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I hate you, Toronto, ON • Canada • 27 Years Old • Male
As the days towards the regular season draw closer and closer (three months away I know, I'm just comforting myself) the final rosters of many teams are set to go. When the off-season began, GM's around the league were busy re-shaping their rosters, and with that many teams will impose a bigger threat than last season.

I will begin with the Eastern Conference:

Tampa Bay Lightning:

Added: Mark Recchi, Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts, Radim Vrbata, Evgeny Artyukin, Vaclav Prospal, Matt Carle, Ty Wishart, Olaf Kolzig

Gone: Dan Boyle, Brad Lukowich

The Lightning made a huge splash this summer, bolstering their club in every department. Although Dan Boyle will be missed on the PP, the additions of Steven Stamkos, Vaclav Prospal, Matt Carle and Ryan Malone will all help out. They've also added some much needed experience in Mark Recchi and Gary Roberts to mentor their youth. Don't look now, but the Lightning may be jumping from 15th place in the Eastern Conference to a playoff berth.

Montreal Canadiens:

Added: Alex Tanguay, Georges Laraque

Gone: Micheal Ryder, Mark Streit

The Canadiens were fairly conservative this summer, keeping their youth intact and adding little outside help to their core. This is a good move though, as the Habs have one of the brightest futures in the NHL, so while strengthening their club was a priority, Bob Gainey couldn’t go overboard. Also, the acquisition of Alex Tanguay won't go among deaf ears for Saku Koivu, who will finally have a star line-mate at his side (with Christopher Higgins serving as the finisher perhaps?) With a strong defense corps, one of the deadliest PP's in the league, two lethal scoring lines and a goaltender with something to prove, the Habs may very well take the Eastern Conference once again.

Washington Capitals:

Added: Jose Theodore

Gone: Olaf Kolzig, Matt Cooke, Cristobal Huet

While the Caps lost their two goaltenders in Huet and Kolzig, they've acquired a rejuvenated Theodore from the Avalanche. While Theodore is a risky acquisition, it's a high risk, high reward situation. If he doesn't pan out, expect the Capitals to most likely miss out on the playoffs with no back-up who is capable of being a #1 goaltender. Of course, the Caps also own one of the best stars in the game in Alexander Ovechkin. With another year under his belt, he’ll only get better from here, taking the future of Washington with him. They also own a strong nucleus in Mike Green, Alexander Semin, Micheal Nylander and Niklas Backstrom.

Pittsburgh Penguins:

Added: Miroslav Satan, Ruslan Fedetenko, Matt Cooke

Gone: Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts, Marian Hossa

After reaching the Stanley Cup Finals and losing to the hands of the Detroit Red Wings, the Pens have lost one of their better players in Marian Hossa to that same team. But considering Hossa joined the Pens at the NHL Trade Deadline, his services won’t be overly missed. Also, it must be noted that Crosby was MIA for 29 games last season, and that is a huge amount considering how important he is to Pittsburgh. If Sidney Crosby can stay healthy this season, the Pens will reach new heights, and Crosby will once again be on top of the NHL.

Western Conference:

San Jose Sharks:

Added: Rob Blake, Dan Boyle, Brad Lukowich

Gone: Matt Carle, Ty Wishart, Craig Rivet, Brian Campbell, Patrick Rissmiller

While the Sharks enjoyed a tremendous regular season, they struggled in the playoffs yet again. Doug Wilson, realizing the team's defensive shortcomings, began his off-season with the acquisition of Rob Blake, who also adds some much needed leadership to the mix. And after losing Brian Campbell to free agency, the Sharks traded for a great offensive defenseman in Dan Boyle. Going into next season, the Sharks have a strong offense, a stingy defense and spectacular goaltending. If the Sharks can turn around their playoffs fortunes, San Jose may finally have something to celebrate about post-April.

Edmonton Oilers:

Added: Lubomir Visnovsky, Erik Cole, Gilbert Brule

Gone: Joni Pitkanen, Jaret Stoll, Marty Reasoner, Geoff Sanderson

After missing the playoffs by just a few points, GM Kevin Lowe went straight to work this summer, acquiring Lubomir Visnovsky, Erik Cole and Gilbert Brule to his line-up. If Souray can remain relatively healthy next season, he and Visnovsky will form a deadly PP unit with Erik Cole now buzzing in front of the net. With Brule the Oilers add more youth to an already talented group, and he'll fit in perfectly with the likes of Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, Marc Pouliot and Dustin Penner. With Mathieu Garon now earning the starting goaltender position for next season, the Oilers have strengthened in every department, and if I was a betting man I’d say they’re on their way to the playoffs.

Detroit Red Wings:

Added: Marian Hossa

Gone: Chris Chelios

This is a no-brainer. After winning the Stanley Cup last season, the Wings have managed to keep the same core intact while adding one major addition in Marian Hossa. Owning an already lethal offense, the Wings will most likely be on top of the NHL both in the standings and in goals for. The only other difference going into next season is that Chris Osgood will begin as the starting goaltender, rather than Dominik Hasek. It's a sure bet that the Wings will be playoff favorite.

Chicago Blackhawks:

Added: Brian Campbell, Cristobal Huet

Gone: Jason Williams, Yanic Perreault, Patrick Lalime

After displaying their youth last season, the Hawks finished the season as expected - out of the playoffs. But going into next season, the Hawks' young guns have more experience under their belt and appear to be ready for a break-out performance. With Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Brent Seabrook, Cam Barker and Duncan Keith representing the Hawks' core of youth, Chicago may find themselves in the playoffs if these players can raise their games to new heights. A key acquisition will be Brian Campbell, who will serve as the teams' PP specialist -- he can also show Seabrook a thing or two on the PP. And with Cristobal Huet and Nikolai Khabibulin standing as the goaltenders, the Hawks should see more consistency than last season.

With plenty of teams re-shaping their rosters for next season, not all of them can enjoy the success they want to attain. But I believe the teams mentioned above will enjoy successful campaigns and get that much closer to their ultimate goal - the Stanley Cup.
Filed Under:   Hawks   Habs   Lightning   Wings   Sharks   Pens   Oilers   Caps  
July 11, 2008 12:11 AM ET | Delete
Great job, Agree on the list you made!
July 11, 2008 9:05 AM ET | Delete
Phoenix anybody...?p.s. GO OILERS GO
July 11, 2008 10:07 AM ET | Delete
nice blog , teams you picked were good . But like riptide brought up , what about PHX? They have an amazing youth core with turris , mueller as particular stand outs . With a healthy balnce of vets in there like doan Jovanaski and others . Not to mention they have to be the grittitiest team in the league with guys like sauer , carcillo , jovo and others around .plus they can roll a couple of deadly lines with quite a few scoring thrates.
July 11, 2008 1:02 PM ET | Delete
Good blog...I think Chelios will be back next season with Detroit, however.
July 11, 2008 3:40 PM ET | Delete
Nice work RG!While I agree with your assessment I am dissapointed although not surprised that Buffalo did not make the list.
July 11, 2008 6:38 PM ET | Delete
terrible work...get a clue on the teams to beat.
July 11, 2008 8:53 PM ET | Delete
You forgot about Brad Stuart in for the Wings. A full season of him paired with Kronwall makes the Wings top 4 stronger than it was most of last season.
July 11, 2008 10:12 PM ET | Delete
Another nice, thoughtful blog RR. I think, however, that Philadelphia (which moved from dead last to the final four last year) is a team to look out for as well. Still a well thought out and well written blog. Keep it up!!
July 12, 2008 11:44 AM ET | Delete
good blog. the only team i would change is TB cause they don't have the defence to be a contender in the east. i would replace them with either the flyers or the rangers. other than that, dead on.
July 12, 2008 11:55 AM ET | Delete
Thanks for the comments all. I didn't add Phoenix because I still have my doubts if their young guys are ready to break out and lead the team to the playoffs, I was on the fence, but I decided not to for this reason.
July 12, 2008 2:56 PM ET | Delete
Wings (In) - Hossa, ConklinWings (Out) - Drake, HasekThere still looking to re-up Chellios and McCarty.
July 13, 2008 9:38 PM ET | Delete
No offense man, but your review of the East is terrible. I'm not just saying that as a Flyer fan, but TB will not make the playoffs. Garaunteed mortal lock. Yeah, they brought in some offense, but even that is suspect. Recchi and Roberts are pretty much done, Vrbata is the epitome of a guy who puts up numbers in a contract year, and then dissapears. I'd wager he doesn't score 20 this year. Malone is a nice addition but hardly a game changer. His numbers were clearly inflated by playing in that Pittsburgh lineup. Their defense is going to be atrocious, and the goaltending is a complete unknown. Oh yeah and Barry Melrose hasnt coached a game in a decade.These will likely be the East Playoff teams. Not necessarily in this order, but as close as I can off the top of my head.MontrealPittsburghCapsRangersFlyersDevilsSenatorsBruins or Sabres
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