July 9, 2012; St. Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter (left) and forward Zach Parise (right) speak to the media during a press conference at the Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

What Team Is The Most Improved In The Western Conference?

Hello again, hope everyone is doing well and I hope you are all watching the Olympics and cheering on Team USA!

In this article, I would like to take the time to talk about teams in the Western Conference and how they’ve improved. There were some major moves this offseason which involved many big time players moving from one conference to another. Some of those names include Rick Nash, Jaromir Jagr, Ray Whitney, Zach Parise, Mike Ribiero, and P.A Parenteau, to name a few.

Of all the teams in the Western Conference;  The Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild were the three busiest and most effective in the conference in my opinion, so I’ll narrow it down to those three teams.

First I’ll start with the Dallas Stars. A team that has always been on the cusp of making the playoffs, have had bad luck over the past few years. A team with solid talent, but never had that major game changer, however this offseason the Dallas Stars looked to change that. Possibly one of the most underrated moves of the offseason was Ray Whitney going to the Dallas Stars. I believe just acquiring him makes this team a playoff team. The man has had spectacular seasons his whole career and I just see him fitting in very well with whoever he’s lined up with. Although the Stars lost Ribiero to the Washington Capitals, Whitney will look to be the puck facilitator, a job which Ribiero thrived at in Dallas. As if that wasn’t enough, the acquisition of Jaromir Jagr was quite surprising, but whenever you can add a player who has tallied over a point a game for his career you certainly are going to help your organization. Although Jagr is on the tail end of his career, he can still bring his experience to an already overachieving Jamie Benn. Adding to Whitney and Jagr,  the Stars also acquired Derek Roy, who spent 8 seasons with the Buffalo Sabres. Derek Roy was just not fitting well with the fans in Buffalo, so a change in scenery was a must for him. Although Dallas is not a “hockey town” it will certainly have a lot of expectations this season with all the moves they made this offseason. Lastly we can not forget about the three faces of the franchise; Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson and Kari Lehtonen. Adding those players into the mix to me makes the Dallas Stars a for sure playoff contender.

Next up we have the Minnesota Wild. The two biggest free agents that were available this offseason found both of them landing in Minnesota. Zach Parise, the former New Jersey Devil hopes to regenerate the crowd in his hometown and make the Wild a playoff contender, while Ryan Suter hopes to solidify the back end of the Minnesota Wild defense. This is a team that seemed destined for the playoffs early on last season, but suffered a monumental collapse to finish 12th in the Western Conference after being the top team in the West for most of the first half of the season. Zach Parise will look to enhance an offense that scored the fewest amount of goals in the whole league, while players like Dany Heatley and Mikko Koivu look to bounce back from subpar seasons last year. Although the Wild landed the two biggest fish in the offseason pool, I don’t see it as enough to make them a playoff team, it is a positive step in the right direction though.

And lastly I’d like to talk about the Colorado Avalanche. This is another team that was on the brink of making it to the postseason but came up short. The Colorado Avalanche are a very young team that features some high flying scorers like Matt Duchene (21), Gabriel Landeskog (19), Paul Stastny (26), Jamie McGinn (23), Steve Downie (25), and now P.A. Parenteau, who at 29 years old seems like the oldest guy on the team. And not to mention Erik Johnson, the former 1st overall pick in the 2006 NHL draft. This team certainly has a lot of potential to be great for the first time since Joe Sakic retired. P.A Parenteau is coming off a season which he totaled 49 assists and 67 points on an Islanders team that lets just say was not very good. So if you insert him into a line up filled with younger players where the sky’s the limit, it should equal success. If Landeskog can have a solid sophomore season and if Matt Duchene can stay in the line up, this team can be pretty dangerous. Lets not forget about Semyon Varlamov who at the age of 24 still has his whole career ahead of him, and if he can finally solidify himself as a full time NHL goaltender, once again this team will be tough to beat. Although the Avalanche didn’t do a lot of moves, they made probably one of the smartest moves in acquiring Parenteau.

So, it’s time I decide who I think will be the most improved team for next season. And the winner is… The Dallas Stars. I love what Colorado is doing with their youth and I love the fact that the Wild are trying to spend money to get people really excited once again in Minnesota, but I just think that the moves Dallas made were brilliant. The team already has great potential with Loui, Jamie and Kari, but with Jagr, Ray and Derek one the team, it makes them a way more dangerous team.

If you have any opinions please comment below. If you think there was another team who you think will be the most improved please share with all of us. Thanks again!

Thanks for reading.

Make sure to like is on Facebook as well. Remember to also follow the entire Rat Trick team on Twitter! Me  @davidbub_2 . Frank Rekas @therattrick.  David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Josh Luecht @joshluecht, Patrick McLaughlin @PatrickRattrick, Scott Mullin @GreatScottsman, Paige Lewis @Peejlewiz, Adam Reid @AdamReid_ and Gabby Kiger @gabbykiger

God Bless.

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Tags: Colorado Avalanche Dallas Stars Dany Heatley Derek Roy Gabriel Landeskog Jamie Benn Jamie Mcginn Jaromir Jagr Kari Lehtonen Loui Eriksson Matt Duchene Mikko Koivu Minnesota Wild Nhl Pa Parenteau Post Ray Whitney Ryan Suter Steve Downie Western Conference Zach Parise

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