As the lazy days of summer begin to fade away, NHL teams will soon begin to reconvene for training camp. So, in that spirit, I'd like to throw my 2009-10 final standings predictions out there. Nothing detailed, just straight to the point. I'll get back into the swing of heavy analysis next time around when I take a closer look at the Atlantic Division. Of course, predictions in August are like a certain part of the human anatomy: everyone's got them, and they all stink. So take this with an regulation NHL rink-sized grain of salt.
1. Pittsburgh - It's hard to bet against the champs, no matter what.
2. Philadelphia - I don't understand why people think Chris Pronger = Stanley Cup, but they'll certainly be one of the better teams.
3. New Jersey - Rebuild or no, it takes a Devils fan to truly understand why it's never safe to bet against my team.
4. NY Rangers - One awesome scoring line and a cast of scrubs. They're like the Senators...if the Senators had a goaltender.
5. NY Islanders - It looks as if their massive rebuild will pay dividends, but this is still a few years away.
1. Boston - Even if Phil Kessel appears to be on his way out, this is still a very scary team.
2. Montreal - It's either a return to the upper echelon or a failed experiment for the new look Habs.
3. Toronto - The Leafs have lost so much dead weight over the past few months, they should do a Subway commercial.
4. Buffalo - Poor Ryan Miller needs a lot of help.
5. Ottawa - This team didn't impress me even before Dany Heatley turned all primadonna.
1. Washington - A Varlamov sophomore slump is the only thing preventing the Caps from maintaining their elite status.
2. Carolina - As much as it pains me to say this, the Canes will be very good again.
3. Tampa Bay - They finally have a decent goalie, and I'm really starting to like their defense corps.
4. Florida - Sooner or later they have to live up to the promise they show at the start of every season, right?
5. Atlanta - It's the Atlanta Thrashers...enough said.
1. Chicago - Marian Hossa's contract is stupid and will kill them in the long run, but not before it brings them success in the short term.
2. Detroit - Oh don't worry, they'll still be freakishly efficient.
3. Columbus - Look who's finally becoming a pretty darn good hockey team!
4. St. Louis - The Blues have a lot of potential, but are also victims of their own suddenly stacked division.
5. Nashville - Nothing remotely impressive about this team.
1. Calgary - Not just because of Jay Bouwmeester, but he's sure going to help.
2. Vancouver - Like it or not, it all still comes down to Luongo.
3. Minnesota - Let's be honest, they've been used to playing without Gaborik for a while now.
4. Edmonton - The Bulin Wall will be awfully cold, but not for long...summer in Edmonton always starts in April.
5. Colorado - Joe Sakic picked a good time to retire, because this could get ugly.
1. Anaheim - A very well put-together team, even before Saku Koivu arrived.
2. San Jose - The window for this group is rapidly closing...it's now or never.
3. Dallas - Never flashy, but always manage to get the job done.
4. Los Angeles - The Kings are fashioning themselves a great young team, but may still be a year or two away.
5. Phoenix - Like Florida, there always seems to be an aura of upside around the young Coyotes, yet they never seem to get it done.