Found January 20, 2013 on Taking Bad Schotz:
1. The Minnesota Wild via www.hockeyfanland.com Although this division has been dominated by the Canucks in the past, I’m picking the Wild to win because of their offseason acquisitions of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.  Adding two superstars to play with the likes of Dany Heatly and Mikko Koivu, the Wild have scoring prowess.  I know this is the popular pick and all of that talk and skepticism, but the fact of the matter is that the two players brought in are that special.  Parise was the difference between the Devils making the Stanley Cup Final and (as I believe will happen) not making the playoffs the year after.  Suter was a member of what could have been named the best defensive pairing in the league last season, and now he’s looking to do it again in Minnesota.  Last season, without the two acquisitions, we saw the Wild play very well in the first half of the season.  With the tools they now have, what’s to say they can’t do it again and prolong it into the playoffs and the top of the division?   2. The Vancouver Canucks   via brnd1.blogspot.com The Canucks are suffering from a problem that is a luxury – having too many goalies.  Cory Schneider is the number one net-minder in town after he replaced Roberto Luongo on many occasions last season, including in the playoffs.  The problem for the Canucks is that they are paying both goalies starting money.  With a shrinking salary cap under effect as part of the new CBA, the Canucks have to deal one of their goalies, and soon, to make ends meet financially.  Luongo could be dealt to the Leafs, which would open up Vancouver’s cap space.  For this season however, the Canucks are as consistent as you can find in this division.  Despite being ousted by the Cup Champion LA Kings in the first round last season, expect the Canucks to come storming back again led by the Sedin brothers.  They can get a bigger boost from Ryan Kessler’s return from shoulder surgery, and secondary scoring with the return of David Booth.  I certainly expect the Canucks to be in the playoffs again this year, not as the President’s Trophy winners, but as a middle-of-the-pack seed. 3. The Edmonton Oilers Photo Credit: Larry Wong/Edmonton Journal When looking at the Oilers roster currently, the only thing that comes to my mind is “have they been this bad for this long?”  With an overflow of top picks and prospects in their system, I think this is the year that a turnaround shows.  Boasting a top line of what could be three first-overall picks (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, and Nail Yakupov), the Oilers have great potential.  Also factor in the prize of the free-agent class Justin Schultz on the blue line, and the Oilers look nothing short of formidable on paper.  The only thing that could hinder the success of this team is chemistry, but if the three stars can figure it out, then the offense should be good to go.  The most glaring weakness for the Oilers is goaltending.  With Nikolai Khabibulin being placed on the IR a few days ago, the Oilers starter is Devan Dubnyk.  In 47 games last year Dubnyk posted a 2.67 GAA and a .914 SV% – relatively impressive numbers.  However, in a shortened season, I look for durability and a proven-track record, neither of which I have seen from Dubnyk.  The Oilers will be fine on the offensive side of the puck, but the question mark lies between the pipes this year. 4. The Colorado Avalanche (AP Photo) I don’t necessarily think that the Avalanche have gotten worse from last season, I just don’t see any improvement.  The Avalanche have budding stars in Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog, but aside from that, where are their goals going to come from? Ryan O’Reilly is back, after he led the team with 55 points last season, and in comes winger P.A. Parenteau, who would have led the team in scoring last year, with 67 points.  For the Avalanche to be competitive this season, they are going to need a bounce-back year from Duchene.  After posting 67 points in his sophomore season two years ago, Duchene only posted 28 points and a -11 rating in a season shortened by his ankle injury.  Duchene is going to need to score at will for the Avalanche.  Landeskog became the youngest captain in NHL history this offseason in a questionable move, but as captain Landeskog is going to have to step up for his team on and off the ice.  As with every team in this division, goaltending will be key.  Semyon Varlamov will be the starter, and after posting a mediocre 2.59 GAA last year, Colorado is going to need more to stay competitive. 5. The Calgary Flames via bluechipprospects.blogspot.com The Flames stayed relatively quiet throughout the entire offseason.  The Flames boast an aging core, led by 35-year-old Jerome Iginla, and 36-year-old goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff.  With the amnesty buyout clause in place this season and with a waver system, I’m not quite sure why these two players are still under contract.  It is clear that the Flames are not going anywhere soon, and with these stars’ careers in waning, the rebuilding process needs to begin in Calgary.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Iginla moved before the trade deadline this year.  For a class act that has been playing for the Flames his entire career, since 1996, it should be a bittersweet goodbye.  Aside from Iginla, the Flames only had one other skater score more than fifty points – Jiri Hudler.  Also watch out for Dennis Wideman, who was a rock on the blue line for the Flames, racking up 46 points while playing in all 82 games last year.  Maybe the Flames can turn heads and surprise everyone this year – I’m not counting that out – it’s just highly unlikely. -Weingold
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Parise, Suter start the next 13 years off right

ST. PAUL, Minn. The Minnesota Wild went shopping on the Fourth of July last summer and shocked the NHL by signing the top two free agents, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, to matching 13-year, 98 million contracts. The excitement generated by the signings, which engulfed a state yearning for a winner after four straight years without a playoff appearance, was eventually tempered by the...

Suter looks to knock off former team

Led by star newcomers Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Minnesota Wild are looking to complete a perfect season-opening homestand and continue their best start in four years. To do so, they'll have to knock off Suter's former team, the Nashville Predators, who begin their road schedule Tuesday night trying to shake off back-to-back shootout losses. Minnesota (2-0-0) is enjoying...

Parise, Suter have Wild poised to make noise

Before the NHL lockout began, the story of the summer around the league was Minnesota's surprise signing of top free agents Zach Parise (puh-REE'-see) and Ryan Suter (SOO'-ter). The Wild haven't made the playoffs in four years. But now that the season has been saved, they're eager to see what their new stars can do for a team that started strong in 2011-12 but...

Come watch the Preds play Suter and the Wild with us at Brewhouse South on Tuesday!

Not only is it the first road game of the season for the Nashville Predators, but it’s also the first chance to boo Ryan Suter! The Preds take on the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night, January 22, and we want YOU to join us at Brewhouse South in Franklin! Wear all your best Preds and anti-Suter gear and we’ll have prizes to give away! Puck drops at 7:00pm so be sure to be there...

Wild Friday: Counting minutes until Saturday

FRIDAY'S STORY LINES: Excitement. Anticipation. Those were words used frequently in the Wild locker room Friday afternoon. After a 119-day lockout, Wild players are eager to get on the ice for their highly anticipated season opener Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche.The offseason acquisitions of top free agents Ryan Suter and Zach Parise have made the opener an even bigger...

Going Cup Wild In Minnesota

from Brian Cazeneuve of Sports Illustrated, Sure, hockey-crazed Minnesota has yearned for a successful team in the NHL, but a winning Wild would also be just as good for the league as it tries to recover from the long lockout that bruised its image. While Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles have won the last three Stanley Cup titles, Minnesota is hockey's answer to Green Bay...

Todd Cordell: Devils' Stars Shine In 2-1 Win Over The Islanders

No Zach Parise, no problem. The New Jersey Devils opened up a new era without their former captain in fine fashion as they topped the New York Islanders 2-1. Here are some notes on the Devils 2-1 win as well as some prospect updates. - Given the circumstances, things went about as well as they could have for the Devils. That was a big win for them to open the season as not...

Wild 1, Stars 0

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Zach Parise's first goal in a Wild uniform made the difference, as the Wild improved to 2-0 for the season, shutting out the Dallas Stars 1-0 on Sunday. Dallas got 31 saves from rookie goalie Cristopher Nilstorp in his NHL debut, but could not muster any offense in the Stars' first road game of the season. Parise, the NHL's most talked-about free...

2013 Season Game 2 Preview: Dallas Stars @ Minnesota Wild

Dallas Stars (1-0-0, 2pts) @ Minnesota Wild (1-0-0, 2 pts) 7:00 PM CT Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul, Minnesota (Delving) Into the Wild: Minnesota made the biggest splash in free agency last summer (and was probably a huge reason why the lockout had to happen) with their gigantic signings of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. Parise paid off immediately last night as...

Preds focused on Wild, not Suter

For the first time since last summer, Shea Weber and the Predators face off against Ryan Suter and the Wild...

Avalanche-Wild Preview

Now that the 113-day NHL lockout is over, the Minnesota Wild can finally showcase their two biggest offseason acquisitions. Whether Zach Parise and Ryan Suter can help the Wild match the preseason Stanley Cup hype - or just lead the club to the playoffs for the first time in five seasons - remains to be seen. The two All-Stars will make their Wild debuts in Saturday night's...

Wild's Granlund makes impact in NHL debut

ST. PAUL, Minn. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter weren't the only players making their Minnesota Wild debuts Saturday night. Mikael Granlund, the Finnish sensation who is one of the top prospects in hockey, played his first-ever NHL game and scored his first goal. Granlund, Minnesota's first-round pick in the 2009 draft, is in his first pro season in North America and he had...

Predators ready to chase Stanley Cup once again

Ryan Suter's now in Minnesota and Jordin Tootoo is in Detroit. The Nashville Predators still have captain Shea Weber and goaltender Pekka Rinne, and their goals remain unchanged. Stanley Cup or bust. ''We've shown ourselves that we can play against anybody,'' Rinne said. ''And for sure it's going to be a tight schedule, quick season and you have...

Newcomers dazzle for Wild in win over Avalanche

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild's fan base waited six months, through a long summer, and a long lockout, to see their newest players in action. On Saturday, they needed to wait another 20 minutes or so to see them truly perform. After a slow-starting first period, Dany Heatley scored a pair of power play goals -- both of them set up by Zach Parise -- as Minnesota'...
NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.