Offseason Power Rankings: Western Conference Shaping Up

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Apr 22, 2015; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; The Winnipeg Jets celebrate their season after losing the series to the Anaheim Ducks by thanking the fans after the third period in game four of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre. Anaheim wins the game 5-2 and sweeps the series 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

No. 10: Dallas Stars

Who’s In: Antti Niemi, Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, Stephen Johns

Who’s Out: Ales Hemsky, Jhonas Enroth, Trevor Daley

The Stars have been in one playoff series in the past six years. In that time, the Chicago Blackhawks have won 16 playoff series. Naturally, the Blackhawks seem like the team to do business with, and Jim Nill did just that.

The Stars picked up Sharp, and although they didn’t have to give up much in return, he won’t come easy on the wallet, at $5.9 million. However, Sharp has far more upside than Shawn Horcoff and Hemsky, two forwards he is tasked with replacing. Though he was far from the main focus of the trade, Johns could make a statement with the Stars after patiently waiting for his time to make the NHL jump in the Blackhawks’ system.

And Nill was not done in when it came to recruiting former Blackhawks. Oduya, who ruled out a return to the Blackhawks just yesterday, signed a two-year deal with Dallas today and will do more than replace Daley, who was sent to the Windy City on Friday night.

The Stars have questions in the crease, with big money allotted to both Niemi and Kari Lehtonen. However, if the Stars can ice a formidable roster with some cap room to spare, this team could be in the hunt come trade deadline time.

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  • No. 9: Colorado Avalanche

    Who’s In: Francois Beauchemin, Mikhail Grigorenko, Carl Soderberg

    Who’s Out: Ryan O’Reilly

    The Avalanche looked to be on the right track after dumping O’Reilly’s big contract to the Eastern Conference and netting a decent return of Buffalo Sabres as well.

    However, they went right back to overspending, dropping over $4 million per year into a bottom-six center, Soderberg.

    So far, this offseason has all the makings of two years’ prior, if not better: With Beauchemin, Zach Redmond and Nikita Zadorov all in on defense, the Avalanche did what they could to beef up a ho-hum blue-line. However, this team could be in trouble if it wants to become a buyer at the deadline this year, and it will make for some crafty management.

    No. 8: Winnipeg Jets

    Who’s In: Alex Burmistrov

    Who’s Out: Michael Frolik

    With Frolik gone, the Jets certainly had money to spend, and they did so by signing Drew Stafford to a two-year deal. However, the big news out of the ‘Peg this summer is that Burmistrov will be back in the NHL, after defecting to his homeland after the Jets’ inaugural season.

    Unlike some of their Central Division rivals, the Jets still have money to spend, and so far, this team is looking very similar to the one that brought Stanley Cup playoff hockey back to Manitoba for the first time in 19 years, though it was only for two games.

    Providing Michael Hutchinson doesn’t experience a sophomore slump, the Jets will certainly be the darkhorse in the Central Division this season, with the ability to bolster their roster at any given time.

    No. 7: Nashville Predators

    Who’s In: Cody Hodgson, Barret Jackman

    Who’s Out: Matt Cullen

    The Preds have kept the risk low so far this summer, making a defensive depth addition in Jackman, and taking on a young forward in Hodgson who will have a chip on his shoulder after being bought out by the league’s worst team.

    Mike Ribeiro was apparently good enough to earn a contract extension, and Preds’ management did so without drastically overpaying, something their Central Division counterparts cannot say when it comes to depth centermen.

    David Poile is hedging his bets that next year’s Preds team can do the same thing that last season’s did: make it to the Stanley Cup playoffs. It seems reasonable, and with a full season of Pekka Rinne, the stars could be shining in Music City this winter.

    Next: Who Are 6 Through 4?

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