cupsilo

A new season is quickly advancing on us. There are new divisions. There is a new format for deciding playoff teams. There is a new team in Seattle renewed sense of hope in Phoenix.

With a new season comes new predictions, a new chance for people like myself to make wild prognostications that will be somewhere between 3 and 5 percent correct (at best) at season’s end. Yes, it’s a gigantic waste of time. But it’s *fun* and pointless, like a book club or voting in America.

What follows is a hybrid preview/predictions for the upcoming season. The teams are ranked from 30 to 1, with the idea that this is how they will set up for the 2014 NHL Draft (traded and forfeited picks aside) before the lottery. So the teams that are ranked 1-2 here are the Stanley Cup champion and runner-up. Teams 3-4 are your conference final losers. Teams 5-16 are reverse order of the final standings based on overall points. Teams 17-30…you guessed it…failed to make the postseason.

So kick back, put your feet up on the coffee table, get angry or happy and enjoy one man’s opinion on what’s going to happen in the NHL this season along with some useful information about players who have changed teams this offseason.

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USPW_84004930. CALGARY FLAMES
Key additions: A realistic outlook on the team, David Jones, TJ Galiardi, Kris Russell, Shane O’Brien, Karri Ramo
Key subtractions: A warped belief this is a playoff team, Miikka Kiprusoff, Alex Tanguay, Roman Cervenka, Anton Babchuk, Cory Sarich
Must bounce back: The guy who continues to fail to invent a time a machine
Why they are here: Finally, about three years too late, the Flames are embarking on a rebuild. They will move Mike Cammalleri as things worsen. This is going to be a very, very bad professional hockey team, but that is just fine.
How it can go right: It can’t.
Funny quote of the offseason: “We can’t keep trading away high draft picks and trying for that solution that gets us through and gets us to the playoffs at the expense of the foundation.” – Jay Feaster, with a liberal use of the word “we.”

REU_183326129.  FLORIDA PANTHERS
Key additions: Scott Gomez (seriously), Bobby Butler, Joey Crabb
Key subtractions: Stephen Weiss, Jose Theodore, Jack Skille
Must bounce back: Kris Versteeg
Why they are here: There is no longer a Southeast Division, which means all the bonus points in the world aren’t getting the Panthers back to the playoffs. The young guys are too young (sans Jonathan Huberdeau) and the old guys are too old. Bad times are ahead.
How it can go right: The NHL decides to allow 28 teams to make the postseason and Jacob Markstrom has the greatest season in the history of goaltending. The NHL seizes ownership of 15 other teams and sells them to Russia.
Funny quote of the offseason: “We are very excited to unveil this special $7 season ticket package that will give fans a chance to catch every single Panthers game next season.” — Team President Michael Yormark

USPW_83975128. BUFFALO SABRES
Key additions: Henrik Tallinder, Jamie McBain
Key subtractions: Nathan Gerbe, Adam Pardy, Andrej Sekera, Ville Leino…wait, they didn’t buy out Leino? Really?
Must bounce back: Tyler Myers
Why they are here: It was a bad team in 2013 and it’s basically the same team for this season. At some point, the Sabres are probably going to trade Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek, making them exponentially worse.
How it can go right: Ville Leino becomes a point-per-game player. Vanek and Miller carry the team on their backs for months, forcing the Sabres to retain their services. Tallinder proves to be Myers’ muse and they become a dynamic top pairing. Jim Carrey becomes God and grants a bunch of Sabres fans’ wishes.
Funny quote of the offseason: “He is a very qualified person.” – Terry Pegula, on Darcy Regier

USPW_74858427. COLORADO AVALANCHE
Key additions: Patrick Roy, Nathan MacKinnon, Alex Tanguay, Cory Sarich
Key subtractions: Joe Sacco, Milan Hejduk, David Jones, Chuck Kobasew, Greg Zanon
Must bounce back: Semyon Varlamov
Why they are here: There are improvements up front, but the defense and goaltending are more questionable than holding your glove in the air thinking you’ve made a save when you haven’t. The future looks nice, however, but this season isn’t the future.
How it can go right: Paul Stastny becomes a 79-point guy again. Varlamov becomes worth the trade. MacKinnon wins the Calder. Roy has surgery to remove his Stanley Cup rings from his ears and listens to his players.
Funny quote of the offseason: “One thing I know — we’re going to have a Stanley Cup attitude.” – Patrick Roy

USPW_69849126. PHOENIX COYOTES
Key additions: Mike Ribeiro, Thomas Greiss, debt at the expense of taxpayers
Key subtractions: Jason LaBarbera, Chad Johnson, Boyd Gordon, Alexandre Bolduc
Must bounce back: Mike Smith
Why they are here: They’re stuck in a stacked division and even with the upgrade of Ribeiro, still lack the offensive punch to compete. But hey, at least those people in Coyotes jerseys at the council meeting get to watch their favorite team.
How it can go right: The Coyotes get back to being the defensive stalwarts they were in Dave Tippett’s first two seasons and Smith plays Vezina-worthy hockey.
Funny quote of the offseason: “(The lease) is in the best interest of residents and the taxpayers of the city of Glendale.” – Anthony Leblanc

REU_183327325. CAROLINA HURRICANES
Key additions: Andrej Sekera, Anton Khudobin, Mike Komisarek, Nathan Gerbe
Key subtractions: Joe Corvo, Dan Ellis, Jaime McBain, Chad LaRose
Must bounce back: Cam Ward, Jeff Skinner
Why they are here: Sekera is an upgrade on the blue line, but this is still arguably the worst group of defensemen in the NHL. Ward can mask the problems, but it’s like putting a dab of aloe on the burned-up guy they pulled out of the drain in The Usual Suspects.
How it can go right: Ward stands on his head all season long. Skinner shakes off the pressure he was under after signing a massive contract and scores 30 goals. The Rangers and Penguins run away in the Metro Division, leaving the third spot free for the taking.
Funny quote of the offseason: “I feel good about our coaching staff, feel good about our whole staff. … We have a real strong hockey staff.” – Jim Rutherford, on his staff

REU_183326624. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Key additions: Valtteri Filppula, Jonathan Drouin
Key subtractions: Vinny Lecavalier, Mathieu Garon, Brendan Mikkelson, Benoit Pouilot
Must bounce back: Anders Lindback, Matt Carle
Why they are here: Yes, the proper long-term move is buying out Lecavalier, but right now, he’s better than Filppula, so that’s a downgrade. It’s pretty much the same defensemen as last season, and the goalie situation is a powder keg. Jon Cooper needs to teach this team how to play defense, which will be tough, but it’s hard to find a more successful AHL coach.
How it can go right: The Lindback/Ben Bishop duo becomes an elite tandem. Drouin is a Calder Trophy finalist. The Lightning allow fewer than three goals per game. Cooper becomes a Jack Adams finalist.
Funny quote of the offseason: “He’s here to make us a better team and he will make us a better team.” – Steve Yzerman on Valtteri Filppula

REU_183332323. DALLAS STARS
Key additions: Lindy Ruff, Tyler Seguin, Tyler Seguin’s Twitter account, Tyler Seguin’s Twitter hackers, Rich Peverley, Shawn Horcoff, Sergei Gonchar, Dan Ellis
Key subtractions: Glen Gulutzan, Loui Eriksson, Eric Nystrom, Philip Larsen, Richard Bachman
Must bounce back: Tyler Seguin
Why they are here: People went nuts when Jim Nill made his moves this summer, but what did he really add? Horcoff is 34 hasn’t cracked 13 goals since 2008-09, Seguin could be trending toward being a monumental bust, and Peverley is a good depth forward. Gonchar is 39 and won’t have Erik Karlsson to run with this season.
How it can go right: Seguin becomes a star. Lehtonen is even better than he has been. Gonchar proves he has a lot left in the tank.
Funny quote of the offseason: “After repeated attempts by ‘hackers’ to try to damage my reputation I have decided to shut down my twitter account for a while.” – Tyler Seguin, via Twitter

REU_183327422. NASHVILLE PREDATORS
Key additions: Viktor Stalberg, Matt Cullen, Eric Nystrom, Matt Hendricks, Seth Jones
Key subtractions: Sergei Kostitsyn, Matt Halischuk, Bobby Butler, Chris Mason, Brandon Yip
Must bounce back: Shea Weber, Pekka Rinne
Why they are here: They fell hard last season without Ryan Suter and stockpiled pluggers and grinders in the offseason without adding any scoring help. There’s hope for them in the wide-open Central Division, but not much.
How it can go right: Weber and Rinne prove their subpar seasons were lockout-induced flukes, not a product of Suter’s departure. Seth Jones makes an immediate impact, as does Filip Forsberg. The Central is as bad as it looks. They play a lot of 2-1 games.
Funny quote of the offseason: “Obviously we know we had a bad season this year. I think everybody is going to come back and improve and have a run in the playoffs next year. ” – Patric Hornqvist

USPW_839911-121. NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Key additions: Cal Clutterbuck, Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Key subtractions: Mark Streit, Nino Niederreiter, Brad Boyes, momentum off last season’s playoff appearance, Keith Aucoin
Must bounce back: Kyle Okposo
Why they are here: They narrowly made the playoffs last year in a conference that shuttled a bad team West and welcomed two really good ones. They aren’t a laughingstock anymore, but they’re merely team on the cusp of the playoff picture.
How it can go right: Okposo scores 20. Nabokov improves. Tavares gets even better, which he’s more than capable of doing. The Metro Division is as bad as it can be and the Islanders take advantage of it.
Funny quote of the offseason: “Seven years is a long time. To me, that’s enough time to win a couple Stanley Cups.” – Travis Hamonic, after signing a seven-year contract with the Islanders

REU_183333020. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
Key additions: Vinny Lecavalier, Mark Streit, Ray Emery, Claude Giroux golf jokes
Key subtractions: Ilya Bryzgalov, Danny Briere, Simon Gagne, Ruslan Fedotenko
Must bounce back: Claude Giroux, Luke Schenn
Why they are here: Giroux had people arguing he was the best player in the NHL two seasons ago. Last season, he was very good, but he needs to be great for the Flyers to have success. Those two sentences were padding because “Goaltending and defense” would’ve been too short of an analysis.
How it can go right: Giroux returns to his 90-point form. Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier become the players that people think they are. Steve Mason proves he is a No. 1 goaltender. Peter Laviolette doesn’t lose the room.
Funny quote of the offseason: “I want to add that we really like our defense.” – Paul Holmgren

REU_183339919. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Key additions: David Clarkson, Dave Bolland, Jonathan Bernier, a smug sense of superiority based on one playoff trip in a shortened season
Key subtractions: Mikhail Grabovski, Clarke MacArthur, Ryan O’Byrne, Ben Scrivens, perspective
Must bounce back: David Clarkson
Why they are here: This is a team that scored three goals a game last season and, in theory, bolstered the offense, but they were also very lucky shooting percentage-wise. The James Reimer-Bernier tandem has the makings of a very good one, but Bernier seems unnecessary given Reimer’s play when healthy.
How it can go right: Clarkson proves his 30-goal season two years ago wasn’t a mirage and he gets to 25 with the Leafs. Nazem Kadri doesn’t regress as much as many think he will. Phil Kessel has a contract year for the ages. The Reimer/Bernier tandem is one of the five best in the NHL.
Funny quote of the offseason: “I have it planned out and it’s going to be fantastic.” – Tim Leiweke, MLSE chief, on the Leafs’ 2014 Stanley Cup parade

REU_183344118. ANAHEIM DUCKS
Key additions: Jakob Silfverberg, Dustin Penner, Mark Fistric
Key subtractions: Bobby Ryan, Matthew Lombardi, David Steckel, Tony Lydman
Must bounce back: Cam Fowler, Teemu Selanne
Why they are here: They were the flukiest team in a fluky season, and after a hot start with a PDO off the charts, they regressed majorly down the stretch (10-9-3 in their last 22) and lost in the first round of the playoffs. Since then, they parted ways with perennial 30-goal scorer Ryan and lost Sheldon Souray until January. Selanne looked like he was at his end last season, so him coming back doesn’t matter one way or the other.
How it can go right: Kids Jakob Silfverberg, Emerson Etem and Devante Smith-Pelly emerge as consistent goal-scoring threats. Viktor Fasth shows he can repeat his first season. Selanne has more left in the tank than he showed in 2013.
Funny quote of the offseason: ”It was one of those things I felt in my gut.” – Dustin Penner, on returning to Anaheim

USPW_84010017. MONTREAL CANADIENS
Key additions: Danny Briere, George Parros, Douglas Murray
Key subtractions: Michael Ryder, Colby Armstrong, Yannick Weber
Must bounce back: Rene Bourque, David Desharnais
Why they are here: Carey Price coupled with the Habs’ young talent has them in a good position, but they faded in 2013. Adding Briere, who has something to prove after being bought out by the Flyers, was a wise move, but the improved East will be a challenge for the Habs.
How it can go right: Price elevates his game. Subban shows the Norris wasn’t a short-season anomaly. Briere isn’t done. Andrei Markov plays two full seasons in a row for the first time since 2007-09. No sophomore slumps for Brendan Gallagher and/or Alex Galchenyuk.
Funny quote of the offseason: “I invited (Senators coach Paul MacLean) for a barbecue, but he couldn’t make it.” – Brandon Prust, jokingly

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USPW_77252116. WINNIPEG JETS
Key additions: Devin Setoguchi, Michael Frolik, Adam Pardy
Key subtractions: Alex Burmistrov, Nik Antropov, Kyle Wellwood, Antti Miettenen, Ron Hainsey
Must bounce back: Ondrej Pavelec, Olli Jokinen
Why they are here: They’ve got a pretty good group of forwards and this has to be the year (it doesn’t actually) Pavelec gets to .915 with his save percentage and fans stop blaming his defense for all of his shortcomings. The Central Division is weak enough that the Jets can crack the postseason.
How it can go wrong: Pavelec is his normal self. The defense doesn’t improve. Really, it won’t take much to steer the Jets into an iceberg, or a sky iceberg. A skiceberg.
Funny quote of the offseason: “We’ve had a lot of good players on our team for a couple years now.” – Zach Bogosian, on the Winnipeg Jets

REU_179280315. NEW JERSEY DEVILS
Key additions: Cory Schneider, Jaromir Jagr, Ryane Clowe, Michael Ryder
Key subtractions: Ilya Kovalchuk, David Clarkson, Henrik Tallinder, Johan Hedberg, Steve Sullivan
Must bounce back: Martin Brodeur, Adam Henrique, Adam Larsson
Why they are here: Because even with Kovalchuk fleeing to Russia, the Devils did enough in the offseason to bolster the roster. The addition of Schneider will allow the Devils to get the most out of the aging Brodeur without overextending him.
How it can go wrong: Henrique doesn’t return to his rookie season form. Players signed to replace Kovalchuk don’t close the scoring void enough. The Brodeur-Schneider tandem isn’t harmonious and both players struggle.
Funny quote of the offseason: “Hey Ilya hope u live comfortably in Russia w the money u made from the 23 million u stole from the devils Again I’m right in my analysis.” – Jeremy Roenick, via Twitter

USPW_75538514. MINNESOTA WILD
Key additions: Nino Niederreiter, Matt Cooke, Keith Ballard, Jonathan Blum
Key subtractions: Matt Cullen, Cal Clutterbuck, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Matt Kassian, Tom Gilbert, Devin Setoguchi
Must bounce back: Dany Heatley, Niklas Backstrom
Why they are here: They were a playoff team before Detroit and Columbus moved East, so it shouldn’t change now. They have some great young talent on this team that should be a factor this season. It can really go either way for the Wild, but they appear just good enough to make the playoffs.
How it can go wrong: Very easily, actually. Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker don’t meet expectations. Backstrom continues to decline. Heatley continues to disappoint.
Funny quote of the offseason: “The business side, we were great. Yes, the lockout cost us money. It cost every team money in the short term. Going forward, we’re going to be seeing the benefits of that financial investment. The lockout was costly for the first year, but the ticket sales were incredible. The sponsors came back in droves. So we feel good about that and we achieved all our business objectives.” – Craig Leipold, about a month before it was leaked the Wild lost $30 million last season

REU_183332113. VANCOUVER CANUCKS
Key additions: John Tortorella, Brad Richardson, Mike Santorelli, Yannick Weber
Key departures: Alain Vigneault, Cory Schneider, Roberto Luongo’s dreams of playing elsewhere, Derek Roy, Maxim Lapierre, Andrew Ebbett
Must bounce back: Ryan Kesler
Why they are here: One game from a championship in 2011, the Canucks look like an erotic lamp inside a wooden crate – fragile. But what they have is still good enough for the postseason, but one key injury (especially in net) could sink them.
How it can go wrong: A long-term injury to Luongo leaves the Canucks with a goaltender who has a LACK of experience. Get it? One of the Sedins blocks a shot on a penalty kill and explodes. Tortorella’s style doesn’t mesh with the players on the roster.
Funny quote of the offseason: “I’ll tell you right now, they’re going to kill penalties, and if they’re going to kill penalties they’re going to block shots.” – John Tortorella, on the Sedin twins

REU_183341312. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
Key additions: Nathan Horton, Jack Skille, an Eastern Conference schedule
Key subtractions: Vinny Prospal, a Western Conference competition problem
Must bounce back: R.J. Umberger
Why they are here: In 2013, the veterans and youth came together like a pair of gambling addicts in a Las Vegas sportsbook because they both bet the over on an NHL game that was sent to overtime on a last-second goal. Moving East helps, and as long as last year wasn’t an abberation, a playoff berth should be in the cards for Columbus.
How it can go wrong: Sergei Bobrovsky is proven to be a 48-game season fraud. The shoulders of Horton and Marian Gaborik simultaneously tear. Jack Johnson finishes in the top 10 in ice time in the NHL.
Funny quote of the offseason: “With 8, you turn it sideways and it means forever.” – Nathan Horton, when asked if he was going with No. 8 as a Jacket

REU_183328211. EDMONTON OILERS
Key additions: Dallas Eakins, David Perron, Andrew Ference, Jason LaBarbera, Richard Bachman, Denis Grebeshkov, Linus Omark
Key subtractions: Ralph Krueger, Ryan Whitney, Shawn Horcoff, Magnus Paajarvi, Nikolai Khabibulin
Must bounce back: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (kinda)
Why they are here: It’s their time. They’re not the third-best team in the NHL, but they are one of the eight-best teams in the West. Justin Schultz will be much-improved, and the addition of Ference was terrific. This is a team that should be in the top-5 in goals scored.
How it can go wrong: Devan Dubnyk can’t handle a 65-game load. Despite dispatching Whitney, the defense is still a train wreck. Nail Yakupov is murdered by Mike Milbury for smiling too widely after scoring in overtime.
Funny quote of the offseason: “And lastly, I’ll say that there’s one other guy in hockey today that is still working in the game that has won more Stanley Cups than me. So I think I know a little bit about winning, if there’s ever a concern.” – Kevin Lowe

USPW_78176810. WASHINGTON CAPITALS
Key additions: Mikhail Grabovski, Tyson Strachan
Key subtractions: Mike Ribeiro, Matt Hendricks, Tom Poti, Joey Crabb, Wojtek Wolski, Jeff Schultz
Must bounce back: Brooks Laich
Why they are here: The Caps had the second-most points last season among teams in the new Metro Division. They closed strong, and while they will miss Ribeiro, having Laich at full-strength and signing Grabovski will help offset that loss.
How it can go wrong: Alex Ovechkin takes the first half of the season off again. The depth scoring is nonexistent. Mike Green finds a way to get worse defensively. Adam Oates spends the season playing outfield in a cornfield in Iowa.
Funny quote of the offseason: “I thought at first that I got traded. My jaw dropped. I was thinking ‘Is he seriously calling me?’” – Karl Alzner, when he got the call from Blues GM Doug Armstrong to attend Team Canada’s camp, not to come to St. Louis

REU_18207739. BOSTON BRUINS
Key additions: Loui Eriksson, Jarome Iginla, Chad Johnson
Key subtractions: Tyler Seguin, Peter Chiarelli’s hatred of Twitter, Nathan Horton, Rich Peverley, Anton Khudobin, the ability to win a Stanley Cup, Jaromir Jagr, Andrew Ference
Must bounce back: Milan Lucic
Why they are here: Even with all the losses, they’re still a playoff team in the East. Zdeno Chara turns 37 this season, and his time as an elite defenseman is running out. There’s still enough here to be formidable.
How it can go wrong: If Chara looks 100 years old more often this season like he did at times in last year’s postseason. Tuukka Rask’s mega-bucks deal plays with his head and he falters.
Funny quote of the offseason: “I think we’re a better team.” – Peter Chiarelli

15212325832_slide8. SAN JOSE SHARKS
Key additions: Tyler Kennedy, Scott Hannan
Key subtractions: Thomas Greiss, T.J. Galiardi
Must bounce back: Martin Havlat
Why they are here: “We don’t do windows” should be the Sharks’ team slogan, because all you ever hear about is how their window is always closing yet it never does. They have talent throughout the lineup and there’s no reason to think they can’t contend again.
How it can go wrong: Much like the Red Wings, Joe Thornton (34) and Patrick Marleau (33) could start playing like guys in their mid-30s at any moment. Dan Boyle becomes a major liability. Havlat is so prone to injury that it becomes contagious and everyone tears their groins.
Funny quote of the offseason: “He plays an honest, straightforward kind of game that’s contagious.” – Doug Wilson, on Raffi Torres

USPW_800723-e13777296409467. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Key additions: Rob Scuderi
Key subtractions: Jarome Iginla, Tyler Kennedy, Matt Cooke, Brenden Morrow
Must bounce back: Marc-Andre Fleury
Why they are here: Fleury isn’t a problem in the regular season, and as long as that doesn’t change, the Penguins will be a top team in the East. Their bottom six doesn’t look all that great, but their top six is plenty good enough to carry them until the postseason begins.
How it can go wrong: Someone tricks Fleury into thinking the playoffs start in October. The lack of depth at forward is exposed because of lengthy injuries to either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. Bane blows up Consol Energy Center.
Funny quote of the offseason: “The faith I have in Fleury hasn’t waned.” – Ray Shero

REU_1821174-e13776441141076. LOS ANGELES KINGS
Key additions: Matt Frattin, Ben Scrivens, Jeff Schultz, Dan Carcillo? I guess?
Key subtractions: Jonathan Bernier, Rob Scuderi, Dustin Penner, Brad Richardson
Must bounce back: Willie Mitchell
Why they are here: Not all that much has changed on a team that has won a Cup and reached the conference final the past two seasons. They have scoring, defense and the best American goaltender in the NHL, which is saying a lot, because they are a plethora of great American goaltenders in the NHL.
How it can go wrong: Slava Voynov doesn’t respond well to increased responsibility, which is coming with Scuderi’s departure. Quick’s back gives out. Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Carcillo agree to star on a reality show and leave the team for three months.
Funny quote of the offseason: “On that note the ones close to me can assure you my farts smell way worse than rotten toe nails.” – Drew Doughty, via Twitter

USPW_8399955. DETROIT RED WINGS
Key additions: Stephen Weiss, Daniel Alfredsson, excess laughter looking at Eastern Conference teams they will now face multiple times
Key subtractions: Valtteri Filppula, Damien Brunner, Dan Cleary, frequent flyer mile points
Must bounce back: Jonas Gustavsson
Why they are here: As the Wings got healthy last year, they got better, and they will enter 2013-14 basically injury-free. Their young players looked for real as last season wore on, and Jimmy Howard is among the elite goaltenders in the league.
How it can go wrong: Henrik Zetterberg (32), Johan Franzen (33) and Pavel Datsyuk (35) start showing signs of age. Jimmy Howard is forced to play 70 games. The defense doesn’t improve enough over last season.
Funny quote of the offseason: “I’m meaner.” – Prospect Tyler Bertuzzi, comparing himself to uncle Todd Bertuzzi

REU_18333794. OTTAWA SENATORS
Key additions: Bobby Ryan, Clarke MacArthur, Joe Corvo
Key subtractions: Sergei Gonchar, Daniel Alfredsson, Jakob Silfverberg, Andre Benoit
Must bounce back: Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza
Why they are here: Even with the loss of their captain, the Senators have enough offensive punch to thrive in the East. They have two very capable goaltenders and as a team, and have improved every season under Paul MacLean.
How it can go wrong: Joe Corvo plays 20 minutes a night. Cory Conacher takes a step back. Ryan locks up under the Ottawa spotlight. MacLean is revealed to be an actual walrus, eats players.
Funny quote of the offseason: “You can talk to anybody around the League — players, managers, people in the press, fans — they would say the same thing, that he holds a lot of credibility.” – Mark Messier, on Daniel Alfredsson

USPW_7186673. ST. LOUIS BLUES
Key additions: Derek Roy, Magnus Pajaarvi, Maxim Lapierre
Key subtractions: David Perron, Kris Russell, Andy McDonald
Must bounce back: Derek Roy
Why they are here: They have arguably the best defense corps in the NHL outside Chicago if Jay Bouwmeester plays like he can. They also have a top goaltending duo. They are defensively sound and have potential to improve on their middle-of-the-road scoring from last season.
How it can go wrong: The offense remains mediocre. Jaroslav Halak can’t stay healthy again. Pietrangelo holds out, realizes he doesn’t love hockey as much as competitive chess, gives up his NHL career.
Funny quote of the offseason: “There’s not a lot of concern when you talk about Jay Bouwmeester.” – Doug Armstrong

USPW_8370602. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
Key additions: Nikolai Khabibulin
Key subtractions: Dave Bolland, Michael Frolik, Viktor Stalberg, Ray Emery
Must bounce back: Really? Did you watch this team last season?
Why they are here: They lost some very important depth pieces and an excellent goalie who made 21 starts, but they kept just about everyone that matters from last season’s 48-game championship. They are loaded up front and in the back, like Beyonce.
How it can go wrong: Corey Crawford reverts to his pre-2013 form that had people wondering if he was a starter, leading to more starts for Khabibulin. Role players who were key in 2013 take a step back. Joel Quenneville shaves his mustache, the source of Chicago’s power.
Funny quote of the offseason: “Perceptions are, ‘Geez, the Blackhawks mismanaged the salary cap, but I’d say we did the opposite — we managed the hell out of it. We exploited it in a way.” – Stan Bowman

USPW_7905161. NEW YORK RANGERS
Key additions: Alain Vigneault, Dominic Moore, happiness, joy
Key subtractions: John Tortorella, Ryane Clowe, dread, sadness
Must bounce back: Brad Richards, Dan Girardi
Why they are here: They have depth at forward and on the blue line and the best goalie in the NHL. The team grew immensely under Tortorella, but the switch to Vigneault will be a big reason the Rangers push themselves over the top.
How it can go wrong: It turns out Tortorella was the real reason for the team’s success. Lundqvist’s contract situation becomes a distraction. Richards shows last season really was the beginning of the end.
Funny quote of the offseason: “I thought Torts did a great job with the guys in the room. We all loved him.” – Dan Girardi

*Note: There is no trolling in here. Just because someone thinks lesser of your team than you or others does not make them a troll. It simply means they have a different opinion than you. Thank you. Have a great day.


Comments (54)

  1. Nice round up. IMO, too high on the Rangers, Devils and Wings. Too low on the Habs, Preds and probably Isles. Like the Oilers call. Not sure if the Blues can score enough, but they are right there. I think the Jackets are also further away than you have them, but could see that happening.

    It does seem the East is stronger even before you factor in the Wings and Jackets. The West is on the decline; Canucks would struggle to make the playoffs imo if the Wings were still around and still may. However, I don’t think anyone in the East is at the same level of the Hawks/Blues/Kings; Pens probably close, but don’t have the depth; Sens are really interesting. Anyway, really enjoyed this.

    • The Blues scoring is a bit on the weak side for such a high ranking, although if they get Pre-concussion Tarasenko, they may be ok on that front.

      • The only thing that worries me about the 2013-2014 Blues is their goalie situation. Halak will get hurt (it happens every year) Ells won’t be able to bail them out, and Allen has a sophomore slump. Then they still finish 5th or 6th..

    • Your predictions are crazier than a loon. You got the Leafs who are twice as good as Jersey and Winnipeg out and those two sacks of hammers in????????????? Bizarre to say the least. Go back to the drawing board….you…….expert????

      • Lol god I hate silly commenters like you. Go write you own blog and see how many hits it gets…you…idiot? Fanboys always get sour.

    • Oilers 11th, Leafs out…………..Lozo=Bozo

  2. I love the Lowe quote. Sure Kevin, you take the credit for those cups, couldn’t have had anything to do with riding the coattails of 99 and 11. What a clown.

  3. Interesting piece. I only wonder, as a Ducks fan, why is there no mention of Kyle Palmieri who has to step up with Bobby Ryan’s departure?

  4. The Habs are a better team than you have them listed. Don’t forget, they finished 3rd in the East last year, and they have the same core group this year.

    • Actually they finished 2nd in the east last year, not 3rd. However, that just makes them even more analogous w/ the Ducks – both teams finished 2nd in their conferences, but mostly on the back of a particularly strong start marked strongly with stats indicating that their success was due in large part to luck. Both teams regressed pretty heavily at the end of the season before bowing out in the 1st round (the Habs were only 10-9-1 in their last 20 regular season games), and the general consensus is that the team we saw in the 2nd half of 2013, i.e. the utterly mediocre team, is closer to what we’ll see in 2013-’14 than the team that opened last season as one of the hottest in the league. Given how they started (incredibly hot) and how they finished (not so hot), it’s highly likely that had they played a full 82 last season both the Ducks and the Habs would have surrendered their division leads and possibly dropped out of the playoffs all together

      • Possession stats indicated that the habs were about a top 5 team in the NHL. They had a slightly favourable PDO, but PDO isn’t as good an indicator of luck as many people think. The habs looked like two different teams between the majority of the season and the 10 games or so of bad play. I don’t see why 10-15 games should be considered a better indicator of the future of a team than 35-40, just because those games came at the end of the season.

        • I think it could be argued the last 20 games of the season would be when Montreal faced the toughest competition as teams were fighting for a playoff spot and home ice. Plus, you also have the argument that teams who started slow might have pieced it together.

  5. That Nathan Horton quote is ridiculous.

  6. Wow, the Preds had the most Predator offseason in the Predator of Predator.

    Predators’ offseason to do list, every season:

    - Sign three veteran third liners – DONE
    – Stalberg, Cullen, Nystrom

    - Sign a guy who everyone thinks is already on our team – DONE
    – Hendricks

    -Draft a future all-star dman – DONE

    -Sign a backup no one has heard of (don’t worry he’ll be great, and challenge for a starter job in the future) – DONE
    – Signed Carter Hutton

  7. Moving East helps Lumbus but hurts the Isles?

    Lozo, sometimes I think you’re just trolling.

  8. I think this years going to be a tough year to project. With the restriction of goalie pads, I think you’re going to see some “quality” nhl goalies struggle to adjust. It doesn’t take much of an opening for nhler’s to score. Some goalies are losing 2-3 inches per pad this up coming season which means its harder to close your five hole or if you have a narrower butterfly you’re getting an extra 2 inches per corner to shoot at. I have no doubt that some goalies depend more on the size of their equipment than their athleticism.

    • Yeah – it’s not going to kill someone like Quick (whose whole game is to stretch HIMSELF out, damn the pads), but there’s guys out there who are all about squaring up to the puck who are going to have issues.

  9. It seems to me that the Jets are ranked a lot higher than they ought to be. They couldn’t even make the playoffs last season despite playing in the Southeast Division and having zero games against the then-stronger Western Conference. One of Dallas, Nashville, or Anaheim will make the playoffs over Winnepeg. In fact, Winnipeg could easily be last place team in the Central as long as Colorado avoids losing players for long stretches of the season (they were missing O’Reilly, Landeskog, Stastny, Johnson, and Downy at various points last season) and Varlamov has at least a .915 save percentage (career records suggest that is more likely than Pavelec hitting that number).

    • Agreed. I like the Jets, but I don’t see them making the playoffs…even if they are in the (now weaker) West.

      • Right, even if the West is a little weaker and the Central is the weakest of the divisions, it doesn’t mean that the Jets will get good goaltending out of Pavelec. Maybe they can slide in as the final seed, but unless there are major roster improvements (I don’t think Setogouchi counts in that regard), I don’t think that the particular constellation of factors that need to come together for them are any more likely for Winnipeg than they are for a team like Dallas or Nashville.

  10. Not Ryan Lambert, stop trolling me ;)

  11. Tim Lieweke didn’t specifically say that about next season

  12. The fact that I often forget the Sens exist makes their spot on this list even more of a shock

  13. Pretty good write-up overall, nothing that I majorly disagree with. However, you did make 1 key error: if 1 and 2 are supposed to be the Stanley Cup Final participants and 3 and 4 are supposed to the teams they beat in the conference final then you’ve got a problem – the Blackhawks and Blues cannot meet in the conference final. Thanks to realignment bringing back the divisional playoff format, if the ‘Hawks and Blues meet in the playoffs it’ll be in the first 2 rounds. I suppose it’s possible (thanks to the weird wild-card seeding) for them to meet in the conference final if one of them finishes 5th in the central but has more points than the 4th place team in the pacific and thus gets dropped into the pacific division bracket for the playoffs, but what are the odds that either finishes worse than 3rd in the division?

    • I don’t know, I could see the Blues pulling a Kings and struggling for months before turning it on in February and sneaking in.

      • I doubt it. If anything, they’d have a strong start but implode down the stretch as the team begins to tune out Ken Hitchcock just like every other team he’s coached has done after a couple of years.

    • You’re right. CHI-STL isn’t possible. I originally had a 5/3 split in the West which made it possible but then changed it to a 4/4 split. The problem has been corrected.

      • WHOO! I MADE A BLOGGER CORRECT SOMETHING IN HIS POST! I WIN TEH INTERNETZ!!!!!

      • Good catch, Pete. I posted that on another website before noticing your comment.

        Sorry. Dave, I’m still not seeing this one the refresh. Who is your conference final loser in the West?

        • I was actually right. Even if it’s 4 and 4, the wild card teams screw everything up. The top team plays the worst wild card team, which means there can be Pacific-Central crossover in the “1-8″ matchup as it were. So really, STL-CHI or LAK-SJS can be a WCF matchup depending on how round one shakes out.

          Really, the new playoff format is a giant cluster.

          • Good catch and I hadn’t noticed that before. But based on this article that would mean that you think St. Louis is going to finish behind Winnipeg and Minnesota in regular season points. I’m guessing that’s not your prediction.

          • Should edit above to say Chicago or St. Louis will finish behind both Winnipeg and Minnesota.

          • Yup, you’re right, it is possible even if it’s 4 teams from each division instead of 5 and 3. Of course, it’s only possible if one of the ‘Hawks or Blues finishes outside of the top 3 in the central, and barring either team suffering a rash of major injuries or something else crazy happening that doesn’t seem particularly likely does it?

            You’re dead on about this new playoff format being a clusterfuck….

  14. “Ottawa

    How it can go wrong: ”

    Craig Anderson remembers he’s Craig Anderson.

    • “No, really, your name isn’t Craig Anderson. It’s actually Henrik Lundqvist!”

      “…man, I hope he bought it.”

    • and that’s why we have Robin Lehner as backup. Best tandem in the league

  15. “Erotic lamp”???? The Canucks have enough issues…leave them be.

  16. I found this entertaining and generally pretty accurate but I think you significantly underestimated the team that I lilke. I also think that your discussion of my team is missing some nuance but the rest have the appropriate level of detail.

  17. Kind of upset the Ottawa quote wasn’t from Melnyk

  18. Dallas has been juuuust on the outside of the playoffs for the last two years. With the offseason additions I don’t see them getting worse. Even if Seguin doesn’t turn out to be a superstar, he is a talented guy who can play center and put Benn back on his natural wing. They also finally have a backup goalie that can take a little bit of relief off of Lehtonen so he doesn’t need to carry the team all season. Finally, there was no mention of Nichushkin, who slipped to 10th in the draft not because of talent, but because of anti-Russian bias and fears of the KHL.

  19. Lozo, you pussy.. at least admit and embrace yer a troll, it gives you more power

  20. Outside of Gordon none of the “key subtractions” are really subtractions. Barbs was the backup goaltender, Bolduc and Johnson where mostly AHL guys who were called up only when there were injuries. Not exactly key pieces to the puzzle

  21. Ottawa at 4? Detroit at 5 because Dats and Zets are a year older and the addition of old man Alfie and 4 pts in 17 games Weiss, not to mention a Howard that isn’t playing for a contract anymore? The shallowest will-be playoff team in Pittsburgh at 7? San Jose anywhere other than the “doesn’t matter because eventually the calendar will turn to May”? 10-16 is a complete joke.

  22. Well, said! i could not agree more, Rangers Cup Champs 2014!

  23. Best thing that can happen now, is this is the EXACT order of the draft and Dave Lozo dies from shock

  24. I’m more than a little bit dubious about the Rangers (they’re not even the top team in their division, let alone the league) and feel that you underrated the Penguins, Bruins, Kings, Canadiens, Coyotes, and Islanders while simultaneously overrating the Jets, Oilers, Blues (by a bit,) and Blue Jackets.

    I’d see the playoffs looking more like this:

    Flortheast:
    Boston
    Ottawa
    Detroit
    Montreal

    Patrick+:
    Penguins
    Rangers
    Capitals
    Islanders

    Conference III:
    Chicago
    St. Louis
    Clusterfuck (Stars, Wild, surprise predators on a hot streak.)
    haha no this team isn’t getting into the playoffs

    Pacific:
    LA
    San Jose
    Vancouver
    Edmonton
    Phoenix/Anaheim

    I have no clue what would happen in those playoffs.

  25. It appears that his mostly focuses on existing rosters and roster changes amoung folks changing teams. With the Hawks, you have the players as subtrac tions that the Hawks did not really want to keep (except Ray Emery, who took less for the chance to start in Philly)

    Chicago stands to have INCREASED productivity due to the addition of Brandon Pirri (AHL points leader), Jeramy Morin, Ben Smith and Jimmy Hayes.

    I really don’t see the Rangers as having made enough improvements enough to Beat the Hawks. Hawks were #2 in the league offensively, #1 defensively, #1 in points and +/- depth. Hawks beat the Bruins 4-2, who beat the rangers 4-1. I’m not sold on their making it to the cup series, and if they do, it would take a miricle as big as the 80 Olympics for them to take the cup.

    Glad you also did not put the Blues > the Hawks. STL does not have enough offense or depth overall to beat the Hawks in a series. Hawks played 15 AHL callups in the season finale as it was meaningless to the Hawks, including a goali9e playing his 1st NHL game. After the 1st period, the AHLers played the Blues even.

  26. As always, the rangers are picked to be the Stanley cup champions in September, and fail miserably. ’13-’14 will be no exception!

  27. Rangers, Sens and Blues top five teams in the league???? These are hippie picks.

    Also another writer confusing a bad contract for a bad player, every coach in the league would love to have Clarkson, the Leafs player for player are as deep as anyone in the league. Sens are a bunch of glorified AHLers but get distracted by the shiny things like Karlsson and Ryan, two players don’t make a team. Just an awful list.

  28. Glad to see my Nucks aren’t near the top of the list. 2011 was a special snowflake and we STILL couldn’t win the cup. Lets check back in 30 years.

    Sigh…

  29. How can you have the leafs, who improved dramatically, finish out of the playoffs? They finished 5th last year, 5th. You have them in 19th. They got better with bernier, clarkson and bolland. Are you on drugs? You have the Jets, who single handedly got worse by acquiring nobody, making the playoffs. This is absolutely laughable. My advice to you is switch to another sport because you blatantly have no clue what you’re writing about here. My predictions:

    East:

    1. Detroit
    2. Pitt
    3. Rangers
    4. Leafs
    5. Boston
    6. Ottawa
    7. Caps
    8. Islanders

    West:

    1. Blues
    2. Chi
    3. LA
    4. Sharks
    5. Phoenix
    6. Van
    7. Edmonton
    8. Dallas

    Peace -

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