With what the Spurs have done in their offseason, it’s thrown me off my schedule of when I begin my predictions for the upcoming season. At any rate, I’m beginning my thoughts on where each team stands coming into this season like every year, basing it on the performance last season and the moves made in the offseason.
Like always, I’m starting with the Anaheim Ducks. They were again the strongest team in the west, standing at a 51-24-7 record, adding up to 109 points. Even though the Rangers won the President’s Trophy, I believe the Ducks were the best in the league, with the west being a much stronger conference. I would say it was a pretty good offseason, despite a couple questionable moves.
One good acquisition was Carl Hagelin, who they acquired for New York for Emerson Etem. He may be a bit of an upgrade from Nick Bonino, who they lost, but it’s hard to say. They had about the same production last season, but Hagelin has been steadier. He definitely replaces Bonino’s role nicely.
The one move I don’t quite understand is the acquisition of Anton Khudobin from James Wisniewski. They already have a quality tandem with Andersen and Gibson. Khudobin is a goalie who’s looking to prove he can be a starter after a very strong 2013-14 season. Maybe things would be different if he hadn’t had an awful 2014-15 season, looking like a one year wonder. Still, it’s questionable when they already have 2 goalies (although, as a Canes fan, I’m happy with it). It is possible Khudobin could have a big bounce back year if he’s given a good chance.
Kevin Bieska was a good pickup, especially after trading away both Etem and Wisniewski. He can be of help their back end, which isn’t a strong suit.
Overall, I suspect they will be at the top of the West again. The one question I have is the same one I’ve had for the Capitals the past six years. Can they get over the hump in the playoffs and make a serious run at the Stanley Cup? Last season was the 3rd straight season they lost a series after having a 3-2 lead. It makes me wonder how much longer Bruce Boudreau will be around.