1. New York Rangers: They were the most complete team last year in the East, and they've now added Rick Nash to the mix to help with scoring. Anything but a Stanley Cup Finals trip will be a disappointment.
2. Boston Bruins: They will dominate a poor Northeast division this season with 18 of 48 games inside the division. The biggest question remains in net, and that might determine how far they go.
3. Carolina Hurricanes: They had problems scoring last season, so they only went out and got Jordan Staal and Alex Semin. Their defense is an issue, but they should have enough offense in a Southeast division that is tough to call.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins: Full seasons of Crosby and Malkin, plus more solid goaltending, and this team could easily be the number 1 seed in the East. Only questions are: can they get production from their bottom 6, and can Marc-Andre Fleury rebound from a playoff horror show?
5. Philadelphia Flyers: This team will probably score the most goals in all of the NHL, but they might also allow the most as well. If Ilya Bryzgalov plays like he did in Phoenix, then this team could be scary. But so is their defense corps.
6. Washington Capitals: The Caps will play good looking hockey again under the heralding of the artist, Adam Oates, but the transition might happen during the season, which knocks them down here. They're too good to miss the playoffs though.
7. Florida Panthers: If only this team won 2 of those 18 shootouts they lost... Injuries could hurt them early, but since so much hasn't changed with this team, a slight improvement is likely, although the Southeast division is much better.
8. Ottawa Senators: Erik Karlsson might have to replay his Norris form from last year to get here, but they have enough young talent coming into their own to make the playoffs this season.
9. Tampa Bay Lightning: I should just call them Philadelphia light. If their defense isn't awful, watch out. The biggest question remains in net with newcomer Anders Lindback.
10. Buffalo Sabres: This team has to be happy that the #1 draft pick is now available to all 14 teams that miss the playoffs, not just the 5 worst. Not good enough for the playoffs, not bad enough to start over.
11. New Jersey Devils: They are old in too many areas, and the loss of Zach Parise could kill their offense. Although, it is hard to doubt a team with Marty Brodeur in net.
12. Montreal Canadiens: They are far away from contending, but they have some nice pieces. Alex Galchenyuk, if he stays on, will be fun to watch.
13. New York Islanders: Only 2.5 years until Brooklyn calling! Until then, watch John Tavares and Matt Moulson light up the Island, while Evgeni Nabokov gets lit up.
14. Winnipeg Jets: The novelty of the MTS Centre will wear off this year, and they haven't improved enough to compete in the logjam that is the Southeast division.
15. Toronto Maple Leafs: 9 years without the postseason and running. In Toronto, too.
1. St. Louis Blues: Rock solid team that didn't change much, and has 2 very good goalies which will help in a compressed schedule. Their playoff loss to the Kings will help them learn.
2. LA Kings: The Stanley Cup Champs changed very little from the team that won the Cup, and they might even win their division this season. This team is still very, very good.
3. Vancouver Canucks: Injuries are a problem to start the year, but in the Northwest, that won't hurt them. Their AHL players are better than most of the Flames bottom 6.
4. Chicago Blackhawks: So much offensive talent, yet so many questions about Corey Crawford being the guy. If he is, then the Hawks are a darkhorse contender for the Cup.
5. Detroit Red Wings: Can't see them missing the playoffs even without Nicky Lidstrom, and even though their defense corps could be a horror show.
6. Phoenix Coyotes: Never underestimate any team coached by Dave Tippett. What's scary is, he says this team might be better than the Western Conference runners up team from last year.
7. Nashville Predators: No Suter, no problem? They have enough young talent on the blueline to help Shea Weber, and up front to score, to keep Pekka Rinne happy and the Preds in the postseason.
8. Minnesota Wild: I might be stretching this, but Parise and Suter with some of their pieces makes them a playoff team. They aren't good enough to contend though. With their farm system, that will come soon enough.
9. San Jose Sharks: This year ends the long run of success for a Sharks team that never quite got over the hump. Too bad.
10. Anaheim Ducks: I really want them to make the playoffs for Teemu Selanne's NHL swan song, but they have too many defensive issues to make the postseason. And about Getzlaf and Perry...
11. Edmonton Oilers: You can only get so much better in a quick turnaround season. The young talent will make them better, but not playoffs better.
12. Colorado Avalanche: They are a confusing team, and they don't score very many goals. If they have any defensive frailties, this could be a disastrous season.
13. Dallas Stars: Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr are a combined 4 times older than the length of the Stars time in Texas. And that might be how long this season feels for Stars fans (on an aside, sign Jamie Benn please).
14. Calgary Flames: Please, start rebuilding so Jarome Iginla can win a Cup... please!
15. Columbus Blue Jackets: Seth Jones or Nathan Mackinnon?
1) NYR over 8) OTT
2) BOS over 7) FLA
6) WSH over 3) CAR
4) PIT over 5) PHI
1) NYR over 6) WSH
4) PIT over 2) BOS
4) PIT over 1) NYR
1) STL over 8) MIN
2) LA over 7) NSH
3) VAN over 6) PHX
4) CHI over 5) DET
1) STL over 4) CHI
3) VAN over 2) LA
1) STL over 3) VAN
2013 Stanley Cup Finals: 1) STL over 4) PIT in 7.
Sorry to Blues and Penguins fans for ruining your respective seasons in advance.