Suter - Tyutin
Salvador - Pietrangelo
Strachan - Gilbert
The obvious 'weakness' to this team is goaltending, but Markstrom showed on the 2013 WC gold medal winning Sweden team that when he has a good team infront of him, he performs amazing. With Giguere's veteran presence (5th in playoff wins among active goalies) and 2 arguable top 5 defensemen helping him out it is believed Markstrom can play as well, or better.
Suter and Pietrangelo are separated allowing one of them to be on the ice at almost all times and both are paired with someone who was #2 on their respective teams. Since Suter plays on the left and Pietrangelo on the right, the coach can create a shutdown matchup against ANY player in the league. With those 2 pairings getting the bulk of the minutes, it lets Gilbert and Strachan get sheltered where they would be able to thrive at both ends of the ice. Result? The best and most dynamic defensive group in the league.
The next 'weakness' to this team is the lack of star forwards. Although lacking star forwards, there is great depth. The top line has two 30 goal scorers with their linemate capable of 20. The 2nd line has two 20 goal scorers on the wings with a center who, after his recent trade, has finally broken out. Everybody on the 3rd line in sheltered minutes is capable of 15-20. There is so much scoring depth that McGinn who scored 20 goals in 2011-2012 is on the 4th line. McGinn on the 4th provides a line that is capable of beating you down physically and on the scoreboard.
Overall the lineup scored 126 goals last season. More than 12 other NHL teams and within 5 goals of 8 others. The year before that they scored 239 goals which would be good for 8th in the league. What the team lacks in net is more than made up for on defense. What the team lacks in star forward is more than made up for in depth.
Simon Gagne - Mike Richards (C) - Johan Franzen
David Perron - Ryan O'Reilly (A) - Ville Leino
Justin Abdelkader - Darren Helm - Drew Miller
Chris Kreider - Zack Smith - Jerred Smithson
Jonathan Ericsson - Marc Staal (A)
John-Michael Liles - Niklas Hjarlmarsson
Greg Zanon - Mike Weaver
Would like to preface these results by outlining a few things. The judges were told all the rules and ranked each team 1-29. I added your 3 results together to determine the final standings. I'm not gonna post each individual ranking, otherwise the judges will probably be ripped. If you really want to know, PM me and I can inform you.
I would like to thank Hurt, Royal Canuck and Latvian Twist for the judging. LT was on holidays so I haven't gotten his remarks yet, only his rankings. I will edit this post with his remarks probably around midnight tonight, so check back then for more reviews of your team.
Without further ado, congratulations to the Tampa Bay Lightning on winning this years HFTML Draft! TBl collected an impressive 2 firsts and a 6th overall ranking.
In second place, (probably should have been first ) is the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks were judged consistently the same, getting back to back 4th place votes, as well as one 5th place vote.
To round out the top 3, Columbus Blue Jackets take home this years bronze medal. CLB recieved a 2nd place vote, a 10th and a 4th overall vote.
Below is the final ranks.
1. Tampa Bay
H: Spread out scoring, good 1st pairing and decent remaining D-men. Vezina winner goalie.
RC: The Lightning have arguably one of the best Top-6 lines in the league, and have great role players on their bottom lines to compliment their skilled top lines. The Lightning's defense is led by Drew Doughty, who brings an offensive side to the back end, and he is backed up by a bunch of shut down defensemen. Sergei Bobrovsky completes this team with his athletic style of play that should take the Lightning a long ways.
H: Well rounded team. Decent Top 6F and Top 4D, strong bottom 6 and bottom pairing. Great goaltender.
RC: A well rounded team that provides both offense and defense from all angles of the team. The core players are all at the prime age to produce and the role players back them up nicely. The only problems may come from inexperience in the post-season, the only players on the team who have been to the Cup Finals are Spezza, Fraser and LaRose. Inexperience on defense could also set the Ducks back.
H: Strong center depth. Depth like that wins Cups. Good responsible wingers. Decent D and PP specialist MAB. Mike Smith is a good goalie as well.
RC: The Blue Jackets feature a solid two-way style of play. With centermen who all care about their own end before the offensive zone, scoring on the Blue Jackets will not be an easy task. The centers are complimented by a couple of pure goal scorers in Justin Williams and Jeff Carter. The Blue Jackets' defense is loaded with high-octane competitiveness. Heavy hitters like Brooks Orpik and Tyler Myers compliment the smaller, quicker defensemen like Nick Leddy and M.A. Bergeron. However, can Mike Smith lead this team to the cup? and will the forwards be able to score enough even strength?
4. San Jose
H: Very good forward corps but the D is lacking. It could either go very right or very wrong, in my opinion. No real ‘sexy’ name on D but could be serviceable. Not a Cup winning D but nonetheless Anderson is a good ‘bailout’ goalie.
RC: The San Jose Sharks have arguably the best offense in the league, they have skill, speed, grit and role players. They lack a bit of scoring on the LW on the 2nd line with Nick Bonino. The Sharks lack some depth on defense, which may set them back. Craig Anderson looks to shine as a legitimate #1 goalie playing on a top contending team.
H: Good team, strong top 6, and bottom 6. Good D corps and best goalie in the league.
RC: The Habs contain a fast, skilled forward core that forecheck hard, fight for the puck and can blow by almost any defense they are given. The Habs have good depth down the middle that can produce on any line. Veteran players such as Marleau and St.Louis will be expected to guide the young players like Tarasenko, RNH, Gallagher and Schwartz to strive in the post-season. The Habs' forwards may get bullied, however, as they do not have much size or grit to them. Hopefully the Habs' big hitters on defense such as Bogosian, Brodin, Emelin and Gudas will be able to fill that hole and intimidate the other team. Not to mention, they do have Henrik Lunqvist in goal.
H: Very balanced team up and down the roster but Granlund on the fourth line seems like a waste. Bishop for a better goalie would have landed this team in the top 5.
RC: The Red Wings feature one of the best offence groups in the league, full of scoring touch and skill. Opposing defenses will quiver when the Red Wings have the puck in the offensive zone. The Red Wings also have great role players in their bottom six to kill penalties and worry about the defensive zone. The Red Wings do lack some size in their offence which may hurt them against bigger teams. The Red Wings' defense is balanced, with both offensive and defensive defencemen that compliment eachother well. The only thing the Red Wings need, is a true #1 goalie.
H: Good goalie and forwards but the D is shaky especially that bottom pairing which I’m not a fan of.
The Senators feature great depth in their forward corps along with great role players and a nice combination of size and skill on defense. The Senators don't have a powerplay QB on defense, which will hurt their special teams.
H: Good first line, decent second and strong third. Very impressive defense core and a good goalie in Crawford.
RC: The Whalers feature some flash on defense alongside a quick, skilled Top-6 forward group. The Hartford squad also has depth down the middle that can put up with the best in the league. The Whalers do have a lack of depth in their bottom 6 on the wings, along with some inabillity to score goals with their 3rd/4th lines, but they are good defensively.
H: Good mix of skill and toughness in the forwards as well as the D. Hedman is still young and no #1 so Beauch is a decent ‘in the meantime’. Price is one of the top goalies in the league.
RC: The Pittsburgh Penguins offense combines both size and speed for a dynamic offensive approach that will drive opposing teams crazy. The Penguins contain many gritty, agitating players that can get under opposing teams' skin and cause them to lose focus. Unfortunately, the Penguins do lack scoring ability on the wings and will rely heavily on Carey Price to win them game
H: Good top 6 and the Sedin twins are always good to have as a pair. Defense is iffy with Faulk on the top pairing, he’s still young with no playoff experience. Marty’s glory days are behind him.
RC: The Thrashers feature the Sedin Twins playing alongside Ales Hemsky, who gives speed and flash to the Sedin's arsenal. The Thrashers also have great role players and depth on the wings, complimented by a smooth skating, rock solid defense. the only question is, can Martin Brodeur lead the Thrashers to the Stanley Cup?
H: Lots of fire power, nasty bottom 6 and a good defense behind an above average goalie, this team could do some damage.
RC: The Blackhawks contain a high powered offense that will contest any defense in the league. The Hawks' defense also brings a lot of offense to the table, which may cause some high scoring games. Both Vokoun and Neuvirth will have to be sharp.
12. Minnesota Wild
H: Serviceable top 6 and an okay bottom 6. Young D may be prone to mistakes and Rask is obviously very good.
The Wild feature both youth and experience in their forward corps, which compliment eachother well. The Wild's leadership group is full of guys who work hard to earn their spot in the line-up, which motivates other players to work hard. The Wild do have some lack of talent on the Left Wing however. The Wild defense is much like their offense, a mix of both young and experienced players who compliment eachother well, backed up by a superb goaltender in Tuuka Rask.
H: Good top 6, serviceable bottom 6. Strong 1st pairing and starting goalie.
RC: The Flames contain the perfect mixture of youth and experience in their offense, all four lines can contribute offensively, and gritty veterans like Doan and Morrow can protect the smaller guys like Eberle and Seguin. The Flames' defense doesn't have much offensive talent past P.K. Subban, but they make up for that with their shut down skill. Hopefully Semyon Varlamov can handle the pressure of a deep playoff run.
14. New York Islanders
H: I would have personally put MaxPac on the first line LW but that’s just me. Good center depth all the way down to the 4th line. Underrated D, I like it a lot. Howard is a solid goalie.
RC: The Islanders feature great depth at Centre with guys like John Tavares and Sean Couturier, and display a lot of young talent that can skate and put the puck in the net, but also play in their own end too. The Islanders are young, so they are inexperienced and have a few players playing outside their comfort zone. Jimmy Howard will have to be on top of his game to lead the Islanders to the cup.
H: The D is a good group with Hiller behind them but I’m on the fence with the forwards. They could gel together and do some damage or they could stink it up.
RC: The Predators feature a young, well rounded Top-6 that have proven they can produce at the NHL level. However, it is the defensive corps that will have to steal the show if Nashville is going to come home with the cup. Veteran Zdeno Chara will have to lead a strong, skilled defense to victory, seeing as the Preds' offense is mostly young and only Saku Koivu has experienced a long cup run.
16. New Jersey
H: Impressive first line and decent centers. Alright wingers. I like the D core and Luongo as starting goalie.
RC: The Devils feature a young, fast offense that is assisted by a strong defensive core on the back end. And once you get behind that, you have to beat Roberto Luongo, one of the best goalies in the league. The Devils can get scoring from all four lines, as their entire forward corps has a nose for the net. Although they can score, some of the Devils' Top-6 such as Hudler, Voracek and Turris aren't really known for their defensive game. Inexperience with the playoffs may also play a factor.
H: Good forward group, defensively responsible and can score plus a few guys who eat up the PK. D is older but reliable and a good goalie.
RC: The Toronto Maple Leafs showcase an experienced, well-rounded group that has been to the cup finals before, and understand the characteristics of a long playoff run. the Leafs are fast, skilled, and strong on the puck, but also away from the puck and in their own end. The only problem may come from the pipes, Nicklas Backstrom has never played for a team that has contended for the cup, can he handle the pressure of a stanley cup run?
18. New York Rangers
H: Very good first line then a huge gap to the second and a confusing mix in the bottom 6. Defense is okay thanks to Weber and Reimer is above average.
RC: The New York Rangers are based around speed and skill, with a 1st line of Hall, Couture and Gaborik, it will take some elite defense to shut those three down. The Rangers speedy offense is complimented well by their rock-solid defense, lead by captain Shea Weber. Playoff experience may be a problem, and can James Reimer consistently deliver as a #1 goalie?
H: Very good top 6 and strong Center depth. Toews/Roy is a good 1-2 punch. D is a bit iffy after Phillips. Good goalies in Halak and Fasth.
RC: The Oilers have great depth at centre, complimented by some experienced veterans on defense and a solid #1 goalie in Jaroslav Halak. with Leaders like Rick Nash and Jonathan Toews, the Oilers look to be top contenders for the Stanley Cup. Some minor problems may come from the lack of depth on the right wing, players like Mika Zibanejad and Troy Brouwer may get burned playing against other Top-6 forwards.
H: Couldn’t find a place for Hejduk? Trying to pass off a 3rd line center as a 2nd and a complete rookie as a 1st line LWer. No #1D but a couple of #2s. Ward isn’t Ward of past but still a good goalie.
RC: The Vancouver Canucks consist of veterans who have been to the playoffs before and know how to succeed. However, aside from Carl Hagelin, the Canucks lack speed and pure scoring touch. Cam Ward will have to stand on his head.
21. St. Louis
H: Decent centers but weaker on the wings. D is below average as well but Rinne is a worldclass goalie.
RC: The Blues have a well-structured offence, filled with players who play at both ends of the rink equally. They do lack some scoring touch on the right wing, however. The Blues' defense has rock-solid shut down capability and can keep some of the best teams to a dismal amount of goals night in and night out. Plus, they have all-star goalie Pekka Rinne behind them to bail them out.
H: This team made me laugh. Talks about building a Top 6/Bottom 6 then has Cole and Bertuzzi as wingers on the second line. Ladd is more of a second line winger than a first. D is a bit sketchy as well but the top 4 is above average because of Voynov and Keith. Neither of those goalies are good. They’re both bad.
RC: The Bruins feature a veteran filled team that knows what it takes to win. The forwards are headlined by Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa alongside former teammate Andrew Ladd, who have all won cups before and know what it takes to get there. However, the forwards can only get you so far. The Bruins defense has many holes, once you are past Duncan Keith, the Bruins' defense looks very shabby. Not to mention, the Bruins' do not have a #1 goalie in Ray Emery or Ilya Bryzgalov, and may cause some problematic nights between the pipes. If the Bruins want to win a stanley cup, their offense will have to be potting a lot of goals.
23. Los Angeles
H: Nice mix on the first line. Second line with Matt Cullen and Boedker is trouble. Third line and fourth line are decent though. Defense is decent and Schneider is a good goalie.
RC: The Kings are headlined by the Russian Connection of Kulemin, Malkin and Yakupov, and feature some of the most exciting players in the game, complimented by shut-down defenseman Marc Methot and goaltender Cory Schneider. some problematic structuring may limit the Kings, they lack depth in their forward core and it may come back to haunt them.
H: Average group of forwards but there is two way play there and a couple of decent D-men. Elliot is not the goalie to win a Cup with
RC: The Capitals have a deep pool of forwards that exemplify skill, speed and strength. The Capitals defense is much the same, very deep with dynamic defensemen that can do it all. The Capitals are a well built team that gets it's scoring from everybody, and requires some players to step out of their comfort zone and score clutch goals. Brian Elliot has a much different team around him than the Blues' trap game, will he strive in Washington?
H: Good top 6 (minus Bourque) and a rough and tumble bottom 6. D Is well below average after Goligoski and Carlson but I guess Miller is used to getting shot at a lot.
RC: The Flyers contain both size and speed, scoring and defense in their forward core, alongside a star netminder in Ryan Miller. However, the Flyers' defense is below-par and won't keep up with the league's best. Ryan Miller will have to shine if the Flyers want to go far.
H: Flashy top 6, okay bottom 6. D could use a lot of help after the first pairing. MAF is a sieve. Not every team has Crosby and Malkin to save you.
RC: The Avs Top-6 is stacked with high-octane offense, complimented by a veteran bottom-6 and some great role players in Torrey Mitchell and Lee Stempniak. The Avs' defense drops off the face of the earth after Bouwmeester and Carle, and will likely get burned by the rest of the league for that one flaw. Plus, Marc-Andre Fleury's inconsistency to succeed in the recent years will not help that cause.
H: Rag and tumble group of misfits. Poorly placed together. Unproven goalie.
RC: The Panthers' forwards are made up of speed, with a touch of scoring and grit. However, the Panthers lack much size on the front end, and will get bullied by bigger teams. The Panthers' defense has supreme shut down ability, but lacks depth and flash needed to go all the way. And Jacob Markstrom is an unproven #1 goalie, will he be able to hold the fort day in and day out?
28. Minnesota North Stars
H: Outside of a couple of forwards, seems like a mediocre group. A few decent D and and a young goalie.
RC: The North Stars feature a skilled, quick offense that strikes with precision. However, the North Stars roster doesnt match up well, and there isn't much scoring coming from their bottom six. The North Stars' true strength comes from their defense. They have arguably the best Top-4 defense in the league that contains both flashy offense and shut down defense. They may have to protect the middle, as Braden Holtby hasn't etched his way to becoming a #1 goalie quite yet.
H: Flashy top six wingers but weak center depth after Mikko Koivu. Weak defense after Brent Burns and AMac. Nabokov is alright but he’s not going to lead anyone to a Cup.
RC: The Coyotes Top-6 Features some high-end scoring forwards such as Kessel and Kovalchuk, and with Mikko Koivu, it really compliments their scoring touch. The defensive pairing of Brent Burns and Stephane Robidas compliment eachother well. The flaws in this roster is inexperience and depth on the wings. Matt Frattin and Jordin Tootoo are playing too many minutes and have too big of a role for them, along with Andrew Macdonald and Mark Fraser on defense.
Some of you will disagree with rankings obviously, but try to act mature and remember, mod abuse is a 5 point infraction
edit: Forgot to mention, ATL and CHI tied for 11th, and WILD+CAL+NYI tied for 12th. PHX and the North Stars tied for last.
1 - Tampa Bay Lightning
They've got an elite center. They've got an elite defender. They've got an elite goaltender. And they've got the depth to compliment these pieces perfectly. This is a team built to compete now and only get better as the years go on, and I shudder to think of how good they could be if they're already topping my list. Speed, physicality, oftense, defense, there's nothing this team doesn't have. And to top it all off, the leadership and veteran experience is there to lead this team to victory as soon as this season.
2 - San Jose Sharks
A team built similarly to that of Tampa, they have a great amount of depth at every position as well as the top end talent to lead them to victory. The defense is a bit shallow but the top 4 as a whole is very solid and can shut down other teams' top lines while still producing offensively themselves. The top 9 forwards all play a very balanced, effective game and I think they would mesh very well together and play as a true "team", beating other teams with their ability to use each other and shut down their opponents. Anderson has proven to be a top notch goaltender as well, and I believe that with him in net, this team will do great things.
3 - New York Islanders
Another team with an elite center and a great supporting cast. Tavares alone could will his team into the playoffs, much less with all the help he gets here. The top 6 is good, nothing special though. The bottom 6 is great - they can hit, score, shut down other teams' top lines, everything. The defense is what really sets this team apart though. Yandle and Alzner are both top notch defenders for what they're supposed to do - one score, the other defend. Nikitin and Schultz are also great options on the 2nd pairing. Howard in net completes an already stellar team.
4 - Columbus Blue Jackets
An almost perfectly built team, every line has a certain role and can perform that role at near elite levels. The top 6 combines great offensive ability with two-way play and physicality - they'll get under your skin, shut you down, and score on you at will. The bottom 6 is quite similar, but simply to a lesser caliber. The similarities are quite astounding, really. The defense, at first glance, looks weak, but it's probably the best group of defenders in the league. Johnson, Leddy, Myers and Bergeron can all play top-notch hockey in the offensive zone while Orpik, Myers, and McQuaid are very solid in their own zone as well. Smith is a proven goaltender as well and should backstop his team to a long playoff run.
5 - Anaheim Ducks
A team with great depth at every position, they would've taken home the #1 spot if it weren't for a lack of truly elite talent. Spezza and Semin are both amazing offensively, but don't have the all-around package to consider them elite. Their surrounding cast is great though, with no one playing out of their role and the team as a whole looks very solid. The defense is amazingly deep and young and only looks to get better. Again, everyone is in almost the perfect spot and should play to the best of their ability. Lehtonen is a world-class goaltender with top notch talent and he could really take this team somewhere. If Spezza was replaced by a guy like Tavares or Stamkos, this team would almost certainly be #1.
6 - Ottawa Senators
This might be one of the more controversial rankings, but I'm sticking with it. Backes is a stud two-way center who's physicality is unmatched, Stepan is a great talent offensively, and Berglund is one of the best #3 centers in the league. The wingers are there to fit in as well, with all of them in a position to succeed. The defense is underrated and very solid in both ends, and they'll be surprisingly difficult to get around as well as stop offensively. Quick is one of the absolute best goaltenders in recent years and he alone could get this team to the Finals.
7 - Pittsburgh Penguins
This is a team I really like and that I think I might even overrate, but they possess the elite talent and all-around ability, as well as the depth needed to succeed in the playoffs. They also have a great mix of veterans who've gone deep into the playoffs and know what it takes to get there along with talented young guns who can take the team to another level when needed. The defense has some top notch defensive defenders but can also produce offensively. Price is a great goaltender and could help this team make that final push to get a Cup.
8 - Chicago Blackhawks
One of the most dynamic top 6's in the league can be found here in Chicago, and the forward group as a whole is unmatched. It's easily top 5 in the league - every line can chip in some help in all 3 zones and the depth is astounding. The defense isn't quite as awe-inspiring, but is still solid and has some good two-way talent. If they had a legitimate #1 goaltender instead of two 1B guys, this team would shoot up the standings, but even still, they're a top team in the league.
9 - Calgary Flames
Switching Seguin and Anisimov would make this team that much better in my opinion, but already, it's a great team. A very talented, balanced top 6 as well as a solid bottom 6 with depth at every position, the forward group is well assembled and should be very successful. The defense has an elite top pairing, as both Johnson and Subban are great in all 3 zones, and the depth looks solid as well. Varlamov is one of the most purely talented goalies in the league, and with an actual defense in front of him, he'll finally be able to put up the numbers to match.
10 - Vancouver Canucks
Another team with good balance all across the lineup, they've also got the youth to stay at the top for years to come. Getzlaf, Hanzal, and Kelly down the middle is very good depth for their top 9 centers, and the wingers can keep up as well. Chiasson and Hagelin are both young and inexperienced, but the rest of the team should be able to help them adjust quickly. The defense is a solid group of #2, #3 defenders and as a whole should help the team out in both ends. Ward is one of the best playoff goalies in the league and he could really carry this team as well.
11 - Nashville Predators
A team with great depth up and down the line-up, I really like what they've done with each line - a rather weak 1st line, but the top 9 as a whole is very solid in all 3 zones. The defense has two superstars in Chara and OEL to go with a strong supporting cast, and an underrated net minder behind the group. They remind me a lot of St. Louis in how the team is built, but with a bit more offense up front.
12 - New York Rangers
Give this team a couple years and they'll be at the top of the standings. Some amazing talent in the top 6 helps this team now and only looks to get better, as both Hall and Couture are going to be top notch NHLers within the next couple seasons. The rest of the forwards fit in well and can play their roles effectively. The defense is solid, headlined by a top 3 defender in Weber. Reimer is an average starting goaltender but if the team progresses as it should, he won't have to play any better to succeed.
13 - Atlanta Thrashers
A solid team with great depth, this team is a kind of a mishmash of youth and experience. The forwards are for the most part older and experienced - a group that could really work well together and get the team far into the playoffs. The defense, on the other hand, is relatively young and at least a couple years away from getting the team anywhere. As a group, though, this is a team that could really surprise some people, especially depending on how their goaltending pans out.
14 - Boston Bruins
Reuniting three Blackhawks on the first line actually makes for a stellar group - If only one of them played center. The 2nd line looks a bit weak but they're also all sound defensively and can chip in some offense if needed. The bottom 6 looks great - a true shut-down line with Stoll and Talbot, and a very high-energy 4th line that can take it to other teams physically. The defense has a tremendous top pairing that can do it all, while the depth is a bit weak but still decent. Goaltending is the big question here, as neither is a proven starter.
15 - Minnesota Wild
As a whole, the team is full of young, high potential players but they have a good mix of seasoned veterans as well. Up front, the talent is there to have a successful top 6, while the bottom 6 is a good mix of physicality and defensive play. The defense is incredibly young but can already perform at a high level and only looks to get better. Rask is one of the premier goaltenders in the league and should really help this young, budding team compete not only now, but also in the future.
16 - Florida Panthers
A team that features two of the top defenders in the entire league, this team has the potential to be elite, but really misses out when you look at the forward group. It's loaded with 2nd and 3rd liners all across the lineup, but really lacks that one game-breaking forward who can carry the team on his back when needed. The depth is great, but without an elite talent up front, this team won't get very far. The defense is solid but rather unspectacular when you look beyond Suter and Pietrangelo. Goaltending is also a huge weakness for this team, as Giggy has slowed down considerably and Markstrom is extremely unproven.
17 - New Jersey Devils
Another team that really seems to focus on having one line do all the work, their 1st line has ridiculous amounts of talent, but it drops off sharply after that. Porspal and Hudler are two borderline top 6 wingers, and Turris is still developing as a top 6 center. From there, I'm not sold on any of their other bottom 6 players outside of Sutter. Antropov is just kind of a "wtf" player on the 4th line, had to check that one out twice. The defense is good but unspectacular, and Luongo may be able to bounce back, but he seems to have been off his game the past several seasons.
18 - Detroit Red Wings
The team looks very solid and has a lot of great depth players. Up front, the only player that really looks out of place is Brayden Schenn, and he only needs another year or two to fit into that role. The top 6 wingers are very good, and Backstrom is a true #1 center that helps compliment those wingers. The 3rd line is elite defensively while being able to annoy other teams' top players and put some points up themselves. The defense is very solid, as all of the top 4 can play well in both ends of the ice. Goaltending is a big question mark and the reason they've fallen down the rankings, but the potential is there to get back on top.
19 - Edmonton Oilers
A solid young top 9, it's got some great pieces but really seems to be more of a pairing concept with a 3rd forward tossed onto each line. Brouwer, Zibanejad, and Bennett all seem out of place, and I feel as though this really hurts the team as a whole. The defense is good but nothing special, and I'm not sold on Halak or Fasth as #1 goaltenders yet. The team has the potential to be great, but they're not quite there just yet.
20 - Montreal Canadiens
A young team, for the most part, they've got some elite veteran talent as well, but I can see them struggling to get all the offensive cogs working together. The bottom 6 is less than spectacular with several players playing out of their roles. The defuse is the same kind of story - talented but young and inexperienced. They'll more than likely struggle greatly for a year or two before everything gets worked out. Having Lundqvist in net, though, is pretty much a guarantee to make the playoffs. The model of consistency in net really makes this team in my opinion.
21 - Los Angeles Kings
Another team with a great top line, the "Russian Connection" really does look like one of the best lines in the game. The rest of the team is pretty "meh" though. Many of the forwards are out of position and playing above their roles. The depth just isn't there. The defense is good, but just barely above average and would struggle to actually play defense in my opinion. Schneider is still too unproven to be considered a top notch goalie as well, leaving this team rather incomplete.
22 - St. Louis Blues
This is a team with great center depth and a decent defense, but the lack of any kind of depth on the wing kills this team. Rinne is an elite goaltender, but the defense isn't strong enough or talented enough to keep him from getting shelled on a nightly basis. The offense is also extremely weak and I can foresee them having great difficulty putting the puck in the back of the net. As a whole, I'm just not a fan of how this team was built.
23 - Colorado Avalanche
A team with some elite talent offensively, Ovechkin and Kane on the same team is a scary thought to have to go up against. But with Kane playing out of position and only one natural center on the entire team, I think this is a team that will struggle defensively, especially considering Bouwmeester is really the only player I'd consider solid defensively. Fleury in net won't get them far in the playoffs, either, especially not with that defense in front of him. This team might steal a series or two by simply outscoring others, but they won't last long.
24 - Phoenix Coyotes
They've got an incredible first line consisting of three great talented. But after that, this team just falls off a cliff. Marchand and Horcoff are the only players in spots where they can succeed - every other forward is playing too high up in their lineup. The defense doesn't look much better, either. Burns has become a forward almost exclusively, and the depth is bad enough to begin with already. They've got some nice pieces, but as a group, the whole team just looks very weak. Their net minders are good but they won't be able to steal a series like they would be needed to for this team to go anywhere.
25 - Toronto Maple Leafs
They've got the veteran leadership and the prime skill needed to go far - unfortunately, they depth just isn't there. The 4th line isn't NHL caliber at all, and the 3rd line is decent but will suffer from a lot of mismatches playing against elite talent, which they can't handle. The defense is old and weak as well, I'm not impressed at all with the group as a whole. Backstrom is a solid goaltender but he's not good enough to will this team into the playoffs.
26 - Hartford Whalers
This team just doesn't impress me at all. The forward group is relatively weak and lacks a #1 center, as Benn is a winger, and the depth is pretty horrid as well. It's just a big jumble of players that wasn't really put together well at all. The defense looks good, but once you get past the top pairing (which is absolutely amazing), it's nothing special, and below average if anything. Goaltending is a big issue here as well, as I don't think Crawford is the goalie for this team to go anywhere anytime soon.
27 - Philadelphia Flyers
I'm not a big fan of this team at all. They have two borderline first liners in Lucic and Krejci, but nothing else significant up front. It seems like most of the players are playing in a position too demanding or too high for their skill set. The defense doesn't look much better - again, Carlson is the only one who I think really fits in to the spot he's given. If Miller gets hot, anything could happen, but that's doubtful with his recent performance.
28 - Washington Capitals
The whole team is just incredibly weak. The 1st line is probably worse than several teams' 2nd lines, and the forwards only get worse from there. The defense isn't much better either - the right side is great, but the left side is AHL caliber. The goaltending situation doesn't look much better - Elliott is a great backup, sub par starter, and Bernier is still relatively unproven. I don't see this team going anywhere but down anytime soon.
29 - Minnesota North Stars
Datsyuk is an elite center, but nothing else on this team really stands out as spectacular, or even good. The forward group is so bad they have to double shift Stalberg on both the 1st and 3rd lines . The defense is decent - McDonagh, Regehr, and Daley are all solid in their own zone, but it lacks an offensive punch outside of Green, who is a big question mark due to his quite serious injuries. Holtby is a good goaltender, but he's still too young to put the team on his back, and the lack of depth and defensive ability up front will get this team in a very bad spot right from the start.