A Look Into the Northwest Division

Now that we have finished the entire Pacific Division review, it is time to look at the rest of the league. We will begin with the Northwest division. Only one team from that division made the playoffs, and they made is all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Vancouver Canucks:

The Canucks won the presidents trophy last season and dominated overall. They had a great post-season where they made it to the Stanley Cup Finals and eventually ended up losing in game 7 to the Boston Bruins.

Losses:

The Canucks lost five players off of their Stanley Cup roster this off-season. The biggest impact was defenseman Christian Ehrhoff who’s rights were traded to the Islanders. Once a deal could not be made, Ehrhoff was again sent over to Buffalo where he signed a hefty contract. He generally played around 24 minutes a game and put up impressive numbers. Another big departure was gritty forward Raffi Torres who signed a deal in Phoenix. Jeff Tambellini, Tanner Glass and Alex Bolduc are also off the Canucks.

Gains:

The Canucks have given Owen Nolan a professional tryout this season, which should be interesting come training camp time. Marco Sturm signed a one year contract with Vancouver, and could be a reliable second winger if he can recover from his knee surgeries. They also made several depth signings for their AHL affiliate including, Andrew Ebbett, Matt Climie and Mark Mancari.

Overview:

The Canucks will likely be without Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond until November, which could bring them a rough start.  As long as the Sedin brothers can produce and Luongo brings his A-game, they will be fine for awhile without Kesler in the lineup. When Kesler is 100%, with the exception of Ehrhoff, the core of the Canucks is still intact which will make them, as always, one of the best teams in the Western Conference.

Calgary Flames

The Flames have missed playoffs the past two seasons and have made a few moves that will hopefully get them back in Cup contention.

Losses:

The Flames traded Ales Kotalik and Robyn Regehr to the Buffalo Sabres this off-season. Adam Pardy and Steven Staios were not re-signed by the Flames. One of the bigger losses in terms of prospects was 2009 1st round pick Tim Erixon, who was traded to the Rangers when a deal could not be made.

Gains:

Anton Babchuk and Chris Butler  were added to the Flames roster which will add depth to their blue line. They also managed to re-sign Alex Tanguay who has been providing solid secondary scoring. Tough guy Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond has also been added for his grittiness.

Overview:

The Flames roster is relatively the same as it was last season, where they finished 10th in the West. The Flames have a solid core of veterans in Jarome Iginla, Curtis Glencross, Rene Bourque and Mikka Kiprusoff. It is evident they are depending on their veterans to step it up and lead this team to a Stanley Cup run.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche have been in a building stage for the past few seasons and there have been several signs of overall improvement. This off-season the Avs signed some big names to their roster.

Losses:

The Avs lost both their goalies this off-season, when Peter Budaj went to the Canadiens and Brian Elliot went to the Blues. Tomas Fleischmann also left and signed a deal with the Florida Panthers. The biggest loss would have to be star defenseman John-Michael Liles, who led the Avs blue liners in points with 46.

Gains:

The Avs made some big purchases when they grabbed goalies Semyon Varlamov and former Duck Jean-Sebastien Giguere. This is a huge improvement from Budaj and Elliot. Varlamov is a young goaltender with tons of promise and Jiggy is a very respected veteran. Another big addition was first round draft picks Gabriel Landeskog (#2) and Duncan Siemens (#11).

Overview:

The Avalanche have done some solid rebuilding this off-season and are looking like a stronger team. Although there are still many questions, such as how will their prospects handle the NHL, and will the blue line suffer without Liles? I wouldn’t expect the Avs to be cup contenders, but they should have a better season this year.

Minnesota Wild

The Wild have not made the post-season since 2008 due to their unstable goaltending and mediocre offense. Some dramatic changes were made to try and turn things around. Mike Yeo has replaced former head coach Todd Richards.

Losses:

The Wild traded off Brent Burns and Martin Havlat to the San Jose Sharks this off-season. Burns and Havlat both put up impressive offensive numbers and it will hurt them. They also let go of John Madden and Andrew Burnette.

Gains:

The Wild picked up Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi and Charlie Coyle, all from the San Jose Sharks. Heatley and Setoguchi will be big for replacing the numbers that Havlat and Burns were putting up.

Overview:

A lot of pressure will be put onto Mike Yeo, who will have to turn the Wild around. Again, I would not expect the Wild to be a top contender, but they should have an interesting year this season.

Edmonton Oilers:

Edmonton is still in a major rebuilding process, but they had some positives this off-season. Last year they were a very exciting team to watch, they look to continue that this season.

Losses:

The Oilers lost Andrew Cogliano and Kurtis Foster to the Anaheim Ducks, Jim Vandermeer, who’s with San Jose and depth centerman Colin Fraser, now with Los Angeles. Not too many huge losses for the Oilers this off-season.

Gains:

The Oilers had another 1st round pick, where the chose Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who is another beast forward. A big addition was Ryan Smyth whos veteran experience will help Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle. Another veteran added to their roster was Eric Belanger, who is a solid secondary goal scorer.

Overview:

This season will show whether or not the Oilers have what it takes to be a serious contender the next few seasons. With such a young roster, expect to see a ton of energy on the ice. The Oilers probably won’t be getting another 1st round draft pick next off-season.

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Tags: Andrew Ebbett Calgary Flames Christian Ehrhoff Colorado Avalanche Curtis Glencross Daniel Sedin Edmonton Oilers Gabriel Landeskog Henrik Sedin Jarome Iginla Martin Havlat Matt Climie Minnesota Wild Northwest Division Roberto Luongo Vancouver Canucks

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