In what now appears to be another AHL blog that needs to be added to our blog roll, Chris Rahn's AHL News features a quick look at the upcoming 2009-10 season.
The bottom line, Rahn says, is that the Aeros should be good enough to compete for a playoff spot in the west, but they will be too weak to compete for a championship. (Did Fred ghost-write for this guy?)
"While the defense has upgraded and the offense has suffered a blow, the Aeros are in a peculiar spot this season. If the defense can offset the struggles of the offense, the Aeros should be in good shape to make the playoffs."
On paper, the Aeros might average a full goal less per game, but they will likely give up close to a goal less per game if their new defense is as good as advertised. But there are still plenty of questions in this division.
Chicago got better offensively, but their defense will be suspect. Will Drew MacIntyre be enough? Milwaukee is always good. They probably are not as good as last year, but there is no reason to think they will slip out of a playoff spot. Texas looks to have a pretty decent roster, especially on the defensive side. I still Peoria might have fallen down the most, but they too have decent goaltending. San Antonio appears to be better, but I don't know if their offense is any better from a year ago. What is for certain is that Greg Ireland brought that team back from the dead after a 17 game losing streak. And Rockford. They are waning as we speak, talent wise, but NHL Chicago is full of talent.
I just don't see a runaway favorite to take the division at this point, but if I had to guess right now, I would put Milwaukee, Chicago, Texas and Houston as the most likely to make the playoffs. But Peoria, San Antonio and Rockford (just like the Stars and Aeros) could finish anywhere from 2nd to 7th.)
It's going to be a fun year, and there very well could be a team that finishes below .500 and makes the playoffs.