Calgary Flames, Progression and Predictions for 2014-15

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Jun 27, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; A general view of the complete draft board after the completion of the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Finishing 28th overall last season, the Edmonton Oilers will enter the 2014-15 season with the same head coach (Dallas Eakins).  That’s only the 2nd time since 2008 the Oilers have returned the same coach to the bench.  The Oilers brought in new assistant coaches in Craig Ramsay (who in a new twist is NOT a  former Oiler player) and Rocky Thompson.  For all the offense the Edmonton Oilers have drafted through their “re-building years”, the likes of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov still could not guide the Oilers as a team to score more goals than our Calgary Flames during the 2013-14 season.  The bigger issue in Edmonton is keeping the puck out of their own net, with 270 goals against, the Oilers led the league in goals against.  A trio of new defensemen, Nikita Nikitin, Keith Aulie and Mark Fayne, should help.

Finishing 29th overall last season, the Florida Panthers will enter the 2014-15 with Roberto Luongo as their starter.  As long as both Aleksander Barkov and Nick Bjugstad (last season’s leading scorer) both don’t suffer through sophomore slumps like Jonathan Huberdeau, the anemic offense should show progression.  Progression is inevitable on the defensive end of the ice IF the 1st overall draft pick of the 2014 draft,  Aaron Ekblad steps in and plays to the level scouts believe he can play at.

Finishing 30th overall last season, the Buffalo Sabres added veterans Brian Gionta and Andrej Meszaros .  Great additions for a team on the cusp of making the playoffs…but the Sabres are not on the cusp of making the playoffs anytime soon.  A hodge-podge collection of forwards and defenseman all aiming for better results in the first full season playing in front of a Sabres goalie not named Ryan Miller.  By no means am I a Ryan Miller advocate but for the improvements the Sabres will show on offense and defense, the goaltending situation will keep them down.

I believe the Calgary Flames can stay ahead of the Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers and Buffalo Sabres in the standings.