Here are one man's picks for where every team will finish this season. It goes without saying that most will be end up being wrong! If there's one thing I've learned in 40+ years as an NHL fan, its that every season is pretty much unpredictable!
*teams will make the playoffs!
Metropolitan (BTW, I still think that's a stupid name for a division!)
1. Pittsburgh*: The Pens will have a great regular season, however if Fleury can't rediscover his game or their forwards learn to be more responsible defensively, they won't make it past the 2nd round of the playoffs.
2. Philadelphia*: I think the Flyers will surprise some folks. They are loaded up front and better than most people think on D as long as they stay healthy. I also like the Mason/Emery combo and think they will push each other in a positive way.
3. NY Rangers*: With Hank in the net, they will be solid and a lock to make the playoffs
4. Washington*: A post olympic let down by Ovie will leave the Caps scrambling for a playoff spot.
5. NY Islanders: The Isles won't sneak up on anyone this year, they will be good, but not quite good enough to make the playoffs
6. Columbus: Can Bobrovsky do it again for 82 games? Not sure, however even if he does, they will still struggle to score enough to contend.
7. New Jersey: No Parise, now no Kovalchuk. Lack of scoring punch and depth on D is finally going to catch up to Uncle Lou
8. Carolina: Not really a bad team, but not as good as the other 7 in the division
1. Boston*: A hungry Iginla will help overcome a finals letdown. The B's are still the team to beat in the East.
2. Detroit*: Every year, someone writes off the Red Wings, every year they prove that someone wrong. The leagues best run franchise will once again be in the playoffs.
3. Ottawa*: Adding Bobby Ryan was a very nice move. Great goaltending + a healty Erik Karlsson = playoffs for the Sens
4. Toronto*: Much like the Isles, they aren't going to sneak up on anyone this year. Unlike the Isles, I believe they will squeak into the playoffs.
5. Montreal: Lack of grit up front worries me. They look to be a team that's just good enough to miss the playoffs.
6. Tampa: Stevie Y needs to add depth and another good dman or 2 before the Bolts make it back to the postseason
7. Buffalo: Not going anywhere this year, but they are moving in the right direction and will add another impact player at the draft.
8. Florida: Too many question marks, too many kids. Sorry Panther fans, its going to be a long season
1. Chicago*: You would think they are in line for a letdown after winning the cup. But they are just too loaded to not pick for 1st.
2. St. Louis*: Hitchcocks boys will be really tough to score against, but they still need to add another sniper to be a serious cup contender
3. Nashville*: The best coached franchise in the league returns to the playoffs. That's the good news, the bad news is that they most likely won't get past the Blues in the 1st round.
4. Minnesota: Will come close, but just miss the playoffs. At least Parise and Suter get to enjoy home cooking, right?
5. Colorado: The Avs are moving in the right direction, but they still have a ways to go.
6. Dallas: They always seem to do better than most would think when you look at them on paper, but I just can't see any way the Stars make the playoffs
7. Winnipeg: Like the Canes, the Jets aren't really a bad team, they're just not as good as the rest of the Central.
1. Los Angeles*: The Kings are hungry once again. More importantly they are deep, well coached and have an excellent goaltender. A lock to make the playoffs and they will go far.
2. Vancouver*: Some folks are writing off the Canucks. Not me, they are still very deep, very talented and I think Luongo is going to be very motivated with the Olympics on his mind.
3. San Jose*: The window is mostly closed in San Jose, but the Sharks are still good enough to make the playoffs.
4. Anaheim*: They will miss Bobby Ryan, but they are still very skilled and very deep in goal. They won't be a cup contender, but they will be a playoff team.
5. Edmonton*: As Pete Townshend once said, "The Kids are Alright". They won't get past the 1st round or win more than one playoff game, but the Oilers will use youth and enthusiasm to just squeak into the playoffs
6. Phoenix: Another club that's just good enough to miss the playoffs. They still need more scoring to take the next step.
7. Calgary: Sorry Flames fans, but you are just starting out on a long rebuild. Good luck in the lottery, you should have an excellent shot at 1st pick overall.
I still like the Bruins in the East unless the Pens rediscover a team commitment to D. In the West, I think the Black Hawks will just get by the Kings to return to the finals.
Finally in a Stanley Cup rematch, the Hawks will once again defeat the Bruins and win an amazing 3rd cup in 5 years. Let the dynasty talk begin!