1. San Jose Sharks:
Forwards: 9/10 The Jan Jose Sharks are the deepest team in the league when it comes to the centre position with more NHL quality centres then they have spots. One thing is missing from the forward corps and that is and elite level winger to go with Thornton and Marleau or to spark the second line. This is the role Dany Heatley was supposed to fill but failed perhaps Marty Havlat can be their man.
Defenseman: 8/10 Arguably the thing holding the club back for the past decade was defense but this won’t be the case this year after the Acquisition of Brent Burns the top 4 is very solid with a few young guns and a few old guys vying for the bottom 3 jobs.
Goaltending: 8/10 Antti Niemi is undoubtedly the starter here and a solid choice for the job he is. If Niemi were to falter Antero Niittymaki and Thomas Greiss are viable options to replace him or just spot him 20-30 games.
Variables: The Pacific division got stronger this offseason but only on the top end the “lesser” teams in the division got a lot weaker leaving some easy games for a team that knows how to win in the regular season.
Forwards: 10/10 With 2 100 point players a guy who’s up for the Selke trophy on a regular basses the “Nucks” are set with top end players but they also have good support players for them in Burrows, Raymond, Samuelson, Hodgson, etc. even on the bottom 6 end Vancouver has some of the best in the game.
Defenseman: 7/10 there is no clear #1 D-man on Vancouver’s blue line but there are a few top 3 guys in Edler, Bieksa, and Hamhuis with Ballard, salo, and Rome the go to guys for the bottom 3. For the 7th man depth is a key word for they have many options.
Goaltending: 10/10 How would you like to have a Vezina finalist for a starter in Loungo and guy who was called the best goalie not in the NHL a few years ago for a backup in Schneider now I’d call him the second best backup in the league.
Variables: I’m not a fan of the coaching “AV” is not known to do well in big games but if he were to steer this very well put together team wrong they have veteran coach Craig MacTavish in Chicago with their AHL Affiliate the wolves.
3.Detroit Red Wings:
Forwards: 8/10 Detroit is getting very old in the forward department but that isn’t always a bad thing because they also have one of the most skilled. Pavel Datsyuk may be on the wrong side of 30 but he is still the best defensive forward around (NHL awards mean nothing I mean Corey Perry won the Hart) and the most tricky. Put Datsyuk with Franzen and Zetterberg and you’ve got yourself one of the best lines in the league put that together with their amazing depth and you’ve got a division winner.
Defenseman: 9/10 some would say Detroit got weaker on defense but they still have a guy for every role Lead by the great Nick Lidstom and Nick Kronwall a perfect 1-2 paring it goes like that all the way down to 7 with White-Stuart, Commodore- Ericsson, and Jacub Kindl to fill in wherever needed.
Goaltending: 5/10 Howard is at best an average starter not even a solid one just average and Ty Conklin is an average backup but this is Detroit and average ends up look pretty good. There is no NHL ready depth none of the prospect are even ready for spot duty hence the 5.
Variables: Coaching. Mike Babcock is a great coach the kind of guy men would follow into war experienced and smart he’s a major plus for the red wings.
4.Los Angeles Kings: Forwards: 8/10 After adding mike Richards and Simon Gagne the kings are almost set at forward but they are missing their big game breaking winger and that is really all aside from some unknown commodities in Dustin Penner and Justin Williams. They are good if not great on the bottom six but the top while good might not be as good as some believe. Defenseman: 7/10 Assuming Doughty does not hold out on the kings they’ve got their # 1 guy but have no really #2 while Jack Johnson may put up the points to take the job he is horrendous defensively and Willie Mitchel just isn’t a top pairing guy after “geno” ran him. So they have depth but no #2 or #3 guys on the top so if defense wins championships kings fans should wait to take a day off for the parade.
Goaltending: 10/10 He has a good save % his GAA is really good he’s great in Shoot outs what’s not to like about Jon Quick? And his backup is the Best in the league Jon Bernier has a great pedigree as played well when given the chance he is ready for the prime time but will have to wait maybe this is your bait to get that game breaking winger or #2 d-man.
Varibles: Dustin Penner and Justin Williams. How will they play? will Williams get hurt? Is Penner to Fat? How these two play will greatly affect the kings season.
Forwards: 8/10 The Hawks are all but set in their forward corps oozing with top end talent with Toews, kane, hossa, sharp, and last year’s deadline acquisition Michal Frolik. But even with all this talent they are missing a second left winger maybe Brunette is their man but I think he’ll settle in nicely on the third line which brings me to say their bottom six is very good all that is missing is one 2nd liner.
Defenseman:7/10 The Hawks Defense got Tougher this offseason but not better losing Brian Campbell they lost their #3 D-man which they have not replaced. Hjalmarsson is better suited for a 4-5 role and so is nick leddy but he is most likely to be the #3 and in time he’ll grow into it but for now it’s a little iffy. The bottom pairing of montador and O’Donnell is nothing to scoff at though whoever plays against these two will have a few bruises.
Goaltending:5 The Hawks have the most inexperienced tandem in the NHL with only 67 games between them they both have talent but are both virtual unknowns at this point.
Variables: The Hawks have 5 players over 30 on the team 4 of which have been brought in this offseason they may help steady the boat a bit as Chicago was inconsistent last year.
to see the rest head over to over the glass.