SPNHL, Season 31: Season Preview
By: Dirty-Dietrich & Chadkillz134
Going into the draft with only one other player used to mean that you either traded most of your resigns for picks or the team bailed on you after the season. Well, the new one resign rule gave everybody an even playing field as they prepared to build a team. Now, the dust has settled on one of the deepest drafts in recent memory and there are a bunch of teams who could win the Stanley Cup this season.
There are some favourites out of the gate, such as the Leafs (who kept nearly the exact same team as last season’s Eastern Conference champions) and the Golden Knights (who reassembled a good portion of their cup winning squad from Season 27). There are also some teams with great potential such as the Oilers (who have more Frenchies than a café but a stacked squad) and the Penguins (who retained most of their underperforming core from last season but added considerable firepower) who could stun many people and make a run for the cup.
The Chode and I took a look at the teams and got their GMs to send their prospective starting lineups for us to analyze and sometimes criticize. We’ll look at teams strengths, weaknesses, and rank the teams in the order we expect them to finish in. Last season I didn’t do so well with my predictions, so hopefully the Master of the Flying Poke Check can share some of his insight and make more accurate predictions. Let’s start with our good old friends Kozmo and Shadow and their Ducks, and make our way alphabetically through the rest of the league.
Strength: offense. Alright, it was tough to find the strength for these guys, but they have a bunch of good options up front. Ages is a former Calder winner, Shadow had a great showing at RW last season, and he insists newcomers like MrBean and FreakGrizz will be great forwards.
Weakness: defense. Having 2 defenders can often leave you scrambling for ECUs, but what if you have only one. Dynasty and Kozmo can play D with CapCan, but the lack of options at D could prove to be the Achilles’ Heel for this team.
Ranking: The Ducks have a decent squad, but they aren’t the strongest in their conference.They may have a chance at the playoffs depending on how their rookies play, but expect them to be one of the odd teams out. We place them 10th out of 12.
Strength: defense. Eggman and Sedin have been the league’s best defensive pairing for three seasons in a row. It makes sense to keep it together, but adding Bergy to the mix gives Colorado one of the strongest defensive cores in the league.
Weakness: offense. Go_Marc is solid and PLANET PATRICK is always worth a visit, but their other options aren’t as proven and could be a big gamble for this team. Expect Marc to play more LW than LD this season.
Ranking: Colorado have always used a defensive system and it has brought them success. With an elite defensive core and decent goaltending options, expect the Avalanche to be a playoff team and finish 6th in the league.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Strength: offense. Triix, Trout, Bundy, Smitty, and DJFreeze make up a very good core of forwards including some who are familiar with the Jackets’ hard forechecking style of play. Expect the front of the opposition’s net to be busy.
Weaknesses: goaltending. Pemm is a decent goaltender, but he has struggled in the past. Hockeyman, like all rookies, is a big question mark that could pay dividends for Columbus. For now, he’s still unproven, and the Jackets may have some trouble in net.
Ranking: the Jackets didn’t have the greatest of seasons last season (even though the bastards nearly beat us every time we played them) and their lack of depth at defense and net will be their downfall again. Expect them to finish dead last (prove me wrong, guys).
Strength: chemistry. Julien, Frenchy, and Blanche all play with each other outside of SP. They broke into the league last season and made the playoffs. Expect them to do a bit more damage with an elite forward like Cupidon with them.
Weakness: goaltending. Nearly the exact same damn thing as Columbus. A veteran mid-tier goaltender (the numbers don’t lie) and a rookie goaltender may struggle a bit and hinder an otherwise solid team.
Ranking: I can see this team doing better than they did last season. They added some depth to the places that were lacking last season and kept their main squad together. Expect them to finish 9th overall, but 4th in the west and grabbing that final playoff spot.
New Jersey Devils
Strength: goaltending. Ciulla is great as a starting goalie, but when you have last season’s Vezina trophy winner as a backup? The Devils can put any of their two goalies out there and feel confident in their own zone.
Weakness: defense. CeeG, Royal, and McAvoy have all proven their worth in other leagues, but their availability could cause a bit of an issue. Looks like my ass is gonna have to play D when they can’t, and that’s a liability.
Ranking: the goaltending is great, the offense is too, the defense is the only question mark, but what the hell. I’m confident in my team. I think we’ll finish 7th in the league and grab the 4th playoff spot in the conference.
Strength: chemistry. I play with these guys on an almost nightly basis, and know Muse, Pete, and Bowdown are dynamic together. With other offensive options like Yesse and Puckzone available to play the right side, this team will be dangerous in the offensive zone.
Weakness:.Chad and I are editing this article together and it’s a struggle. I say their weakness is defensive depth. Shayne and Uber are great, but Belak (formerly known as jielking) and Steavex aren’t necessarily top defenders (TBH, I like steavex a lot Great dude, I just had to find a weakness other than goaltending depth because Chad would kill me).
Ranking: I really like this team because I know how much skill they have and how well they play together, It may surprise some people, but I think they finish 4th overall and take the second seed in the Eastern conference.
Strength: chemistry. Another team who are incredibly familiar with each other and have played multiple seasons together. Serge and Plisk should be even more dangerous now that they’re anchored on the line by the mighty Bstie.
Weakness: defense. Jamiebenn is great, but I909 and DatsAll (folks) may not be enough to hold the line with Benn when needed. Pliskin could fall back and have Larkin play the wing, but the need at defense should be addressed immediately.
Ranking: The Penguins have the talent but fell short of the playoffs last season. Turd should have a great bounce back season but it may not be enough to take the final playoff spot from us. They’ll finish 8th and miss the playoffs by a couple of points. Sorry!
San Jose Sharks
Strength: goaltending. Single-G6 has been one of the better goaltenders in the league for the past two seasons, and having Dafoumanchew and Soicey on the squad adds a lot of depth in net for the Sharks.
Weakness: defense. Scalz is a good defender and Herb is a very versatile player, but PNCpark is usually a goaltender and his defensive acumen will be tested this season. Shep may need to drop back and play a few games at D.
Ranking: Although they’re strong in net, the Sharks have a lot of the mid-tier old guards at forward. They’ve proven to be somewhat successful in the past, but I don’t think this is the best team Scalz has built. I see them finishing 11th and last in the West.
Tampa Bay Lighting
Strength: chemistry. True is a stud, but this is the first time in a few seasons he doesn’t have Redflag by his side. Instead he resigned a great goalie in VinceT and picked a very solid centre AAli in the first round of the draft. He also added guys like Dom and Noto who are proven players in SP. Kanyes-Ego is coming into this season as a rookie but has found a lot of success in other leagues. This team has a very strong starting 6
Weakness: depth. Besides the starting 6, I see some question marks. True picked up 2 rookies in the draft: a defenseman in Cshirk85 and a centre in JLAden. If these guys can step in when needed and make a difference, that will make this team even better.
Ranking: Tampa has a great team but ultimately i think the lack of depth will cost them.I see Tampa taking the 3rd seed in the Eastern conference but 5th in the league
Toronto Maple Leafs
Strength: chemistry. Theres is a recurring theme here, and that’s teams who were built last season getting redrafted. Fish, NJ, GodsPlan, and Fivestar all went to the Cup Finals. Throw Stamkos at centre, and that team may return to the promised land.
Weakness: depth. Outside of a solid top 6, their options are miniscule. Peace is a solid backup goalie, but the other options at D and forward aren’t as strong as some of the other teams’ options. They’ll need their top 6 to play a lot.
Ranking: These guys are agitators who will get in the heads of their opponents all season long. Jay did a good job at rebuilding a team but making it stronger, so expect these guys to finish at the top of the conference and 2nd in the league.
Vegas Golden Knights
Strength: depth. These guys do not have a bad player on the team. Prodigy, Stoner, and Tarasenko could be a lethal top line, and having Wally and Ex as a defensive pairing in front of Slim fortifies the strongest back-end in the league.
Weakness: availability. Sliyum was plagued with it last season, and it may be another case of it this season. Wally, Ex, Stoner, and Prodigy don’t have full availability, so they’ll need to rely on their backups to carry the torch. Good thing they have the depth.
Ranking: this is the best team in the West. Top to bottom, they have a very talented squad and have a championship pedigree. This team will win the President’s trophy and claim the top seed in the Western conference. NUMERO UNO SLIYUM!
Strength: offense. These guys have a very talented top 6 who all have great offensive acumen. Slick meshed perfectly with Reap and Kid, and Ezz and Beaster are both great offensive defenders who will ignite the Jets’ engines (HA).
Weakness: too high expectations. TBH, this team is one of the most solid teams I’ve seen Reap put together in years. Some other folks said that as well, and Reap is always gunning for the top. This is the cop out answer TBH. They have a great team.
Ranking: I’ve already said very good things about this team, and if their performance is equal to what they did in the latter half of last season, they will live up to it. Giroux is gonna backstop them to the 2nd seed in the west and 3rd overall.
- Vegas Golden Knights (1st in the West)
- Toronto Maple Leafs (1st in the East)
- Winnipeg Jets (2nd in the West)
- Philadelphia Flyers (2nd in the East)
- Tampa Bay Lightning Flyers (3rd in the East)
- Colorado Avalanche (3rd in the West)
- New Jersey Devils (4th in the East)
- Pittsburgh Penguins (5th in the East)
- Edmonton Oilers (4th in the West)
- Anaheim Ducks (5th in the West)
- San Jose Sharks (6th in the West)
- Columbus Blue Jackets (6th in the East)
UGH. That was exasperating. Looking at the teams, it was very hard to find weaknesses for some, which means either I suck at my job or this will be one of the more competitive seasons we’ve had in quite some time. I’m very excited to see how this season plays out, as the playoff race will be very intense seeing as we have 12 teams and eight playoff spots. Wills will be tested (tongue twister), friendships will be shattered, rivalries will be created, and all will be left on the ice in the pursuit of championship glory.
I’d like to thank Chad for helping me out with this article, perhaps he’ll be contributing more in the future. In the meantime, make sure to tune into SPNHL: Off the Ice at https://www.twitch.tv/thespnhl_media. Not too sure what time or when the next episode will be, but we’ll make sure that you know. In the meantime, best of luck to all teams at the beginning of your season, and if you don’t like what I’ve said, prove me wrong. I’m just a mouthy asshole anyways.
See you on the ice,
DD & Chad.