Glad to see that my predictions for the west was well received. First off, I would like to point out as another user pointed out, Colorado no longer has their first round pick which I had completely forgot. The trade is arguable but Colorado will be improving soon nevertheless despite how Washington will receive such a high pick next year. I remember the leafs trade arguable then and still is but this one will haunt more considering a powerhouse in all avenues will receive such a high pick. Don't take this the wrong way, Boston has a great team but their offense is still lacking, making them during the regular season lower than the Caps. Thomas saved the Bruins until the brusing was able to bruise even more against Canucks. Now enough with the talk and on the predictions.
1. Washington Capitals:
Strengths: Offense by far a yes, Defense, yes again, Goaltending, Obviously Yes. This team is arguably the best in the NHL, A dream fantasy player's team for sure. Like others they are a powerhouse. It's funny the cap hit was suppose to eliminate powerhouses yet look at the current teams. It's ironic but Washington has its weakness.
Weaknesses: Experience and Determination. They used a have a slight weakness with goaltending inexperience but that was just solved with Vokoun. Determination is still huge though, Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin and Green need to be determined to help this team win. If they do, watch out.
Outlook: Improvement is order for the Caps, but they will fall short. Strong playoffs from Greem, Semin and Ovechkin will greatly improve confidence but an upset is in store.
Strengths: Offense, Defense, and Goaltending and Depth. Another powerhouse, espescially with Crosby, Malkin, Staal. You can't argue depth either when Malkin and Crosby get injured yet playoffs still in order.
Weaknesses: Too many centers. Pittsburgh has an abundance of centers and nowlack in terms of wings.
Outcome: Very strong team. Malkin and Crosby has shown progress.
3. Boston Bruins:
Strengths: Defense and one of the best goalie tandems. The defense and goaltending of this team is scary, luckily for other teams they do have a weakness.
Weaknesses: No consistent offense, yet have the ability to score when needed. No weaknesses on the defense nor goaltending.
Outcome: The outcome with this team is always difficult to predict. They will make the playoffs but their lack of consistent offense does affect them at times. I think there will be an upset with them, as they will be taken out of the playoffs early, but as proven last year they can rise to occasions more often than not. Be interesting to see how this team turns out.
4. Tampa Bay:
Strengths: Once again their offence is very strong. This time lead by Stamkos. Also, their defense is up and coming and a supposedly ageless goaltender makes them a team to watch. They could surprise. In addition Yzerman leads this team.
Weaknesses: The defense is up and coming, not yet a powerhouse but dependable and strong. Also their goaltender is coming close to retirement. Can Roloson the ageless wonder provide it again?
Outcome: Roloson will bring this team to the playoffs. They will show resilience but it will be time for Roloson’s retirement soon. They won’t go very far in the playoffs, but watch this team come in future seasons.
Strengths: Defense and by far goaltending. This team will look like the Bruins last year. Great big and strong defense leading the way and having a stellar goaltender leading is always a plus.
Weaknesses: Losing Richards and Carter will be detrimental to the offense this year but their production will easily be overcome in the years come.
Outcome: A playoff spot and a great chance of moving further, this team has the attributes of a playoff and championship team. A cup win probably not though.
6. New Jersey:
Strengths: Brodeur, Parise and Kovalchuk. This is the team and unfortunately for the Devils, they need more strengths.
Weaknesses: Core. The core is need of remodeling. The team close to a rebuild and Brodeur imminent retirement is key to that.
Outcome: Parise and Brodeur will have great years and carry the Devils back to the playoffs. Can the team win a cup, well a chance in the playoffs may be a key point.
7. NY Rangers:
Strengths: King Henrik, Brad Richards, Dubinsky, Gaborik and Marc Staal. This team has been all over the place with Sather in charge. He’s made terrible yet brilliant moves. Like always it’s the big names who make up the teams strengths.
Weaknesses: Proven depth, proven scoring, and proven consistency. When looking at the Rangers on paper quite often they seem like a powerhouse yet seem to underperform. Which is why I think their weakness is proof. Now is the time for the Rangers to prove.
Outcome: Unfortunately, Richards can’t save the rangers come the playoffs and once again will fail to prove anything. On the hand, looking at this team, and it’s obvious that Sather is not many pieces away.
8. Toronto Maple Leafs
Strengths: A surprise pick I know, but sports are full of them. Their strength is youth. They have youthful scorers and defenders along with a youthful goalie. All areas are looking to be very strong especially the defense which with consistent goaltending will be a strength.
Weaknesses: Top end scoring centre. Connolly is a definite improvement but he is no Crosby or Richards. He will help the leafs reach a couple years toward finding that piece but at the moment it is still a sign of weakness. The other is proof as well. Many young players need to prove critics wrong and improve next year for them to be better.
Outcome: Connolly will help along with Kessel, Kulemin, Reimer, Schenn and Phaneuf will improve. Playoff bound they are, but at what cost? The Leafs will face the Capitals and the Capitals will face an easy first round foe.
Strengths: Depth. This team is not scary offensively nor defensively yet their team consistently produces. Consistent production as a team is a strength. Also Price has proven that goaltending is a strength as well. Cole only adds to their depth.
Weaknesses: Individual consistency. It amazes me how this team remains consistent yet players like Cammalleri, Kostitsyn and Gomez are not. There always seems to be a player rising above to help out Plekanec. No great superstar scorers are on this team as well.
Outcome: Like the Bruins tough to predict. They have a great chance of upset during the playoffs as proven in the past, but unfortunately the Leafs will knock them out of the playoffs disappointing many Hab fans almost causing a French riot.
Strengths: Ryan Miller, Stringent defense, and some good young scorers. Miller will always be the main strength but this team isn’t void of others as well. They have a mobile strong defense along with some good young scorers like Roy and Vanek.
Weaknesses: No big time scorer to carry, also will lack consistency as Connolly’s replacement Leino struggles with consistency.
Outcome: Improvement is on the horizon, the old Sabres are gone. Pegula will bring the team over humps just not this year.
11. NY Islanders:
Strengths: Youth, and a budding core. This team is growing and is looking scarier. Good drafts and Snow always seemingly finding unknowns is a good sign for the team.
Weaknesses: Experience and goaltending. This team lacks the necessary experience, also a team known for revolving goaltender cannot be ignored. Hopefully Nabokov will solve the problem but it’s tough to predict for the Isles.
Outcome: Improvement from last definite. Nabokov takes over number 1 and help but not for them to reach playoffs. The team is close to respectability.
12. Carolina Hurricanes
Strengths: Staal, Ward and youth. Staal will always be a leader. Ward will remain a number 1. Skinner is proof that youth is expected to thrive. This team has a budding core as well.
Weaknesses: Too many missing pieces. The team needs extra scoring, more players to be added to core before the area becomes a proven strength.
Outcome: The missing pieces will prove to be detrimental as another summer of golf is on horizon.
Strengths: Good young core, and a big strong defenseman. Let’s not forget a raucous fan base. Excitement is definitely there for the Jets.
Weaknesses: None of the youth as proven themselves or slotted themselves. Time is needed is all areas of the team.
Outcome: A high draft pick, is the only bright spot for the raucous crowd. Hopefully Bogosian, and Kane improve and build a core.
Strengths: Rebuilding mode. This team is in a rebuild mode and had a great first year as they completely stockpiled their prospect pool. The forward group still has Alfredson and Spezza which can provide offense.
Weaknesses: Rebuild mode. When a team is rebuilding it is a strength yet weakness. It shows that respectability will be on horizon but could be very far away. Also Anderson is like a revolving door you never know which goalie you’ll get.
Outcome: A long summer, but brightness on the horizon. Patience the sens fans are going to need to possess at the moment.
Strengths: Talon as a general manager will definitely help. Unfortunately the core is in shambles but youth is on the way. Tallon has stockpiled a team for this year but the team needs youth.
Weaknesses: All areas mainly goaltending. Theodore has lost his edge, which is a weakness. Also the forward ranks and defense looks thin. But great top pair though.
Outcome: The 1st overall pick. Yakupov added to what will be an exciting core in the future. This team will improve with Tallon at the helm.
Next are my playoff predictions.