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Vulgar Statistics: 2013 Western Conference Preview And Predictions

01/14/13
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Be sure to check last week’s Easter Conference Preview.

By the end of the first or second week of the season, this will morph into my weekly statistics-based Power Rankings to be published on Fridays.

Alright, let’s set up my completely arbitrary rules.  I wanted to keep with a statistical theme, so I assigned point values to each position gained and lost:

  • First Line Center – 10
  • First Line Winger – 7
  • Second Line Center – 8
  • Second Line Winger – 5
  • Third Line Center – 3
  • Third Line Winger – 2
  • Fourth Line Forward – 1
  • First Pair Defense – 5
  • Second Pair Defense – 3
  • Third Pair Defense – 1
  • Starting Goaltender – 6
  • Backup Goaltender – 2

What I realized is that this didn’t take into account several factors:

  • Improving young players
  • Diminishing old players
  • Injury luck

So this season I set out to account for these.  This is how I did it:

  • Improving young players – For every impact player under the age of 25 (i.e. a player likely to play 50+ games and contribute on the top three lines, top two pairings, or share significant time in net) I added one point.
  • Diminishing old players – For every impact player age 35 or older, I subtracted one point.
  • Injury luck – I took the average total of man games lost, compared it to each team’s number of man games lost last season and added or subtracted 1 point for every 10 man games off the average.  This is probably the most arbitrary of any of my figures, but it just felt right.

So on top of what the completely made up numbers say, I will be offering an “eyeball test.”  Think of it as a “Final Thoughts” for every team.  Let us begin.

15). Anaheim Ducks

Key Additions:

Sheldon Souray (2D +3)

Bryan Allen (2D +3)

Brad Staubitz (4F +1)

Key Subtractions:

Lubomir Visnovsky (1D -5)

George Parros (4F -1)

Sheldon Brookbank (3D -1)

Jason Blake (4F -1)

Niklas Hagman (4F -1)

Players < 25 – (+5)

Players ≥ 35 – (-4)

Injury Luck – (-0)

Total: 80 +14 -13 *(48/82) =  47 points

Eyeball Test:  How quickly the mighty fall.  The Ducks went from having one of the biggest, toughest, most skilled rosters in the league to being a complete mess.  Ryan Getzlaf is almost certainly going to improve on his awful 2011-2012 performance, but it won’t be enough.

14). Columbus Blue Jackets

Key Additions:

Artem Anisimov (3C +3)

Adrian Aucoin (2D +3)

Sergei Bobrovsky (BUG +2)

Brandon Dubinsky (3C +3)

Nick Foligno (2W +5)

Key Subtractions:

Rick Nash (1W -7)

Marc Methot (3D -1)

Aaron Johnson (3D -1)

Players < 25 – (+5)

Players ≥ 35 – (-2)

Injury Luck – (+9)

Total: 65 +30 – 11 *(48/82) = 49 points

Eyeball Test:  The Blue Jackets did a lot to get better in the offseason, but it likely will only be enough to take them from ‘truly awful’ to merely ‘bad.’  I thought the Blue Jackets won the Nash trade in that their hole (a need for multiple talented players) was much more gaping than the Rangers’ (a need for a(nother) top line winger).

13). Edmonton Oilers

Key Additions:

None

Key Subtractions:

None

Players < 25 – (+12)

Players ≥ 35 – (-3)

Injury Luck – (+4)

Total: 74 +16 – 3 *(48/82) =  51 points

Eyeball Test: In a way, continually drafting first is a hindrance.  You can’t make a team out of first round picks.  At some point they’ll be better served trading them away for either significant defensive help and depth or proven NHL talent.  One thing’s for sure, if Edmonton does remain a loser, they’ll be the most talented loser.

12). Phoenix Coyotes

Key Additions:

Zbynek Michalek (1D +5)

Steve Sullivan (2C +8)

Key Subtractions:

Ray Whitney (1W -7)

Michal Roszival (2D -3)

Taylor Pyatt (3C -3)

Adrian Aucoin (2D -3)

Players < 25 – (+2)

Players ≥ 35 – (-2)

Injury Luck – (-6)

Total: 97 + 15 – 24 *(48/82) = 52 points

Eyeball Test: I actually kind of like Phoenix’s moves.  I think Whitney and Roszival played to a level last season that they won’t repeat, and while Steve Sullivan and Zbynek Michalek aren’t exactly young, they are younger.  Still, in a talented Western Conference, it’s tough to see the Coyotes competing.

11). Nashville Predators

Key Additions:

Chris Mason (BUG +2)

Key Subtractions:

Ryan Suter (1D -5)

Anders Lindback (BUG -2)

Andrei Kostitsyn (2W -5)

Players < 25 – (+4)

Players ≥ 35 – (-2)

Injury Luck – (-6)

Total: 104 + 6 – 22 *(48/82) =  52 points

Eyeball Test: Nashville, like Phoenix, is probably an okay team, but just fell behind in the West. That and their offseason was disastrous.  Granted a backup goalie isn’t ever a huge loss, but Chris Mason is a clear downgrade from Anders Lindback.

10). Detroit Red Wings

Key Additions:

Mikael Samuelsson (3W +2)

Jordin Tootoo (3W +2)

Jonas Gustavsson (BUG +2)

Carlo Colaiacovo (2D +3)

Key Subtractions:

Nicklas Lidstrom (1D -5)

Brad Stuart (1D -5)

Jiri Hudler (2W -5)

Players < 25 – (+3)

Players ≥ 35 – (-2)

Injury Luck – (-4)

Total: 102 + 12 – 21 *(48/82) = 54 points

Eyeball Test: Detroit took a major step backwards last year and seems poised to do so again.  Their stars are aging, and the youth coming in to take their places just doesn’t measure up.

9). Los Angeles Kings

Key Additions:

None

Key Subtractions:

None

Players < 25 – (+5)

Players ≥ 35 – (-1)

Injury Luck – (-5)

Total: 95 +5 – 6 *(48/82) = 55 points

Eyeball Test: Okay, so the Kings fall victim to a point total last year that perhaps wasn’t indicative of their overall skill.  Barring a disaster, they should make the playoffs.  But I don’t think they’re the team to beat by any means.

8). Calgary Flames

Key Additions:

Jiri Hudler (2W +5)

Dennis Wideman (1D +5)

Key Subtractions:

Olli Jokinen (2C -8)

Tom Kostopoulos (4F -1)

Scott Hannan (2D -3)

Players < 25 – (+1)

Players ≥ 35 – (-2)

Injury Luck – (+9)

Total: 90 + 20 – 14 *(48/82) = 56 points

Eyeball Test: I think the Flames are a mess.  Much like the Red Wings, their talent is too old and getting older.  Miikka Kiprusoff has been declining for the past few years and it’s only a matter of time before not even Jarome Iginla can keep them in the hunt.

7). Dallas

Key Additions:

Ray Whitney (1W +7)

Jaromir Jagr (1W +8)

Aaron Rome (3D +1)

Derek Roy (1C +10)

Cody Eakin (4F +1)

Key Subtractions:

Mike Ribeiro (2C -8)

Steve Ott (3C -3)

Radek Dvorak (3W -2)

Players < 25 – (+1)

Players ≥ 35 – (-3)

Injury Luck – (-4)

Total: 89 +27 – 20 *(48/82) = 56 points

Eyeball Test: What did the Stars do?  I don’t know.  On paper it feels like they got better, albeit older.  On the ice though…  I have trust issues with Derek Roy.

 6). San Jose Sharks

Key Additions:

Brad Stuart (1D +5)

Adam Burish (3W +2)

Key Subtractions:

Torrey Mitchell (3C -3)

Players < 25 – (+4)

Players ≥ 35 – (-2)

Injury Luck – (-6)

Total: 96 +11 – 11 *(48/82) = 56 points

Eyeball Test: I feel like a broken record in the West, but everyone is getting older.  How much do Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton have left?  Unlike some of their opponents though, the Sharks have some good young talent filling out the ranks, namely Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture.

5). Chicago Blackhawks

Key Additions:

Sheldon Brookbank (3D +1)

Michal Roszival (2D +3)

Key Subtractions:

Jake Dowell (4F -1)

Players < 25 – (+3)

Players ≥ 35 – (-0)

Injury Luck – (-9)

Total: 101 +7 – 10 *(48/82) = 57 points

Eyeball Test: I don’t know how long the Blackhawks are going to try and succeed with a great top 6 and an underwhelming bottom 6, but that formula doesn’t seem to work too well.  I suspect that they’ll win the Central this year, but mainly because I don’t think Brian Elliot and Jaroslav Halak can replicate last season.

4). Minnesota Wild

Key Additions:

Zach Parise (1W +7)

Ryan Suter (1D +5)

Torrey Mitchell (3C +3)

Zenon Konopka (4F +1)

Jake Dowell (4F +1)

Key Subtractions:

Guillaume Latendresse (3W -2)

Greg Zanon (2D -3)

Players < 25 – (+2)

Players ≥ 35 – (-1)

Injury Luck – (+6)

Total: 81 +25 – 6 *(48/82) = 59 points

Eyeball Test: I’m not even sure I should count Latendresse as a loss considering how much he’s been hurt the past two seasons.  The focus will no doubt be on the two stars they threw money at in the offseason, but I like their other moves.  Mitchell and Dowell won’t blow the doors off you offensively, but they’re solid bottom 6 players.

3). Colorado Avalanche

Key Additions:

P.A. Parenteau (1W +7)

John Mitchell (4F +1)

Greg Zanon (2D +3)

Jamie McGinn (2W +5)

Key Subtractions:

Peter Mueller (3W -2)

Jay McClement (3C -3)

Players < 25 – (+8)

Players ≥ 35 – (-2)

Injury Luck – (+2)

Total: 88 + 26 – 7 *(48/82) = 63 points

Eyeball Test: Everyone has the Oilers in their sights as the young team that may take the next step this season, but I’m setting up shop behind the Avalanche.  The only downside is I don’t know if I can trust the goaltending of Varlamov and Giguere.

2). St. Louis Blues

Key Additions:

None

Key Subtractions:

Carlo Colaiacovo (2D -3)

Jason Arnott (3C -2)

Players < 25 – (+7)

Players ≥ 35 – (-3)

Injury Luck – (+7)

Total: 109 +14 – 9 *(48/82) = 67 points

Eyeball Test: The Blues are tough to judge.  They didn’t add anything, but they didn’t lose anything either.  Elliot and Halak probably won’t be as good, but Berglund should have a better year, and their injury luck should improve.  With a solid all around top 6, they could be terrifying to play against, but my gut says the Blackhawks edge them out for the division.

1). Vancouver Canucks

Key Additions:

Jason Garrison (1D +5)

Key Subtractions:

Sami Salo (2D -3)

Players < 25 – (+1)

Players ≥ 35 – (-0)

Injury Luck – (+3)

Total: 111 +9 – 3 *(48/82) = 68 points

Eyeball Test: Exchanging the brittle Sami Salo for Jason Garrison is an A+ in my book.  They should be in the conversation for every Stanley Cup for the next two or three years and will probably win one in that span.

In Summation:

  1. Vancouver
  2. St. Louis (2)
  3. Colorado
  4. Minnesota
  5. Chicago
  6. San Jose (3)
  7. Dallas
  8. Calgary
  9. Los Angeles
  10. Detroit
  11. Nashville
  12. Phoenix
  13. Edmonton
  14. Columbus
  15. Anaheim

Eyeball Test: If I were picking from my gut instead, I think this is where I’d go:

  1. Vancouver
  2. Chicago (2)
  3. St. Louis
  4. Minnesota
  5. San Jose (3)
  6. Los Angeles
  7. Colorado
  8. Dallas
  9. Detroit
  10. Nashville
  11. Calgary
  12. Phoenix
  13. Edmonton
  14. Columbus
  15. Anaheim
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