Posts Tagged St. Louis Blues

2017-18 Central Division Preview

Here’s the final part of my 2017-18 season preview, predicting on the Central Division for this season:

Chicago Blackhawks

Key Additions: Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad, Connor Murphy

Key Losses: Artemi Panarin, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Scott Darling, Marian Hossa

Everyone thought that the Chicago Blackhawks would win the Central Division last year. But no one — NO ONE — thought that they would be swept in the first round of the playoffs in four straight games scoring a combined total of three goals against the Nashville Predators. During locker room clean-out day, Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman promised changes, and he delivered, sacrificing talent for cost-certain roster stability. During Draft Day, two blockbuster trades were made: one sending Artemi Panarin and Tyler Motte to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Brandon Saad and Anton Forsberg, and another sending Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes for Connor Murphy. The former was to finally get captain Jonathan Toews going after two sub-par seasons (also to get a much-needed backup goaltender after Scott Darling signed with the Carolina Hurricanes), and the latter cost certainty for an unproven defenseman. But is all this change too much for a team that’s literally facing the end of a decade of sustained success? Not really. New opportunities arise from these departures, and it’s up to guys like Ryan Hartman, Nick Schmaltz, Vinnie Hinostroza, and Michal Kempny to step up to the plate and prove that they actually belong here. Also, after two years in Dallas, Patrick Sharp signed a one-year contract to potentially have his 15-year NHL career come full circle with one more round with the team he won three Stanley Cup rings.

Prediction: Fourth

Colorado Avalanche

Key Additions: Colin Wilson, Jonathan Bernie, Nail Yakupov

Key Losses: Mikhail Grigorenko, Francois Beauchemin

It was as bad as it could get for the Colorado Avalanche. They finished last season with the worst record in the NHL, and what looked to be having a top-3 selection in the NHL Draft, turned out to be the fourth-overall pick in the NHL Draft. With that pick, the Avs selected their cornerstone of their blue line, defenseman Cale Makar. Makar, who will be playing college hockey for UMass-Amherst, won’t probably be NHL-ready until 2020, so this gives time for the Avalanche to get younger and faster. There’s also the uncertain future of Matt Duchene mixed into the Avs’ season storyline this year, too. Are they willing to give up one of their best big-name players to make this team better?

Prediction: Seventh

Dallas Stars

Key Additions: Ben Bishop, Alex Radulov, Martin Hanzal, Marc Methot, Tyler Pitlick

Key Losses: Patrick Sharp, Antti Niemi, Ales Hemsky

The Stars we’re injury-plagued last season, and what could have been a successful season led to a sixth-place finish in the Central. During the offseason, issues concerning the team were hopefully fixed. Need a number-one goaltender? They signed Ben Bishop. Need a depth scorer? They signed Alex Radulov. Need a second-line center? They signed Marty Hanzal. Need help on defense? They acquire Marc Methot in a trade? And need a new voice of reason to guide this team forward? Look n further than rehiring the man that coached this team to a a Stanley Cup Championship back in 1999 in Ken Hitchcock. On paper, this looks to be the most-improved team in the NHL, and I believe this team will indeed bounce back and get back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year.

Prediction: Second

Minnesota Wild

Key Additions: Matt Cullen, Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno

Key Losses: Jason Pominville, Marco Scandella, Martin Hanzal

There were two notable stretches last season that defined the Minnesota Wild: the first one was the start of December to the All-Star break, when the Wild looked practically unbeatable, going 21-3-2 and was leading the Central Division to that point. The other was the month of March, when it looked like the Wild couldn’t win anything, going 4-10-2, and giving the Central Division away to the Chicago Blackhawks. Still, despite the best season ever in franchise history, the Wild were ousted by the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the playoffs in six games. It’s going to be tough to have a repeat of last season, not to mention that there are some holes in the roster that need to be filled, one of them being second-line center. Which brings up 2015 first-round draft pick Joel Eriksson Ek. Eriksson Ek is a player to watch and could help the Wild be successful this upcoming season.

Prediction: Fifth

Nashville Predators

Key Additions: Nick Bonino, Alexei Emelin, Scott Hartnell

Key Losses: James Neal, Colin Wilson

The Nashville Predators we’re THE big story of last season, riding momentum off of a four-game series sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks and advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in their 19-year history of their franchise. Now usually, the following year would be difficult for a team to repeat success. Not for the Predators. The Predators just kicked their championship window wide open, and will be a threat to be at the top of the Central Division for years to come. Based on what they have, they are, on paper, the best team in the Central for the fact that they have the three hockey phases — offense, defense, and goaltending — all in top shape.

Prediction: Central Division Champions

St. Louis Blues

Key Additions: Brayden Schenn, Nate Prosser, Chris Thorburn

Key Losses: David Perron, Nail Yakupov

The Blues did fine in a time of transition, but right now, they are facing a big challenge. Patrick Berglund underwent another shoulder surgery and will be out until December. Alex Steen will miss the start of the season with a broken hand. Most importantly, Robby Fabbri, whose season was cut short by a torn left ACL last season, re-tore that surgically-repaired ACL and will miss the entire season. A promising NHL career now looks like it’s in complete jeopardy after all that rehabilitation and you suddenly go back to square one. Can the Blues find a way to fill these holes, along with restructuring their defense?

Prediction: Sixth

Winnipeg Jets

Key Addition: Dmitry Kulikov, Steve Mason, Matt Hendricks

Key Loss: Ondrej Pavelec

The Jets should be a playoff team right now. However, taking unnecessary penalties and below-average goaltending have set the Jets back. They did solve that problem between the pipes by signing veteran goaltender Steve Mason. Mason, the 2009 Calder Trophy winner with Columbus, will mostly be mentoring Connor Hellebuyck on how to be a better goaltender. And if the Jets can cut down on penalties this season, they will be a very dangerous team in the Central.

Prediction: Fifth

Well, that concludes the 2017-18 season preview. The next time I’ll be posting something, the games will officially count!

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Countdown to the 2017 NHL Winter Classic: 1 Day

In the long, bitter rivalry that is the Chicago Blackhawks vs. the St. Louis Blues, there have been very memorable moments. Brett Hull sweeping Crazy Eddie Belfour and the Hawks in four straight games in 1993, Jonathan Toews’ Game 5 breakaway overtime winner in 2014, and last year, Troy Brouwer sends the team he won a Stanley Cup with to a first-round exit in a memorable Game 7. But if you ask any fan from both sides, the most memorable moment occurred on March 17, 1991.

The Blues and Blackhawks had a weekend home-and-home set. They were also both battling for the top spot in the Norris Division. On March 16, the Blackhawks beat the Blues 3-2 at the St. Louis Arena. The next night at Chicago Stadium, things got ugly. VERY UGLY. Some say it began with a check on Garth Butcher on Troy Murray. Some say it began when Jeremy Roenick checked Harold Snepsts. But when Glen Featherstone took liberties on J.R., Keith Brown had other ideas and all hell broke loose on the Stadium ice.

In the aftermath of the brawl, twelve players were ejected from the game, and both teams combined for a total of 278 penalty minutes. Both teams were fined $10,000, Scott Stevens was suspended two games, and both Mike Peluso and Kelly Chase each got hit the hardest with a 10-game suspension. Oh, and the Blackhawks won that game 6-4, en route to another Norris Division crown and the Presidents’ Trophy.

Well, that’s concludes the countdown to the 2017 NHL Winter Classic. I hope you enjoy the game, and I hope that your 2017 is a good one.

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2016-17 Central Division Preview

Here’s my predictions on the Central Division for this season:

Chicago Blackhawks

Key Additions: Brian Campbell, Michal Kempny

Key Losses: Andrew Shaw, Teuvo Teravainen, Bryan Bickell

There was a lot of turnover for the Chicago Blackhawks, but they did fix the problem of having a fourth defenseman in the offseasson with a returning familiar face. Brian Campbell returns to Chicago after spending the last five seasons in Florida. The major concern for the Hawks this season is forward depth. Can newcomers step up to the plate and prove they belong in the NHL and play a caliber worthy of not just this team, but this league?

Prediction: Fourth

Colorado Avalanche

Key Additions: Fedor Tyutin, Patrick Wiercioch, Joe Colborne

Key Losses: Mikkel Boedker, Zach Redmond, Shawn Matthias, Nate Guenin

After the disaster that was the Patrick Roy coaching era, the Avalanche start fresh with new head coach Jared Bednar. Bednar led the Cleveland Monsters to a Calder Cup championship last season, and he’s a players’coach. Can a new breath of fresh air bring back life into the Avs? It all depends if Nathan MacKinnon can bounce back after back-to-back sub-par seasons.

Prediction: Seventh

Dallas Stars

Key Additions: Dan Hamhuis, Jiri Hudler

Key Losses: Alex Goligoski, Colton Sceviour, Jason Demers, Vernon Fiddler

Last seasons, the Stars were the highest-scoring team in the NHL, and it propelled them to their first Central Division title since 1998. But what hindered them in the postseason was a questionable defense and even questionable goaltending. There was no clear-cut no. 1 goalie, and neither Antti Niemi nor Kari Lehtonen took full command and carried the team for the majority of the season. Despite resigning team captain Jamie Benn to a max contract (8 years, $76 million), there are still defensive holes that still need to be fixed.

Prediction: Second

Minnesota Wild

Key Additions: Eric Staal, Chris Stewart

Key Loss: Thomas Vanek

After a somewhat tumultuous season, the Minnesota Wild start fresh with a new coach. Bruce Boudreau goes to his third NHL team, and usually wherever he goes, success comes with him – regular-season success, that is. During his time in Anaheim, he led the Ducks to four straight Pacific Division titles. He earned that success because that team was built in the same way the team he coached prior, the Washington Capitals, was buikt. The Wild aren’t built in that same manner, but in a highly-competitive division like the Central, play like that could be encouraged to survive. Also, the Wild got some help on offense with the addition of Eric Staal. The big question is: is this the same Eric Staal that made a name himself in Carolina, or is this the Eric Staal that struggled as a rental player with the New York Rangers?

Prediction: Fifth

Nashville Predators

Key Additions: P.K. Subban, Matt Carle

Key Losses: Carter Hutton

Sometimes, it takes one move to put you over the top. When the Predators traded Shea Weber for P.K. Subban, they got a playmaking defenseman that’s fit for the Western Conference. And after a playoff run in which they beat the Anaheim Ducks in Seven Games, and pushed the San Jose Sharks to the brink, it’s safe to say the Preds have taken a HUGE step in becoming a Central Division top-three team.

Prediction: Third

St. Louis Blues

Key Additions: David Perron, Landon Ferraro

Key Losses: David Backes, Troy Brouwer, Brian Elliott

Last season’s playoff run was the first time the Blues appeared in the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2001. However, this season –  their 50th – is a season unlike any other. They are hosting a Winter Classic. It’s head coach Ken Hitchcock’s final season. and they are hoping that last season was absolutely no fluke. Despite the losses of David Backes, Troy Brouwer, and Brian Elliott, the Blues should STILL contend for top spot in the Central. The reasons are simple:

  1. Jake Allen should be ready as the Blues no. 1 goalie.
  2. Second-year players Colton Parayko and Robby Fabbri are gonna build off of their amazing rookie campaigns.
  3. Alex Pietrangelo is the perfect choice to be the Blues’ new captain.
  4. Good luck trying to stop Vladimir Tarasenko.

Prediction:  Central Division Champions

Winnipeg Jets

Key Addition: Shawn Matthias

Key Losses: None

The Jets are in the middle of a transitional phase. Since Andrew Ladd left, the Jets are slowly building themselves back up again, and one of those key cogs is 2016 first-round pick (second overall), Patrik Laine. Laine is a top-six sniper; a surefire top-line player. He could have the same impact that Teemu Selanne had 23 years ago with the original Jets. Also, with three goaltenders (Ondrej Pavelec, Michael Hutchinson, Connor Hellebuyck), the jets need to find a clear and concise no. 1 goaltender, and that is most likely going to be Hellebuyck.

Prediction: Sixth

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2015-16 Central Division Preview

Here’s my predictions on the Central Division for this season:

Chicago Blackhawks

Key Additions: Artem Anisimov, Trevor Daley, Ryan Garbutt

Key Losses: Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad, Johnny Oduya, Brad Richards

Three Stanley Cups in the last six seasons say a lot if you’re the Chicago Blackhawks, but with a lot of turnover during the offseason, several big names were lost (Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, Brandon Saad). But what the Hawks got in return were a second-line center (Artem Anisimov), a second offensive defenseman (Trevor Daley), a bottom-six forward (Ryan Garbutt), and a prospective forward that could end up being better than the player he replaced (Marko Dano). For this team, this is just business as usual. If they do repeat as Stanley Cup Champions this season, this dynasty becomes official, and this team becomes a team for the ages. This is a rare opportunity a select few get to have in their lifetime. Can the Hawks seize this meeting with history with an unprecedented fourth Championship in seven seasons?

Prediction: Central Division Champions

Colorado Avalanche

Key Additions: Blake Comeau, Francois Beauchemin, Carl Soderberg

Key Losses: Ryan O’Reilly, Jamie McGinn

The Colorado Avalanche took a step back last season after surprising everyone two seasons ago. And it wasn’t because of lack of talent. The Avs were banged up, and losing Nathan MacKinnon and Semyon Varlamov absolutely hurt their chances last season. Despite losing Ryan O’Reilly in a trade with Buffalo, the Avs got a big name to fill his spot: Carl Soderberg. The Avs should have a bounce-back season, but there are absolutely no guarantees.

Prediction: Seventh

Dallas Stars

Key Additions: Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, Antti Niemi

Key Losses: Trevor Daley, Ryan Garbutt, Shawn Horcoff

In order for the Dallas Stars to take “the next step forward”, General Manager Jim Nill made a BIG move, acquiring three-time Stanley Cup Champion Patrick Sharp in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks. Another BIG move was made by acquiring Antti Niemi from the San Jose Sharks and joining these former Hawks in Big D was defenseman Johnny Oduya. With a combined six Stanley Cup rings between these three players, the Stars are looking to make the quote “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” a mantra Stars fans should believe in this season.

Prediction: Third

Minnesota Wild

Key Additions: None

Key Loss: Kyle Brodziak

At one point, it looked like the Minnesota Wild were all but done. It looked like Mike Yeo was going to get fired. Instead, one move absolutely saved the Wild’s season. After spending most of his career as a backup goalie, Devan Dubnyk had a career year as the Wild’s starting netminder. Literally putting the entire team on his back, the Wild made the Playoffs, and upset the Central Division champion St. Louis Blues in six games in the first round. The following round was a complete 180. They faced off against the Blackhawks for the third straight season, and what looked to be a long playoff series turned out to be a four-game sweep the Wild were on the wrong end of. But Dubnyk earned himself a six-year contract, and with that, the expectation of “Can he do it again or is he a one-season wonder?” will arise.

Prediction: Fifth

Nashville Predators

Key Additions: Barret Jackman, Cody Franson

Key Losses: Taylor Beck, Viktor Stalberg

In Peter Laviolette’s first year as Nashville Predators head coach, a once defense-first team became an offense-first team and surprisingly finished second in the Central Division. It was literally and figuratively the most successful season in Predators history. Filip Forsberg had an amazing season in which he should’ve been a finalist for the Calder Trophy. But after losing to the Blackhawks in six games in the first round of the playoffs, not much needs to be changed in the offseason. Getting veteran defenseman Barret Jackman from St. Louis would definitely help the back-end. But like the Avalanche headed into last season, can the Preds prove last season was no joke?

Prediction: Fourth

St. Louis Blues

Key Additions: Troy Brouwer, Kyle Brodziak

Key Losses: T.J. Oshie, Barret Jackman, Zbynek Michalek

This season is going to be an absolute gut-check in St. Louis. With all the successes the Blues had over the last three seasons, including another Central Division title last season, they couldn’t find success where it mattered the most. For the third straight year, the Blues were ousted in the first round of the Playoffs in six games. This could be the last chance for head coach Ken Hitchcock to give the Blues a potential deep run at the Stanley Cup. Everything is set for the team that wears the Blue Note. Is Troy Brouwer the final piece to the puzzle, and was it worth trading T.J. Oshie to Washington?

Prediction: Second

Winnipeg Jets

Key Addition: Matt Fraser

Key Loss: Michael Frolik

Not much needed to be changed in Winnipeg, because for the first time in 18 years, the Whiteout returned. The Jets returned to the playoffs as one of the two wild-card teams that qualified for the playoffs last season. Despite being swept by the Anaheim Ducks in four staight games, just making the playoffs exceeded expectations in Winnipeg. Heading into this season, all the Jets need to do is build off of that momentum, and bring in confidence that they can do it again this season. This is definitely not the last you will hear about the Jets this upcoming season.

Prediction: Sixth

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2014-15 Central Division Preview

Here’s my predictions on the Central Division for this season:

Chicago Blackhawks

Key Addition: Brad Richards

Key Losses: Michal Handzus, Brandon Bollig, Nikolai Khabibulin

The Blackhawks were one goal away from making a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final for the third time in five years. Unlike like the year before, the Hawks were on the other side of the story as Alec Martinez ended their bid to repeat in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals with an overtime-winning goal. But don’t let that one loss fool everyone else in the NHL.  The Blackhawks were rebuilt to win, and they’ve done exactly just that; becoming one of the most successful teams in the NHL in the last five years. Like last year, this team didn’t have to change much, because they didn’t need to. The only major change the Hawks made was letting Michal Handzus walk into free agency and sign Brad Richards to a one-year contract after he got bought out by the New York Rangers in the offseason. The biggest move in the offseason was one out of necessity. On July 16, the Blackhawks signed franchise players Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to long-term contract extensions. Eight years, $84 million each; $188 million worth the price. If it wasn’t for their record against their own division, the Hawks wouldn’t have finished third. I still believe they are the team to beat in the Central Division, because they are one of the few teams in the NHL to excel on offense, defense, and  goaltending.

Prediction: Central Division Champions

Colorado Avalanche

Key Additions: Jarome Iginla, Danny Briere, Brad Stuart

Key Losses: Paul Stastny, P.A. Parenteau, Jean-Sebastien Giguere

The biggest surprise in the NHL last season was the Colorado Avalanche. No one thought the Avalanche would win the Central. But the stellar play of 2014 Calder Trophy winner Nathan MacKinnon, 2014 Lady Byng Trophy winner Ryan O’Reilly (who would’ve had a penalty-free season if he hadn’t played the puck with a broken stick), and a career year from 2014 Vezina Trophy finalist Semyon Varlamov led the Avs to a 52-win, 112-point season. During the playoffs, they were a little bit green, but played like a veteran team all the way to a Game 7 situation. There’s no doubt the Avalanche are for real, but it’s sometimes hard to catch lightning in a bottle twice. The Avs can do that with the addition of veterans Jarome Iginla, Danny Briere, and Brad Stuart. Who knows…they might have a chance to steal the Central Division again.

Prediction: Third

Dallas Stars

Key Additions: Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky, Anders Lindback

Key Loss: Alex Chiasson

The Stars scratched and clawed their way to a playoff spot last season. and gave the Anaheim Ducks a run for their money. And like las year, a blockbuster trade bolstered the Stars’ lineup, trading away Alex Chiasson for Jason Spezza. And with the free-agent signing of Ales Hemsky, maybe a little bit of Edmonton magic will be conjured in Big D by H & H (Horcoff and Hemsky). This team might be considered a “bubble team”, but this bubble team should be able to eke out another wild-card berth if they play good this year.

Prediction: Fifth

Minnesota Wild

Key Additions: Thomas Vanek, Jordan Schroeder, Brett Sutter

Key Losses: Matt Moulson, Clayton Stoner, Cody McCormick

The Minnesota Wild added another major Twin Cities native to the team. The biggest signing the Wild made this offseason was bringing in Thomas Vanek. The Wild have the tools to make another Playoff bid, but their biggest question mark is their goaltending situation. Niklas Backstrom has been hampered by injuries, Josh Harding has been suspended for sustaining a non-hockey injury, and Darcy Kuemper still hasn’t proven himself as a NHL-caliber goalie. If the Wild can figure out their goalie situation, then they can be considered a playoff team. But as of now, they’re a bubble team.

Prediction: Fourth

Nashville Predators

Key Additions: James Neal, Olli Jokinen, Derek Roy, Mike Ribeiro

Key Losses: Patric Hornqvist, Michael Del Zotto

This is not the Nashville Predators you’re used to seeing. Thanks to a couple of moves, like hiring Peter Laviolette as their new head coach, and acquiring goal-scoring forward James Neal from Pittsburgh, the Predators now put a high emphasis on offense and goal-scoring, a tactic that wasn’t used in the previous 16 seasons under Barry Trotz. Howver, there’s not much to be expected this season, because the Predators are still a work in progress. If Pekka Rinne gets back to form after an injury-plagued season last year, maybe the Preds have a chance to contend for a playoff spot.

Prediction: Sixth

St. Louis Blues

Key Additions: Paul Stastny, Carl Gunnarson

Key Losses: Ryan Miller, Vladimir Sobotka, Brenden Morrow, Derek Roy

There ain’t no cure for deja vu…or should I say Deja Blues? The last two playoff seasons in St. Louis looks more like an episode of the Twilight Zone.

  1. The Blues’ first playoff round matchup is against the defending Stanley Cup champion.
  2. Alex Steen scores the game-winning goal in overtime in Game 1.
  3. Barret Jackman scores the game-winning goal in Game 2.
  4. The Blues get shut out in Game 3.
  5. The Blues lead 3-2 at the end of two periods in Game 4, only to lose the game, 4-3.
  6. The Blues tie Game 5 on a goal by Alex Pietrangelo in the third period, only to lose the game in overtime, 3-2.
  7. The Blues score one goal in Game 6, and are eliminated from the playoffs after leading the series 2-0.

If the circle is going to break, thay can’t have a repeat of the end of last season in which they lost nine of their final 14 games of the regular season. The Blues do get a major addition in the form of St. Louis native Paul Stastny. However, their goaltending is a little bit questionable. Most likely, Brian Elliott will be the Blues’ starting netminder, but Jake Allen, last year’s winner of the Baz Bastien Memorial Award as the AHL’s best goaltender, wants to prove that he belongs. Just by seeing him last year with the Blues’ AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, Allen might have a case to being the no. 1 goalie in St. Louis.

Prediction: Second

Winnipeg Jets

Key Additions: Mathieu Perreault, T.J. Galiardi

Key Losses: Olli Jokinen, Al Montoya

For the Jets, not much was changed in the offseason, but as Paul Maurice enters his first full season as Jets head coach, this opportunity gives him time to establish an identity for his team. Will it be versatile? Hard-hitting? It’s not gonna be an easy task, but there are bound to be growing pains, and I won’t be surprised if the Jets are either trend up or trend down because of those times.

Prediction: Seventh

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2013-14 Central Division Preview

Here’s my predictions on the Central Division for this season:

Chicago Blackhawks

Key Addition: Nikolai Khabibulin

Key Losses: Dave Bolland, Michael Frolik, Viktor Stalberg, Ray Emery, Daniel Carcillo

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s exactly what you’re getting from the defending Stanley Cup champions this season. The team that put hockey back on the map after the lockout have the most difficult task of defending the Cup…and they’re gonna do it with most of the team intact from the previous season. It may seem like their offseason went by that fast, because it did go by that fast. And with the experience that this team has, they will be a dominant force to be reckoned with for years to come.

Prediction: Central Division Champions

Colorado Avalanche

Key Additions: Alex Tanguay, Cory Sarich

Key Losses: David Jones, Shane O’Brien, Greg Zanon

It really is a new era for the Avalanche. Patrick Roy is now head coach and 2013 No. 1 pick Nathan MacKinnon will be a contender to win the Calder Trophy this season. But when you take a look at the short-term picture, this team has a long way to go before they look like the team that won eight straight division titles in the mid-90s-early-2000s.

Prediction: Seventh

Dallas Stars

Key Additions: Tyler Seguin, Shawn Horcoff, Rich Peverley, Sergei Gonchar, Dan Ellis

Key Losses: Loui Eriksson, Eric Nystrom, Philip Larsen

Sometimes, a quality trade will help the team be better. When the Stars traded Loui Eriksson to Boston for Tyler Seguin, this was a quality trade that will work both ways for both teams. Also, it’s nice to bring in more veteran experience in. That’s what Shawn Horcoff brings to the table in the Big D.

Prediction: Sixth

Minnesota Wild

Key Additions: Nino Niederreiter, Keith Ballard, Matt Cooke, Jonathon Blum

Key Losses: Cal Clutterbuck, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Matt Cullen, Devin Setoguchi, Tom Gilbert

The Minnesota Wild are looking to build on a season where they made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. With the addition of players like Nino Niederreiter, Keith Ballard, and Matt Cooke, this team could potentially be in contention to steal the division.

Prediction: Third

Nashville Predators

Key Additions: Viktor Stalberg, Matt Cullen, Eric Nystrom, Matt Hendricks

Key Losses: Sergei Kostitsyn, Brandon Yip, Matt Halischuk, Hal Gill, Bobby Butler, Jonathan Blum

The Predators are retooled for this new season. 2013 first-round pick Seth Jones will have the chance to play with Shea Weber, and Viktor Stalberg could potentially be a top-six forward. All in all, the Preds have all the tools they need to make a return trip to the playoffs.

Prediction: Fourth

St. Louis Blues

Key Additions: Derek Roy, Brenden Morrow, Max Lapierre, Keith Aucoin, Alex Bolduc, Magnus Paajarvi

Key Losses: David Perron, Kris Russell

Much like last season, I honestly believe the St. Louis Blues are the only team that has a chance to legitimately unseat the Blackhawks atop the Central Division. For one thing, Alex Pietrangelo is gonna wear the Blue Note for a long time. Second, the addition of Derek Roy is a big improvement from David Perron, And third, this may be the time that the Blues have a deep playoff run: one that hasn’t been seen since Joel Quenneville took the Blues to the Western Conference Finals in 2001.

Prediction: Second

Winnipeg Jets

Key Additions: Devin Setoguchi, Michael Frolik, Matt Halischuk, Adam Pardy

Key Losses: Nik Antropov, Alex Burmistrov, Antti Miettinen

It’s the third season of the reincarnated Winnipeg Jets, and it’s about time they want the Whiteout to return. The Whiteout could return with the additions of forwards Devin Setoguchi and Michael Frolik. Unfortunately, keeping pucks out of their own net might be the primary reason that is preventing the Jets from making a return trip to the playoffs.

Prediction: Fifth

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“Because It’s The Cup”: All 2013 Team-Specific Ads

For the “Because It’s The Cup” ads for the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, team-specific versions are montages that focus on each playoff team, their history, its star player/players, or their team culture. The videos are shown in order of their seed in their respective conference. Here are all 16 team-specific “Because It’s The Cup” ads  for you to check out!

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