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Friday, September 22, 2006

Central Division Analysis

Detroit: The gap left by Stevie Y retirement will be difficult to fill. You cannot lose that kind of future Hall of Famer " without an impact. The departure of Brendan Shanahan will have an impact too. Manny Legace was let go and it was clear that the front office thought that Legace was responsible for Wings's playoffs collapse last year. But I'm not sure that an aging Hasek is a part of the solution too. Still, they have Lidstrom to lead their defense and they surely have one of the best explosive young forwards in the league. Detroit's position in their ranking will largely depend on Hasek's performance.

Nashville: The addition of Jason Arnott will help them a lot. He will bring size and some toughness to a team that was consider pretty soft by some hockey writers. They lost Brendan Witt and decide to not re-sign Yanic Perreault, which is puzzling me because he had good statistics and his cost would be very affordable. The goaltending, with Vokoun, is superb and the addition of J.P. Dumont will help the offense. If there are any teams who can legitimitely contend for the first spot in the division, it's them.

Columbus: Doug MacClean did a good job to address his needs in the upfront by getting Frederick Modin and Anson Carter. If the Blue Jackets wants to win this year, they will have to count on a breakout year from their young sniper Gilbert Brûlé. I think it will happend considering the number of veterans who can help him through the process. The Holdout regarding Zherdev is a negative shadow surrounding the team. It could be a good idea for MacClean to resolve that problem sooner than later. Still, the Bluejackets are the great unknown in this division.

Chicago: If there is any home for mediocrity, it's Chicago. Last year was terrible since all their signings were bust: Aucoin was on the shelf almost all season; Khabibulin didn't deliver the goods; the same can apply to Barnaby, Lapointe and the list is very long. They trade their lockeroom cancer Tyler Anderson and send Mark Bell to San Jose. The addition of Havlat and Handzus should help them a bit. But the goaltending situation remain a question mark. If guys like Lapointe, Aucoin and Khabibulin can deliver; it could be a very interesting season in Chicago. Do I think it will happend? No!

St. Louis: Every division has a project and St. Louis should be considered as the Central Division Project. The addition of Ruscinski (without Jagr), Guerin (on the verge to be considered a pile of dead wood) and Weight are interesting, but those guys are on their last leg or so. So, it remains to be seen if their presence will have a real impact on team's performance. However, the addition of hard working and grinding defenseman Jay McKee is an excellent signing. I think St. Louis will have a decent team, but there is lots of question marks and I don't see them competing seriously in their division since everyone made some moves to improve their situation.

5-St. Louis


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