This is part one of my “Fear or Not to Fear” article. I plan on making one now and one at the beginning of the ‘08/’09 season and hopefully it will help measure the quality of your team’s off-season. This is not made to insult teams and fans, but is just my opinion on the current status of teams so please do not take offense.
Anaheim- Not afraid. Right now I am only afraid one of them will attack me with their walkers. Teemu Selanne is 37, Mathieu Schneider is 38, Sean O‘Donnell is 35, etc. There are 8 players that 32 or older on the roster. Ryan Getzlaf, Chris Kunitz, and Corey Perry are your guys to fear on this team and you will fear Bobby Ryan soon. Once Anaheim gets more youth to back these guys up then you may be afraid.
Atlanta- Not Afraid. Similar to Anaheim except this teams old guys are not quite as good as Anaheim’s old guys. The Thrashers do have Ilya Kovalchuk and got some pretty key 2nd-3rd line young guys in the Hossa trade. Not afraid now but in a few years I might be.
Boston-Afraid. OK hear me out first before you flip out. They have a good blend of age, Claude Julien fits this team like a glove, and they can hit you from multiple lines. The part that makes them scary is no one is talking about them. They are under the radar right now and they will pop up and scare the crap out of you. Patrice Bergeron is the best player you have never heard of and Marc Savard is stepping into the hole Joe Thornton left very well. Fear Tuukka Rask and not just because you probably can not pronounce his name, but fear him because he is the #1 ranked goalie not in the league.
Buffalo- Slightly Afraid. I promised myself I would stick to definite Afraid or Not Afraid, but I have already broken my promise by the forth team. Buffalo is young but not too young, they are talented but only have a couple all-stars, and the whole team seems to be just on the brink of having a huge season. This is a team I would keep watching over my shoulder just to see where they are at and I would keep one eye on Thomas Vanek and one eye on Maxim Afinogenov. Also see if you can get a friend to keep their eyes on Steve Bernier
Carolina- Not Afraid. This is a team I should be afraid of, but am not. They have a similar roster to when they won the cup but did not even make the playoffs this year. Sounds like the Canes need a coaching change. Fear Erik Cole and Eric Staal. You should also fear seeing Rod Brind’Amour working out because you will feel inadequate.
Calgary- Not Afraid. I want to fear them because I love the grit of this team but the whole never seems to be as much as the sum of the parts. Dion Phaneuf (FEAR!!!) and Adrian Auccoin on the same pairing! It should be a bloodthirsty fan’s dream but it just never lived up my expectations. You should fear each player on this team especially Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla along with Dion, but sadly not the team together.
Chicago-Afraid. I actually am afraid of the whole Central Division because the teams have a lot of young superstars and the teams play with such an edge after being in the cellar for many years. Be afraid of this team’s defense, Toews, and Kane. If, and that is a big if, Martin Havlat has a healthy season then you may proceed to wet yourself in fright.
Columbus- Afraid. You should be afraid for the same reasons as Chicago. This team was bad for a long time and they are pissed off about it and now have the talent to do something about it. Rick Nash finally learned to play the power forward game and two-way hockey and now should be feared. Nikolai Zherdev is like an uncut diamond because he has the most raw talent in the league (yes I said that), BUT he does not use it effectively and still needs to polished. This team will change a lot in the off-season and it will be for the better and it scares me.
Colorado-Afraid. The Avs have such a good blend of age, talent, and playing styles that you have to fear them. Smyth, Hejduk, Svatos, Stastny, and Wolski are your oddly spelled names to watch out for. Their coach left so we still have to see what happens in that area but the only thing Colorado fans need to be afraid of is in the next couple years seeing the headline “Joe Sakic hangs ‘em up.”
Dallas- Afraid. I am afraid but I can not put my finger on exactly why. Dallasseems to be the opposite of Calagry. Dallas as a team is better, but in a one-on-one game Calgary is better. This team fits very well together and the good age blend will keep me afraid for years to come. Richards, Morrow, and Modano are names you should already be know to be afraid of so it seems pointless telling you again.
Detroit- Afraid. Some players on this team are ancient, but there are only a few important oldies unlike Anaheimand Atlanta. As long as Zetterberg and Datsyuk are young, or at least playing that way, this team should be feared. Oddly enough I think this is the team on the downfall in the Central Division but not entirely by their doing so we will see how scary they are in a few years.
Edmonton- Not Afraid. That does not mean they are not a good team. In about two years Edmonton will be where Buffalois now and then we can talk. Right now I just feel they are too young and are lacking one really big superstar and some defense. Cogliano, Hemsky, and Gagner are this team’s present and future and should be handled with caution.
Florida- Not Afraid. This team perplexes me. They seem to be rowing in circles just outside the playoffs. They have good players and good age balance and I think if they have someone jam it into a higher gear they can be up in the fear category. I also have no idea if they love Olli Jokinen or hate him. I am afraid of him, Nathan Horton, and Jay Bouwmeester and you should be too.
Los Angeles- Not Afraid. This is another team I want to be afraid of. I think there are just too many different clashing player types. In a couple years there will be fear with Jonathan Bernier getting into the league, Lubomir Visnovsky being completely underrated, and Frolov and Kopitar continuing to grow into a good top tandem.
Minnesota- Afraid. A play-making, defensively solid team with an underrated superstar and a great youth presence makes the Wild intimidating. They have a lot of good players rather than two or three superstars with no support and get contributions from every line. This team has the least wrong with it in the Western Conference (maybe with the exception of Colorado) and just needs a little tweaking until I see them making the Cup finals. Marian Gaborik should rival the Boogieman in fear.