1) Boston Bruins – They may have lost Kessel, but have plenty still there that are capable of being the best in the conference again. As long as they stay healthy, they should be just as good.
2) Washington Capitals – Questions at goaltending are there, but Ovie is the best player in the game and he has enough around him to get it done to win the Southeast again.
3) Pittsburgh Penguins – They finish third overall because of the battles that will ensue within the Atlantic Division.
4) Philadelphia Flyers – Yes, they have improved from the off-season moves, however, they still have an unproven #1 goalie.
5) New Jersey Devils – Lost a few guys but it has happened before and they have been just fine.
6) Montreal Canadians – The loss of Koivu, Higgins and Kovalev are just fine because of the additions of Gionta, Gomez and Cammalleri. Price will have a solid year.
7) Carolina Hurricanes – They are very talented with an excellent goalie, but will falter a bit through out the season.
8 ) Ottawa Senators – Getting rid of a disgruntled player will do a team wonders.
9) New York Rangers – Disappointing defenseman Redden and Rosival, an injury prone free agent signing with Gaborik and an inept offense will leave them just short of the playoffs. The reason they are just short is because Lundqvuist will steal a bunch of wins for this team.
10) Buffalo Sabres – Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek can’t do enough to get them into the playoffs.
11) Toronto Maple Leafs – Getting Kessel will help but not enough. Their defense should be better though.
12) Tampa Bay Lightning – Mike Smith is a good goalie and this team will show signs of improvement but still do not have it all there yet.
13) Florida Panthers – Great goalie in Vokoun and some talented young players.
14) Atlanta Thrashers – They picked up Antropov. They needed defense, not more offense.
15) New York Islanders – They picked up much needed goaltending help for the always injured Rick DiPietro, other then that, they did nothing to help John Tavares out.
1) San Jose Sharks – This does not mean they will win a playoff series, but they still have the most talent on paper, plus the addition of Heatley will just add to the offensive ouput.
2) Chicago Blackhawks – Can Cristobal Huet be the man in net? He does not have to steal games for this team to win, just play well enough to keep them in it and they will do the rest.
3) Vancouver Canucks – This is the year of Vancouver. The 2010 Olympics are there and so will be a northwest division title. Roberto Luongo is the best goalie in the league and the players in front of him have enough talent to capture this spot.
4) Detroit Red Wings – They are still one of the best teams in the conference, the Blackhawks just edged them out by a narrow margin.
5) Anaheim Ducks – Another team that is one of the best in the conference, however, they fall in this spot since San Jose will beat them out in the division by a few points.
6) Calgary Flames – They should be better, but they never amount to the talent that is put forth on the ice. Jerome Iginla is a beast and perhaps Bouwmeester and Phaneuf will prove to be the best D combo around.
7) Dallas Stars – You can’t tell me this team plays that bad two years in a row. Marty Turco is a great goalie and they got some old players with one last run left, but they won’t be any better than seventh.
8 ) St. Louis Blues – They did nothing to improve from last season and they have talent, but they just don’t have enough to get a lot of wins over the teams about them that are just much better.
9) Los Angeles Kings – Loaded with young talent, if they can find a solid goalie, they will be a lot better and possibly get into the playoffs.
10) Columbus – They will start the year out well and Mason will have them in most games, but when all you have is Nash and a sophomore goalie on the ice, they will burn out after time.
11) Minnesota Wild – Lemaire is gone, unleash the hounds! Wait…all they have is Havlat. Uh-Oh.
12) Nashville Predators – I’d really like to see what Trotz could do with a roster like the Blackhawks if he is able to make these guys competitive, but they can’t work miracles for the guy.
13) Edmonton Oilers – You are a proud franchise, much like your 80’s rivals on Long Island, but you just can’t seem to find your way back to the glory days. It won’t be this year either.
14) Colorado Avalanche – I won’t even discuss this team until the players are able to play more then 10 games in a row with one another without getting hurt.
15) Phoenix Coyotes – Off-ice issues = no success on ice. Plus no one wants to be there.