Thursday, September 10, 2009

Central Division Breakdown

Central Division
Round 'em up Jimmie boy, we gotta get these ol' girls fed if we're going make it to the ranch by nightfall.
(If you can get that one, I'll buy beers for the night. Here's a hint...)
There is no theory of evolution, just a list of creatures Chuck Norris has allowed to live.

This may come as a surprise, but despite all their turmoil, I believe the Hawks are poised to make a big run. Maybe even THE run. Amidst the chaos, comes clarity, and the only way to save a tumultuous offseason is to make up for it in the postseason. I know, I know, they picked up 'the curse' of Marian Hossa to fill the void for Havlat, I still think they win out on that deal. Aside from that, who did they lose? Defenseman Matt Walker, but they've got a glut of defenseman, including a $7million one. The big loss is Khabibulin, and that creates a big question mark in going with Huet, who couldn't win out the #1 job last year. That's really the only soft spot on this team that I see, but it could be a gaping wound. I believe Huet is capable of carrying the load, whether he does or not will be the big question. As far as pick-ups, they got Kopecky and the aformentioned Hossa from the Wings, and Madden to fill Sami Pahlsson's departure as a shutdown centerman. With the offer sheet snafu they had to re-sign just about everyone planting them firmly against the cap, so if injuries hit or Huet falters, they're going to have to deal to shed salary for bottom of the barrel players. But they've got a ton of weapons, a young core, and a pretty solid defense to make something big happen. Besides, they've spent enough money to make it happen.
Offseason Grade: C, Aggressive moves by the faithfully departed (Tallon) have pulled a nice chunk of talent together. Unfortunately, that also requires a large chunk of money, cap issues will obviously be a problem as soon as next year.
Regular Season Finish: 3rd in West, 2nd in Central
Coming off their first postseason, the BJ's have created quite a buzz in Ohio. That hum was further amplified by their signing of franchise player Rick Nash to an 8year extension in the offseason. Aside from that, they let just about everybody walk, or at least haven't offered them anything. Christian Backman, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, Manny Malhotra, Jason Williams, Mike Peca, Chris Gratton, Jiri Novotny, all, gone, or just, not, there. The silence is defeaning. They did pick up Sami Pahlsson, and Mathieu Garon to backup Calder-winner Chris Mason, (excuse me, Steve Mason thanks to the homer below). Lighting the Lamp just put up a post about how the Jackets are the fourth cheapest team in the league, not the kind of fact you want your growing fanbase to be insulted by. I don't know, maybe Howson's got a trick up his sleeve, because the pockets don't seem to be deep enough.
Offseason Grade: C, I know its hard to draw players in, but sometimes you've got to spend money to make money.
Regular Season Finish: 11th in the West, 4th in the Central

Is the Kool-Aid that good in "Hockeytown"? Apparently not, at least for the guys playing under Zetterberg, Datysuk, and Franzen. They all took off for greener pastures, and get this, even the KHL! Looking to cash in on the free agency checkbook, Kopecky left for Chicago, Samuelsson left for Vancouver, and Hudler left for Dynamo Moscow. Oh and some guy named Hossa left too. Now its time for the kids who weren't getting the playing time to step it up, yeah that's you Abdelkader, Leino, and Helm. Lets see if you're as good as everyone thinks you are. Jimmy Howard will more than likely be finally coming up, as ConkBlock left (Blues) and Osgood's on his last legs. On paper the Wings lost a lot, but they always find a way to win, and by no means did they lose enough to miss out on the postseason. They've still got their marquee talent, and plenty of them. They'll be in it, as usual.

Offseason Grade: D, but who am I to question Mr. Holland.

Regular Season Finish: 1st in West, 1st in Central

All your pluckiness has come to an end my friend. Trotz and the Preds have always had success making something out of nothing, or at least not much. This is just a team of everyman, with no real standouts, and no real flash, just hard, disciplined work. Its kind of like the Devils, but in a city where rolled up jeans are cool and everyone thinks they can play the guitar. Boring? Well they got Ben Guite, eh, Eh, EH. Kept Steve Sullivan and Joel Ward, lost Fiddler (ironic), Koistinen, and Nichol. And they didn't re-sign Radek Bonk, and whenever you lose Bonk, you lose, period. I don't know, I think they fall farther off the wagon, and the City wonders why they kept them.

Offseason Grade: D, You didn't do anything this offseason, come to think of it, you never do.

Regular Season Finish: 12th in West, 5th in Central

The Notes shocked the shit out of everyone at the end of last season, and shot up to the sixth seed, when everyone expected another aborted season out of Missouri. They showed a lot of moxy (even though they were run over by the Canucks), and the team was really starting to gel with the young guys coming into their own, and the veterans quietly, but solidly supporting. What's even more surprising is that this team is bound to get better with additions of Kariya and Erik Johnson who were lost to season-ending injuries last year. They've re-signed winger Crombeen and defensemen Wagner and Polak, and lost McKee Woywitka. They told Manny to take a hike, he's trying out for the Thrashers. Sad, sad. John Davidson has really surprised me with the smart moves he's made since he moved to the front office, but I'm surprised they haven't picked up Dan Hinote yet. If for name alone.

Offseason Grade: B, Nothing lost but something gained.

Regular Season Finish: 7th in the West, 3rd in the Central


Rick said...

Two C's, two D's and a B? Arguably one of the toughest divisions in the league and you write drivel like this. If you're going to trash a team/division, at least get the right players on the right team. Chris Mason did NOT win the Calder last season and he doesn't play for Columbus... he plays for the Blues. Steve Mason is the Blue Jackets netminder.
And seriously, the CBJ finishing 11th in the West? Try 5th or 6th and 2nd in the division.

Nuuuuugs said...

Well Mr. Nash, as you can see I'm a tough grader and I won't hand out A's to whiners or kiss-asses. I may have mixed up my Mason's, but that was a simple oversight, and I won't let it happen again now that I know your keen eyes are perpetually watching. I tell you what chickenshit, if Columbus makes the post, I'll send a case of Molson to your doorstep, if not, guess who's doin' stupid.