Press Western Conference questions ahead of the 2022-23 NHL season

Last week I took a look at the Eastern Conference and some of the unanswered questions looming as we head into the new season, and there was one trend: The league seems to have been brought closer together, as it has for many years flat. The salary cap has forced the top teams to take a few steps back, while many rebuilding teams are finally looking more willing to push their chips in.

There are some elements of that in the West as well, as well as some other big questions, like….

Colorado: Will Alexander Georgiev and Pavel Francus in goalkeeping be enough to reclaim the Stanley Cup title?

I’m not sure there is a more trophy champion goalkeeper than Darcy Quimper. It was 0.921 in the regular season, and in the biggest qualifying moments — like a Game 4 OT win during the Cup Final, and a 2-1 playoff in Game 6 — it was fantastic. We know that the Avs – even without Nazim Qadri – has at least enough skill to hang out with the best teams. Francos played no more than 34 games in a season, and Georgiev was 15-10-2 with a 0.896 save ratio last season (in a very good team). Can these two adequately replace Kuemper in the toughest sports position?

Calgary: Has The Flames withdrawn the equivalent of losing all of your money in a casino, having them go their way of shame to an ATM, and then actually getting all their money back and more?

OK, maybe this question was a little too specific for some of my own experiences – it’s also never been run that way – but there was a moment when it seemed like this was going to be a real ugly summer for the Flames. Then all of a sudden they ran and while they were counting their chips, it seemed like they had already advanced. If they are better than last season, they are certainly among a small group of cup favorites from the West en route to the season.

Edmonton: Can Oilers defense give enough elite attacking squad to win the Cup?

The Oilers forwards group is without a doubt one of the best in the NHL. The cornering of Conor McDavid and Leon Drysittle with Zach Hyman and Evander Kane proved effective last year, and I continue to love names beyond that, from Ryan McLeod to Ryan Nugent Hopkins to Jesse Polgojarvi and beyond. They are good good.

Goalkeepers, between Jack Campbell and Stewart Skinner, shouldn’t hurt them, and I wouldn’t be shocked if that tandem was in the first half of the league.

For me, it’s up to the back end. If they can limit the chances and move the disc quickly, the Oilers will be another legitimate contender for the cup in Alberta.

Nashville: Can Roman Josie, Matt Duchenne and Philip Forsberg repeat their career seasons to ensure the Brides get enough points?

All three Brids veterans had gigantic years, with Duchenne and Forsberg both scoring more than 40 goals and Josie overtaking his previous career high by 31 points.

They added Ryan McDonagh and Nino Neederetter to a team that was competitive last year. To stay there and even make a move they need these three vets to do it again. Is this possible?

Vegas: If not now, when?

The clock is close for good VGK. They’re still as talented as they can be on the back end, and they have the ability up front too. But the original “unfit” nucleus ages after 30 years and does not improve. Alec Martinez, Alex Petrangelo and Brayden McNabb are all over 30 too. They must be healthy (Mark Stone and Jack Eichel, to be specific), and they need shocking seasons from goalkeeper Logan Thompson and Aden Hill. The pressure is on for everyone to unite, as it wouldn’t get any easier for this team if they didn’t win now.

Vancouver: Can their Democratic Legion falter?

Competitive and talented up front, Thatcher Demko is heading into the season as one of a handful of Vesina favorites. But they’re running back from the same Division D as last season, which they’ve thought publicly about trying to fix in the past. For a team that can’t seem to decide whether to explode or not, will it get an internal improvement with consistency and a full year of Bruce Boudreaux? Or will they have to work their way out of trouble, which…sounds like more problems.

Winnipeg: Don’t mess with (lack of) success?

Speaking of restarting, the Jets are essentially changing coaches (to Rick Bowness), “relieving some of the pressure” Blake Wheeler by not having a captain, and hoping they catch lightning in a bottle with a very similar slate for 2021-22. On the other hand, you see the logic: the top six includes striker Kyle Connor, who scored his highest in goals (47) and points (93) last season, Marc Schevel (70 points in 2021-22), Pierre-Luc Dubois (28 goals). Wheeler (60 points) and Nikolai Eilers (28 goals).

On the other hand, even with all their eight-point playoff points last season, and for some reason they intend to go after a slightly improved version of that mediocre? All their plans seem to me as various forms of semi-measures so far. (And just my two cents here, but for all that Wheeler has done for the franchise, beginning the season with a “C” pull is a strange and ominous start.)

San Jose: Sharks were 30 years oldThe tenth In scoring last year he added a bit of an insult (and Burns lost), so…?

The Sharks have changed GM (to Mike Grier) and head coach (to David Quinn) but it’s hard to see how a team trying to change their fortunes would suddenly find a massive increase in attack with a slightly different style of play.

Not everything in hockey can be summed up in numbers, but: if you are 30 years oldThe tenth In scoring goals, take out a good offensive player and don’t add any of them, you won’t score enough to make the playoffs.

Chicago: Will Jonathan Tows and/or Patrick Kane wear different shirts this year (or ever)?

It looks like Toews will be most willing to leave Chicago’s sinking ship, but he’ll need to play well enough for the team to take a chance on even his prorated salary on the deadline (while retaining some salary, both could be worthwhile for another team, and correspondingly valuable to Chicago). And teams, of course, want Kane in such a scenario for sure, but would he be willing to leave? Working in just one shirt has value for some players (as Ryan Getslaw recently explained).

Seattle: Will Kraken really score some goals this year?

The Kraken came out of the gates with a largely passive game plan of building patience and being slow, while trying to compete through defense and attack on the ice. Which is smart, but… yawn. They were up against the Golden Knights, who were the perfect embodiment of Vegas: sexy and out of control. Despite their excellent crews, Seattle has never been a stop on this channel, the Kraken team playing.

But this year they added Oliver Björkstrand and Andrei Burakowski, and Shane Wright has a chance to make the team. Matty Benners is the current Calder Cup favorite according to the odds on Coolbet. Will the offense make her more exciting and competitive?

Arizona: What is this (literally) mobile sideshow going to be?

The real Arizona fans deserve not just a good hockey team, they deserve two or three Stanley Cups after they get a new rink built in a better location. If that day comes, they’ll appear like Andy Dufresne after crawling through 500 yards of…waste.

To these loyal fans, please don’t read beyond. stop here. For everyone else: This would be embarrassing to watch.

Not the list itself, as you’ve seen in some cases, it may actually be better than betting markets think. They’ve got players in the National Hockey League, and they’re not going to lose every night. I refer to The whole thing, blatantly trying to lose more than they win by trading away any good guys or at a young age, kicking off the season with twenty of the first 24 games on the road before going “home” (almost certainly with playoffs miles away), playing 37 A match out of 58 matches in something called the “Mullett Arena” of all damn things, in front of a college-sized crowd. Just playing the chord hoping to arrive not next year, but three seasons from now, as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Which seems sad.

It’s going to be a circus, but the circus sells popcorn, so be sure to get it ready.

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