Every NHL season features winners and losers. Teams for which everything went right, and teams for which everything went wrong. The gap between these two situations is wide, with the former typically making it to the playoffs while the latter usually holds down a spot in the draft lottery.
For instance, the Chicago Blackhawks were caught in a storm of "best-case scenarios" last season.
They came out of the gate flying and never cooled off. Patrick Kane discovered his focus, Corey Crawford and Ray Emery emerged as an outstanding goaltending duo, and young players such as Brandon Saad were able to make an impact.
It's no accident that Chicago celebrated a Stanley Cup victory while, say, the Florida Panthers were left to pick up the pieces after a disappointing regular season.
Florida was racked with injuries from the get-go, and never found the depth needed to make any kind of noise. A team that could have been in the running for a division banner ended up selecting third overall at the draft, left to wonder what might have been had the cards been dealt a little differently.
That's how we're approaching the best-case scenario for each team: the sequence of events that would give every team the best season possible. Some teams need more outlandish things to happen to make the playoffs than others, but we're going to try to keep things realistic here.