Maybe I'm going out on a limb by saying this, but it seems like mid-August is a little early to start predicting where NHL teams will fall at the end of the coming season. In April. Of next year. There are still several significant free agents to be signed (or retired), rookies to be vetted, starting goalies to be chosen, etc. A lot of teams don't have any clue what their lineup will look like on opening night, let alone on the night of game 82.
I'm just saying it seems a little early to start ranking the teams.
But McKeen's Hockey and The Hockey News don't care what I think, so F me. As reported by James Mirtle, Blogologist, their predictions are out and about. I could put up the whole lists, but who cares where San Jose or the Flyers are going to finish? All that matters is the Avalanche.
Unfortunately, the Avs don't fare well.
As was already noted pretty much everywhere, THN ranks Colorado in 14th place in the Western Conference, above only St. Louis but below powerhouse teams like Los Angeles and the Blue Jackets. McKeen's is a little nicer, but still has the Avs finishing out of the playoffs, in the red-headed stepchild position of ninth. Anybody remember how good it felt to finish ninth in 2006-07? Ugh.
In the West, Minnesota's the wild card, ranked in third by THN and all the way down in 10th by McKeen's; Nashville and Colorado flip spots between being playoff contenders and bottom feeders in the rankings.
So, not knowing if Joe Sakic will return, or admitting the possibility that Peter Budaj will be even better than he's already been (which is pretty good), or recognizing the solid defensive lineup in front of him, both McKeen's and The Hockey News feel they have enough information to make predictions already.
Look, predictions matter to me about as much as all those restraining orders my ex-girlfriends totally haven't filed for. It's fluff. I guess I could find out exactly what the rationale behind the low rankings for the Avalanche was, but that would require me to give money to McKeen's or The Hockey News, and that's probably not going to happen. I don't think my blogging "deal" with THN includes a free copy of their annual magazine (maybe it does, I forget), and I'm not going to shell out any of my vast personal fortune just to be told my team sucks.
I'm not going to argue with the fact that the Avs will face an uphill battle this year, but I don't want to wallow in it.