Which Canadian NHL Teams Will Improve in 2014/15? by Jamie Gilcig Habs Leafs Sens

Which Canadian NHL Teams Will Improve in 2014/15?  by Jamie Gilcig  Habs Leafs Sens

jg2CFN-   The Habs ended the pre-season with a trade.   Gone are Carey Price’s best bud Peter Budaj and Patrick Holland for Erik Tangradi.  It’s an interesting move.  With Tangradi already clearing waivers it gives Montreal some back up beef and helps their cap space as Tokarski’s salary was nearly 2/3 less than Budaj.

Montreal is in great position to pick up a top six forward or top four d man during the season without having to worry about cap space.

The off season for the Habs has been pretty uneventful.   The young D men haven’t really TAKEN a job.   I’m of the opinion that at this point for Tinordi or Boileau being on the 3rd pairing and learning how to be a NHL’er might be better than getting minutes with Hamilton.  Darren Dietz, coming off a horrible year last season got a long looksie in camp.    The Habs have lots of depth at Defense.

Actually depth is one area the team is in good shape in.   They still are missing a top six winger and unless something changes drastically still don’t have that big Centre on the 1st or 2nd line.   The team was different with Vanek. They need that extra winger to get them back to that level.

This season PK & Patches have to play like franchise players.  I think Tokarski will be more valuable than most fans think by the end of the year.

Players to watch; PA Parenteau on paper should fit in nicely.   If he becomes Rene Bourque Habs are in trouble.   Rene Bourque.  If he’s last years Rene Bourque Habs are in trouble.   Tom Gilbert.  In his role he can truly excel.  If he has a good year so will the Habs.   Carey Price.   He has to dominate this season with this squad.

Lord Stanley Rating   2/5

Making the Play Offs  5/5

Better than last season  3/5

Coaching/Management  3/5

Overall  6/10

Toronto seems to be sabotaging itself.  It’s as though they want to get a really good draft spot and chase their new coach?   It’s been a bewildering off season.    Maybe Brendan Shanahan realized the team isn’t ready to really contend; but isn’t ready to tank and that with a great draft pick, a new coach & GM they might be ready next season.  Injuries already are plaguing the Leafs.

They had a great camp, but still gave up a lot of goals.    They have goal scoring up front; but like the Habs did not address their need for a top centre instead focusing on depth and retaining players.

The Franson, Gardiner, Reimer, and Kadri story lines weren’t really addressed.  Reading media reports it’s like the team doesn’t like these players some of whom are pretty good.

Look for Nazem Kadri to have a break through season, and a much better year from David Clarkson.   Toronto is going to score goals; but the problem is that they’re going to give them up too and keep Bernier & Reimer busy.

There’s just too much talent on this team to do as badly as they did last year again.   Expect a coaching and possible GM change mid season if the team fumbles the puck.

Players to Watch: Kadri, Van Riemsdyk, Clarkson, Gardiner.

Lord Stanley Rating   1/5

Making the Play Offs  4/5

Better than last season  4/5

Coaching/Management  2/5

Overall  5/10

Ottawa had a pretty good Spring.   I really like this squad even with their financial woes.  While some complain about the Ryan contract I think it was good for team morale and sends a message to the players….and their agents, that Ottawa is serious.

Serious is a key word here as the Sens have some serious talent and depth.   Yes, Jason Spezza is gone and yes it was a terrible trade for what they got; but the season before last they did mighty fine without Spezza in the line up for most of the season.   David Legwand is a solid addition and expect Mika Zibenajad to have an impact.   The Sens might just get back to being pesky like they were the year before last.

I expect the defense to have a much better year.   Cowen is now two years post surgery and Cody Ceci should be upping his game.  Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone, and Curtis Lazar should be hungry enough and talented enough to make an impression.    I also expect both goalies to have better seasons this year.

The key for Ottawa will be injuries as there’s very little fat on this roster.  There are more question marks than answers until we find out how the rookies do.

Players to Watch: Zibenejad, Michalek, Lazar, Ceci, Wiercioch.   If these guys click Ottawa makes the play offs.

Lord Stanley Rating   1/5

Making the Play Offs  2/5

Better than last season  3/5

Coaching/Management  3/5

Overall  5/10

Winnipeg is still an enigma.   Dustin Byfuglien, Evander Kane and Ondrej Pavelec are still Jets so fans and writers will have something to focus on at the beginning of the season.  GM Kevin Chevaldayoff will be under the gun and probably gone if the team flops or falters.   The trade with Montreal is interesting in that the Jets probably didn’t need a back up goalie that specializes in playing very little; but the Holland pick up is a great lottery pick as he should get better results in the NHL as he has up to date and may get that opportunity with the Jets?

Paul Maurice will have a challenge, but there is talent on this squad.  Will Mathieu Perreault be an improvement over Olli Jokenen at Centre?  In some ways yes.   Will Mark Scheifele have a better second full season?  I think so.   How much will Jacob Trouba improve?  How many of the Jets current roster will be there by season’s end and will they make the play offs?  Not all and the second season for this team most likely will include tee times.

Players to Watch: Kane, Byfuglien, Bogosian, Trouba, Pavelec.    Kane can make a rough season more bearable if he stays healthy and hits the back of the net 30 times this season.   Bogosian needs to put together a big year for Winnipeg.   Pavelec might be spending his last season as a NHL starter if he doesn’t improve.

Lord Stanley Rating   1/5

Making the Play Offs  1/5

Better than last season  2/5

Coaching/Management  2/5

Overall  3/10

Calgary will never accused of being boring.  They won’t be terribly good this season; but they won’t be boring.   Hockey is a pretty simple game in that the object is to score more goals than your opponent and if you do that enough times during the season you make the play offs.

Brian Burke hired a GM and the team has been filled with some interesting veterans as the squad rebuilds.   There will be some trades made deadline time or before.   Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau will have more of an opportunity to develop.    I don’t get the Deryk, Engelland signing; but the had to reach the cap floor somehow.  What the Flames have so far is an experienced NHL goalie and an interesting defense.  No real star power; but there is some depth and talent.

Matt Stajan was resigned and Mason Rayment picked up.   The Flames can make some smart cap deals and plays to help their rebuild; but they are not contenders this season.

Players to Watch:  Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Jonas Hiller, Sam Bennett.   Personally I think Bennett as good as he is should not start the season with the Flames.   They are not in contention and he’s a year younger than Sean Monahan was.  Let him rip up the AHL and see how the season progresses.     Jonas Hiller makes this list because his trade value will be important this season.  Calgary needs to fill roster spots by making smart moves.  You can’t just depend on the draft.

Lord Stanley Rating   1/5

Making the Play Offs  1/5

Better than last season  2/5

Coaching/Management  4/5

Overall  3/10

Edmonton is bogging.  How can such a franchise steeped in winning tradition keep picking at the top of the heap and keep sucking out the joint?   Now some of those studs drafted are costing big bucks that fans are being asked to shoulder.   They deserve some winning hockey.

Taylor Hall, RNH, Eberle, and Yakupov can’t score from their own end.   Edmonton is starting Darnell Nurse with the big club; but their defense, while improved with the additions of Mark Fayne & Nikita Nikitin still is a hot mess.

The team is set in goal and has one of the best forward corps in the league…on paper…..   Benoit Pouliot is maturing and finding his true strengths as a NHL player and that has been parlayed into a super contract with the Oilers.  Teddy Purcell is a good pick up too and the goal tending is set with Ben Scrivens and Fiktor Fasth.

Is Dallas Eakins as good a coach as billed?  Can Craig MacTavish figure out what to do with Nail Yakupov?   Oiler’s first round pick Leon Draisaitl looks like the real deal; but can Edmonton make the play offs in a tough division without getting  stud on D?   And what do you give to get that if one is available?

Players to Watch:  Draisaitl, Yakupov, Nurse, Scrivens.   Three out of four of those names should meet expectations this year.  One may be traded; but if that player ups his ante Edmonton might squeak into the second season.

Lord Stanley Rating   1/5

Making the Play Offs  2/5

Better than last season  3/5

Coaching/Management 1/5

Overall  4/10

Vancouver is a team in flux.   I’m not sure if they are retooling on the fly, rebuilding, shuffling the deck or just in panic mode?   They have a new GM and new coach; but many of the same players although they did lose a bunch this season.

No more Ryan Kesler, Jason Garrison, Roberto Luongo.   Trevor Linden has installed Jim Benning as GM and Willie Desjardins as coach.

The Sedin twins are hoping for a much better season.  So far pre season has been kind to the Canucks who landed free agent goalie Ryan Miller who will have something to prove after not hitting the high notes after being traded to St. Louis at the end of last season.

Vancouver still has a strong corp on D led by Alex Edler, Kevin Bieska, and Dan Hamuis.   Offensive depth will hurt them and Nick Bonino is their #2 at Centre until they make a move or Bo Horvat shows he’s ready.    Linden Vey is an interesting pick up as was Radim Vrbata who may be expected to do what Alex Burrows used to do for the twins.

Players to Watch:   Always the Twins, Ryan Miller.   This is a team in transition.  The Canucks need to reload and need some top level forward talent.

Lord Stanley Rating   1/5

Making the Play Offs  2/5

Better than last season  3/5

Coaching/Management  NA

Overall  4/10

What do you think Hockey Fans?  You can post your comments below.

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1 Comment on "Which Canadian NHL Teams Will Improve in 2014/15? by Jamie Gilcig Habs Leafs Sens"

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Hugger1
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I think Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto have improved their teams since the end of the previous season. By how much? We’ll have to see.

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