Stars: Expected a bounce back season

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports activities

Motive to imagine within the Stars: Accidents to Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov for just about the whole 2020-21 season actually damage this workforce. They misplaced a ton of one-goal video games, many in additional time and shootout, after which missed the playoffs by 4 factors. Seguin and Radulov may have made an enormous distinction there. They’re again this season. Mixed with this protection (Miro Heiskanen, John Klingberg, Ryan Suter) they could possibly be an enormous shock this season.

Motive to not imagine within the Stars: Even with the returns of a wholesome Seguin and Radulov they nonetheless would not have loads of affect gamers at ahead and offense could possibly be a little bit of a priority. 

Playoff workforce: Sure, and really comfortably. 

 

Edmonton Oilers: Stop wasting your MVPs

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports activities

Motive to imagine within the Oilers:  They’ve Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. They’re two of one of the best offensive gamers on this planet. Within the prime of their careers. They’ve mixed to win three of the final 5 MVP awards and can in all probability be top-three scorers this season. They need to be the inspiration of a Stanley Cup-winning (or not less than Stanley Cup contending) workforce. 

Motive to not imagine within the Oilers: The depth is terrible, the protection is worse, they usually playing on a 39-year-old Mike Smith to duplicate his 2020-21 efficiency which was an excessive outlier from the earlier three seasons. They’re losing the prime years of their two superstars. 

Playoff workforce: Even with all of their flaws they need to be as a result of the Pacific Division is awful after the Vegas Golden Knights

 

Los Angeles Kings: Big step forward is possible

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports activities

Motive to imagine within the Kings: They’ve excellent heart depth with Anze Kopitar, Philip Danault, and high prospect Quinton Byfield (when he returns from his ankle harm) down the center. They added Viktor Arvidsson from Nashville who may have a pleasant bounceback yr. In addition they have top-of-the-line farm methods and finest collections of younger expertise within the league. The longer term is shiny right here.

Motive to not imagine within the Kings: The protection just isn’t significantly good they usually would possibly nonetheless be attempting to carry onto Jonathan Quick‘s previous success as an alternative of enjoying the superior goalie proper now, Cal Petersen.

Playoff workforce: That is extra potential than lots of people will anticipate. The middle depth, Petersen enjoying greater than Fast, and the division open the door for them to take a much bigger than anticipated step this season. 

 

Minnesota Wild: Finally some excitement

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports activities

Motive to imagine within the Wild: Kirill Kaprizov virtually single-handedly turned them into one of the crucial thrilling groups within the NHL a yr in the past. He’s a possible famous person and has made the Wild entertaining for the primary time, in, properly, ever? Goaltending is stable. Protection is robust. 

Motive to not imagine within the Wild: Heart depth is a significant concern, however Marco Rossi has star potential. The wage cap state of affairs is about to get very bleak in future seasons after the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyouts and that can considerably restrict their capability so as to add gamers round their core items.

Playoff workforce: Sure. They need to be. Possibly not a Stanley Cup contender, however a playoff workforce. 

 

Nashville Predators: Juuse Saros needs some help

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports activities

Motive to imagine within the Predators:  Filip Forsberg is wholesome they usually have an impressive beginning goalie in Juuse Saros, and that’s one place and participant that may single-handedly change a workforce. Saros did {that a} yr in the past when he salvaged their season and carried them to the playoffs virtually by himself.

Motive to not imagine within the Predators: Saros might be the one cause this workforce made the playoffs a yr in the past, they traded Arvidsson and Ryan Ellis, and are bringing again largely the identical flawed roster round that. Not an important roster on paper. If Saros just isn’t an All-Star all season this season may get ugly for them actually rapidly right here. 

Playoff workforce: It will be actually tough for this workforce to get again there with out some dramatic enhancements from inside. 

 

San Jose Sharks: No bite here

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports activities

Motive to imagine within the Sharks:  Possibly a few of their veterans discover the fountain of youth and have large bounce-back seasons. Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns should be higher, and maybe they are often. In addition they have the luxurious of a weak division to stack factors up in opposition to. 

Motive to not imagine within the Sharks: It’s an getting old workforce with unhealthy contracts, Evander Kane‘s state of affairs retains looming over them, Tomas Hertl is a free agent after this season and could possibly be a commerce chip, and the goaltending continues to be a query. 

Playoff workforce: Most likely not. They’ve been a continuing within the playoffs for the previous twenty years and at all times a powerful Stanley Cup contender, however that run appears to be over for now and a rebuild must be on the horizon. This must be a 3rd straight yr outdoors of the playoffs. 

 

Seattle Kraken: Welcome to the NHL

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports activities

Motive to imagine within the Kraken: Phillip Grubauer and Chris Driedger ought to give them a stable goaltending duo to construct round, and that at all times offers you an opportunity. They might have missed some alternatives within the growth draft, however they do have some good gamers right here and on paper would possibly already be the fourth or fifth-best workforce within the Pacific Division.

Motive to not imagine within the Kraken: They merely lack affect gamers, which is to be anticipated for a first-year growth workforce. 

Playoff workforce: They aren’t going to be Vegas (then once more, no one anticipated Vegas to be Vegas in its first yr) however don’t rule out the potential of them sneaking into that third Pacific Division spot. 

 

St. Louis Blues: Not going away yet

Jeff Le-USA TODAY Sports activities

Motive to imagine within the Blues:  Including Brandon Saad and Pavel Buchnevich offers them a formidable ahead group, particularly with Vladimir Tarasenko nonetheless being within the combine for now and (hopefully) being wholesome. Ryan O’Reilly is without doubt one of the finest all-around, two-way facilities in hockey. 

Motive to not imagine within the Blues: The protection took an enormous step backward a yr in the past they usually haven’t executed something to handle that besides shedding Vince Dunn to Seattle within the growth draft, who was in all probability one in every of their best (and possibly underused) defenders in latest seasons. Jordan Binnington can be a significant query mark as a result of no one actually is aware of which model they’re going to get on a given evening. The great one from the Stanley Cup yr, the common one from the previous two common seasons, or the meltdown from the previous two Stanley Cup Playoff appearances.

Playoff workforce: Nonetheless a playoff workforce, however Binnington’s play and the protection will decide what kind of playoff workforce they’re. A make the playoffs and lose within the First Spherical workforce, or nonetheless a professional Stanley Cup contender. 

 

Vancouver Canucks: Total wild card team

Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports activities

Motive to imagine within the Canucks: They’ve some glorious high-end gamers right here with Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, Quinn Hughes, J.T. Miller, and Conor Garland main the best way. They need to have the ability to construct one thing round that group. The ahead depth is definitely trying higher than it has in recent times with the additions of Garland, Jason Dickinson, and the emergence of in-house prospects Nils Hoglander and Vasili Podkolzin. 

Motive to not imagine within the Canucks:  The protection is a priority, with some actually costly gamers again there which have in all probability already performed their finest hockey. Undecided Oliver Ekman-Larsson goes to provide them what they anticipate, and whereas Hughes is an affect participant offensively he took a step backward defensively in his second season. 

Playoff workforce: They need to be with that high half of the roster and that division. However there are sufficient questions on protection to make that removed from a given. 

 

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Vegas Golden Knights: Stanley Cup expectations once more

Vegas Golden Knights: Stanley Cup expectations again

POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports activities

Motive to imagine within the Golden Knights: They’re merely top-of-the-line groups within the league, and have been from the day they began enjoying within the NHL. Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Theodore are top-line gamers and a professional championship degree core. 

Motive to not imagine within the Golden Knights: Having Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner was an enormous benefit, however now solely Lehner stays and it goes with out saying that it’s a important drop in goalie depth. In addition they lack affect gamers at heart, which has been an issue. Their offense dries up deeper within the playoffs largely as a result of they don’t have a ton of heart depth. Can Nolan Patrick have a breakout season right here? The change of surroundings would possibly assist him.

Playoff workforce: Positively. By far one of the best workforce within the Pacific Division and they need to win it simply by a major factors margin. They’re a professional, top-five Stanley Cup contender. 

 

Winnipeg Jets: Improved defense is key

James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports activities

Motive to imagine within the Jets: They’ve a top-three goalie within the NHL in Conor Hellebuyck and a few actually high-end forwards that may rating. Nikolaj Ehlers and Kyle Connor are incredible, whereas Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, and Pierre-Luc Dubois are proper there with them. Depth is just a little regarding, however they’ve probably the most tough gamers to seek out (the star gamers) already in place. 

Motive to not imagine within the Jets:  Ahead depth past the top-six is a priority, whereas the protection has in all probability been their greatest Achilles heel in recent times. They tried to handle that this offseason with the additions of Nate Schmidt from the Vancouver Canucks and Brenden Dillon from the Washington Capitals. They want Schmidt to bounce again from a down yr to essentially make a distinction. With Schmidt and Dillon becoming a member of Neal Poink and Joshua Morrissey they need to have a stable top-four immediately. The depth is a priority although. 

Playoff workforce: With their high-end forwards and goaltending they need to be there so long as the protection is stable. 


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