Story by Charlie Crowley
When I’m tasked with writing this column, my editor gives me a team and then I talk about how bad they are and how with a bit of skill, voodoo magic, and a realignment of the cosmos, they may possibly not be completely awful this coming year. Luckily, this time I get to talk about teams that may already be good, but can be better. Let us proceed.
Dallas Stars – Dallas was the first team I thought about when assigned this article. A team that was on the outside looking in this past season, the Stars are ready to shine bright. Led by Art Ross winner Jamie Benn and speedy sniper Tyler Seguin, they added extra firepower with the recent signing of former Chicago Blackhawk Patrick Sharp. Although they lost Trevor Daley, one of, if not their top defenseman, they also signed former Hawk Johnny Oduya, who can put up big minutes while playing a stay at home style of defense. Add in veteran Jason Spezza and up-and-coming defenseman John Klingberg, and Dallas has potential to be a force to be reckoned with.
Colorado Avalanche – Colorado is a team that had an off year. The skill that they possess is evident, and their roster is chock full of players that will play their hearts out every night. Led by their captain Gabriel Landeskog, crafty playmaker Matt Duchene, and Nathan Mackinnon, a human highlight reel, the Avs are ready to get back to the playoffs after a one year absence. They also boast seasoned veteran and future hall of famer Jarome Iginla and a strong offensive defenseman in Tyson Barrie, both of whom provide secondary scoring and depth. Goaltending could be a possible issue, but certainly one that can be taken care of with the help of a strong front end.
Columbus Blue Jackets – The Blue Jackets are coming ready to play this next season with a big signing in forward Brandon Saad. Saad, who is only 23, is a strong and speedy winger who flourished in his first few years in the NHL with Chicago. Although the question to be answered is how he will play in a stadium with fewer fans – and without the aid of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Marian Hossa – he will have support in the Buckeye State from Ryan Johansen, who is coming off a career year. Although goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is coming off a subpar year, he is still an elite goaltender who can pull a big load. Their defense corp also will have an upside in 21 year old Ryan Murray, and having Jack Johnson back and focused will help too.
Calgary Flames – Yes, I know, they made the playoffs this year, but boy is the fire back in Calgary. With the recent signing of Dougie Hamilton from Boston, the Flames will boast an even stronger blue line, along with TJ Brodie and a fully recovered Mark Giordano. Up front the Flames will still boast the high flying line of Jiri Hudler, Sean Monahan, and Johnny Gaudreau, and signing Michael Frolik this offseason will help strengthen their bottom six forward group. The goaltending battle between Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo will also prove interesting.
About the Writer…
Charlie Crowley is a soon to be junior studying communication and journalism. He spends most of his time playing hockey, sleeping, eating, and on Reddit. He’s also a Hoosier, and proud of it, but can’t hit the open three to save his life.