A few other boards have this one going already, especially after ESPN posted their predictions. So far most teams in the East did a great job addressing their problems. The playoff race should be wide open this year especially for the last few spots. Just wanted to give it a shot and see what people think. I'm just predicting the regular season standings (Unfortunately, I'm with the majority of people who think the Pens have a good shot at taking the cup again).
1.Boston- While people will be quick to give the pens the top spot I think the Bruins are still the most complete team in the conference. Whether they can make it through the playoffs is another story.
2.Washington-No question their young guns keep getting better. Losing Federov and kozlov will be tough, but adding Morrison, Knuble, and a healthy Chris Clark will once again make this team a three line scoring threat.
3.Penguins-I'm still shocked that this team has Malkin and Crosby, what an amazing combo. I laughed at their off-season last year, I thought Fedotenko and Satan were just Islander trash, I never thought that adding Guerin and Kunitz would elevate this team to a cup victory. They will be the favorites for a long time as long as they have crosby, malkin, fleury, and a healthy Gonchar. I think they'll stumble a little bit in the regular season, but they should have no problem fighting for the title once again. Losing how gill is tough, but watch out for Letang and Goligoski. Also, signing Jay Mckee was pretty solid.
4.Flyers- Offense and Defense are complete. I don't know whats going on with their cap and what other moves they might make, but for now that top six with Giroux and Briere might be the best in the league. I thought they got owned in the Pronger trade, but now their D might be as good as their offense. I cannot recall the last time I saw such a questionable goalie tandem. I like Boucher, but only as a backup. Hopefully Ray Emery will be a disaster! He has skill but I remember watching that great Ottawa team a few years ago, which had very similar offensive and defensive weapons as the flyers do now, and it was Emery who was always the question mark.
5.Hurricanes- They looked great down the stretch last year. Cam Ward doesn't look like the one year wonder as he really carried the team last year. They have the second best Staal in the league, and being reuinited with cole for a full season gives them a dangerous top line. Their quick and well coached, the only thing that looks a little suspect is whether or not they will bring back Ruutu and Babchuk, both players who I think are vital to their team's success.
6.Rangers- I think were gonna make the playoffs and yes I am putting us ahead of the devils because this will be the year! It's going to happen eventually...I hope. So many questions, but what a fun off-season so far. Gomez is gone, I liked his skill, hated his defense and his contract. Enter Gaborik, so much potential, so much talent, and yes so many injuries. Hey, it was the right move, we needed goals, the guy is a pure goal scorer, can play in all situations, and could be a franchise guy. Let's not forget the wild wanted this guy like the jackets wanted Rick Nash the problem is Gaborik wanted out. First 20 games last year Dubi looked like an All-star...but so did Aaron Voros. We need him and Cally to really step up. I like the additions of Kotalik and Higgins, hopefully they can provide some much needed support. As for the defense, I just hope Henrik has another great season. I like our young guys, I don't mind our top four even with Redden there, but we need to fill those last two spots with capable players, be it rookies or veterans.
7. Devils- No free-agent additions, no-names on defense, their done! I won't say much, I know they will compete as they do every year. Parise Elias and Langenbrunner make one of the best first lines in hockey. They have good secondary scoring and the fat man in the cage is still one of the best around. Hopefully losing madden and gionta will sting a little, wouldn't be surprised if they took the Atlantic. As for the playoffs I think they will struggle again.
8. Sabres- The last few spots are so difficult to predict. I honestly think that everyone outside of the Islanders has a chance to get in. The Sabres played well down the stretch and I think people forget that healthy Ryan Miller should push them in. They really don't have much on D, especially with Spacek gone, but they are young and well coached and their offense is extremely underrated.
9. Habs- I hope Montreal fans don't see this because they will flip. I like what they did in the offseason, to turn over their team and get rid of Koivu and Kovalev, but to be honest the team doesn't scare me right now. I think Cammalleri is awesome, but Gionta and Gomez together again really doesn't say much to me. I think the jury is still out on Gomez and whether he can turn it around, but who can blame me as a Ranger fan, having watched this guy work for the past two years to say that I think he's going to have trouble meeting expectations again. I like the additions of Gill and Spacek, but I am not feeling right about the savior Carey Price, maybe he will break-out, but he looks lost some games.
10. Panthers- Another team I could see getting into the picture. Forwards are really young and talented. Still like their D, but I'm leaning on the Bouwmeester absence to offset their chances.
11. Ottawa- I think they have a solid goaltending tandem, and I think their D looks good with Campoli in there. But, the Spezza/Alfredsson/Heatley line struggled through stretches last year, and this new conflict with Heater isn't helping. I'm done with Kovalev, he's a good guy when he plays but he's not fixing any problems.
12. Lightning-People will once again argue that the Lightning can turn it around once again. This team looked great going into last season but there were still so many problems. Mike Smith can be a top 10 goalie, I don't have a doubt. Ohlund, Hedman, Walker are great additions. Still have some great weapons up front, perhaps a breakout from Stamkos. I say they still face some growing pains before their back in the picture.
13. Atlanta-Good for them for getting Antropov and Kubina. Brian Little looked awesome last year and Bogosian should have a great season. Another darkhorse team; just not sure the defense mixed with an injury plagued Lehtonen will push them into the picture.
14. Maple-Leafs - Burke did a great job trying to add to the defense. Beauchemin and Komi are good additions. Toskala needs to be near perfect for this team to succeed and I'm not betting on that. I'm surprised that they scored as many goals as they did, I think that will change. Despite what leaf fans might say, losing Kubina on the back line and Antropov on the front was significant. Their forwards just don't look like enough.
15. Islanders- Congrads on Tavares, hopefully he does it Daigle style