Weber for President? Power Ranking the Top Five Presidents' Trophy Contenders
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The hockey world has been engulfed with some big name signings this offseason.
Zach Parise left New Jersey to go to Minnesota. Ryan Suter left Nashville and joined him.
Shea Weber signed a 10-year, $110 million offer sheet from the Philadelphia Flyers. The Predators have a week to match that offer.
Does that make the Flyers Presidents' Trophy favorites?
While a lot can still change in the next few months, these big names changing places has caused a shift in the NHL hierarchy.
Are the defending Stanley Cup champions Los Angeles Kings the best team in the NHL?
If Sidney Crosby is back for 82 games are the Penguins still the favorite? Vegas says so with 7-1 odds.
Have the Minnesota Wild become one of the top teams in the NHL with all the money they spent this offseason?
This is an early power ranking of the five teams I think will be contending for the Presidents' Trophy. Also, this assumes that Weber will be in Flyer orange in 2012-13.
As always, post your own power rankings if you disagree.
There is still a lot left to be determined this offseason. Teams don't know who will or won't develop. Other signings and trades could factor in. Injuries are always optimism killers.
With the NHL considering realignment, maybe they should consider making the Atlantic Division its own conference, just a thought.
5. Vancouver Canucks
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2011-12 Record: 55-22-9, 111 points, Presidents' Trophy Winners.
Playoffs: Eliminated by Los Angeles Kings in five games.
It's hard to count the defending Presidents' Trophy winners out when it comes to a repeat.
Vancouver finished last season fifth in goals per game and fourth in goals-against per game. They also boasted the fourth-best power play unit in the league and were sixth on the penalty kill.
There weren't a lot of holes in the Canucks lineup, making the early postseason exit even more frustrating for the Vancouver community.
The Canucks are still a talented group that is looking to turn over a new leaf with their goaltending situation and name Cory Schneider No. 1. The problem with that is semi-current No. 1 Roberto Luongo is still in Vancouver.
If, or when, Luongo is traded, the Canucks could address their other offseason losses, like defensemen Sami Salo and Aaron Rome. That is still up in the air.
Defenseman Jason Garrison
Defenseman Derek Joslin
Defemnseman Patrick Mullin
Biggest Question: What happens to the Canucks with the Luongo situation? The team is built to win now. Luongo is under contract until 2022. Are they still the premier team in the West?
4. St. Louis Blues
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2011-12 Record: 49-22-11, 109 points, Tied for Second in NHL (NY Rangers)
Playoffs: Eliminated San Jose in five games, Eliminated by Los Angeles Kings in four games
For the majority of last season, the St. Louis Blues looked like the team to beat in the Western Conference.
The Blues hit a speed bump down the stretch going 4-3-3 in the final 10 games. With Vancouver going 8-1-1 to close out the year, the Blues skidded into the postseason as the second-seed in the West.
That appeared to be a blessing in disguise since the Canucks got matched up with the Kings. The Blues eliminated San Jose but then ran into the same buzzsaw that got the Canucks.
A young core of talent will help the Blues climb back up to the top of the Western Conference standings. Alex Pietrangelo looks poised to break out. He is surrounded by talented guns like David Backes, Kevin Shattenkirk, T.J. Oshie and veteran Jamie Langenbruner.
Arguably the best goaltending tandem in the league, Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliot have quite the situation in front of them. Both had goals-against averages below two and combined for 15 shutouts.
They say defense wins championships and the Blues had the best defense in the league (1.89 GAA).
Another year of experience makes it hard to say the Blues won't be the best team in the NHL, or at least the West.
Defenseman Scott Ford
Goaltender Mike McKenna
Forward Jeff Woywitcka
3. New York Rangers
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2011-12 Record: 51-24-7, 109 Points, Eastern Conference Champions (tied with St. Louis Blues for 2nd in NHL)
With the amount of talent and one of the best coaches in the league, John Tortorella, the New York Rangers are one of the best teams in the East.
If you add the experience this team gained from three hard-fought playoff series last year to the talent, the Rangers are a dangerous team.
Ryan Callahan, Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Michael Del Zotto, the list goes on for talented players in the red, white and blue.
A postseason discussion wouldn't be complete without the mention of the best goaltender in the league, Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist won the Vezina Trophy with 39 wins last year.
With all those pieces in place, the Rangers have to be considered one of the best teams in the NHL.
Forward Taylor Pyatt
Forward Jeff Halpern
2. Pittsburgh Penguins
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2011-12 Record: 51-25-6, 108 points, Fourth in Eastern Conference, Fourth in NHL in points
Playoffs: Eliminated by Philadelphia Flyers in six games.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have two of the best players in the NHL in Sidney Crosby and Hart Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin.
Those two can and will win games for the Penguins, especially if Crosby can stay healthy. When he's healthy, he's great. When he's healthy, the Pens are even better.
Pittsburgh is currently the favorite to win the Stanley Cup (7-1) and have all the pieces in place to return to its 2009 glory.
The Pens were one of the top teams in the league last season, and Crosby played in just 22 regular-season games. A physical series with the Flyers in the first round should provide only motivation for the Pens to silence doubters.
Other key pieces like James Neal, Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury are a great supporting cast for the Pens.
Fleury won 42 games last season with a 2.36 goals-against average. If he duplicates that success, the Pens will be near the top of the Eastern Conference.
Forward Benn Ferriero
Forward Trevor Smith
Goaltender Marc Cheverie
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2011-12 Record: 47-26-9, 103 points, Fifth in the Eastern Conference, Sixth in NHL
Playoffs: Eliminated Pittsburgh Penguins in six games, Eliminated by New Jersey Devils in five games
This ranking is pending the signing of Nashville captain Shea Weber. If the Flyers do not sign Weber, move them down to fourth and bump the rest of the teams up one spot.
With that said, the Flyers could be building a dynasty in perfect timing.
If Weber signs with the Flyers, it will likely be one of the last deals of that magnitude in NHL history. The new collective bargaining agreement being negotiated appears to want to disallow these mega deals.
With Weber, the Flyers add another element. During the NHL playoffs, I heard numerous discussions on how the Flyers needed Chris Pronger. If they had Pronger they'd...... Shea Weber is maybe even better than Chris Pronger, .
Philadelphia had the second-best offense in the league last season (3.17 goals per game) behind only the Pittsburgh Penguins. Adding an offensive defenseman like Weber is huge for the Flyers who are looking to get to the top of the conference.
Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux, Shea Weber and Ilya Bryzgalov have the Flyers poised to make a run to the top.
Bryzgalov will need to be more consistent if the Flyers want to knock off the Pens and Rangers. The Flyers adding quality defensemen this offseason should help.
Defenseman Bruno Gervais
(pending) Defenseman Shea Weber
Defenseman Luke Schenn