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What We Learned: The Hockey News 2010-11 Yearbook

There's no denying the impact Jaroslav Halak had on this past postseason, but can the new St Louis netminder really improve that much on Chris Mason's 2009-10 performance? (AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill)

Paul J. Bereswill - AP

There's no denying the impact Jaroslav Halak had on this past postseason, but can the new St Louis netminder really improve that much on Chris Mason's 2009-10 performance? (AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill)

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.

Star-divide

ANAHEIM DUCKS

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.

ATLANTA THRASHERS

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?

BOSTON BRUINS

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?

BUFFALO SABRES

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.

CALGARY FLAMES

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.

CAROLINA HURRICANES

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.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

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.

COLORADO AVALANCHE

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.

DALLAS STARS

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.

EDMONTON OILERS

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.

FLORIDA PANTHERS

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.

MINNESOTA WILD

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.

MONTREAL CANADIENS

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.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

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.

OTTAWA SENATORS

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.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

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.

PHOENIX COYOTES

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.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

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.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

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.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS

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.

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You’re being unfairly harsh on the Bolts, for some reason leaving out the fact that they upgraded in the coaching department and also added a legitimate 35 goal forward for essentially nothing. I guess that’s to be expected from a divisional rival fan…

by James.P on Aug 18, 2010 8:45 AM CDT reply actions  

It’s kind of early to pronounce Boucher an upgrade, isn’t it? Also, Gagne could score 35, but that would require him a) staying healthy; b) more than doubling what he did last year. Furthermore, Tampa’s big issue was keeping pucks out of the net — I don’t see any improvements in their own end that makes me think they warrant playoff consideration at this point. I’ve been making the same argument about Carolina all offseason — the defensive additions didn’t include shutdown help for Gleason.

by Cory Lavalette on Aug 18, 2010 9:27 AM CDT up reply actions  

Sometimes it’s just experience on the blueline.

Also, Ellis in his half-starter role in Nashville was stellar. Behind the Net thinks he deserves $6.5 million and Yzerman got him on a steal.

Wasn’t Gagne playing mostly with Richards (the Flyers’ checking and top line)? He can focus more on offense only with, I guess, Lecavalier.

Cидни Kросби: Александр Oвечкин, он твой папа теперь
матовая Клими, Михал нуивирт ваш папа теперь
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by red army line on Aug 18, 2010 12:39 PM CDT up reply actions  

But if Gagne is focusing on offense on Vinny’s line, he’ll still be the only person on the line focusing on offense.

If we don't get our sauce, we ain't watching the game!

by Mike @ MHH on Aug 18, 2010 1:54 PM CDT up reply actions  

Well, Vinny did alright for himself doing heavy lifting for TBL.

Cидни Kросби: Александр Oвечкин, он твой папа теперь
матовая Клими, Михал нуивирт ваш папа теперь
Red Line Station: for Capitals fans who can bear reading something less intelligent than a story at Japers' Rink
Follow me on Twitter!

by red army line on Aug 18, 2010 2:07 PM CDT up reply actions  

Judging from what Tocchet did for the Bolts and Boucher did for the ‘Dogs, no, calling Boucher an upgrade this early isn’t much of a stretch. Frankly, I’m bummed to see him go; I thought he could do a much better job for the Habs than Martin.

by MathMan on Aug 18, 2010 1:05 PM CDT up reply actions  

I don’t get too excited about any AHL coach until the do it in the NHL.

by Cory Lavalette on Aug 18, 2010 2:01 PM CDT up reply actions  

I’d rather take my chances on an AHL coach with an history of head coaching success than stick with a NHL coach I know is poor, especially if said NHL coach was on his first-ever head coaching billet anywhere.

by MathMan on Aug 18, 2010 2:07 PM CDT up reply actions  

Based on this argument, we’re assuming TB should’ve been a playoff team last year then, if they’d had a decent coach?

by Cory Lavalette on Aug 18, 2010 2:41 PM CDT up reply actions  

Maybe not, they were 8 points away after all, but it’s possible… Keep in mind though — the bar for the playoffs in the East was unusually low last year, and a lot of teams got in with totals that would have put them 11th or 12th in a normal year. Tampa might indeed have been an 88-point team with a different coach, and made the playoffs, but an 88-point team isn’t normally a very good team.

I do think Boucher will do considerably better than Tochhet, but the Bolts did more than just get a new coach — they also strengthened their roster, and they have a couple of very young high-end players who just might improve. And they play in a fairly weak division (no offense, but it’s still true; the SE had only one playoff team last year, although that one team was an 800-pound gorilla). I’ve got Tampa tabbed for significant improvement next year… though whether they’ll improve enough to make the playoffs in a more normal year is another matter. The East can’t suck quite so badly again, can it?

by MathMan on Aug 18, 2010 2:52 PM CDT up reply actions  

“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.”

This has become a little like predicting the downfall of the Devils. :) Montreal has managed to have a top-5 (and occasionally top-1!) power play in all but one season since the lockout. They had a top PP with Souray. Then Souray left and they had a top PP with Streit. Then Streit left and they had a top PP once they added Schneider. Then Schneider left and they had a top PP with Bergeron. Then Bergeron leaves…

This is probably because their key PP defenseman is really Andrei Markov, and they just need to add a point guy who can shoot to make it work and it doesn’t particularly matter who it is.

by MathMan on Aug 18, 2010 12:57 PM CDT reply actions  

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.

Jesus Christ, are you trying to give me a heart attack?

Vancouver’s over-rated.

Drew Remenda would praise a bottle of child poison if it had a picture of Darryl Sutter on it.
Battle of California

by Megalodon on Aug 18, 2010 1:11 PM CDT reply actions  

Uh, Marleau had the first major knee injury of his career late in 2008-09 and he returned to look about 60% in the playoffs that year against Anaheim. This year, Dany Heatley played with a torn groin and Devin Setoguchi had a sports hernia.

Sounds like injury problems to me.

by pj48 on Aug 18, 2010 3:44 PM CDT up reply actions  

Doesn’t change the fact that Marleau’s missed a total of 15 regular season games since the lockout and Thornton three (all last year).

by Cory Lavalette on Aug 19, 2010 7:49 AM CDT up reply actions  

…while the additions of Keith Ballard and Hamhuis are great, the team will miss Willie Mitchell on the ice and in the locker room.

They’ll also miss Luongo after Ballard clobbers him in the third period of a game against LA in November…

If we don't get our sauce, we ain't watching the game!

by Mike @ MHH on Aug 18, 2010 1:54 PM CDT reply actions  

gee, what’s with the Canucks hate?

oh wait, you’re an Avalanche fan, right….

Nucks Misconduct writer, Twitter talker.
"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve" (Bilbo)

by missy on Aug 19, 2010 11:52 AM CDT up reply actions  

No hate, just the cold hard fact the Keith Ballard hates goalies.

If we don't get our sauce, we ain't watching the game!

by Mike @ MHH on Aug 19, 2010 2:14 PM CDT up reply actions  

Wait a second
It’s always a pleasure to get The Hockey News Yearbook in my mailbox each August.

You get yours in August?! Just as each issue arrives three weeks late, my yearbook arrives in September and includes info from July.

God love THN. I remember when they had “distribution issues,” so for about two seasons straight their solution to each issue getting torn up in the mail was to mail two copies, one wrapped inside the other.

Lighthouse Hockey: More defensemen than we know how to spell.

by Dominik on Aug 18, 2010 4:21 PM CDT reply actions  

to mail two copies, one wrapped inside the othe

Did this really happen? That’s brilliant.

Drew Remenda would praise a bottle of child poison if it had a picture of Darryl Sutter on it.
Battle of California

by Megalodon on Aug 18, 2010 5:37 PM CDT up reply actions  

Where do you live Dominik, you are getting shafted! I got my Yearbook one week ago today in New Jersey.

"Don't worry about my Cap." - Lou Lamoriello

by Skuba7 on Aug 19, 2010 10:42 AM CDT up reply actions  

Florida
Tomas Vokoun’s contract is up after 2010-11 and he will likely land the Panthers a huge return at the trade deadline.

I’d be surprised if they get a “huge” return for him. Vokoun is a great goalie, don’t get me wrong, but we’ve all seen how the market for goalies is bad for the sellers these days.

http://softeuropean.wordpress.com

by Grrrreg on Aug 19, 2010 3:43 AM CDT reply actions  

I think so many contending teams have banked on unproven/new goaltending for 2010-11 (San Jose, Philly, Chicago, Washington) that taking on a great goalie at the deadline at a minimum cost will be very attractive.

by Cory Lavalette on Aug 19, 2010 7:52 AM CDT up reply actions  

You really don’t think a 7-9 -ish team at the deadline wouldn’t swap some bodies and pics for Vokoun if there is even a whiff of instability in their own net? I think Florida could have double-digit suitors depending on injuries and young-stud-burnout.

If we don't get our sauce, we ain't watching the game!

by Mike @ MHH on Aug 19, 2010 2:16 PM CDT up reply actions  


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