Wild West: Ranking the Western Conference Teams – Part One

Grant Campbell

2022-08-22

As it is the dog days of summer, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to rank the Western Teams from 16th to 1st and see what teams are locked to make the playoffs, on the bubble or not even close. Comments below are to be taken with a bit of caution as rosters can change significantly and these are just my notes on them as they stand.

Without further ado, here we go:

Not Even Close

#16 – Arizona Coyotes

I don't think 5,000 fans need to worry about watching playoff hockey at the University of Arizona while the Coyotes play there for the next three or four years. The good news is that I don't think they will be #16 next year as Chicago is doing everything they can to take over this spot.

This is not to say that there are no positives with their roster and prospect pool. Clayton Keller, Barrett Hayton, Nick Schmaltz, Lawson Crouse and Jacob Chychrun are all players that any team would want on their rosters and are good building blocks between the ages of 22 to 26. Karel Vejmelka is an unknown quantity in net as he had flashes last season behind a poor defensive team. He could be another building block if he plays well this year. Chychrun's name seems to be associated with a move from the Coyotes sooner than later which won't help the short-term if it happens.

Their top prospects are Logan Cooley, Dylan Guenther, Connor Geekie, Matias Maccelli, Jan Jenik, Nathan Smith, Jack McBain, Victor Soderstrom and Maveric Lamoureux. Maccelli, Jenik, Smith, McBain and Soderstrom are all looking to secure roles this season.

They had three 1st round picks this year and have an extra five 2nd round picks and four extra 3rd round picks over the next three years. Bill Armstrong is doing the right thing by building through the draft and if this club stays patient, they should climb the ladder.

#15 – Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks made it painfully obvious their intentions for this season by trading Alex DeBrincat at the draft. They want a lottery pick this year and ideally in the top three and have scorched the earth to get there. The team doesn't have a forward on the roster signed past 2023-24 right now and