This year the North West division might be the closest and one of the most interesting divisions in hockey. Why you ask? Well because all 5 teams have a legitimate chance of winning the Division but all face certain questions that could make or break there season. But who really knows anyone could be a top three seed come April.
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Key Additions: Darcy Tucker, Andrew Raycroft, Daniel Tjarnqvist, Per Ledin
Losses: Jose Theodore, Andrew Brunette, Jeff Finger, Kurt Sauer
Wolski - Sakic - Svatos
Jones - Arnason/Hensick-McLeod
Can Budaj or Raycroft Take charge and lead this team to victory?
The Avalanches season depends on if Budaj can take handle of the load or if Raycroft can return to his Calder trophy winning days in Boston. Another key factor for the Avalanche is there health last year the had Sakic, Smyth and Stastny injured at the same time which took them on a bit of a detour but if they can stay healthy and get OK goal tending they will contend for the Northwest
Key Additions: Eric Cole, Lubomir Visnovsky
Key Losses: Joni Pitkanen, Jarret Stoll, Matt Greene
Are the Oilers still too young to really contend?
Next season the Oil will be one of the most fast-paced and exciting teams to watch. I think they have the best chance to win this division if the goal tending even stays the same as last year. Another Question is are they too young and it might take them another year or two to really develop?
Key Additions: Todd Bertuzzi, Mike Cammaleri
Key losses: Kristian Huselius, Alex Tanguay
Phaneuf - Regehr
Aucoin - Vandemeer
Sarich - Giordano
Can Bertuzzi return to the form of his Vancouver days?
Calgary is gonna be pretty good but they are gonna have a tough time scoring much like Vancouver and Minnesota. Also Kiprusoff needs to be on his game all season. But they could be there at the end if Iginla leads like he did last year by example. They have a solid core of defense man which will help alot.
Key Additions: Marek Zidlicky, Owen Nolan, Andrew Brunette, Antii Miettinen
Key losses: Pavol Demitra, Brian Rolston
Can their defensive style prevail over the division again?
Minnesota will be successful if there defensive system can win them games like last year. They have added experience in Nolan and Brunette. but can they overcome the loss of a 30 goal scorer in Rolston and a 20-25 in Demitra. The question will be can they score more then last year and still play a Defensive style.
Key Additions:Steve Bernier. Pavol Demitra, Kyle Wellwood, Darcy Hordichuck, Ryan Johnson
Key Losses: Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison
Can they find a way to fill the voids left by Naslund and Morrison?
The Canucks last year relied heavily on play of Luongo who wasn't on his A game all the time. They will have to get more scoring out of there depth this year not just the top two lines. That will be the only way for them to be affective this season. If those things can happen they will be in the playoffs most certainly maybe even a top three seed in the Western Conference.
So as you can see this will be an interesting year for the Northwest and it will be fun to watch all the divisional games as they will all be exciting. Who will win this division i will let you decide? We will see next April.
A thanks to Martok2309 for editing this blog
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