Dynasty Hockey League

30,000 Feet in Air Predictions

Rather than prepare an in-depth analysis of each team, I thought it would be beneficial to split the conferences into three categories: Contenders, middlers and rebuilders. With regards to this, let’s analysis the Eastern Conference where, in my humble opinion, 7 playoff spots should be locks this season.

Eastern Conference Contenders:
1. Florida
2. Montreal
3. New Jersey
4. Ottawa
5. Pittsburgh
6. Toronto
7. Washington

As I mentioned, all should be playoff teams but all have flaws that will be difficult to address given that none of these teams have significant cap space to make additions without equal dollars being shipped out. The true jockeying among this group will arise at the trade deadline when areas of perceived weakness will be addressed due to the cap bump and whoever guesses successfully while retaining team chemistry will likely emerge as the Eastern Conference champion. It would be safe to assume these teams will be contenders for the next few seasons given the average age of their pro rosters fluctuates from 26 (New Jersey) to 30 (Pittsburgh but skewed due to fully pensioned Matt Cullen).

Eastern Conference Middlers:
1. Buffalo
2. New York Islanders
3. Winnipeg

Last season the Winnipeg Jets made several acquisitions around the trade deadline in order to separate themselves from the Islanders in order to secure the 8th seed in the East and then lost in 5 games to eventual champions, Ottawa Senators, in the first round of the playoffs. At first glance one would expect the same outcome as last season; however, both Buffalo and the Islanders have sufficient talent to mount a challenge to the playoff aspirations of Winnipeg. Buffalo is a young team on the rise while Winnipeg has enough solid young pieces to be in this category for years to come. The Islanders unfortunately lacked a GM this off-season and whoever takes the helm should weigh out the merits of engaging in a full blown rebuild as overall roster depth is an issue.

Eastern Conference Rebuilders:
1. Boston
2. Carolina
3. New York Rangers
4. Philadelphia
5. Tampa Bay

No disrespect to any of these teams or GMs as rebuilding is part of the cycle within any league format. The question will be who will be the first of these teams to make the leap to Contender status as all in the process of building prospect/pick depth to acquire key pieces when the time is right. Given their perspective bankrolls, I’m curious to see how soon Boston and Philadelphia make free agent acquisitions to augment the treasure troves of youth coming through their respective systems.

Western Conference Contenders:
1. Colorado
2. Columbus
3. Detroit
4. Minnesota
5. San Jose
6. St. Louis
7. Vancouver

As 7 positions were predicted for the Eastern Conference, I felt it necessary to be ballsy enough to go to that level in the West. The branch I climbed out on to make this prediction is more precarious in the West and I fully expect to fall on my ass as there are 5 other teams capable of making the playoffs in the West. Of these seven I think should make the playoffs, only Columbus and Minnesota have more than $1M in cap space at this time so the conference will likely shake-out towards the trade deadline and given the depth of talent in the West, whoever the SIM Gods punish this season will unfortunately earn themselves the Season 28 Epic Failure Award. Being in the East, I like the potential war in the West that will occur to crown a Conference champion.

Western Conference Middlers:
1. Chicago
2. Dallas
3. Los Angeles
4. Nashville
5. Vegas

Quite frankly, Chicago, Nashville and Vegas are stronger than a few teams I predict as locks in the East but all face uphill struggles to secure a playoff spot in the West due to the strength of competition. All five of these rosters have adequate talent to feast on inferior teams but which one will fare best against stronger teams that present more balanced rosters? Dallas and Los Angeles are both on the cusp of breaking through but team depth – especially goaltending – will prove to be the undoing of them. Dallas is poised to make significant additions are they have the required mix of cap space, prospect/pick capital and cash to quickly jump in if a Contender or Middler fails to live up to promise and the GM looks to make moves for the future.

Western Conference Rebuilders;
1. Anaheim
2. Calgary
3. Edmonton

Again, no disrespect but it will 4 plus seasons before any of these teams move up in ranking in the West primarily due to the conference strength. All these GMs have embraced rebuilds and are accumulating the necessary prospects, picks and bank roll to eventually turn the corner when they feel the time is nigh. By staying true to course, although short-term prospects are bleak, the window for the future should be open longer.

Good luck to all.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply