Salutations hockey fans! The start of the 2008-2009 NHL season is just weeks away, and a busy off-season leaves many questions to be answered: Will the Red Wings repeat as Stanley Cup champions? Which team will fall off the radar as a contender and who will take their place? Is Steven Stamkos a lock for the Calder? Which team has the greatest chance of finishing at the bottom and winning the John Tavares sweepstakes? Will Sean Avery find new and exciting ways to annoy the hell out of goalies? Lets kick off with the Red Wings, and I will hit these other topics later in the week.
Will the Red Wings repeat as Stanley Cup Champs? Simply put, yes.
The Wings played better over the entire course of last season than any team in the league. In the playoffs, they looked incredibly dominant. Their 3rd and 4th forward lines, which include names like Thomas Holmstrom, Jiri Hudler, and Valtteri Filppula, are better or as good as most teams 2nd lines. And the rich only got richer in the off-season, signing top free agent, Marian Hossa. By leaps and bounds, Hossa was the best player in the playoffs last spring that was not wearing a Red Wings’ jersey.
Okay so in a 30 team league, no team is ever a sure thing to repeat, and the Wings do have a few minor factors going against them. They did lose future hall-of-famer Domenik Hasek to retirement, and Scotty Bowman left the organization for Chicago, but the key pieces are still there; the key pieces being Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, and Nicklas “Still-the-best-defencemen-in-the-game-at-38” Lidstrom.
Yep, if you have to pick a team today, its hard to bet against the Wings.