Assuming the regular season starts sometime this year—at this point it's no longer a safe assumption—we’re likely to have 60 regular-season games.
During the lockout-shortened NBA season last year, all 30 teams played 66 games, but the number I’ve been hearing is 60. It’s long enough for teams to make up some of the money they have lost without having to play every day during the week.
The following is a prediction of each team’s final records…if there is a season.
Last season: 29-46-7 (65 points)
Prediction: 20-35-5 (45 points)
Columbus is undergoing a major overhaul and is likely to remain the NHL’s worst team this season.
On the bright side, the Blue Jackets will probably lose fewer games this season than they have in recent history.
Last season: 34-37-11 (79 points)
Prediction: 22-34-4 (48 points)
This isn’t a honeymoon season like it is in Winnipeg, but Islanders fans can breathe easy knowing that the team will remain in New York.
The 2012-13 campaign will be spent measuring how good the prospects are and whether or not they have the personnel to turn things around in the near future.
Last season: 32-40-10 (74 points)
Prediction: 23-30-7 (53 points)
Everyone knows that Edmonton has the offensive talent needed to become a winner in the future. As long as Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov and Co. remain in an Oilers uniform, this team will score plenty of goals in the future.
The problem the Oilers need to address is defense. No matter how many goals they can score, their fun-sized blueliners will be eaten alive by opposing forwards until change is made.
Last season: 31-35-16 (78 points)
Prediction: 22-27-12 (56 points)
Montreal is usually a tough team to play every night—it is focused on defense and often drags games into overtime.
The problem is that the Canadiens don’t have enough star power to change their fortunes around next season.
Last season: 37-29-16 (90 points)
Prediction: 24-26-10 (58 points)
A shortened season is going to hurt Calgary.
Many of the Flames' key players are aging, and while they are playing fewer games total, they will be playing more games in a shorter time span.
This will increase the likelihood of injury and fatigue for their older players.
Last season: 37-35-10 (84 points)
Prediction: 27-27-6 (60 points)
The shortened season also hampers the Jets.
Winnipeg is already located far away from its Southeast Division rivals, and now it will have that crazy travel schedule compacted into a 60-game season.
Last season: 35-37-10 (80 points)
Prediction: 27-26-7 (61 points)
Fortunately for those suffering fans in Toronto, their baseball team should be unbelievable next year.
Maybe Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes should lace up the skates and give hockey a try.
Last season: 42-27-14 (97 points)
Prediction: 27-25-8 (62 points)
The Coyotes benefited from playing in a weak division last season.
Now that the Kings have things figured out, the Sharks still have talent, Dallas has some veterans and even the Ducks have a decent amount of talent, Phoenix is primed to take a big fall in the standings this season.
Last season: 48-26-8 (104 points)
Prediction: 29-28-4 (62 points)
The lockout may hurt Nashville disproportionately in comparison to other teams.
After years of making the postseason, and a breakout season two years ago, the Predators lost one of their best players and will be relying heavily on unproven talent following a lockout.
That’s a recipe for disaster.
Last season: 38-26-18 (94 points)
Prediction: 29-27-5 (63 points)
A division title and playoff appearance is huge for arguably one of the NHL’s most mismanaged franchises.
The future is as bright as the South Florida sun in, well, Sunrise, but hockey fans in the Miami area may be in for a bummer this season. Last year’s team benefited from a plethora of overtime losses and an abysmal division.
This year’s team probably won’t be so lucky.
Last season: 34-36-12 (80 points)
Prediction: 32-24-4 (68 points)
As per usual, Anaheim has a lot of high-end talent, but a question mark about its depth.
This team will win games, that’s for sure, but it remains to be seen whether they have what it takes from the guys whose names don’t sell sweaters.
Last season: 41-31-10 (92 points)
Prediction: 32-24-4 (68 points)
Ottawa snuck into the playoffs with a team that was supposed to be in rebuilding mode.
Don’t expect it to happen again.
The Senators are a team in transition that needs this year to figure out how they are going to fill out their roster down the road.
Last season: 41-35-6 (88 points)
Prediction: 33-23-3 (69 points)
Colorado is on the brink of becoming a solid NHL team.
The question for them, really, is how its youth will handle a compact schedule. A slow start or a dry spell will keep any team out of the postseason this year.
The Avalanche are likely the first team out in the West.
Last season: 48-28-6 (102 points)
Prediction: 32-22-6 (70 points)
The Devils are the first team out in the East.
The combination of playing in the East’s toughest division and losing a marquee player means last year’s Eastern Conference Champion will be golfing come playoff time.
Last season: 33-33-16 (82 points)
Prediction: 33-22-5 (71 points)
At first glance, it seems unlikely that the Hurricanes would match their win total from last year in a shortened season.
A longer study, however, will reveal that this team kept a talented young core in tact while adding superstar Jordan Staal.
The result is that Carolina will be the first team in.
Last season: 35-36-11 (81 points)
Prediction: 33-22-5 (71 points)
By adding two of the league’s premier players, the Wild have gone from an afterthought to a playoff team.
No, they’re not likely to win a Cup right away, but given time, they should reap the rewards of three things: the Zach Parise/Ryan Suter deal, the Sharks line and a plush farm system.
Last season: 42-35-5 (89 points)
Prediction: 33-21-6 (72 points)
Last year’s kinda-buyers, kinda-sellers should be in full-fledged buying mode at the end of the season this year.
This is the year Dallas breaks through and makes the playoffs.
Last year: 38-36-8 (84 points)
Prediction: 34-21-5 (73 points)
Tampa Bay addressed their two biggest needs, goaltender and defenseman, in the offseason and should be able to win with an extremely talented team.
Last season: 48-28-6 (102 points)
Prediction: 34-20-6 (74 points)
The Red Wings should still make the playoffs this season, but management must decide how to turn this aging team into the powerhouse they once were.
Last season: 39-32-11 (89 points)
Prediction: 34-19-7 (75 points)
After new management came in and spent money, Buffalo is expected to be a playoff team—it was one of the last teams to be eliminated in the East this season.
The Sabres added a little grit in the offseason and is talented enough to make it to the postseason next year.
Last year: 43-29-10 (96 points)
Prediction: 35-20-5 (75 points)
After two-straight Western Conference Finals appearances, the Sharks had a rude awakening last season when Phoenix took the Pacific Division crown from them, and Los Angeles made them the only Californian team without a championship.
San Jose remains a playoff team, but may now be—for the first time in a while—a bit of an underdog in their own division.
Last season: 42-32-8 (92 points)
Prediction: 36-19-5 (77 points)
Another team that has, for years, dominated the regular season, but could never win their first Stanley Cup, the Capitals now have significantly more competition in their division and concerns about superstar Alex Ovechkin.
Unlike San Jose, however, Washington remains the best team in their division and is probably a couple of steps closer to breaking through their playoff ceiling.
Last season: 45-26-11 (101 points)
Prediction: 37-17-6 (80 points)
The Chicago Blackhawks appears to have battled back from the cap casualties they suffered after their Stanley Cup victory and should be considered a contender next season.
St. Louis may be the best team in the division, but come playoff time, the Hawks have experience on their side.
Last season: 47-26-9 (103 points)
Prediction: 38-18-4 (80 points)
After seeing a couple of their star players win it all with Los Angeles last season, the Flyers have retooled, reloaded and are ready to wreak havoc on the league.
The Broad Street Bullies have a couple of new faces, and time will tell if it's enough to put them in the Finals for the first time since losing to Chicago in 2010.
Last season: 51-25-6 (108 points)
Prediction: 39-19-2 (80 points)
Although the Penguins were beaten over the head by the Flyers in the playoffs last season, this club has established star power and better roster stability.
These two teams will be neck-and-neck again next season, and everyone wants to see another rematch in the playoffs.
Last season: 40-27-15 (95 points)
Prediction: 40-15-5 (85 points)
Like Carolina, the Kings are likely to match their win total from last year in a shortened season.
After barely slipping into the playoffs, Los Angeles went on an unbelievable playoff run and now has a bona fide chance to defend its title.
Last season: 51-22-9 (111 points)
Prediction: 41-15-4 (86 points)
Last year’s President’s Trophy winners are likely to see a decrease in points not only because it is a shortened season, but because Minnesota and Colorado are improving.
Vancouver is slowly losing grip over its division.
Last season: 49-29-4 (102 points)
Prediction: 43-15-2 (88 points)
Boston didn’t endure the slump Chicago did after its championship and are likely to be in the running for the Cup again this season.
Last year: 49-22-11 (109 points)
Prediction: 45-12-3 (93 points)
After years of underachieving, these Baby Blues appear to be growing up before our eyes.
Last season: 51-24-7 (109 points)
Prediction: 46-10-4 (96 points)
In the shortened season, no team will reach 100 points. But New York, the best regular-season team in the East last season, will be this year’s President’s Trophy winners.