Monday, August 20, 2007

McKeen's, THN make their picks

Both the McKeen's Hockey and The Hockey News yearbooks landed in my mailbox today, and while it's mighty early for predictions, here they be:

Eastern Conference

McKeen's Hockey The Hockey News
1 Pittsburgh* Ottawa*
2 Ottawa* N.Y. Rangers*
3 N.Y. Rangers Pittsburgh
4 Buffalo Buffalo
5 New Jersey Carolina*
6 Toronto Tampa Bay
7 Carolina* New Jersey
8 Montreal Atlanta
9 Tampa Bay Philadelphia
10 Philadelphia (tie) Washington
11 Florida (tie) Toronto
12 Washington Florida
13 Boston Montreal
14 Atlanta N.Y. Islanders
15 N.Y. Islanders Boston



Western Conference

McKeen's Hockey The Hockey News
1 Detroit* Detroit*
2 Colorado* Anaheim*
3 Dallas* Calgary*
4 Anaheim (tie) San Jose
5 Vancouver (tie) Minnesota
6 San Jose Vancouver
7 Calgary Nashville
8 Minnesota Colorado
9 Los Angeles St. Louis
10 St. Louis Chicago
11 Nashville Dallas
12 Chicago Los Angeles
13 Edmonton Edmonton
14 Columbus Columbus
15 Phoenix Phoenix


Well, some interesting tidbits there, to be sure. (Please note my lack of contribution to these predictions.)

I'm going to have my predictions closer to the season — a good five, six weeks from now — but at a glance I'll say that I'm surprised Philadelphia doesn't get more love, and that both publications picked Carolina to win the Southeast (not that there's a clear favourite there).

Out west, I honestly don't think Nashville's been that depleted as to fall far out of the playoff race (McKeen's has four Central Division teams in the bottom six, which may, in fact, be impossible unless the Red Wings go 78-0-4 this season) and the Dallas pick from THN comes from left field.


Mutual magazine agreement: Pittsburgh, Ottawa and the Rangers are good in the East; Detroit, Anaheim and San Jose in the West. Boston and the Islanders are bad in the East; Edmonton, Columbus and Phoenix are all in the basement out West.

Predictions at odds: Out East, McKeen's likes the Leafs, THN puts them 11th; McKeen's thinks Montreal's a playoff team, THN says they're a bottom feeder; McKeen's puts Atlanta in 14th, THN has them eighth. Out West, McKeen's likes the Stars, THN does not.


It's good to keep in mind these picks were made in late July due to publishing deadlines, so let's be kind.

Labels:

34 Comments:

At 4:54 PM, August 20, 2007, Anonymous Jealous Broadcaster said...

Can't wait to hear the Oiler corner of the blogosphere respond to this!

 
At 5:04 PM, August 20, 2007, Blogger Joe said...

I don't think Dallas at #11 is outlandish in the slightest. Dallas really hasn't done much to improve their scoring ability, which has been their main problem. The only Western playoff teams to have gotten worse are Nashville and possibly Calgary. I can't see Nashville falling out of the playoff race entirely, even if they miss the playoffs, it shouldn't be by too much. Calgary may implode under Keenan, but I think they'll at least make the playoffs.

Colorado is vastly improved this year, and I think if they don't make the playoffs, they will be just outside of it. The Blues and the Kings are both making strides, and I think the Blues will probably contend for #8 late into the season, and if the Kings get steady goaltending (a big if, I'll grant you), they will too. Chicago is supposed to be better this year, but I refuse to actually believe that. The Oilers think they're going to make noise this year, but I also don't believe that.

We're looking at the 8 teams who made the playoffs last year all being in a position to do it again, plus 2-3 teams who should at least challenge for #8 into the last month of the season. That's 11 teams for 8 spots. Not only that, but because three teams are making big steps, and all of whom will play Dallas (including 8 games, for much improved Colorado), thats less easy points for the Stars. I imagine that puts the Stars into a position where they are also competing at the end of the season just to make the dance, not just for seeding. If the standings are tight, that can easily push a team that contended for #8 into the #11 slot, and if there are injuries or a bad streak, that team could plummet, especially if a fourth team really does make some noise.

gah, wall of text. Oops.

 
At 5:11 PM, August 20, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I assume the McKeen's is going by point totals, hence they list the over-rated Rangers as third best in the east. Pittsburgh and the Rangers will be battling for 8th place well into April.

 
At 5:11 PM, August 20, 2007, Blogger saskhab said...

Hmm.... my reactions:

Nashville > Calgary. Even with all the losses.

Montreal between 8th and 13th probably ranks the realistic range of the club for next year. 13th might be a bit low, because I think they'll get at least 85 points. I see 85-95 as their range.

Dallas is as good as last year's team and will make the playoffs.

Atlanta needs Lehtonen to make a big jump to retain a playoff spot.

Tampa will win the SE Division. Minny will win the NW. Neither team got picked by either publication.

4 teams making the playoffs from the same division is toughm with the sked the way it is, but it did happen last year with the Atlantic, so it isn't impossible. Still, I find it unwise to predict it to happen. Keep the predictions simple, and break it down in a 3-3-2 format. That's my advice for your predictions, James.

 
At 5:16 PM, August 20, 2007, Blogger Danny said...

I am also surprised the Flyers weren't ranked higher, and Nashville will do just fine in my opinion.

 
At 5:30 PM, August 20, 2007, Blogger saskhab said...

Considering the difference between 6th and 12th in the East last year was 8 points, I wouldn't read too much into Philly's ranking at 9th and 10th other than that they'll be in the mix for a playoff hunt this next season, which is a remarkable improvement from the doormat of the NHL in 2006-07.

 
At 5:42 PM, August 20, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking forward to my Sens flaming out in the playoffs this year now that, once again, they've got high standards to meet.

 
At 5:45 PM, August 20, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Considering the difference between 6th and 12th in the East last year was 8 points, I wouldn't read too much into Philly's ranking at 9th and 10th...

Good point, although I think they'll be higher than both predicted.

 
At 5:53 PM, August 20, 2007, Blogger Gautham said...

Look at this way: The Predators finished 4th in the Western Conference last season. They lost their entire first line in Paul Kariya (also their leading scorer), Peter Forsberg and Scott Hartnell, their No. 1 defenseman and captain in Kimmo Timonen and their starting goaltender in Tomas Vokoun. Their replacements were the likes of Radek Bonk, Martin Gelinas, Jed Ortmeyer and Greg DeVries. And reputable hockey publications believe they'll make the playoffs?

 
At 5:57 PM, August 20, 2007, Blogger Knotwurth Mentioning said...

I'll save my calls for later too. I think part of the reason for the summer predictions is to make up for lost attention over the off-season. I mean hey, my blog sure isn't churning out much in the way of interesting stuff right now... I know how they must feel. At least this way, they can boost sales through putting out their top-selling product. I know I wouldn't be getting any of their bi-weekly stuff if I didn't have a subscription... but I certainly would still pick up the yearbook!

 
At 6:00 PM, August 20, 2007, Blogger Stevens8204 said...

As usual THN blasts the Devils as they do every year...at least this year they didn't drop them out of the playoffs. There is something to be said as far as team chemistry...the Rangers, Pens, and Flyers are in for a surprise.

 
At 6:10 PM, August 20, 2007, Blogger saskhab said...

Gautham>> Peter Forsberg was Nashville's #1 centre for less than 1/3 of the regular season. Arnott & Legwand were their top 2 C's for most of last year and that combo helped push them to, at the trade deadline, the best record in the conference.

Steve Sullivan had a better PPG ratio than Kariya, but point taken about Kariya. Still, this is a team that is returning 5 forwards with 50 or more points from last year's team, 4 of which had PPG's of .8 or higher.

Scott Hartnell's 39 points in 64 games (10th on the team) isn't a huge loss. Kariya's is the significant one here.

Timmonen will be harder to take, but with a guy like Shea Weber in the system, it's much easier. Not to mention Ryan Suter, as well as Marek Zidlicky for the PP purposes. In reality, DeVries is being brought in as their #5 d-man behind those 3 and Dan Hamhuis, not as a #1.

Bonk, Gelinas and Ortmeyer are being brought in to give the Preds a more cost-efficient approach. Radulov will join the 5 returning 50+ point men on the top 2 scoring lines, but Bonk, Gelinas and Ortmeyer will be asked to anchor a checking line, something the Preds didn't really ice last year. Essentially, they are moving from a 3 scoring line team with 1 energy line to a 2 scoring line team with a checking line. Rather than force the opponents to match lines with them, they will try to match lines with their opponents.

If Chris Mason plays as well over 60 games as he did last year over 40, the loss of Vokoun will be pretty minimal in terms of impact. Whether Rinne or (less likely) Ellis is ready for NHL backup goalie duty is another question.

 
At 6:41 PM, August 20, 2007, Blogger Joe said...

Look at this way: The Predators finished 4th in the Western Conference last season. They lost their entire first line in Paul Kariya (also their leading scorer), Peter Forsberg and Scott Hartnell, their No. 1 defenseman and captain in Kimmo Timonen and their starting goaltender in Tomas Vokoun.

Forsberg doesn't count, sorry. Nashville actually fell off the top of the Central, the West, and the NHL in the two months following the acquisition of Forsberg. Prior to that, they were on fire, so I can't count the loss of Forsberg as that big of a deal, because without him, they were already #1 in the NHL, and had they not got him, probably would've finished in the top 5 in the West anyways. Vokoun and Mason have been nearly identical for the last couple years, with Vokoun only having the edge because he was there first. His loss also is not that significant, unless Mason gets hurt.

However, the rest of your points are valid, and not only that, but StL and Chicago will be better this season (at least, STL will be), meaning less easy points. This will cause Nashville to fall significantly, which probably puts them right on the edge of the playoffs, but they won't be the only ones to drop. Much improved Kings, Avs, and Blues will make a big difference. Last year there was a huge gap between the top 7 teams, then Calgary/Colorado, and then another huge gap to the other 6 teams. Those gaps will tighten, and with less easy wins to go around, teams like Minnesota and Dallas and even Vancouver will be hard pressed to have performances like they did last year, and its safe to assume that at least two of them will slip somewhat. Because of how tight the top 7 (or at least 3-7) were last year, its reasonable to say that any of those teams that slips will end up finding itself on the edge of the playoffs, possibly in, possibly out. This year, the gaps will no longer be 1-2, then 3-7, 8-9, 10-15. Instead we'll probably see gaps like this (in pure points, not division winners): 1-2 (small gap) 3-5 (big gap) 6-11 (big gap) 12-15. With a very small range of points for a lot of teams, anything can happen. Like Nashville (or Dallas) placing anywhere from #6 to #11.

 
At 7:40 PM, August 20, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happens to the trap happy Canucks if their only decent player Luongo gets injured?
Is the answer 14th place?
Pittsburgh will stagnate this year as Therrien's idiocy will surface.

 
At 9:34 PM, August 20, 2007, Blogger Lowetide said...

I think both have the Oilers about right. Maybe a hair low, because Lowe will works his knackers off to make sure the Ducks don't get a lottery pick but I wouldn't pick them any higher than 11th.

 
At 9:43 PM, August 20, 2007, Anonymous Ebscer said...

Be kind? Why would anyone even bother to rank NHL teams before early october? Lets at least wait until most teams more or less have their rosters set. Maybe edmonton will pick up peca, selanne, and esche (ok, doubtfull)... but it's a tad bit early for this nonsence...

 
At 9:45 PM, August 20, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Why would anyone even bother to rank NHL teams before early october?

To put a preseason magazine on the shelves by September.

 
At 12:07 AM, August 21, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

7:40 PM Anonymous is on to something.
I wouldn't necessarily bet on Luongo getting injured, but even with the league's best goalie the Canucks needed 4x4 and the Wack-A-Mole Contest to pick up a lot of Ws. Then they went out and signed a bunch of guys who scored 0, 1 or 2 goals last year. They'll battle the Oilers for 4th and both will be well out of the playoffs.
In Pittsburgh, nobody seems to notice that the Penguins are hockey's version of a CFL team: run around the hope for the best. They're a more veteran club this year, which will help, but Therrien's the league's worst coach this side of that joker in Philadelphia.
Raised expectations lead to sharpened blades. Therrien and Vignault both get axed by Christmas.

 
At 12:45 AM, August 21, 2007, Blogger PB said...

'Yotes in the basement for both publications!

Ohhh yeeeeeaaahhhh!

I picked the wrong time to stop sniffing glue!

:-D

 
At 12:55 AM, August 21, 2007, Blogger mc79hockey said...

To put a preseason magazine on the shelves by September.

So because they're trying to make a buck, we should excuse the obvious problems with their publication? I don't think that their predictions are worthy of much in the way of discussion, given when they make them but that's their problem, not mine.

Moreover, 4 out of 6 spots in the bottom of the West filled by the Central? Hard to blame that on July, unless it was just that they were in a hurry to publish so that they could enjoy the weather.

 
At 12:56 AM, August 21, 2007, Blogger Gautham Ganesan said...

They'll battle the Oilers for 4th and both will be well out of the playoffs.

Sorry, but I'm going to have to disagree with your analysis of the Canucks. First of all, Roberto Luongo has virtually no injury history. This is not to say that only an extraordinary circumstance would result in an injured Luongo, but you could essentially make the argument for any of several teams that rely heavily on their goaltender (Calgary, New Jersey) that their season will be finished should that goalie go down. Second, I present the Canucks' defense corps:

Bieksa--Ohlund
Salo--Mitchell
Miller--Kraijicek

And with Luc Bourdon and Alexandre Edler waiting in the wings, that's undoubtedly rivals the Kings for the deepest blueline in the West. They lack a bona fide No. 1 powerhouse defenseman but more than make up for that with their immense depth. With Luongo's goaltending, that stellar defense and Jack Adams-award winning coach Alain Vigneault's defensive system, it's unlikely the Canucks will give up more than two goals very often. The Sedins have showed steady improvement every season of their NHL careers so far, so there's really no reason to believe that trend will not continue. I'd expect close to 40 goals and 80 points for Daniel and around 65 assists and also in the 80-point neighborhood for Henrik. Even if Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison continue to deteriorate, Vancouver will manage to score their 2-3 goals on most nights and will likely have to score less with Luongo standing on his head. So, in summation, the Canucks not only will certainly make the postseason this year, they're quite likely to win the Northwest Division. Edmonton likely won't challenge for a playoff berth and Colorado has a question mark in goal (although they should still make the playoffs), so I think Vancouver and Calgary will duke it out for the division title, with the Canucks having an upper hand and the Wild having an outside chance. Just my two cents.

 
At 1:01 AM, August 21, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

So because they're trying to make a buck, we should excuse the obvious problems with their publication?

No one has said this, so I'm assuming you're talking to the ether again.

The guy asked why the predictions were coming out now; the distribution system is the obvious answer.

Rip away; hell, I was the one that pointed out your Central Division observation.

 
At 1:03 AM, August 21, 2007, Blogger Doogie said...

I refuse to acknowledge any predictions made before training camps, because they are based on severely incomplete information. There's no excuse, for needing preview mags on shelves in late August, anyway. The season starts in October, for fuck's sake. They can't wait a month and have a more complete picture of the off-season?

 
At 1:16 AM, August 21, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

I don't think anyone's going to get McKeen's on the shelf until early September, but point taken. At the very most, you could buy another two or three weeks, and, really, how much more do we know now than we did on Aug. 1?

Anyway, I understand the limitations of the medium more than anyone, so take these picks for what they're worth. Bloggers' predictions that come out a few days before the start of the season will be far, far more accurate (although a lot of this is, admittedly, guesswork).

Maybe in the future there'll be a way to simply print off a constantly updated magazine, but for now, it's piles of bound dead trees being driven around in trucks.

 
At 2:09 AM, August 21, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Newsflash: nobody who reads McKeen's gives a rat's @** what team finishes in what place. It's a magazine for hockey pools. As for The Hockey News, I thought they ceased publication 20 years ago.

 
At 3:09 AM, August 21, 2007, Blogger Joe said...

And with Luc Bourdon and Alexandre Edler waiting in the wings, that's undoubtedly rivals the Kings for the deepest blueline in the West.

I'm totally calling you out on that obvious joke post. The Canucks defense is pretty deep, and pretty good, especially for not having a #1 guy, but sorry, Canucks and Kings as the top Western defenses is just too much. You're just being silly now.

 
At 9:54 AM, August 21, 2007, Blogger Gautham Ganesan said...

Under the assumption Niedermayer retires, I'm willing to stand by my analysis that the Canucks and Kings have the deepest bluelines in the West. Unlike the Ducks, Flames and Stars (other Western teams considered to have great defenses), the Canucks and Kings have the ability to ice high-quality defensemen at all times whereas the aforementioned teams will have the likes of Joe DiPenta, Rhett Warrener and Nolan Baumgartner playing minutes.

 
At 10:29 AM, August 21, 2007, Blogger Chemmy said...

I've said it before and I'm going to say it again:

Toronto missed the playoffs by a single point.

Noone in Toronto's division got significantly better. Ottawa did nothing in the offseason (understandable) Buffalo lost big names but they will probably be replaced by young kids without skipping a beat (maybe) Boston got a goalie but still has noone on the ice besides Bergeron, and Montreal replaced their defense with Roman Hamrlik (ouch).

Toronto upgraded their goaltending (whether it's full time Toskala, or an A1 A2 situation) and added a 40 goal scorer.

Toronto will not finish in 13th place, as much as everyone hates them.

 
At 10:38 AM, August 21, 2007, Blogger saskhab said...

Anyway, I understand the limitations of the medium more than anyone, so take these picks for what they're worth. Bloggers' predictions that come out a few days before the start of the season will be far, far more accurate (although a lot of this is, admittedly, guesswork).

I'm holding you to that, James! lol

As for Chemmy, I don't see a scenario in which the Leafs are guaranteed a playoff spot, mainly because I still think the best they can finish is 3rd in the division. As for their improvements, even if Toskala has another so-so year like this past one his numbers will help the Leafs win more games for sure than Raycroft/Aubin (who were pretty terrible), but this whole "we added a 40 goal scorer" is a bit nonsense if you ask me. A career year from Jason Blake also has to be weighed against the goals lost from losing Jeff O'Niell and even Peca's small contribution. Since Blake is unlikely to hit 40 again, and maybe 35 is a stretch as well, he isn't a significant improvement in goal production.

And since when did Rhett Warrener get lumped in with the likes of Joe DiPenta and Nolan Baumgartner? Yikes.

 
At 12:21 PM, August 21, 2007, Blogger Chemmy said...

O'Neill was benched for the last month of the season, and Peca played 40 games.

 
At 12:24 PM, August 21, 2007, Blogger Chemmy said...

Peca and O'Neill combined for 24 goals. They're two people. Replacing two guys who scored 24 goals total with a guy who scored 40 last year is an obvious upgrade.

 
At 1:52 PM, August 21, 2007, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

Unlike the Ducks, Flames and Stars (other Western teams considered to have great defenses), the Canucks and Kings have the ability to ice high-quality defensemen at all times whereas the aforementioned teams will have the likes of Joe DiPenta, Rhett Warrener and Nolan Baumgartner playing minutes.

I don't really want to get in a blueline pissing match, but I've got the Ducks (minus Niedermayer) going with these defensemen:

Pronger, Schneider, Beauchemin, O'Donnell, Hnidy, Huskins, Kondratiev, Dipenta.

At least those are the ones under contract coming to camp. We'll see whether the threat of Dipenta playing 10 minutes a game next year holds water or not.

Besides, if last year was any indication, not much gets won or lost by 6th defensemen anyway.

 
At 6:19 AM, October 05, 2007, Blogger Keegan said...

joe said: "Not only that, but because three teams are making big steps, and all of whom will play Dallas (including 8 games, for much improved Colorado), thats less easy points for the Stars"
Dallas wont play colorado 8 times, they will play a crappier anaheim, an improved (?) san jose, an improved los angeles, & a crappier (if possible) phoenix... Dallas will do just fine me thinks.

 
At 10:15 AM, June 18, 2008, Anonymous Stefan said...

Good Job! :)

 

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