Who Will Be Canada’s Top NHL Team In 2014-15
In Canada, hockey is life. We take a quick look at all Canadian based NHL teams to determine who has the best chance to be Canada’s top club.
In Calgary, they are starting a new era after trading Jarome Iginla a few seasons ago. Although there is some up and coming talent coming in, many feel that the Calgary Flames are expected to struggle this season.
Much like their provincial rivals Edmonton Oilers, the Flames are going to start building their way to the top through the draft. Sean Monahan had a decent season and hoping the sophomore slump does not affect him.
A positive note for the Flames is their goalie situation. Over the summer, the Flames acquired Jonas Hiller from the Ducks and Reto Berra has shown some promising results this past season. The Flames hope to continue their chippy, never-give-up style of play that gives their competitors a run for their money.
We shall see how far that takes them in a very competitive Pacific Division and Western Conference.
Much like their hockey jerseys, the Vancouver Canucks have gone through a lot of changes over the past summer. After a season gone wrong, gone is Coach John Tortorella and GM Mike Gills. President Trevor Linden brought in new coach Willie Desjardins and GM Jim Benning.
The Canucks traded veteran Ryan Kessler but got some decent depth players in return with Nick Bonino and Luca Sbisa. With Luongo traded away, it’s now “Miller Time” in Vancouver. However, the main question will be if Ryan Miller’s age will affect him and whether he can fill in the big shoes left from Roberto Luongo.
Lastly, there is going to be a big focus on Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Given their age and struggles last season, the Canucks are hoping that they can bounce back and produce just like in seasons past.
After returning to Winnipeg three seasons ago, the Jets have not made the playoffs since their move from Atlanta and fans in Winnipeg are thirsting for playoff hockey.
During the offseason, the struggles with Evander Kane have been well documented. With his radio interview and Twitter shenanigans, there is some speculation on what is going to happen to Kane and his future in Winnipeg.
However, not all is lost with the Jets. Through a trade, this team is only one or two players away from a making the playoffs. They will need to address their goaltending, as Ondrej Pavelec has been struggling. This season, look for Mark Scheifele to crack the roster and look for a full time role with the Jets.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Hoping to build on a playoff appearance during a lockout shortened season, the Toronto Maple Leafs crashed and burned last season. New Team President Brendan Shanahan is hoping to address the Leafs issues as the team has made the playoffs once in the past nine season.
There are some questions surrounding Dion Phaneuf regarding his leadership and style of play. The Leafs main acquisition this summer was Stephane Robidas, hoping he will provide some veteran leadership on the blue line. If James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier can stay healthy along with Phil Kessel scoring much like he did last season, the Leafs are hopeful to pick up the pieces after a disastrous free fall at the end of the season.
For the rebuilding season Oilers, every season starts off with promise before reality sets in. Last year, the Oilers stumbled out of the gate and were not able to recover. With a solid goaltending duo in Ben Scrivens/Victor Fasth and increasing size by trading for Teddy Purcell, Mark Fayne and Benoit Pouliot, the Oilers should make a better impression starting the season.
One of the main questions is with Nail Yakupov. After going through what is hopefully just a sophomore slump, the Oilers are looking for Yakupov to improve his work ethic and produce to his potential. Oilers fans and management are looking forward to Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent Hopkins to increase their role on the team and hopefully get the Oilers close to a playoff spot this season.
A new era is set to begin in Ottawa with the departure of Jason Spezza. Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan now has an opportunity to shine now that Jason Spezza has left to play with Dallas.
Despite missing the playoffs and having a season plagued by injuries, the Senators are hoping that a healthy Erik Karlsson can lead the way for the Sens. Craig Anderson was having a stellar before his head injury, but looks forward to bounce back. Also look for Mika Zibanejad to crack the roster this season and finally play side by side with the Senators.
The Senators are a pick to be a dark horse in the Eastern Conference this year.
Although there is no true captain on the team, with PK Subban locked up long term, the Canadiens are looking for their highest paid player to lead the way this season. Carey Price had a stellar season, including his role in the Olympics. Had he not injured himself in the Eastern Conference Final, the Habs would have had a better chance of beating the Rangers.
Look for Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk to provide an offensive push this season. The main questions is: Can they build on last year’s playoff run? After tough series against the Lightning, Bruins and Rangers, many in Montreal are hoping that the Habs can repeat their recent success and once again become Canada’s best team.
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