Philabright’s 2008-09 preseason NHL power rankings

It took multiple Red Bulls and numerous gnawed pencils, but Philabright’s first ever NHL power rankings have finally been completed.  All teams were ranked by a mix of where Philabright believes they will finish and their potential to succeed this upcoming season

1. Detroit Red Wings

The dominant Stanley Cup champions lost no one in the offseason, but add Marian Hossa. Are you kidding me?

2. Dallas Stars

Having a healthy Sergei Zubov and Philippe Boucher and a full season with Brad Richards instantly makes an already good Stars team a contender. Add Sean Avery and Swedish wildcard Fabian Brunnstrom to the recipe and suddenly they have the character and swagger of a potential Stanley Cup champion.

3. San Jose Sharks

With all their forward talent still in place, the Sharks got more experienced on the blue line, adding Rob Blake, Brad Lukowich and Dan Boyle, while also replacing stagnant coach Ron Wilson with former Detroit Red Wings assistant coach Todd McLellen, in hopes that some of that magic Detroit Stanley Cup dust comes with him.

4. Philadelphia Flyers

In the 2007-08 post-season, the Flyers took down the hottest team in the league, the Washington Capitals, and dominated the Eastern Conference champion Montreal Canadians, all without top scorer Simon Gagne. The incredible run should give buckets of confidence to the young Flyers, who return 16 full time players, including a healthy Gagne.

5. Montreal Canadians

The addition of Alex Tanguay should help with some added offensive depth. But the real question is which Carey Price will show up? And can 35-year old Alex Kovalev provide an encore of his incredible performance last season?

6. Pittsburgh Penguins

Last season, the Pens had a nice balance of grittiness and finesse. The grit provided by Gary Roberts, Georges Laraque and Ryan Malone and the finesse of Evgeni Malkin, Marian Hossa and Sidney Crosby. But now that Roberts, Malone, Laraque and Hossa have parted ways with the organization, and softer depth players Ruslan Fedontenko and Miroslav Satan step in, one wonders if the magic that carried the Pens to the finals still remains.

7. Calgary Flames

Simply having Miikka Kiprusoff and Jerome Iginla on their roster, keeps the Flames in the upper echelon of the league. Mike Cammalleri is brought in to add some spark and finish the job that Alex Tanguay failed to.

8. Edmonton Oilers

The skilled, young Oilers finished the 2007-08 season strong, prompting excitement and optimism for the 2008-09 season. Added vets Lubomir Visnovsky and Erik Cole give Edmonton an extra gear and make its already good power play, even better.

9. Chicago Blackhawks

The offseason additions of goalie Cristobal Huet and defenseman Brian Campbell give the Hawks a zesty playoff team feel. But it will be ultimately up to the play of their young defense corps that will decide how far the Hawks really do go.

10. Washington Capitals

Chris Clark’s return from injury and the debut of rookie defenseman Karl Alzner, should give the young Capitals a boost. But banking the season’s success on Jose Theodore in goal still leaves the door open for a clunker of a season. Good thing for the Caps that the Southeast division is the bad news bears of hockey.

11. New Jersey Devils

Last season, the Devils surprised everyone by being good, thanks to a certain Hall of Fame goaltender. With the addition of Brian Rolston and Bobby Holik, the Devils have the character and leadership to stay in the playoff picture, despite being the second oldest team in the league.

12. Phoenix Coyotes

The budding Coyotes appear to be heading in the direction of the playoffs. With a legit number-one goalie in Ilya Bryzgalov and a legit number-one center in Olli Jokinen, the Coyotes suddenly seem … well, legit. With youngster Peter Mueller and rookie Kyle Turris leading the youth charge, Phoenix will be in the mix all season.

13. New York Rangers

The Rangers went under the knife in the offseason, taking on a completely different look but not adding much substance. Swapping out long time Rangers Jaromir Jagr and Martin Straka for Markus Naslund and Nikolai Zherdev, is more of a lateral move than one that puts the Rangers over the top. Henrik Lundqvist keeps the Blue Shirts competitive, but Wade Redden as the team’s number-one defenseman just won’t cut it.

14. Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks, once a power house, have slowly drifted into mediocrity. Still loaded with young talent like Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, the Ducks will need much more from some of their veterans if they want to go anywhere this season.

15. Minnesota wild

Forward Antti Miettinen is a suitable replacement for aging Pavel Demitra, but the Wild still don’t have that knockout offensive player to carry them to elite status. Marian Gaborik could be considered that player, if he didn’t miss 60 games a year due to injury.

16. Columbus Blue Jackets

Columbus decided to go quantity instead of quality in the offseason market, and don’t get much better because of it. R.J Umberger as a number-one center probably won’t work. Raffi Torres and Kristian Huselius give the Jackets some depth but not much else. Fedor Tyutin and Mike Commodore won’t replace the points, or the power play quarterback duties done by the departed Ron Hainsey. What Columbus gets now is the typical boring system created by coach Ken Hitchcock – low scoring, solid defense and terrible on special teams.

17. Nashville Predators

The loss of Alexander Radulov hurts, but won’t be the deciding factor on Nashville’s season. The Preds will live and die by their defense, which is one of the youngest and most talented in the league. The real question is whether Dan Ellis is a legit number-one goalie.

18. Boston Bruins

Much to the chagrin of Bruins fans, the organization did not add anyone of significance in the offseason, meaning the Bruins will do what they did last year, run hot and cold all season. But can Tim Thomas save them again this year?

19. Ottawa Senators

Still possessing two of the filthier forwards in the league in Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza, the Sens continue to have no goaltending and that hurts them deeply in the long run.

20. Carolina Hurricanes

The plus side is that the Canes begin the season healthy, something they haven’t been since early late 2007. The down side is that goalie Cam Ward hasn’t been the same since he won the Stanley Cup in 2006. If Ward can sure up his position, and the Canes get something out of newly acquired Joni Pitkanen, they are in a bad enough division to be in playoff position as a slightly above average team.

21. Colorado Avalanche

With Captain Joe Sakic leaning toward retirement and the team relying on Peter Budaj to be the full time backstop, rough days could be ahead for the Avs.

22. Tampa Bay Lightning

In the offseason, the Lightning were committed to climbing out of the basement. A new coach, new owners and seven new forwards under contract, including Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts, Radim Vrbata and Mark Recchi – means a lot has changed in Tampa. Stamkos gives the Bolts legitimate depth at center and Kolzig sures up the goaltending spot. With two of the best forwards in the Eastern Conference in Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis, Tampa will show that it can score, but can a Matt Carle-led defense keep teams at bay?

23. St Louis Blues

Even with a question mark at goalie, the Blues are still climbing very slowly into the playoff picture. It will be up to the youngsters on defense to drive the Blues into respectability.

24. Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks bring in some new blood, shipping Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison out, and bringing Pavol Demitra and Steve Bernier in. The ‘Nucks are still in the running for Mats Sundin, and they would need the help to be more than just average this season.

25. Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres have all the talent in the world, but they seem to be lacking something. Maybe it’s a top-line power forward to smash home rebounds, or maybe it’s just some gritty leadership. Either way, it looks like another average season for Buffalo.

26. Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs did next to nothing in the offseason and it could be due to their love affair with selecting top prospect John Tavares in the 2009 NHL entry draft. But that still might be a mistake, as Tavares’ stock has dropped in the past year from being a ‘can’t miss’ number-one overall selection, to potential top-5 pick.

27. Los Angeles Kings

The Kings are $27 million under the cap, with only four NHL defensemen under contract. That means there will be a major youth movement at the blue line, featuring Thomas Hickey and Drew Doughty . Losing Mike Cammalleri will hurt the overall offense and young goalie Jonathan Bernier will take his licks. Overall, the Kings face a promising future, but this upcoming season may not be pretty.

28. Atlanta thrashers

Free agent pick up Ron Hainsey will help solidify an atrocious defense corps, and the debut of Zach Bogosian and Angelo Esposito will give Atlanta fans a peek at the future. But other than that this team stinks. Atlanta has $18 million under the salary cap and was willing to spend, but no one wanted to come there. Kind of makes you feel bad about the wasted talent of one of the league’s most exciting players in Ilya Kovalchuk.

29. Florida Panthers

When Cory Stillman is your best offensive weapon, your team is screwed.

30. New York Islanders

The media is bustling about the Islanders youth movement. But what Long Island has actually become is where old players go to die. The Islanders have three players in Bill Guerin, Doug Weight and Mike Sillinger that would make the team a contender if it were 1997. Add Trent Hunter, Mike Comrie and Jon Sim and voila, you get a really depressing/boring year for the Isles. Hey, at least rookies Blake Comeau and Kyle Okposo will be interesting to watch.

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “Philabright’s 2008-09 preseason NHL power rankings

  1. Ryan

    So let me get this straight…you drop the penguins for losing laraque, who played like 3 minutes per game. Roberts, who missed have the season and had 13 points. and Hossa, who they got at the trade deadline…as if to say they can’t get another trade deadline ambassador this year….But then you point out the Canadiens got washed up Tanguay, but not that they lost their top two defensemen. I can see why Philly is fourth for you and not 8th…because you’re biased for them. The Sharks were the hottest team in the league going into the playoffs last year, not the Capitals. You should stop writing power rankings.

  2. Ryan Bright

    The Pens dropped not because they lost some low stat depth players, but because guys like Malone and Laraque gave character and grit to a team that otherwise had none. If you followed hockey long enough you would see that the perfect mixture is needed to make it far and the Pens had that last year. I’m not sold on heartless Satan or the disappearing act that is Fedotenko. Not to mention since the 1990-91 season, the Stanley Cup final runner up averages 88 points per season and the Eastern Conference final runner up averages 93. Since 1990-91 not ONE Stanley Cup final loser has made it back to the finals, where as two ECF losers made it to the finals, with one winning it.

    The Canadians won the Eastern Conf. last year and only added to the team’s offense in the offseason. Mark Streit was overrated and Andrei Markov and Mike Komisarek are the “two best defensemen”. The Flyers rank ahead of them because of the shellacking they put on the Habs in the playoffs.

  3. Ray

    You’ve got the big three right. Knock 10 places off the Ducks to put them at 4th. Drop your Flyers to 7th (nice try homer, but you’re still 3rd in the Golfers Conference) moving the Habs and Penguins up a spot. You forget that Anaheim plays in the toughest division–we both have 4 playoff teams from the Pacific including 2/3 contenders.

  4. Ryan Bright

    The Ducks are not a bad team on paper, but can you explain what happened last year? They did not look good.

  5. Rich DeMatteo

    I agree with PhilaBright.

    The Pens still have an undeniably strong offense. They were strong in that section without hossa. Unfortunately for the Pens, what is stopping the oh so horrible Flyers players to stomp a skate in Crosbys eyeballs? Nothing. The grit, goon, and gloom players are gone. Oh wait, I’m sorry Crosby’s been in one fight, so he’ll be fine. Bottom line here is that the chemistry/balance of the team is completely gone. Ask the 2006/2007 Flyers what chemistry means. Losing Primeau, Jonnson, Handzus, and desjardin did not seem like big blows, but it blew big time being last int he league. If anything, Pens saving grace could be Fleury. After a strong season, a big question will be if he can repeat his performance. This next year is Fleurys biggest, and will either prove he belongs, or proves hes a BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITCH

    CAREY PRICE IS A PUNK……..His life is the second round…deal with it Habs……

    Flyers fourth makes sense….and yes I’m from philly… Go spit on your mother….

    NOW THATS SOME CLASS FOR YOU

  6. Ray

    2nd in the toughest division and a 1st round loss to a slightly better team in the same division. Someone had to lose. Same with SJ in the second round.

    Selane and Nedermeyer weren’t on the team for the first half of the season.

    I can’t say that the Ducks improved, but I don’t see anyone in the same class other than the Stars and Sharks who did.

    The Wings didn’t need Hossa, but they prevented any potential title snatchers from getting him. The Sharks and Wings have the same wildcard this season. The loss of their asst coach may be the Wings only weakness going into the season.

  7. Ryan Bright

    All good points Ray. I really think Brendan Morrison is the kiss of death though.

  8. Cory

    I agree with the dropping of the Ducks and not just because I’m a Wings fan. They just don’t look that good. The offense last year was beyond terrible and really didn’t get any better. They could have Selanne for the whole year but they’re going to have to get rid of Schneider who was their best defenseman last year despite the fact they have Pronger and Niedermayer on their team. Speaking of those two they both had mediocre years by their standards. If those are any indication of future performance that doesn’t look good for their defense. Their third problem is they are a Brian Burke team. Good for the short-haul but no plan for the long-term. I guess Burke has been to busy basking in his own genius after they won the Stanley Cup team to realize this team needs some new younger and faster players.

  9. Bryan

    Overall I like the rankings, some teams you threw up there based on offseasons and others you put a wee bit too high (I’m from Philly and I’m a diehard Flyers fan but the Canadians and Pens are better teams). Also, I really think Boston could be the surprise team, with their system and size they can beat any team in the East. Lastly, to all the people who comment on the the toughest division in hockey being the Pacific, please, the Atlantic division is unmatched, all All-Star goalies with some of the top players in the game playing eachother in bloodbaths all season, nothing matches the play.

  10. Ray

    Unfortunately for the Pens, what is stopping the oh so horrible Flyers players to stomp a skate in Crosbys eyeballs?

    Eric Godard

  11. Ryan Bright

    Bryan, there is an argument for the Pens being a better team than the Flyers, but I don’t think there is a good one for Montreal. The Habs got dismantled in the playoffs last season at the hands of the Flyers and added Tanguay, but lost Streit. The Habs will be a good team, but I believe the Flyers AND Pens are a bit better in the long run.

    As for Boston, I love Lucic and their defense, but that goaltending situation is no good. They were an eight-seed last season and did not add anyone to the team, so what makes them suddenly so good?

    Ray, the Flyers and Pens had some great battles last season with Laraque and Malone and even Roberts. Godard trying to replace all three of them just won’t work. Remember, the Flyers added Arron Asham in the offseason as well.

  12. M_lloyd

    Coming from the UK my opinion probably counts less, but as a massive flyers fan i don’t see how you have us finishing any higher than 10th. We need at least 2 good puck moving d-men (bring back Pitkanen) and until Gagne can prove he can play 50+ games a season, i just cant see us topping the east for a few years. My money is on the stars for this years cup.

  13. M_lloyd

    oh and the Coyotes at 12 haha, 25th and they have done well.

  14. Ryan Bright

    Lloyd, thanks for the input. First off, the Flyers finished in the final four last season in impressive fashion. They also were only seven points from the division lead. Those, plus the fact that the Flyers didn’t lose anyone of real substance, leads me to believe they will be higher than 10th and will contend for the division. All reports from the team are saying Gagne is in better health than he was before the concussion, he is in better shape and has been working on getting stronger. As for asking for two more puck-moving defensemen, good luck. They are very hard to come by. But don’t forget you have Timonen, who is one of the best power play qb’s in the game.

    The Coyotes have a solid number-one goalie in a contract season for a full year, and added a number-one center in Olli Jokinen. They had a decent season last year, look for them to slip into the playoffs this year.

  15. JD

    Wow, I can’t believe that you actually ranked Edmonton, Chicago, and Phoenix that high on your board considering they didn’t make the playoffs. You actually rank them above Minnesota, Calgary, and Anaheim. I’m assuming that you Flyers fan and watch the Eastern Conference, but seriously…you actually believe that you think those three teams will vault into the playoffs? Even worse is you have Columbus at 16! They finished 24th last season.

    As for your MN comments, I guess someone forgot to give you the memo. Marion Gaborik finished 8th in the NHL in scoring, and is still a very young man. Played 77 out of 82, scored 42 goals, 41 assists, and a +17. Mike Richards didn’t even have that good of a season (28 goals, 47 assists, +14).

  16. Ryan Bright

    Regardless of if they made the postseason or not last year, EDM, Chicago and Phoenix are better teams this season. I can’t say that about MN or Anaheim. Edmonton was thriving toward the end of the season and if it wasn’t for the horrid start to the season, would have made the playoffs. Their goalie situation is not the best but they added veteran Erik Cole, Lubomir Visnovsky and will get a healthy Souray back. Chicago was a decent young team last season and added Huet and Campbell. Columbus got better as well. Voracek, Umberger and Torres are not going to jettison the Jackets to top ten in the league, but give enough depth to make them better than last year.

    There is no doubt Gabby is an incredible player, one of my favorites actually. But I’m not sure he can be as effective as the go-to guy on offense, without a sound supporting cast. Can guys like Brunette and Bouchard be relied on to to win some games? I guess we’ll see. As for injury problems, Gaborik missed half the season in 06-07 and around 20 games in 05-06. The fact they he was healthy last season may just be a fluke. I hope he proves me wrong, since I plan to pick him up on my fantasy team.

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