A Quick And Early Look At The Northwest Division Rivals

NHL.com has just listed the Canucks as one of their top 10 teams on the rise, saying: 

Losing Mattias Ohlund could hurt, but that was buried under the important re-signings of the Sedin twins. Roberto Luongo is at the top of his game and will be motivated by the opportunity to get hot and start for Canada in the Olympics. Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler, Kevin Bieksa and Alexander Edler only are getting better. Mikael Samuelsson, signed away from the Detroit Red Wings can make the power play better.

 

Convincing, huh? No not really. However, are the Canucks really worse off on paper than last year? Not really. I just find it odd that the writer calls them a team on the rise when they already won the Northwest Division title. Alas, you never know what can happen, and so many variables are involved (like what division rivals are doing in the off season).

Note: No other Northwest Division teams made the list.

Here's a quick look at how the other teams in our division are shaping up this summer. NOTE: **Yes, every other team in the NW has made a coaching change, as the guys quickly reminded me)** But I'm just focusing on the player additions.

CALGARY FLAMES

IN: D Jay Bouwmeester, F Fredrick Sjostrom

OUT: D Adrian Aucoin, F Todd Bertuzzi, F Mike Cammalleri, D Anders Eriksson, F Jamie Lundmark, F Warren Peters, F Andre Roy, D Rhett Warrener

Cap Spending: $54.29 million

Adding the coveted Bouwmeester meant that the Flames had to part ways with Mike Cammalleri. They have so much money invested in Bouwmeester, Phaneuf, Jokinen, Iginla and Kiprusoff that they can spend no more. They are now thick on D and more shallow up front. I still think the addition of Olli Jokinen at the deadline was a joke, yet he may rack up the points this year as he plays more with the team. Who knows. Glad they have him and not us.

Better or Worse? Potentially worse. Secondary scoring may be quite tough to come by beyond Iginla, Jokinen and Langkow.

EDMONTON OILERS

IN: G Nicolai Khabibulin

OUT: F Ales Kotalik, G Dwayne Roloson, G Dany Sabourin, D Jason Strudwick

Cap Spending: $51.40 million.

Not much change here except between the pipes, where Khabibulin may be an upgrade over Dwayne Roloson. I say "may be" because the Oilers are a run and gun team. Khabby is going to see a lot more quantity and quality shots in Edmonton. Let's see how he fares with that.

Edmonton's fate lies with the health of Sheldon Souray and Lubomir Visnovsky. They have over $13 million invested in those 2 defencemen. Madness I say. Up front they have a lot of young guys who may find their stride after sophomore seasons and what-not.

Are they going to add Dany Heatley or not? He could change the Coilers' fortunes.

Better or Worse? About the same.

MINNESOTA WILD

IN: F Martin Havlat, potentially F Kyle Brodziak (RFA), D Greg Zanon, G Wade Dubielwicz

OUT: D Marc-Andre Bergeron, D Kurtis Foster, F Marian Gaborik, F Krys Kolanos, F Corey Locke, F Bryan Lundbohm, D Tomas Mojzis, G Nolan Schaefer, D Jesse Schultz, D Martin Skoula, F Stephane Veilleux,

Cap Spending: $51.43 million

I am still laughing at the Wild letting injury-prone Marian Gaborik go and then acquiring injury-prone Martin Havlat. I don't care if Havlat played 81 games last season. Look at his track record. Plus it was a contract year. Let's start placing bets on how many games he plays this year. I'll start the betting with 55 games.

The Wild need more help up front, and they may just get that as trading Josh Harding is imminent.

Better or Worse? Worse

COLORADO AVALANCHE

IN: D Tom Preissing,  D Kyle Quincey, G Craig Anderson, and Potentially 1st Round Draft Pick Matt Duchene

OUT: F Tyler Arnason, F Jesse Boulerice,  F Ben Guite, F Ian Laperriere, F Matt Hendricks, F Per Ledin, D Aaron MacKenzie, D Lawrence Nycholat, G Andrew Raycroft, F Joe Sakic, F Nathan Smith, D Daniel Tjarnqvist, F Brian Willsie, F Cody McCormick

Cap Spending: $49.71 million

It's all about rebuilding for the Avalanche. especially up front. The goaltending and defence are set and more experienced. Canucks fans may get a good look at Matt Duchene, a former teammate of Cody Hodgson. It will be a mighty surprise if the Avalanche make the playoffs this year, but at least they are taking the right steps. Losing Sakic's presence will hurt, just as it did last season, but at least they have an upgrade in goal adding Craig Anderson.

Better or Worse? A bit better. They can't be any worse than last year's 69 points.

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Considering how often we play these teams each year I'm feeling optimistic. But you can never take any of these teams for granted. The Canucks are going to have to play better against lesser teams than they did last year.

Like I said, this is a quick and early look at these teams. They still have lots of summer left to tinker with their rosters.

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