NHL: Top Three Western Conference Teams to Watch Out For

Bradley KarpCorrespondent IJune 22, 2008

1. Detroit Red Wings

The Detroit Red Wings won the Presidents' Trophy again, meaning that for the second year in a row, the Wings owned the regular season.

Detroit also won the Stanley Cup for the fifth time in the past 13 years, making them as close to a dynasty as we will ever get with a salary cap and league parity.

They have kept a core group of players, and all of them reiterating their loyalty to the team by re-signing at the midpoint of the season.

The Wings have been heavy contenders for the last ten years, and never seem to get any worse, no matter how old they are. With young superstars like Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart, Valeteri Filppula, and Johan Franzen, it seems that they have the perfect blend of youngsters and grizzled veterans

The Wings are perfect at every position—not only on the ice, but in the front office as well, with their top three scorers being picked in the last two rounds of their respective NHL Entry Drafts.

The Wings' dynasty is only beginning, because the younger players will just get better and the upper management of this team cannot be compared to that of any sport.

With the grind line of Maltby, McCarthy and Draper stayinng in Detroit, the Wings have a line with nine Cups between them.

Look for the grinders to add another one next year.


2. Los Angeles Kings

The Kings have consistently been one of the worst teams in the NHL over the past decade.

But their time might be coming soon. With a team full of young and budding superstars, the only thing the Kings need is a good head coach, which they are on the market for right now.

With amazing young talent like, Jonathan Bernier, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Patrick O'Sullivan, Jack Johnson, and Oscar Moller, the Kings are loaded with former first-round picks, and could be a juggernaut team with the right coaching.

This may come as a surprise to many people, but I feel that if the Kings can get that top-notch coach and a premier defenseman, they can become the Philadelphia Flyers of 2009.


3. Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars are in the same boat as their rival Detroit. Unfortunately, they have stayed in the shadows of the Red Wings, which may be be the reason nobody gives them any credit.

They too, like the Wings, have a grizzled cast of veterans to go along with young stars like Loui Eriksson, Matt Niskanen, Marc Fistric, Niclas Grossman, and Konstantin Pushkarev.

They have under contract one of the best money goalies in the league—Marty Turco—guarding the pipes.

The Stars have star power with Mike Modano, Brendan Morrow, Mike Ribeiro and Brad Richards giving them four All-Star centermen. The only thing that seems to be holding the Stars back from winning another Cup is their inability to crank out big goals in big games.

But that comes with experience—and the Stars certainly gained plenty in the 2008 playoffs.


The Top Threats to the Top Three:

1. San Jose Sharks

They have consistently been in the top five over the last four years.

2. Minnesota Wild

Time should be on their side—it's been too long since they've had some playoff success.