Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pacific Division Breakdown

Should they change the Pacific to the Southwest, just so the Southeast doesn't feel lonely? Come to think of it, with Bettman's blitzkrieg of southern expansion, how did that idea escape his holiness?

The Ducks seem to always peak at the right time, they play hard enough to get into the postseason, and then they beat the crap out of you. Burke's fingerprint is all over this franchise, and I thought GM Bob Murray was dropping the ball when he first took the reigns, but he seems to have a good grasp of his team and the league. The big news of their summer was sending Captain Elbows to Philly for Lupul's return and young, promising defenseman Luca Sbisa. Teemu managed to convince exiled Koivu to come to SoCal from Montreal, that should make for an exciting line. Scotty Niedermayer re-signed while his lazy-ass brother was refused a contract but got picked up in Jersey. Underrated defenseman Francois Beauchemin followed Brian Burke to Toronto, that was a big loss that will be felt with the departure of Pronger. The Ducks will still be in the middle to the bottom of the pack, watch for Giguere to really challenge Hiller for games this season, making them a formidable duo as he was with Bryzgalov.

Offseason Grade: C, things more or less considered even.

Regular Season Finish: 6th in the West, 2nd in the Pacific

Big D had an awful year last year, and I expect them to bounce back with some anger. I'm betting Turco will return to form, and hoping that heart and soul guy, Brendan Morrow will be fully recovered from the nasty ACL. The 'Dyk is now at the helm, replacing Bobby's retarded son Brett, and Les Jackson who was merely a casualty in a poorly constructed idea of Co-GM's. Joey went to work quick replacing Tippett with Marc Crawford and his hair gel. Bad move, Tippett is a much better coach then Crawford, and was again, a casualty of a miserable season. Defensemen Karlis Skrastins and Jeff Woywitka were brought in from Florida and St. Louis, respectively. Jere Lehtinen was re-signed as well as Mark Fistric while quite a few guys walked. Begin went to Boston, Lundqvist went back to Sweden, Morrison went to Washington, Sydor went to St. Louis, Zubov returned to Russia, and Parrish couldn't find work in Vancouver. I still like their team and their chances of making the post this season, but they are most definetely a bubble team that could be on either side of the firing line.

Offseason Grade: D, maybe just because of Crawford.

Regular Season Finish: 8th in the West, 3rd in the Pacific

These poor bastards, every year its 'can they make it?' And every year the answer ends up being 'No.' GM Dean Lombardi has weathered the storms of criticism in staying the course with re-building through the draft. I'm very impressed with what coach Terry Murray (the brother without the lisp) has done with this team, think Andy Murray (unrelated) in St. Louis. They traded for Ryan Smyth sending defensemen Tom Preissing and Kyle Quincey to Colorado, not sure who wins in that deal, and also paid Rob Scuderi for his kick save in SC Finals. They re-signed Teddy Purcell and Jack Johnson while letting a lot of deadweight walk, (Calder, Gauthier, Armstrong). The goaltending situation continues to be a question but Jonathan Quick and Erik Ersberg seem to be growing into the role with the rest of the team. I still don't expect them to make it this season, but there yet another bubble team that's got an outside shot of making it.

Offseason Grade: C, if only for getting rid of the sinkers and floaters.

Regular Season Finish: 1oth in the West, 4th in the Pacific

Hard to think about hockey when you've got this kind of shit hitting the fan. I don't see how this team does anything productive unless they go all Major League Cleveland Indians style and really make everyone feel good. Come on, tell me that if the Dogs go on a tear, and dare I say make the dance, wouldn't every hockey fan be excited as shit for them? Or is Canada really that pissed? Whatever, that won't happen anyway. The whip cream on this shit is the fact that Gretzky stepped down, and Maloney brought in Tippett, which could make anything possible. Out are Kalinin (KHL), Klee (retirement?), McGrattan and Dawes to Calgary. Re-signed are Yandle and Upshall (good move), and added Vernon Fiddler from Nashville, Aucoin from Calgary, LaBarbera from Vancouver, and Korpikoski from the Rangers. This team is basically fucked, regardless.

Offseason Grade: C, could've done worse.

Regular Season Finish: 15th in the West, 5th in the Pacific

When you take a look at the roster now, you realize that the 'shake-up' that Doug Wilson was talking about actually did happen. And I'm not just talking about Dany Heatley for one-hit wonder Cheechoo and 25 goal scorer Milan Michalek. Erhoff and Lukowich were dealt to the Canucks to make room for that move, while Roenick and Lemieux retired. Free Agents Marcel Goc (Nashville), Travis Moen (Montreal), Mike Grier (Buffalo), and Brian Boucher (Philadelphia) all left a team that didn't want them. Instead Dougie kept the ones he wanted, awesomely underrated Ryan Clowe, Torrey Mitchell, Kent Huskins, and Brad Staubitz and added Scott Nichol from Nashville. Its definetely a different locker room, and with the captaincy stripping of St. Patty, and now laid upon Rob Blake it may have a different demeanor. I doubt it, letters on a jersey don't mean a whole lot when you're pissed off and have got something to say. You're going to say it whether or not you've got a 'C' or an 'A'. The Sharks made a pretty damn good team even better, but once April rolls around, will it show?

Offseason Grade: A, Got Heatley, didn't have to give up Marleau and only lost Michalek, I'll make that trade any day.

Regular Season Finish: 2nd in the West, 1st in the Pacific
And that's it, man that was a lot of work. I'll do another wrap up of the whole thing later today.

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