It's time to come to grips with the fact that the NHL might not have a 2012-2013 season, and there's a very good possibility that there's at least going to be a shortened season.
So for grieving hockey fans around the continent, it's time to look to the future. I know things change quickly in the NHL, so this is more of a shorter-term, 3-5 season outlook rather than a 5+ years outlook.
Things are going to unpredictably different in five years, no matter what happens with the CBA. For instance, in 2007, the Flyers, Blackhawks, Capitals, and Bruins all finished last in their divisions while the Senators and Ducks played each other for the Stanley Cup.
Remember, this isn't just ranking a team's farm system. Having good prospects is key, but most current 19-year-old rookies are much less valuable than a 21-year-old stud with NHL experience, like John Tavares.
And this isn't necessarily a list of exactly how these teams will finish the 2016-2017 season, that's unrealistic and pointless. It's more of a ranking of how excited and optimistic fans should be about these particular teams' potential.