2023-24 Western Conference preview: the elite teams
Photo credit:© Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
The Calgary Flames are going to be in tough to make the playoffs this season because of the competition in the Western Conference. There are 13 teams in the West that you could legitimately make an argument to be playoff teams.
We’re going to give a quick breakdown of each team. See what their lineups are going to look like and how they stack up with the Flames. Let’s start with the five powerhouse teams in the west: Colorado, Dallas, Edmonton, Vegas, and Los Angeles.
(Projected lineups courtesy of our friends at Daily Faceoff)
Additions: Ryan Johansen, Ross Colton, Jonathan Drouin, Miles Wood, Chris Wagner
Subtractions: J.T. Compher, Evan Rodrigues, Alex Newhook, Matt Nieto, Erik Johnson, Lars Eller, Denis Malgin, Keith Kinkaid.
The Avalanche made a lot of changes to the bottom of their lineup this season. But the core group of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Cale Makar, and Devon Toews are still intact. As long as that core group stays healthy, the Avalanche are going to be a force in the Western Conference.
Additions: Matt Duchene, Logan Stankoven, Sam Steel, Craig Smith
Subtractions: Luke Glendening, Colin Miller, Max Domi
The Dallas Stars have entered the elite tier of NHL teams. They have so much going for them. The best line in the NHL with Robertson-Hintz-Pavelski. A Norris calibre defenceman in Miro Heiskanen. A Vezina worthy goalie, Jake Oettinger. They have solid veteran leaders Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Matt Duchene, and Ryan Suter. Wyatt Johnston is entering his second season coming off a great rookie campaign. This team is loaded and are poised to make another run at the Stanley Cup.
Additions: Connor Brown, Lane Pederson
Subtractions: Kailer Yamamoto, Klim Kostin, Nick Bjugstad, Devin Shore
The Oilers are as close to a guarantee to make the playoffs as you can get. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are incredible regular season players and will carry the Oilers to the playoffs. Now add Connor Brown to this potent offence and you have the making for another 100+ point season in Edmonton.
Vegas Golden Knights
Subtractions: Reilly Smith, Phil Kessel, Teddy Blueger, Laurent Brossoit
The reigning Stanley Cup Champs are positioned to have another great season. The Golden Knights are loaded at every position group. Reilly Smith was their only key subtraction on a team that steamrolled their way to a Stanley Cup victory. The only thing that could stop Vegas from making the playoffs is injuries which has plagued them in the past.
Los Angeles Kings
Additions: Pierre-Luc Dubois, Trevor Lewis, Cam Talbot
Subtractions: Gabe Valardi, Alex Iaffalo, Rasmus Kupari, Sean Durzi, Sean Walker, Alex Edler, Jonas Korpisalo, Cal Petersen
Some people may not think the Kings are in the elite category of the Western Conference, but I think they are. This is a stacked lineup, particularly down the middle with Anze Kopitar, Phil Danault, and newly acquired Pierre-Luc Dubois. They’re big, fast deep, and come at you in waves. Their goaltending is suspect, but it was last season, and they still managed to finish with 104 points.
How do the Flames stack up?
On paper, Calgary is a step below these teams. The Flames don’t have the same kind of elite talent as the Avalanche, Stars, Oilers, Golden Knights and Kings. Everything is going to have to go right in order for them to make it into the elite tier of in the West. Jacob Markstrom, Jonathan Huberdeau, Elias Lindholm, Nazem Kadri, and Andrew Mangiapane all need to have huge, bounce back seasons, they need to stay healthy, and come together as a group which was something they never did last season.
Get your tickets for the FlamesNation Season Home Opener party, and come hang out with us at Greta Bar while we watch the Flames take on the Winnipeg Jets in their season opener!
Recent articles from Robert Munnich