I continue onward with pre-season predictions. I have already done the West Conference and the Northeast Division. I continue to march onward through the East Conference by looking at the Atlantic Division. The Atlantic Division is usually one of the stronger East Conference divisions. In both of the last two years, four teams from this division have qualified for the playoffs.
I am continuing with my pre—season predictions today by looking at the Northeast Division. Here are my West Division picks. The Northeast Division has produced the East Conference regular season champion for the past three seasons and each year it has been a different team (Ottawa in 2006, Buffalo in 2007 and Montreal in 2008). That says that this division has some good teams and should be able to challenge for the division lead again.
The Nashville Predators have had a tenuous financial existence for the last couple of years. The problems started in earnest when original owner Craig Leipold decided to get out of the financial losses. There was an offer by Jim Balsillie to buy the team and bring it to Hamilton. This was turned down for a local group (that offered less money - but has made it easier for the NHL to approve his purchase of the Minnesota Wild). The team was eventually sold to that local group, but they have never been on strong ground financially. In order to get the deal together, the Nashville group asked for and received concessions from the city.
I have make predictions of the three West Conference divisions: the Northwest Division, the Pacific Division and the Central Division. Now I will that together to give a predicting ranking from one to fifteen within the conference. This will just be a listing of teams. For a bit of a detailed write-up look at the divisional predictions.
My pre-season hockey predictions continue today with Central Division. My Northwest Division predictions are here and my Pacific Division ones are here. The Central Division has been the division of the talented Detroit Red Wings and a bunch of also rans for the last couple years. Some of these teams have made a step forward, but I find it hard to imagine anyone catching the Red Wings.
Yesterday, I posted my Northwest Division predictions and today I will proceed with the Pacific Division. The Pacific Division has the most serious contenders of any West Conference division. They could very easily have more playoff teams than any other division in the conference.
With the season almost upon us, it is time to start posting my predictions for the 2008/09 season. Today, I am starting in the Northwest Division. Conventional wisdom is that this division will be weaker this season than it was in the past as it lost more talent then it gained in the off-season, but I am not sure that conventional wisdom is right. There are some solid teams in the division and none that I think should be among the bottom feeders in the conference. I think this division will not be the weakest in the West Conference
During the salary capped era, many of the bigger named players placed on waivers are waived because they have a bad contract. That contract is what prevents them from being claimed by any other team (at least until they hit re-entry waivers).
This was seen when the Anaheim Ducks waived Mathieu Schneider. Schneider is clearly a talented defenceman. In fact, he was ranked in the 2007 Hockey News top 50 players list. He is coming off of a season where he scored 39 points in 65 games; despite the fact the Ducks did not give him frontline playing time. Schneider cleared waivers. Eventually he was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers for Ken Klee, Brad Larson and Chad Painchaud. Atlanta would only take Schneider and his $5.625 million salary cap hit, if Anaheim took some salary in return.
James Mirtle wrote a couple blogposts about the pre-season schedule. It is a rather heavy schedule with 111 pre-season games (7.4 per team). Teams frequently play games on multiple nights on multiple cities with schedules they would never allow in the regular season. While not all players play in all pre-season games, a few do. On most teams, all but a couple roster spots are completely determined due to contract status and past results of the players on their team. Seven or more pre—season games are not needed to determine who makes the team and they certainly are not needed to get the players in shape for the season (as they largely come to training camp in playing shape). The only purpose they seem to hold is an increase in revenue for the owners, especially as season ticket holders are forced to buy tickets for these games that do not count for anything.
The NHLPA has a checkered history. Most recently, they were broken by the NHL owners in the 2004/05 lockout where a salary cap and cost certainty were instituted. Paul Kelly has taken over the union and wants to build its power back. Ideally, the NHLPA has to be a strong unified group that is willing to fight for the players when needed and the players have to believe that joining in the fight is beneficial to them. In order to do this he has created an NHLPA Advisory Board. It has eight members who include some high profile people. Its initial membership will be Buzz Hargrove, George Cohen, Ken Baumgartner, Steve Larmer, Ron Lloyd, Dan O’Neill, Ron Pink and Ian Troop.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
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