SPNHL, Season 36, Season Preview: May Flowers and Conference Superpowers
Being a punk rock and metal enthusiast for most of my life, I feel like it’s time that I branch out and diversify my musical tastes. Fortunately, one punk rock band made the transition/expansion quite easy: The Bronx. The Los Angeles band has a mariachi side project cleverly named “Mariachi El Bronx” and has released three studio albums and a new set of rarities. I highly recommend checking out their second album: it looks like the cover to something that could have been released on No Limit Records and is actually very well done!
Fresh off the backs of one of the more competitive and competent drafts in quite some time (14 teams and nobody made questionable picks within the first two rounds), we find ourselves around the corner from the beginning of the 36th season of the SPNHL, one that will take us into the beginning of summer. Don’t get your swim trunks and flip flops on just yet, as fourteen teams still have to navigate through a five week sprint that will take them into early June, and wrap playoffs up as the sun begins to shine.
Seven teams will battle per conference as they look to be the team that represents their respective alignment in the SPNHL Stanley Cup Finals. There are many different identities that teams have assumed this season: you’ve got teams full of vets like Calgary and Colorado, squads full of rookies like Nashville and Chicago, a good mix of both in Tampa Bay and Minnesota, offensive forces like Boston and Anaheim, and more that we’ll get to in the coming paragraphs.
Teams didn’t have much money to use, as an influx of rookie brought the salary cap down to 32 million, the lowest I have seen in my three years in the league. Regardless, teams assembled their minimum ten man rosters and are preparing for the start of the season, this coming Monday at 9 pm. Let’s take a look at the starting six of these 14 teams, take a closer look at the construction of their squads, and see if we can predict how these teams will fare over the course of the next five weeks.
Prediction: 2nd in the West.
After trading for the fourth overall pick, Triix picked Sudzy and never looked back, as he assembled an incredibly intimidating team that looks poised to frustrate goaltenders and defenses this season. With a top line that has plenty of chemistry, and depth options at forward like Thumbz, Hardie, and Ruggles, the Ducks will have all hands on deck when it comes to offense. Don’t expect Wheels or WakeDog to see much shots on net this season, as Anaheim will control the offensive flow of their games.
Prediction: 1st in the East.
We’re starting out the article strong with two of the best teams in the league. Chad found himself in a hole with only $18.5 million to use in the draft due to his large cap hit, but assembled the most dynamic forward line in the league and spent $5.5 million doing so. Eddie and Steel are solid depth options with SP experience and versatility, while nuckingfutz and iyzcniZi (please let us know how that is pronounced, we have nothing) have plenty of experienced in competitive NHL and will help the Bruins reach the top of the East. Maybe Chad will finally leave me alone when they do.
Prediction: 6th in the West.
Dead, Fluri, you know I love you and I hate to do you dirty like this, but this is an average team in an above-average conference. This team had some great picks in Whitetees and sabres, and filled their starting six with some respectable veterans. Unfortunately, this team’s backup options are not as strong as other’s, with Broken, Hale, and Morderca being relatively unproven in this and other leagues. halecunning added this to this article: “Is that garbage I smell or is it just the rest of the league that stinks?” Pretty sure it’s your team, pal. Sorry!
Prediction: 4th in the West.
Another team that I feel is a top contender in another conference, the Blackhawks have a good balance of offense and defense in this lineup, with a crop of great two-way players. They have great depth options in Shadow (still blocked, sorry), Five, Headcase, and more, the Blackhawks can put out a line that will surprise teams and win their fair share of games in this upcoming season. Rookie wanted to make sure I added “the worse gm in sp history still running a team”. Can Chicago’s PR team make sure to proofread each of his statements?
Prediction: 3rd in the West.
Eggman returns to Colorado as he looks to build a dynasty again, building a team consisting of some of the league’s highest career scorers and most decorated players. The only questions I have about this team is goaltending, as Flyers and Pensrul don’t have any experience in SP or much in other leagues, but Egg and Woy do their homework when picking these players. Expect another successful season out of Colorado, easier said than done in this stacked Western Conference.
Detroit Red Wings.
Prediction: 3rd in the East.
Reap and Cupe have been playing together for four seasons now, and they have built a defensive minded team around themselves this season. The Red Wings are one of the only teams with more defenders than forwards (even though Freeze is playing between Reap and Cupe), with Jason and Frodo as a secondary pair that will look to surprise people, while Budz and Foxy will be effective backups at C and in net. Offense wins games, but defense wins championships, and Detroit looks to have subscribed to that philosophy.
Prediction: 7th in the West.
Sportsgeek isn’t going to be happy about this, and Jon will likely chirp me for this prediction, but Minnesota has the same problem as Calgary: they don’t have the talent to excel in a stacked Western conference. Geek will pair with blouf as their backup defensive pairing, while old Vandoos will compete with mallia for the starting position. Pap, AK, and Prime will be a cohesive second line for the Wild, but Mclub and Jon will be heavily relied upon if they want to prove my prediction wrong. Will they do it? Stay tuned!
Prediction: 5th in the West.
We mentioned how the Predators were rookie heavy, well their top line is filled with 4 (really 3) players who are new to SP. However, this core of players is known throughout the NHL community and have a reputation for torching teams on the scoreboard. The vets are taking a backseat on this team, with Cam, Ant, Kwhiss, and Appler all assuming the role of backups to this explosive core. When the first overall pick is a rookie, you know they’re going to be something special, so don’t be surprised if more than just a Calder trophy goes to Nashville.
New Jersey Devils.
Prediction: 4th in the East.
The Devils are looking to follow up last season’s Stanley Cup finals appearance with another successful season, and assembled a respectable top 6 (after a big mistake with their second round pick). This team employs a core of former Selke and Lady Byng trophy winners, and will grind teams down. Tyrell, Trip, and KC will handle backup duties at forward, defense, and goaltending as we search for where EKANE went. We should start putting up “missing” posters around the city. Nonetheless, the Devils can look forward to another winning season.
Prediction: 7th in the East.
Pliskin said he was looking forward to seeing this team play, a sentiment he echos nearly every season as he helps build a team. This is going to be another team that grinds teams down, but aside from Troy, I don’t see much offensive prowess on the Senators. Ottawa has a decent backup goaltender in Bad-buzzz_ (who apparently doesn’t have the time for SP anymore), and some reliable depth options in Christ-Boyz and teamrun, but doesn’t have any players who stand out and can help carry Ottawa’s offense. Sorry guys truth hurts. </3
Prediction: 6th in the East.
Cookie never posted his top six, so guess what? Get bent. Sorry pal. He also made waves by trading Adam for Jason before the season began. On paper, this is a good team, and their backups are no slouches either, as Wade and Bruins could fortify the Penguins back end while Howard and Coffey will bolster the offensive abilities of the team. There may be some inquisition into their low rank, but I’ll explain: there are a LOT of explosive personalities on this team, something evidenced by the aforementioned preseason trade, and these explosions may cause the proverbial walls of Pittsburgh to erode and crumble as the season progresses.
Here’s another quip from Calgary, courtesy of Visibility: “I unretired to win the cup and fuck bitches… and i’m all out of bitches”.
You got a mirror? You aren’t out yet. Pete took over a team in shambles with weeks left and ran it better than you ever had/could. Keep talking.
Tampa Bay Lightning.
Prediction: 5th in the East.
Speaking of Pete, the Lightning faced some interesting circumstances on draft night as their GM was nowhere to be found (hope all is well, Buff). Shepard stepped in and drafted a very 50/50 team. Out of their 12 players, 6 are playing in their rookie season. Twist, Aro, Panther (he’s actually pretty good), drumify, puck, and kgod will have their chance to learn a lot and prove themselves this season as understudies to a team full of experienced veterans. It’s almost like the Lightning at the turn of the millennium. Good luck, old friends.
Toronto Maple Leafs.
Prediction: 2nd in the East.
My hometown team is going to be fun to watch this season, as they have two of the most talented forwards in the league, but also two of the loudest personalities in the community. The only question I have with this team is goaltending, as Pulver was the only goalie they drafted and that boy isn’t a starting goalie. However, their defensive core is deep and talented, employing Graham, Mpurch, and Minor and will not let many high-scoring opportunities go against the Leafs. The only thing that can stop the Leafs from success this season is themselves.
Vegas Golden Knights.
Prediction: 1st in the West.
If the Golden Knights weren’t already a stacked team, they traded Jason for Adam for an upgrade on offense. With award winning defenders and goaltenders on the team, the Knights have the most reliable back end in the league, one that will be taught to and supported by way2easy and ShutUpMike. Chadiliac and PoolMagician are reliable veterans that will support this team’s offensive core, and fill out the roster for arguably the best team in the Western conference, and potentially the best team in the SPNHL.
So, for anybody who got lost in our alphabetical categorization of teams, let’s break the rankings down into their respective conferences:
1. Boston Bruins.
2. Toronto Maple leafs.
3. Detroit Red Wings.
4. New Jersey Devils.
5. Tampa Bay Lightning.
6. Pittsburgh Penguins.
7. Ottawa Senators.
1. Vegas Golden Knights.
2. Anaheim Ducks.
3. Colorado Avalanche.
4. Chicago Blackhawks.
5. Nashville Predators.
6. Calgary Flames.
7. Minnesota Wild.
Composing this article really made me realize how stacked the Western conference is this season, but the Eastern conference are no slouches either. In a rookie heavy season, a lot of players that are new to the SPNHL are looking forward to making a name for themselves and proving the naysayers wrong. Conversely, the old guard of SP are looking forward to welcoming the new core of players to the league with a barrage of big hits, flashy goals, and relentless chirps in the league Discord.
We will be increasing our media coverage throughout Season 36, as we look to bring you more highlights, weekly power rankings, players of the week, and weekly episodes of SPNHL: Off the Ice at https://www.twitch.tv/probablekoz. You can listen to special guests, Kozmo, Pliskin, and myself as we discuss everything that is happening in the league from competition to controversy. Anybody get banned for a second tag yet?
Thank you for taking the time to read this article, and good luck to all the teams this season!