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Aldergrove, BC • Canada • 23 Years Old • Male
Continuing my analysis, here's the Northwest Division:

Calgary Flames

Major Additions

Cory Sarich (5 yrs, $18 million) - Sarich is a good physical d-man, but he will not replace the offense of Hamrlik and Stuart. He is a Keenan type player. I think he is a little over payed for what he does.

Owen Nolan (1 yr, $1.75 million) - Nolan used to be an elite player, but he's on the decline. However, he is Keenan's kind of player. So may be he can be better then Tony Amonte.

Remaining Holes: Backup Goaltender

Final Analysis - The Flames will probably be the same as last year, may be even better. Keenan will get the Flames back to their defensive brand of hockey and they will once again be hell to play against.

Predicted Finish - 4th

Edmonton Oilers

Major Additions

Sheldon Souray (5 yrs, $27 million) - Souray is a major powerplay weapon, there's no doubt about it. But he's spotty defensively and is beaten too often one on one. He will only help the Oilers powerplay, not much else. Can you say overpayment?

Joni Pitkanen (trade with Flyers) - Pitkanen will definitely help the Oilers move the puck out of their zone, but again he is primarily an offensive defenseman that is still learning the defensive game.

Geoff Sanderson (trade with Flyers) - Sanderson is getting up there in age, but he still has tremendous speed. He will probably chip in for may be close to 20 goals. But he won't help the Oilers score much more then last year.

Remaining Holes: #1 Center, Defensive D-man, 2 Top 6 Wingers

Final Analysis - I think getting rid of Jason Smith was a huge mistake. You first trade your heart and soul in Ryan Smyth (who is now playing for a rival team by the way) and then you trade your captain (another heart and soul player). I think the Oilers are in a mess, and their abundance of offensive d-men without a solid defensive guy won't help their cause.

Predicted Finish - 5th

Minnesota Wild

Major Additions

Eric Belanger (3 yrs, $5.25 million) - Belanger did pretty well on Atlanta and Carolina. So he will probably fit in quite nicely and replace the offense of Todd White (now ironically with Atlanta).

Sean Hill (1 yr, $475 K) - Hill won't play for the first 20 games of the season, but when he does play, he will provide the Wild with solid defense and further enhance their defensive brand of hockey.

Remaining Holes - None

Final Analysis - The Wild will contend for the division crown once again and if Gaborik can stay healthy and play close to 82 games, he will hit 100 points for the first time in his career. He is that good and the Wild are even better with him then without him. Belanger and Hill won't weaken or strengthen this team. They will still be an elite team.

Predicted Finish - 3rd

Colorado Avalanche

Major Additions

Ryan Smyth (5 yrs, $31.25 million) - I believe Smyth went to the perfect team for the style of hockey he plays. The Avalanche play the kind of style that crashes the net and uses behind the goal line a lot. Ryan Smyth thrives in front of the net and if a guy can get it to him from the corner boards where the Avs play a lot from, he will score a lot of goals.

Scott Hannan (4 yrs, $18 million) - The Avs will have a pure defensive defenseman that can shut down opposing forwards for the first time since Adam Foote. That alone is worth the money. He will also help Liles become even more offensive if he's paired with him.

Remaining Holes: None

Final Analysis - Adding Smyth and Hannan finished the Avs off-season additions in one day. Ryan Smyth will form a line with Joe Sakic and probably Milan Hejduk. That line is scary to me. Everyone on it is dangerous. The Avs will also have a very capable 2nd line formed by youngsters Wolski, Stastny, and the always dangerous and annoying Andrew Brunette. The third line is no slouch either with Arnason, Richardson and Svatos. The Avs are a dangerous team once again.

Predicted Finish - 1st or 2nd

Vancouver Canucks

Major Additions

Aaron Miller (1 yr, 1.5 million) - By adding Miller, the Canucks arguably have the best defense top to bottom in the league. He is a very capable defensive d-man and will also help Krajicek become more offensive

Curtis Sanford (1 yr, 600 K) - Sanford won't play too much behind workhorse Roberto Luongo, but he will provide solid goaltending when called upon. Maybe this year Luongo won't have to play 75+ games (even though he wants to).

Minor Additions

Byron Ritchie - Ritchie will probably center the fourth line and provide energy and shift disturbance.

Brad Isbister - Isbister used to be a high ranked prospect, but now entering into his 30s, we can probably call him a bust. Even though he got a few 20 goal seasons on the Islanders. But may be he can learn to use his body and score some goals for the offensively challenged Canucks.

Remaining Holes - Top 6 Right Wing

Final Analysis - With Luongo at the helm, the Canucks will still make the playoffs with this lineup and battle the Avs/Wild/Flames for the crown. But they won't win the cup with it. Nonis has got to find a way to inject some offensive talent into this team or hope that Naslund and Morrison find their scoring ways when they were part of the "West Coast Express".

Predicted Finish - 1st or 2nd
July 15, 2007 10:38 PM ET | Delete
The Canucks have a shot at being 3rd this year. As much as we want to enjoy and love this past season, we could have easily lost 50% of the games we won 3-2 in OT. Yah, I love Luongo, but if our PP is crap and we still can't score, things aren't going to get better. The Flames underperformed last year and I see Kippy having an awesome season this year, so it will be a huge difference maker, especially if they get off to a fast start. The Av's decided to get some difference makers. Yup, they will be strong in our tough division.It could easily be Avs/Flames/Canucks/Minny/Oilers... but i guess we'll have to wait...
July 15, 2007 11:18 PM ET | Delete
You may want to add First Line Left Wing for the Oilers, we got nobody who can play that position. Torres and Sanderson will be 2nd and 3rd line guys. 1st Line Left wing was vacated by Smyth. Maybe a 2nd Line Right wing also couldn't hurt since Lupul is gone.
July 16, 2007 1:30 AM ET | Delete
Funny that you add a 'minor additions' to the Canucks :P. From my point of view I don't think the Canucks or Flames got any better, and both of them needed to get better if they want win. The Wild upgraded pretty well with Belanger instead of Todd White, and will not have to deal with Manny causing locker room problems, that's improvement. I'm a little bit curious about the Avalanche.. will Smyth really be the answer? They are going to be battling against three of the best defenses in the league for nearly a third of their games... that offense is going to have a tough time.
July 16, 2007 8:02 AM ET | Delete
I think for the most part you are right on the money, but I think you are selling Calgary a little short. Don't discount the Keenan factor: good team Mike's first season = 1st year success for the Flames. I think Calgary, Colorado, Vancouver and Minnesota can all finish anywhere from 1st to 4th, this will be a very tight race. The only given in the Oilers finishing last, they are a mess.
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