IceHL WEST Predictions, Part II

With both leagues finally drafted and now in the midst of making moves, what better way to spend the time during the lockout by analyzing teams as if there were a real season coming up? You’ll find division-by-division breakdowns of all 16 teams in the IceHL WEST, with brief analyses of offensive, defensive and goaltending capabilities followed by my ratings.

Note: Potential rank is calculated using last year’s stats as the base with this year’s rosters. (2012-2013 rosters with stats as from 2011-2012) These, among other stats will be discussed in a future metrics post.


Boulder Beasts

2780 points; 2 rookies; 1 injured; Potential rank: 9th

+ Able offense highlighted by a trio of 30-goal scorers. (Malkin, Moulson, E. Kane)

+ Higher-scoring defense (Giordano, Fowler, Kulikov, Josi, Leddy) will be a benefit on the scoresheet.

+ Quick and Rinne on the same team? That is nasty as it can get.

– Will Quick return up to scratch? That's about all we got for knocking on goalies.

– Absence of blocked shots might not get offset by offensively focused defense.

– The double rookie spin (Kreider, Huberdeau) is just a risky move, even if these guys are offset by top-tier talent.

Overall Ranks: 4.33/5
Offense: 4.5/5
Defense: 3.5/5
Goalies: 5/5
Playoffs: Boulder is a tough team and should be making it into the playoffs. Consider the defending champs the frontrunner for the division, even though the rest of the Mountain isn't all that far behind the Beasts.

Calgary Cavalry

3037 points; 1 injured; Potential rank: 6th

+ Offense has many assist-heavy players (Dupuis, Bergeron, Eriksson, Oshie, O'Reilly, Brown, Williams) with balanced contributions.

+ Pietrangelo and Suter are very stong pillars for Calgary's defense.

+ Starts aplenty with Hiller and Bryzgalov, as the two are the men in their towns.

– Absence of 30-goal scorers/primary goal scorers outside of Toews. No player on this roster scored 30 goals. Only one had less than 30 assists.
– Concerns about Gardiner, Ellis and White's productions compound, making the defense a little worrisome.
– Very streaky goaltending could put this team in a bind. 

Overall Ranks: 3.67/5
Offense: 3.5/5
Defense: 3.5/5
Goalies: 4/5
Playoffs: Calgary stands a good chance to make the playoffs, despite some of the outward concerns of the team. But they'll need to survive their division to make it happen, since the Mountain is a tight bunch.

Edmonton Kodiaks

2783 points; 2 rookies; 1 injured; Potential rank: 8th

 + H. Sedin, E. Staal, Vrbata and Cole lead a powerful offense that could get deadlier with Yakupov.

+ Edler, Kronwall, Klein and Wideman lead a quality defense.

+ Kiprusoff is a solid talent, and so is Theodore if he gets momentum.

– James van Riemsdyk and N. Backstrom need bounceback years after injuries decimated them both.

– How long will Theodore be the man in Florida?

– Souray's value and Schultz's place in Edmonton are worrisome. 

Overall Ranks: 3.67/5
Offense: 3.5/5
Defense: 4/5
Goalies: 3.5/5
Playoffs: Edmonton will likely be neck and neck with the rest of the division, but depending on how the muddled mess of forwards turn out, this team could distance itself from the rest. Just like the rest of the division, the Kodiaks stand a good shot to make it if the division doesn't eat them alive first.

Salt Lake City Scorpions

2735 points; 1 injured; Potential rank: 10th

+Two 30-goal scorers (Perry and M. Michalek) lead a strong offense rounded by assist machines. (Landeskog, Fleischmann, St. Louis)

+A healthy Lehtonen and an opportunity-seizing Lindback could be a scrappy duo.

+Powerful, but balanced defense (Boyle, Letang, Hamonic, Wisniewski, Nikitin) that contributes with points and blocked shots.

– Injury concerns run rampant about Mueller, less so about Kesler and M. Michalek.

– If Lindback falters or Lehtonen gets hurt, this duo can fall off pretty quickly.

– All solid defenders, but a bit lacking in a backup plan (Spurgeon) if multiple are hurt.

Overall Ranks: 4.16/5
Offense: 4/5
Defense: 4.5/5
Goalies: 4/5
Playoffs: Salt Lake City seems to be ahead of Calgary and Edmonton, but behind Boulder in a ranking that has no team more than a point behind anyone else. Salt Lake City should make the postseason, unless their divisional play is poor.


California Wave

3421 points; 1 injured; Potential rank: 2nd

+ Tons of scoring potential (Stamkos, Kovalchuk, Marleau, Callahan, Elias, Krejci, Steen) make this team tough to outpace.

+ Huge shotblocking focus and nice point production from Seabrook, Gorges, Carlson, Pitkanen and Z.  Michalek. There’s loads of potential here.

+ Niemi and Elliott/Halak is just ridiculous. Easy to change with the Blues 'tenders.

– Offense is tough to nitpick. The biggest concerns here are if there’s a net regression among the forward corps. Elias might dip with age.

– Some small concerns about injuries to Pitkanen and Michalek.

– Figuring out which to lose of Niemi/Halak/Elliott if all are healthy is very tough.

Overall Ranks: 4.5/5
Offense: 4.5/5
Defense: 4.5/5
Goalies: 4.5/5
Playoffs: A virtual lock for the division and contender for the top spot in the West, California's stacked roster will be one that has the opportunity to ride very deep.

Portland Pioneers

2970 points; Potential rank: 7th

+ A good offense with decent contributors (Iginla, Franzen, Marchand, Burrows, Kunitz, Whitney)

+ Filip Kuba is solid, and so is Timonen if healthy. Zidlicky could improve with a full season in NJ.

+ Bobrovsky will be the man in Columbus without question.

– Injury risks to Hossa and Roy are very large concerns.

– Not only is Timonen still recovering, this team doesn't field the base 4 guys.

– How much will Hedberg be called upon for his services if Brodeur playing well? What if Bobrovsky fails?

Overall Ranks: 2.83/5
Offense: 3.5/5
Defense: 2/5
Goalies: 3/5
Playoffs: Portland has a lot of work to become a postseason squad, but there are some pieces there. They’re just not the answers to the right puzzle. But, the playoffs are even further away if the fourth D isn’t found quick!

Seattle Aviators

2594 points; 1 rookie; Potential rank: 15th

+ Great foundation at forward (Kopitar, Eberle, Wheeler), with an impressive 2nd tier (Ribeiro, Purcell, Henrique).

+ Awesome defense (Enstrom, Keith, Liles) with very balanced contributions.

+ Goaltending, if Schneider becomes the man, is less worrisome.

– Concerns about Hall's recovery and Gagner's streaky season take some of the luster way from the offense.

– Larsson and Green need to improve from last season to round out Seattle's defense. What role will Hamilton play for the Bruins?

– Only one goalie and Schneider might not even be the man in town. Risky tactic as long as Luongo is a Canuck and even beyond that.

Overall Ranks: 3.5/5
Offense: 4/5
Defense: 4/5
Goalies: 2.5/5
Playoffs: Seattle will need to rely on strong seasons from everyone to have a chance. Otherwise, the Aviators will likely hover near the bottom of the division.

Vancouver Lumberjacks

2407 points; Potential rank: 16th

+ Strong top four (Pavelski, Getzlaf, Ryan, Couture) and good middlemen (Hodgson, Zajac).

+ Tons of potential with Ehrhoff, Shattenkirk and Yandle.

+ Rask and Dubnyk should be interesting--two goalies on the rise for their teams.

– Will Dubnyk have the team in front to support? Will Rask be able to last for an entire season?

– No clear number 4 defenseman (Voynov or Sbisa) and a lack of blocked shots/PPN.

– Injury risks in Duchene, Zajac and McDonald. The three missed 148 games last year.

Overall Ranks: 3.67/5
Offense: 4/5
Defense: 3.5/5
Goalies: 3.5/5
Playoffs: Vancouver can't do worse than last year, even if their potentials don't say the same story. They probably won't make the playoffs, but are arguably California's toughest competition in the Pacific. A bubble berth is possible, but a rather large stretch.


  1. California
  2. Alaska
  3. Boulder
  4. New Orleans
  5. Salt Lake City
  6. Saskatoon
  7. Edmonton
  8. Winnipeg
  9. Northwest
  10. Calgary
  11. Vancouver
  12. Houston 
  13. Regina
  14. Dallas
  15. Seattle
  16. Portland