Well, this is a little bit late, given that ESPN’s Scott Burnside posted his Summer Power Rankings back on July 25th, but when I saw them this morning, I simply had to pass the word on—he has Edmonton winning the Northwest Division.
Now, every year I see ridiculous forecasts in various sports journals (I’m particularly hard on The Hockey News since they should presumably know better) and disregard them, knowing that these largely-Eastern based columnists have a difficult time getting a read on the West. Generally, however, those disregarded columnists are being negative about the Oilers, as opposed to positive.
Burnside ranks the Oilers 5th in the West, the Flames 7th, Minnesota 9th, Vancouver 12th and Colorado 13th. Regular readers will know that I personally have Minnesota figured as the divisional winner, but aside from that those are fairly realistic rankings (in terms of order, not necessarily final placement). Colorado has brutal goaltending, Vancouver’s brutal everywhere else, and after years of everyone (especially THN) overrating the Flames, perhaps journalists have come to realize that all they have is a middling team and Jarome Iginla.
In other divisional news, Jes Golbez picks up on an interview with Milan Hejduk on Paradubice HC’s website; in it, Hejduk describes severe problems with his knee, and says that (at least, according to the rough translation tools available) he is likely to retire at the end of his current contract with the Avalanche- in two years. While major surgery is an option, Hejduk would apparently need to spend an entire year rehabilitating the knee.
Hejduk has had a nice nine-year career, with his best season coming in 2002–03, where he scored 50 goals (with an unreal SH%) and 98 points. Since then he’s been a 25–35-goal scorer (a real one, not a 25-goal scorer who is constantly described as a 25–35 scorer) and a valuable asset to any team. Along with the departure of Forsberg, and the imminent retirement of Joe Sakic, the Avalanche look like they may be retooling for a while, even with Stasny/Wolski/Svatos waiting in the wings.
It’s nice to be an Oilers’ fan right now; I think it’s going to be even nicer in two to three years.