Making predictions this time of year is like playing pin the tail on the donkey. This year it's worse. We can all drool over the players that will return should there be a strike. But it's not just your team that will get better, it's a whole bunch of teams that will improve.
Some lock out scenarios:
Medicine Hat: Returns etem and bunz. You'd think that alone would put them within striking distance of first in the central but...
Red Deer: Return Petro and RNH. You could put me and pepper carrot on a line with RNH and it would still be one of the better lines in the CHL, even though I'm a fatty who can't skate backwards, Hopkins would just feed the carrot and he'd bury pucks with his 'harder than most WHL players wrist shot'. With RNH and Petro the rebels would probably have one of the deadliest lines in the CHL (no matter who else plays with hopkins) and one of the best d-cores in the league bar none. With Petro and RNH I think they could threaten to spoil the party in saskatoon, providing they made a deal for a tender at the deadline.
To me toon looks like an 85 odd point club, figure about 90ish after lorne finishes horse trading. But in my mind if there's a strike that might not even be good enough for 4th place in the east.
The market will get crazy at the deadline, I think you can bank on that. What happened the last time saskatoon was a contender and lorne went shopping? It was no coincidence that the market went stupid. The sellers are all going to know that lorne is out shopping. There are two spots for WHL teams up for grabs this year. If you're a GM of a contending club out west next year you have to take the approach that a trip to the finals is potentially good enough to land a spot in the memorial cup. Will it be? We all know it won't be but I think that mindset will still be there. With a market like that, the sellers are going to want the moon and there will be alot of buyers driving up the price.
I think Red Deer and Medicine Hat off the top of my head have a ton to potentially gain if there's a strike. Conversely clubs returning alot of younger talent like PG, well their season will get harder as they'll have to face even tougher opponents and more older players every night.
"Now you wear your skin like iron
Your breath's as hard as kerosene"