East versus West

The National Hockey League has had over 120 Stanley cup winners in the league’s history. Over the course of this time, the power has shifted from conference to conference, but the Western Conference has won four of the last six championships.

In order for a Western Conference team to succeed, you have to play a fast and highly skilled style of hockey. This style of play requires teams to have a lot of young and highly talented players. This means that teams have to build their teams through the draft to acquire the players they need to succeed.

A great example of one of the premier teams in the West is the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks have had a record of 167-90-37 over the past four seasons. From 2009-2012 they have won two Pacific Division titles, along with being 8-1-1, and sitting in first place in the Pacific Conference.

The Sharks have built their team through the draft. They like to draft young, talented and  quick players. The core group of players that  have been drafted to make them a perennial power include Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl and Matt Irwin. The Sharks used high first round draft picks to obtain these assets that have turned the Sharks into a continual Stanley Cup challenger.

Even though the West has beaten the East in the last four out of six Stanley Cup Finals, the east continues to play their style of hockey.

In the Eastern Conference, you have to play a bruising style of hockey in which every player commits to finishing their checks and protecting their teammates in order to be the top team. This requires the teams to have a lot of players that are tough and have great leadership qualities. The teams have a tendency to acquire players through trades and free agency, rather than take the time to develop players that they have drafted.

The Buffalo Sabres are a prime example of East Coast hockey. The Sabres have a record of 148-109-37 over the past four seasons. They have also won the Atlantic Division once, and made the playoff three times over this span. So far in the 2013-2014 season they have a record of 1-9-1.

The Sabres have made a lot of trades of the past three seasons bringing the pieces they need in order to succeed. The main blockbuster deal that they made was when they traded away captain Jason Pominville and a fourth-round pick, for Johan Larsson and Matt Hackett. Then the Sabres made a trade on Oct. 27, 2013 in which they traded away leading goal scorer Thomas Vanek, for Matt Moulson and a first-round draft pick. Despite the trades being controversial to most common fans, the trades have brought in a lot of assets that have contributed to the success of the Buffalo Sabres. Through trades the Buffalo Sabres and the rest of the East have supplied great teams to fight for the Stanley Cup.

The Stanley Cup playoffs will start on April 16, 2014. Time will tell which style will dominate the league this year.