|NHL Hockey Matchup Analysis
by Scott Burgess
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Central Division Chicago Blackhawks
Gone: Adrian Aucoin, Tony Salmelainen, Jassen Cullimore, RadimVrbata, Michal Handzus and Jeff Hamilton
Hired: Wade Flaherty, Sergi Samsonov, Robert Lang, Kevyn Adams,Yanic Perreault and Adrian Zyuzin
The Chicago Blackhawks bring in a lot of young talent to theirroster this year. With young defenseman like Cam Barker, DuncanKeith and Brent Seabrook it should improve on their lack lusterdefense. Their big addition last year, Martin Havlat, will needto improve. Havlat joined the team and had 25 goals, 57 pointsin 57 games before sitting out with an injury; he will need tostay healthy this year. Jonathan Toews, Jack Skille and PatrickKane should add some much needed offense.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Gone: Bryan Berard, Anders Eriksson, Aaron Johnson
Hired: Sheldon Brookbank, Kris Beech, Michael Peca, Jan Hedjaand Jiri Novotny
The Columbus Blue Jackets made an aggressive move to help outtheir offense with the acquisition of Michael Peca. He’llbe a nice addition to help Sergei Federov and Rick Hash bang pucksin the net. Coach Ken Hitchcock will get a fresh start this yearafter joining the team earlier in the year. Hitchcock led theteam to their best record in a month, 9-5-2. As for starting goaliesit’ll be between Pascal Leclaire and Fredrik Norrena. Expectthe Blue Jackets to dump Federov before trade deadline to freeup some cash.
Detroit Red Wings
Gone: Todd Bertuzzi, Kyle Calder, Mathieu Schneider and DannyMarkov
Hired: Dallas Drake, Brad Ference, Mark Hartigan and Brian Rafalski
The Detroit Red Wings should be another stellar team this year.Dominick Hasek will be back in net with a new defenseman, BrianRafalski, in front of him. Rafalski’s coming off a great55pt season with the Devils and should fit in with the rest ofthe team nicely. A number of veteran players will be returningagain this year to make up the team with the oldest average ageof players.
Gone: Kimmo Timonen, Tomas Vokoun, Peter Forsberg, Vitaly Vishnevshiand Paul Kariya
Hired: Radek Bonk, Greg de Vries, Martin Gelinas and Jed Ortmeyer
The Nashville Predators lost a majority of their talent in theoffseason. The once red hot Predators may be on a downward slope.With a young talented defense and a hot goalie, Chris Mason, itmight not be all that bad. Mason will have to shine because theydon’t have a stable backup keeper. Watch for Shea Webberto get a lot more ice time, after a 17 goal season in his firstyear. Radek Bonk, Greg de Vries, Martin Gelinas and Jed Ortmeyerare going to be an excellent addition to the Preds.
Gone: Bill Guerin and Curtis Sanford
Hired: Paul Kariya, Keith Tkachuk and Hannu Toivonen
The St.Louis Blues will be much improved this year after someserious offensive moves by staff. Paul Kariya and Keith Tkachukare more than capable of putting pucks in the net. Backup keeperHannu Toivonen will pressure Manny Legacy to perform well orlose his position as starting goalie.
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Gone: Roman Hamrlik, Brad Stuart, Tony Amonte, Darren McCarty,Jamie McLennan, Byron Ritchie
Hired: Adrian Aucoin, Owen Nolan, Anders Eriksson and Mike Keenan
The Calgary Flames are going to be a high scoring team thisyear. With additions like Owen Nolan, Adrian Aucoin and CorySarich, along with a new head coach, Mike Keenan, it looks likethe Flames are going for broke. The Flames will have to winmore on the road after ranking 22nd overall. Jarome Iginla andMikka Kiprusoff will have another great year. Kiprusoff willhave a beefed up defense in front of him this year.
Gone: Pierre Turgeon, Antti Laaksoneen, Patrice Brisebois andOssi Vaannanen
Hired: Ryan Smyth and Scott Hannan
The Colorado Avalanche is going to be the team to watch thisyear. The addition of Ryan Smyth and Scott Hannan combined withyoungsters Wojtek Wolski and Paul Stasny their going to be ateam to reckon with. The Major concern for the Avalanche willbe to free up backup goalie Jose Theodore after a lack lusteryear. He’s on pace to earn $6M as a backup to Peter Budaj.
Gone: Petr Sykora, Jussi Markkanen, Joffery Lupul, Jason Smithand Toby Peterson
Hired: Geoff Sanderson, Sheldon Souray, Denis Grebeshkov, MathieuGaron and Dustin Penner
The Edmonton Oilers were dealt some serious blows in the offseasonwhen Jason Smith and Joffery Lupul were traded away for somestruggling defenseman, Joni Pitkanen. Another bad blow was thesure trade of Michael Nylander, until he opted to sign withWashington because of the bad weather in Edmonton. Then theytried to sign Thomas Vanek, from Buffalo, to a long term contractand Buffalo matched that offer. Leaving Edmonton screwed. Theonly thing decent they managed to get was Dustin Penner. FernandoPisani will be out this season with a serious ailment.
Gone: Todd White and Manny Fernandez
Hired: Sean Hill, Steve Kelly, Serge Payer and Eric Belanger
The Minnesota Wild brings their tough defense back after theyled the NHL with the fewest goals allowed. They’ll havea goalie, Niklas Backstrom, as a starter after Manny Fernandezwas released. The big question for the Wild will be the healthof Marian Gaborik who missed 17 games the first season and 34games the second season. Mikko Koivu, Pierre-Marc Bouchard andEric Belanger are expected to help out tremendously this year.
Gone: Bryan Smolinkski, Rory Fitzpatrick, Jan Bulis and BretSopel
Hired: Brad Isbister, Byron Ritchie, Ryan Shannon and AaronMiller
The Vancouver Canucks did nothing in the offseason to shoreup some goal scores, which they lacked in the Playoffs. It willbe up to the Sedins again this year and hopefully Markus Naslunddid some work in the offseason to improve his scoring chances.Roberto Luongo will have another great year and let’shope his defense can keep his work load down. Brad Isbister,Byron Ritchie and Ryan Shannon should be nice additions to theCanucks.
Beton 2007/08 NHL Hockey Season at Sportsbook.com Pacific DivisionAnaheim Ducks
Gone: Ric Jackman, Teemu Selanne, Scott Niedermayer, Dustin Penner,and Ryan Shannon
Hired: Shane Hnidy, Jonas Hiller, Todd Bertuzzi, and Mathieu Schneider
The Anaheim Ducks aren’t sure if Hall of Fame-bound defensemanScott Niedermayer will retire or play. Same goes for Teemu Selanne,although he’s leaning more towards retirement. GM BrianBurke backed up his team with addition of Todd Bertuzzi and MathieuSchneider which will add serious strength to their front line.They still have outstanding goal tending. Burke was also pissedabout Edmonton stealing away Dustin Penner behind his back.
Gone: Matthew Barnany, Darryl Sydor, Eric Lindros, Jon Klemm andLadislav Nagy
Hired: Toby Petersen, Brad Winchester and Todd Fedoruk
The Dallas Stars are taking the approach of building a team arounda core group of veteran players, like Detroit, mixed with someyounger talent. The GM doesn’t believe in spending big dollarsfor a short term solution. The core of veterans consists of MikeModano, Brenden Morrow and Jere Lehtinen. Marty Turco will againbe the franchise goaltender.
Los Angeles Kings
Gone: Sean Burke, Tom Kostopoulos Mathieu Garon and Aaron Miller
Hired: Tom Pressing, Brad Stuart, Jon Klemm, Ladislav Nagy, MichalHandzus, and Kyle Calder
The Los Angeles Kings added some skill to their offense with theacquisition of Jon Klemm, Ladislav Nagy and Michal Handzus. Betweentop veteran Rob Blake and top rookie Jack Johnson the Angels coacheswill have more options on more lines. The Kings are going to bechalked full of young, talented, but inexperienced NHL players.
Gone: Curtis Joseph, Jeremy Roenick, Owen Nolan, Mike Ricci, KevynAdams and Dave Scatchard
Hired: David Aebischer, Radim Vrbata, Tomas Surovy, Alex Auldand Mike York
The Phoenix Coyotes cleaned house by getting rid of their GM andSenior Advisor, but kept Coach Wayne Gretzky. They finally havea decent goaltender in David Aebischer, which should go nicelyalong with the Coyotes best featured defense. Alex Auld will fitin nicely as a backup goalie. The Coyotes are going to be givingtheir highest draft picks a chance to prove their stuff. They’llalso work around veteran players like Ed Jovanovski and ShaneDoan.
San Jose Sharks
Gone: Scott Hannan, Bill Guerin, Mark Bell and Vesa Toskala
Hired: Jeremy Roenick, Brad Norton and Alexei Semenov
The San Jose Sharks are still stacked and are still serious contendersto win the Stanley Cup. Even with the loss of Bill Guerin theirnew additions should be able to fill their shoes. Can Jeremy Roenickbehave in the locker room? He’s famous for talking shitabout his own team or starting shit with team mates. The Sharksneed to go all the way this year or else it’s going to behard to sign players after the season ends.
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