NHL OUTLOOK 2013
We rustled up a fan from every Canadian NHL team to share their views on the 2013/2014 season
Stephen Dam (3L)
Another NHL season is upon us and once again the Ottawa Senators are a beast of a team. Senators fans will sorely miss Alfy, but with the addition of Bobby-Ryan, a healthy Spezza and Karlsson, and another spectacular year by the sleeper goaltender Anderson, the Sens are in a position to win the Stanley Cup, bringing joy back to the Nations Capital. Only issue I take with the team this year is the new name of the arena – the “Canadian Tire Centre”. Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, but “Ottawa Senators Stanley Cup Champs 2014″ sure does. SENS ARMY!!!
Pat Haughian (3L)
This season features a Kipper-less, Iggy-less (but significantly more Burke-ful) Calgary Flames team poised to really leave their mark on the newly formed Pacific Division in the Western Conference. Unfortunately that mark will likely be left at the bottom of the West. The Flames have finally chosen to enter a rebuilding phase and to expect much more than that would be wishful thinking.
The Flames do possess a reasonably good crop of young players who should be fun to watch this season, particularly Sven Baertschi and Sean Monahan, but the goaltending situation will be significantly more…….interesting. It would take a miracle for this team to make the playoffs and a 14th place finish is far more likely. As Flames fans we must be realistic, accept that we are in for a few seasons like this, and hope to see some smart drafting. Thankfully, by tempering our expectations, we will not feel the same level of crushing disappointment that Oilers and Canucks fans will face when their teams miss the playoffs and get swept in the first round again, respectively.
Andrea Signore (2L)
This former Winnipegger respectfully submits that the Winnipeg Jets are likely to display a better performance on the ice than last year, notwithstanding the fact that the Jets are playing within a division known for its greater degree of competition. In other words, this division is home to teams, which are likely to go to the playoffs or teams that have felt the Stanley Cup’s shiny embrace and its associated glory in recent years.
Surely, the drafting of Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba will contribute to a great season for the Jets because of their ability to play a full NHL season; Jets fans need not fear the loss of these young champions to the Junior League for the purpose of further development. Alternatively, should these champions fail to live up to their potential, Jets goalie, Ondrej Pavelec, ought to cast a ray of hope upon the darkness of their failure. By amassing numerous saves, he will surely mitigate the defects of his teammates who are afforded greater mobility on the ice.
As an aside, the divisional re-alignment is likely to divide loyalties among Jets fans when homegrown Winnipeggers take the ice in opposition to the Jets. For instance, Jonathon Toews, Duncan Keith, and Patrick Sharp belong to the Chicago Blackhawks; these praiseworthy players have been Winnipeg favourites long before the Jets returned to the city in 2011 after a decade.
In summary, in spite of the team’s likelihood for a better showing than last year with thanks to its young talent, the Jets will likely experience difficulty making the playoffs. This former Winnipegger predicts that they will finish one or two positions out of a playoff spot. In other words, Dancing Gabe will have a reason to dance—even if it only merits a slow dance or a jig.
Mike Shepherd (3L)
Penalty kills, Shot blocks, and grinders oh my –the commencement of the Torts era.
This year marks a critical time in the careers of the core players on the Vancouver Canucks. The current team is not that far removed from the team that earned two consecutive President’s Trophies and a run to game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011. But without the previous depth that the third and forth lines gave, and without the arguably best back up goaltender in the league, Cory Schneider, it is time for the core of the Canucks to show that they were the reason for the team’s past success. For the Canucks to challenge for a playoff spot in their newly formed and more difficult division, players like the Sedins, Kesler and Luongo will have to have career seasons. These All-Stars won’t be able to do it on their own; secondary scoring and break out seasons will be needed from players like Chris Higgins, David Booth, and Jannik Hansen, are their prospects are why I’d predict the Canucks to be fighting for their playoff lives come April.
The biggest mystery in the Canuck camp this year is what happened to the Canucks’ youth? With the coming of Torts was the promise of a much needed youth prioritization, and Canuck fans had began to fancy the idea of their own young gun line with Jensen, Horvat, and Shinkaruk. This dream was dashed prior to the season commencement as Horvat and Shinkaruk were reassigned to their Junior clubs prior to even a taste for the regular season. So true to form, the Canucks are poised to begin yet another season without a single rookie on the roster, go figure.
The leaves are turning colour, and soon enough the last will fall without a single rookie bud to replace them. Go Canucks Go.
Keerit Jutla (3L) and Cam Jefferies (PL)
Quebec, what a complicated province. The land of poutine, ice festivals, and questionable “charters.” However, Quebec is also home to the greatest hockey team on the planet, and maybe even the universe: The Montreal Canadiens.
Hello, my name is Keerit Jutla, and with me is Professor Cameron Jefferies. We are likely the biggest Habs fans at the U of A.
KEERIT: How are you PROFESSOR JEFFRIES?
CAM: I’m good, but please KEERIT, call me CAM!
KEERIT: Sounds good CAM. So Cam, break it down for me. What do you think this year has in store for the Habs?
CJ: Well last year was PK Subban’s best year yet, leading all NHL blue-liners in scoring and bringing home the Norris Trophy – so look for big things from him again. I’m not sold on Price quite yet though. Still, could be worse (here’s looking at you Canucks and Flames fans).
KJ: Fantastic. You know Cam, given all your work with sharks I would have thought that you would be a San Jose Sharks fan? HEEYYY OOOOOO
CJ: (awkward silence … cough)
KJ: No? Not the Sharks?
KJ: Ok Cam, back to Montreal then. We needed to get tougher this year, right? To take some pressure off Prust? So what’s the scoop?
CJ: That’s true Keerit. We brought in George Parros from Florida (let’s hope he has a speedy recovery), as well as Douglas Murray. Murray is a big guy and a great shot blocker. However that’s not all, after losing Michael Ryder to free agency we needed another top-six forward so we swooped in and picked up Daniel Briere.
KJ: GREAT stuff Cam. And while we are chatting, just wondering if I can get an extension on the first draft of my Independent Research Paper?
CJ: Nope. Deadlines are deadlines.
KJ: GREAT stuff, just thought I’d check. Well Cam, did you KNOW that I am a big fan of our top prospects this season?
CJ: Nope, I didn’t.
KEERIT: … well let’s have a look at them anyways! Draft day brought us some titans, including Mike McCarron, Jacob de la Rose from Sweden, and goalie Zachary Fucale. These three guys are destined to make the Leafs looks like garbage and bring Ryan Ghuman to tears.
CJ: Not sure about the whole Ghuman comment, but I do agree with the Leafs bit.
KJ: Well, all in all, where do you see us ending up this year?
CJ: Well K-MONEY (call I call you K-MONEY?)
KJ: ABSOLUTLY YES!
CJ: Well K-Money, the Habs are now in the Atlantic Division, which also houses the big, bad Boston Bruins, who are likely to take stop spot. Two-more division postseason berths are then up for grabs.
KJ: Which we will be battling the filthy Leafs and useless Sens for, correct?
CJ: Yes, inevitably.
KJ: Cam, you know I’m a direct man, and a straight shooter, so I’ll hit it to you direct: From what you are telling me here, it sounds like you are saying to me – Stanley Cup Champions 2014 – Montreal Canadiens – Engrave the cup now – Order the hats?
CJ: … Keerit… that is… EXACTLY MY POINT!
KJ: Great stuff, Cam!
Well, that’s it folks, you heard it here first! Habs, Stanley Cup champions for 2014! This is Keerit Jutla and Professor Cameron Jefferies signing off, telling you to keep rocking the Red, White and Blue, and to keep reaching for the stars!
Chris Darwish (3L)
In an unusual break from their reverence for tradition, the Edmonton Oilers did not draft first overall. They followed that up with a number of reasonable player and management transactions including removing Ralph Krueger for Dallas Eakins, trading stagnating winger Magnus Paajarvi for David Perron, signing newly-minted captain Andrew Ference, inking the darling Nuge to the team mandated $6 million a year for 7 years, demoting the cherry picking Ryan Jones, jettisoning loathed former-captain Shawn Horcoff, and signing defensive stalwart Boyd Gordon to fill his role. The Oilers also finally found the mythical skill-AND-size player in Jesse Joensuu to bash in some goals and push faces. Things were looking up. After years of lying dormant, my optimism in the team was growing to their previously over-exuberant levels. My God, is it possible that a man who was the last player to refuse to wear a helmet is intelligent enough to put together a puck-possession playoff team?
Well, uh, maybe not. After all the talk about being an up-tempo, fitness-obsessed possession team, MacT has proceeded to pick up a couple of goons and talk about toughness like he admires Brian Burke. He also brought back Denis Grebeshkov, who looks as comfortable playing hockey as a first year at a career day booth. And then the worst of it: injuries!—specifically to center! We knew Nuge was going to be out for a bit, but then the vile Canucks shattered Gagner’s jaw. The defence looks solid and deep, the forwards are skilled, dynamic, and young, and the Dubynk/Labarbera tandem should provide NHL-average goaltending. That’s looking like a playoff team for the first time in seven years. But asking a team to overcome the loss of their top-two centers for at least 10 games? A death sentence. And yet, my optimism is undeterred – even though I attended the season opener! I predict the Oilers will make the playoffs in 8th place through the new wild card system. There is just too much good to ignore. Now, I think the parade route should go down Jasper Avenue and then…
Toronto Maple Leafs
Mitch Barnard (1L)
I’m a Leafs fan, but I am also a realist and what follows is my prediction for the season, an analysis of why the Leafs suck, and what needs to happen for the boys to return to greatness.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will suffer another painful losing season, after what will undoubtedly appear a promising start. This is nothing new for the organization, as they are built up at the beginning of each season by the media, the management, and the fans, only to wind up disappointing all of the above. The Maple Leafs do not have a proven goaltender; and unless newly signed forwards Dave Bolland and David Clarkson can work miracles, the Leafs will continue their tradition of missing the playoffs and failing to show up for full-length regular seasons.
It seems as though the Leafs organization has simply become complacent with losing. Until last season (which is recorded with an asterisk) they had not made the playoffs since 2004. Even with this being the case, the organization has not suffered one bit. They have had capacity crowds all the way through, and because of their household name and commercial success, they have not suffered financially. Until fans start boycotting the Leafs losing ways, the organization has no real reason for concern. Unless their backs are against the wall financially, they will be content with losing games and bringing in a vast amount of revenue.