What We Learned: The Hockey News 2010-11 Yearbook
It's always a pleasure to get The Hockey News Yearbook in my mailbox each August. The 200-plus page annual magazine is jam-packed with news, depth charts, prospect rankings, predictions and analysis.
The issue not only takes a swing at predicting the 2011 Stanley Cup winner (Vancouver, by the way), but has team-by-team breakdowns that cover all the basic information you need to get ready for the upcoming hockey season. Let's take a closer look at all 30 teams and some of the valuable pieces of knowledge you can glean from the profiles from around the league.
THN Prediction: 11th in Western Conference
What We Learned: That the problems are a-plenty. A lot has been made of the Ducks' blue line and how they can recover from losing Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer the past two offseasons. Things do look a little dicey back there, but how about the bottom six forwards? Yes, the re-signing of Teemu Selanne helps, but the seven through 12 forwards could include the likes of Todd Marchant, Troy Bodie, Dan Sexton, Kyle Chipchura and offseason addition Aaron Voros. I guess that's why they're pegged for 11th.
THN Prediction: 11th in Eastern Conference
What We Learned: That according to THN, Patrice Cormier — who would definitely be best known for this dirty elbow if he hadn't been a major piece in the Ilya Kovalchuk-to-New Jersey deal — could be the team's third-line center in 2010-11. There's no denying Cormier's upside as a two-way pivot, but can a player who played just 40 games last season really step in and play 10 to 15 minutes a night in the NHL?
THN Prediction: 3rd in Eastern Conference
What We Learned: That something's gotta give. Everyone is aware of the Bruins' cap woes, but what is also painfully obvious is that the team has too many forwards slotted for two few minutes. The center position is overstocked, and even moving Tyler Seguin to left wing (where THN has him on the third line) means $2.2 million man Blake Wheeler is a potential fourth-liner. The easiest solution to being more than $3 million over the cap might be keeping Seguin in the OHL for another year, but does that give a team the best chance to win when Zdeno Chara is in the final year of his contract?
THN Prediction: 6th in Eastern Conference
What We Learned: That Tyler Ennis weighs 146 pounds. Everyone knew he was small, but really? Even (listed) 5-6 Nathan Gerbe is credited as being 160 pounds. Good luck to Ennis playing top-six minutes and not wearing down over the course of the season.
THN Prediction: 8th in Western Conference
What We Learned: That Niklas Hagman got the same opportunities with Calgary as he had with Toronto after being shipped west (16:04 TOI, 2:13 PP TOI with Flames, 16:08, 2:09 with Leafs), but managed just five goals in 27 games with his new team, compared to 20 goals in 55 games in The Big Smoke.
THN Prediction: 9th in Eastern Conference
What We Learned: That, according to THN, Drayson Bowman is the team's top prospect. While Bowman's natural scoring ability is intriguing, it was surprising to see him ahead of first-round pick Jeff Skinner and defenseman Jamie McBain. Skinner is as profilic a scorer as Bowman was in junior, while McBain transition to the pro game outshined Bowman in the AHL and was verified by his 10 points in 14 games stint with Carolina. Don't count out Bowman, but he has a lot to prove in 2010-11.
THN Prediction: 4th in Western Conference
What We Learned: That despite the cap-related sell-off, the Hawks still retain their top five scorers for 2010-11: Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa. Still, THN picks Detroit to win the Central Division.
THN Prediction: 9th in Western Conference
What We Learned: That Calgary bringing back Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay will propel them past the Avs into the playoffs. You know, even though all those young Colorado players who played so well last year we probably be a year older and year better.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
THN Prediction: 14th in Western Conference
What We Learned: That Steve Mason or Mathieu Garon needs to get hurt that way third-string goalie Gustaf Wesslau can join the fray. The Swedish import sports one of the best names to come down the pike in some time.
THN Prediction: 12th in Western Conference
What We Learned: That GM Joe Nieuwendyk is ready to move forward. By letting Marty Turco and Mike Modano leave via free agency, Nieuwendyk showed he means business in his efforts to rebuild the Stars. But by cutting ties with arguably the two most important players in Dallas history — plus Jere Lehtinen, another mainstay — he needs to have a quick turnaround or risk alienating the fan base.
DETROIT RED WINGS
THN Prediction: 3rd in Western Conference
What We Learned: That Pavel Datsyuk can have 70 points in 80 games — his lowest total as an NHLer and 27 fewer than each of the previous two seasons — and still stay at No. 4 in THN's Top 50 Players rankings. Datsyuk's game is more than scoring, but if Eric Staal drops from eighth to 33rd by dropping off five points in 12 fewer games in 2009-10, than Datsyuk should at least slide a bit, especially with the Red Wings suffering their worst regular season is ages.
THN Prediction: 15th in Western Conference
What We Learned: That some forwards better learn how to kill penalties. Shawn Horcoff is the only player with significant penalty killing ice time last year. Newcomer Colin Fraser might help some, but the Oilers need someone to step up and play hard minutes when they're a man down.
THN Prediction: 15th in Eastern Conference
What We Learned: That it will likely be a loooong year in South Florida. The good news? Tomas Vokoun's contract is up after 2010-11 and he will likely land the Panthers a huge return at the trade deadline.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
THN Prediction: 5th in Western Conference
What We Learned: The Kings went deep into the Kovaluchuk sweepstakes — and could still win it, I suppose — but did nothing else this offseason other than lose wingers Alexander Frolov and Frederik Modin, plus a couple others. There's a lot of youth in the lineup with more on the way, but L.A. needs to prove it can still be a top 10 scoring team to improve further in 2010-11.
THN Prediction: 13th in Western Conference
What We Learned: That some production out of Martin Havlat would do a world of good. The skilled-but-oft-injured winger had just 18 goals in 73 games last season, but if he can become the 25- to 30-goal man he's been in the past, the Wild could surprise people with their ability to put the puck in the net.
THN Prediction: 8th in Eastern Conference
What We Learned: That, in a seemingly annual event, the Habs let a defenseman with power play ability walk away. While Marc-Andre Bergeron is no Mark Streit or Sheldon Souray, he still potted seven man-advantage goals last season and five power play points in the postseason — good for a tie for third on the team. A healthy Andrei Markov and a full year of P.K. Subban will help, but the Canadiens likely won't boast league's No. 2 power play again.
THN Prediction: 10th in Western Conference
What We Learned: That The Hockey News underestimates the Preds. Yes, Dan Hamhuis and Jason Arnott are gone, but Nashville has so many young defensemen that they could afford to let Hamhuis walk, and Arnott is replaced by the speedy Matthew Lombardi. Furthermore, Arnott's departure opens the door for Shea Weber to assume the captaincy and lead the team. That's good news for Nashville.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
THN Prediction: 5th in Eastern Conference
What We Learned: That there are a lot of older guys in important roles for the Devils. Martin Brodeur is 38 and new backup Johan Hedberg is 37. Forwards Jamie Langenbrunner (35), Patrik Elias (34), Jason Arnott (35) and Brian Rolston (37) will earn more than $18 million this season, but only Rolston managed 20 goals. There's some youth with Zach Parise, Travis Zajac and (I think?) Kovalchuk, but New Jersey is relying on some old legs up front to score for them.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
THN Prediction: 14th in Eastern Conference
What We Learned: That there are only five players under contract who were born in the 1970s: Mark Eaton, Radek Martinek, Mark Streit, Doug Weight and Trevor Gillies. But those veterans are where they need to be — on defense and at center with Weight. The Isles could make some noise this year.
NEW YORK RANGERS
THN Prediction: 13th in Eastern Conference
What We Learned: That Glen Sather should have spent his money on a No. 1 center instead of a No. 1 left winger. Yes, Alexander Frolov will prove a complement to Marian Gaborik, but the center position is riddled with youth (Artem Anisimov, Derek Stepan), question marks (Erik Christensen) and an overpaid/underperforming veteran (Chris Drury). Oh, and there's still the matter of getting Marc Staal signed.
THN Prediction: 10th in Eastern Conference
What We Learned: That THN sees Sergei Gonchar as a downgrade to Anton Volchenkov. Yes, Volchenkov is a shot-blocking machine, but Gonchar brings a whole different level of poise to the Sens’ back end. At 36, Gonchar isn't what he used to be, but youngster Erik Karlsson will learn oodles from the veteran and the power play will improve on the 20th-place finish from 2009-10.
THN Prediction: 4th in Eastern Conference
What We Learned: That the Flyers are again content to go cheap in net and hope things work out. Philly hasn't had a legitimate star in net since Ron Hextall, and Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher — while good last season — don't strike fear into many. Expect the Flyers to be first in line for Vokoun at the trade deadline.
THN Prediction: 7th in Western Conference
What We Learned: That the NHL's 24th-ranked offense should be better this year with the addition of veteran Ray Whitney, but the No. 3 defense will sorely miss Zbynek Michalek. Ilya Bryzagalov will need to be even better than last year (if that's possible) for the Coyotes to have a repeat performance.
THN Prediction: 2nd in Eastern Conference
What We Learned: That Eric Godard is penciled in at third-line right wing, according to THN. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that that's simply not going to happen.
ST. LOUIS BLUES
THN Prediction: 6th in Western Conference
What We Learned: That the Blues subtracted veterans Keith Tkachuk and Paul Kariya, and swapped Chris Mason for Jarsolav Halak and that equals jumping three spots in the West. Halak's performance in the postseason for Montreal was nothing short of spectacular, but can anyone expect him to improve that much on Mason's 30-22-8 record?
SAN JOSE SHARKS
THN Prediction: 2nd in Western Conference
What We Learned: That the Sharks have again hitched their wagon to a group of players that has been unable to get them over the hump. Tabbing Antero Niittymaki as a replacement to Evgeni Nabokov in net is a reach, and the only other significant moves were those who went out the door: Rob Blake to retirement, Manny Malhotra to Vancouver. You also have to wonder if Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau will eventually get some kind of serious injury — something that hasn't happened since the lockout.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
THN Prediction: 7th in Eastern Conference
What We Learned: That THN really likes Steve Yzerman-flavored Kool-Aid. The bottom six forwards look shaky at best, while the defense swapped out Andrej Meszaros and Kurtis Foster for Pavel Kubina and Brett Clark. That doesn't exactly scream "Upgrade!" Dan Ellis is a nice addition, but losing Niittymaki is a hit. All of this doesn't sound like the makings of a 10-point improvement needed to jump from 12th to seventh.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
THN Prediction: 12th in Eastern Conference
What We Learned: That if things go as predicted, Brian Burke will be screaming all summer (again) that he would do the Phil Kessel trade over again and that the undrafted free agents they sign are as good as high draft picks. In the meantime, Boston will be adding another top-five pick to their prospect pool.
THN Prediction: 1st in Western Conference (Stanley Cup champions)
What We Learned: That Canadians really want a Canadian team to win. I like the Canucks and feel they will contend, but pegging them as the Cup favorites is far-fetched. Getting six 25-plus goal scorers again will be tough, and while the additions of Keith Ballard and Hamhuis are great, the team will miss Willie Mitchell on the ice and in the locker room.
THN Prediction: 1st in Eastern Conference
What We Learned: That you can be a conference favorite even without a No. 2 center (no, the post-presstime signing of Eric Belanger doesn't change that), and a defense and goalie tandem that is comprised mostly of players who are too young to remember when the Caps wore these jerseys.
0 recs | 24 comments | Add comment |
- Practice, practice, practice...the basics of hockey
- No-drop faceoffs are a bad idea
- SBN Off-season: Computer Camp Love
- What We Learned: The Hockey News 2010-11 Yearbook
- Offer Sheets - Taboo or Too Expensive?
- Rink Side Radio Tonight From 9-10: Which Contracts Are Gonna be Rejected Edition (Update)
- SBN Off-season: Blue Monday
- Ebay's strangest NHL stuff, volume 2
- The Week In Hockey Blogging
- SBN Off-season: Waiting For The Night
In Association With
- Brian Burke on why summer World Cup of Hockey is no-brainer
- Video: Inside the world of St. Louis Blues' Louie the bear, the NHL’s most underrated mascot
- Puck Headlines: Pens fans upset with Classic tix; Stars owner update
- NHL tests new 'yellow line' verification for video goal reviews
- The 10 best player-inspired NHL rules changes