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03-29-2005, 07:34 AM
Join Date: Jun 2002
Originally Posted by
gotta remember that the latter playoff spots are in competition between LA, Edmonton, and Nashville
so its a very realistic possibility to surpass those teams
don't forget Phoenix, who have added to their lineup already.
then you have Minny and you can't completely discount their system... a bounce back year from Gaborik and it's the same team that made the playoffs a couple years ago.
then there's Chicago - who have also been spending to add free agents, and if next season their goaltending is actually available - where they're not forced to play 2 backups, it could be a different team.
finally Columbus - who seem to have no problems spending money on free agents to try and get better... and Nash and Zherdev should be better still next season.
All these teams - LA, Edmonton, Nashville, Chicago, Columbus, Phoenix and Minny - will likely be under a cap (possibly not Phoenix and Chicago as they've already been spending) and should have room to add... all of them have good young players that are still improving and could make the West that much more competitive.
And those are just the teams that didn't make the playoffs last year (besides Nashville). To make it, one of those teams would have to knock of a current playoff team to get a seed.
The bottom of those teams are Calgary, Nashville and St. Louis... the best bet might be the Blues, who seem to be heading into a forced rebuilding mode with Demitra going. But the team still has Tkachuk and if the Pronger situation sorts itself out, you know they'll be a team that will want to contend for the playoffs.
I think comparitively, with the way things look now, the Kings will be hardpressed to make the playoffs next hockey season. But the NHL might look very different when hockey resumes, so anything is possible.
But it's not like all the other teams in the conference won't try to improve themselves either, and besides a couple of them, most of the teams in the conference should have the same type of payroll room as the Kings to add to their roster, once the contracts for this year have expired... and then it comes down to where the top free agents want to go.
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