This is the 1st part of 4 in the season preview series. We’re going to take a quick look at each division and hopefully rate and make a prediction on their final standings. Here’s my evaluation (keep in mind we haven’t finished drafting/trading so it’s not set in stone).
I am evaluating the Goaltending, Top 4 Defense, and Top 6 Forwards based on their current OV ranking, taking into account the amount of players 30 years of age+.
I will also evaluate the team’s top 5 prospects, which in my description are the top 5 players in terms of PO who haven’t yet reached their potential.
Finally, I will look at the team’s available cap space to make deals to improve their team. I ranked the goaltending, top 4 D, top 6 F out of 10, the future/prospects out of 5, and the cap flexibility out of 3.
The Scholder Division has three top goaltenders in Kiprusoff (Berlin), Lehtonen (Geneva), and Quick (Munich), and three up-and-coming tenders in Smith (Bern), Pavelec (Frankfurt), and Elliott (Zurich).
What separates the teams is the backups however. Bern, Munich, and Zurich have capable backups able to stand in admirably for the 15-20 games they’ll have. Based on this, my ratings are:
Out of 10:
Munich: 8 Points
Berlin/Geneva: 7 Points
Bern: 6 Points
Zurich: 5 Points
Frankfurt: 4 Points
Top 4 Defense:
Three of this division’s defence cores have a top 2 with players 80OVR and above (Bern, Berlin, and Munich), which sets them apart, however, the best D currently would have to be Geneva as they have a mix of top talent in Lidstrom and Wideman, mixed with one of the best young D in the game in Del Zotto. Frankfurt and Zurich may get burned on the back end if they fail to acquire talent beside Doughty and Hamhuis respectively.
Out of 10:
Geneva: 9 Points
Bern: 8 Points
Munich: 7 Points
Berlin: 6 Points
Zurich: 4 Points
Frankfurt: 3 Points.
Top 6 Forwards:
The candidate for scariest line of the year will no doubt feature Munich’s Elias-Thornton-Iginla line, which combines a terrifying amount of speed, size, and scoring touch. The second line is also no slouch either, which contributes to their top ranking in this category. Nipping at their heels is the Zurich top 6, which has 4 rising stars in Kovalchuk, Bergeron, Kane, and Stafford which will only improve this powerful offense. Bern and Munich have a good collection of prime-aged forwards as well, while Berlin and Frankfurt will no doubt be looking for more talent to complement Umberger/Couture (Berlin) and Frankfurt’s Stamkos/Giroux line, which will eventually be the top line in hockey.
Out of 10:
Munich: 9 Points
Zurich: 8 Points
Geneva: 7 Points
Bern: 6 Points
Berlin: 5 Points
Frankfurt: 4 Points (assuming Halischuk is still put in the top 6, which will no doubt be altered)
The Future (Top 5 Potential Players):
The winner by far of this area in the Scholder Division is Frankfurt, who’s combination of future legends Stamkos and Giroux will no doubt be generational talents that most teams would be lucky to have one of. However, don’t count out Berlin and Zurich, who have Couture/Read, and Bergeron/Kane/Kovalchuk getting better and better. Geneva and Munich are very much in win-now mode, and will need to be concerned about stocking their prospect pool with star talent as their core ages.
Out of 5:
Frankfurt: 4.5 Points (wow is it ever good!)
Zurich: 3.5 Points
Berlin: 3 Points
Bern: 2.5 Points
Geneva: 1.5 Points
Munich: 1 Point
While teams like Frankfurt and Zurich have lots of cap space to take on an expensive player, Munich is over the cap and will need to trade someone to finish their lineup, and Geneva also has little cap space to speak of.
Out of 3:
Frankfurt: 3 Points
Zurich: 2.5 Points
Bern/Berlin: 2 Points
Geneva: 1.5 Points
Munich: 0 Points
Projected Final Standings in the Division (at this time in the draft):
1st Place: Geneva (one star LW from being a serious cup contender)
2nd Place: Munich (if they can figure out their cap issue with some smart trades, they can compete for the division)
3rd Place: Bern (consistently good in all areas)
4th Place: Zurich (a scary good, improving forward group)
5th Place: Berlin (a young team with a improving D and great goaltender)
6th Place: Frankfurt (this team will be a powerhouse in 2 years)
Please note: I really don’t wish to offend anyone, I just hope this promotes healthy discussion, as this is completely my opinion.
Projected Southern Conference Standings:
Since these two divisions are very different, the conference standings will be a bit unbalanced. I feel that the Demitra division will take a bit of a beating from the other divisions as their young stars keep improving and reaching their potential. In contrast, the Scholder division features a bunch of win-now opponents with top defences and goaltending. Therefore, I see very few of the Demitra teams making the playoffs this year.
I’m also assuming that the top 2 teams in each division will be slotted in the top 4 spots in the conference, similar to how the 3 division winners in the NHL get the top 3 positions in the playoffs.
1st Place: Geneva – Scholder Division
2nd Place: Munich – Scholder Division
3rd Place: Madrid – Demitra Division
4th Place Athens – Demitra Division
————- Division Winners/Runner-ups line —————
5th Place Bern – Scholder Division
6th Place Berlin – Scholder Division
7th Place Milan – Demitra Division
8th Place Zurich – Scholder Division
————- Playoff Qualifier Line ——————————
9th Place Prague – Demitra Division
10th Place Bratislava – Demitra Division
11th Place Paris – Demitra Division
12th Place Frankfurt – Scholder Division
I’m not fully aware on how the standings will work (i.e. will there always be a spot for at least 2 in each division?), but to me this seems like a good way of doing it.