August 28, 2009
1. Pittsburgh Penguins - Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Marc-Andre Fleury and Lord Stanley.
2. Detroit Red Wings - Off-season losses should only open space for talented young players to step up.
3. Anaheim Ducks - Team toughness plus solid defense and goaltending keeps Anaheim in top 5.
4. Chicago Blackhawks - Jonathon Toews and Patrick Kane are one of the best tandems in the league.
5. Philadelphia Flyers - Philly has a real shot at the cup if Ray Emery and the defense can step up.
6. Boston Bruins - Explosive offense, solid defense, good goaltending. Inexperience is the only thing holding them back.
7. Vancouver Canucks - Sedin twins under contract and young star Cody Hodgson on the way has Vancouver looking good.
8. Washington Capitals - Could outscore most teams, but lack of defense drops them a few spots. Semyon Varlamov hasn't played a full NHL season, will he be able to last?
9. San Jose Sharks - Evgeni Nabokov is in the last year of his contract and the Sharks lack heart. They have the talent to carry them through the regular season, but what happens in the playoffs?
10. Carolina Hurricanes - The Canes have added some much needed toughness to their lineup since getting swept by the Penguins in the Eastern Conference Final.
11. Calgary Flames - Adding Jay Bouwmeester will help bolster the powerplay. Miika Kiprusoff needs to improve his numbers from last season.
12. New Jersey Devils - As long as the Devils have Martin Brodeur they will be a tough team to beat. Zack Parise and Patrick Elias lead an overall lackluster offense.
13. New York Rangers - Marian Gaborik should bring some offensive productivity, if he can stay healthy. Henrik Lundqvist is a top 10 goalie in the league.
14. Edmonton Oilers - They have a young core of talented players, if they can step up their game from last season they have a legitimate shot at the playoffs.
15. St. Louis Blues - Just like Edmonton they have a ridiculous amount of young talent. This team will go as far as it's goaltending. Getting back Eric Johnson will help as well.
16. Buffalo Sabres - They have a good first line, but after that their isn't much in the way of scoring. The defense remains solid as with the goaltending.
17. Columbus Blue Jackets - Steve Mason needs to play like he did in his outstanding rookie season. Getting back Derrick Brassard will help the offense. He had 25 points in 31 games last season.
18. Montreal Canadiens - Many new faces will take a while to fully gel, if at all. Carey Price has to play better than he did last season for Montreal to have any hope of making the playoffs.
19. Florida Panthers - May not seem like much offensivley, but they could surprise. Off-season acquisition of Scott Clemmensen was a good move in case Tomas Vokoun regresses.
20. Minnesota Wild - Martin Havlat is slightly less talented than Marian Gaborik, and has just as likely a chance at getting hurt. His cap hit won't hurt nearly as bad, however.
21. Los Angeles Kings - Dustin Brown has a good mix of grit and skill, he can learn a lot from off-season acquisition Ryan Smyth. Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson are two young future all-star defenseman, and Rob Scuderi will help bolster the penalty kill.
22. Dallas Stars - If Marty Turco plays like he did last season this team has no chance. Brendan Morrow continues to be one of the toughest players in the league.
23. Ottawa Senators - Still mostly a one-line team on offense. Dany Heatley needs to check his ego. Alexei Kovalev is still a decent player, but not what he used to be. Depending on how Pascal Leclaire recovers from his injury from last season, he could prove to be a top tier goalie.
24. Tampa Bay Lightning - Finally realizing they needed some defense the Lightning drafted Victor Hedman and acquire Mattias Ohlund in free agency. They also picked up Antero Nittymaki to back up Mike Smith.
25. Toronto Maple Leafs - They have made themselves tougher to play against, and Mikhail Grabovski is a rising star. Goaltending is still an issue, however.
26. Nashville Predators - Pekka Rinne is a good young goaltender, but their are few other bright spots on this team.
27. New York Islanders - 1st overall draft choice John Tavares should bring in more people to the Nassau Coliseum, but outside of him and Kyle Okposo this team has many question marks.
28. Colorado Avalanche - Who will start in goal, Peter Budaj or Craig Anderson? Paul Statsny is extremely talented, but who can play with him? Will Matt Duchesne make the team this season?
29. Atlanta Thrashers - Bringing in Nikolai Antropov was nice, but how much will that really help? Bryan Little is a good young player, and Ilya Kovalchuk is one of the best pure snipers in the NHL. But they don't have much depth. Kari Lehtonen needs to step up.
30. Phoenix Coyotes - Who is going to own this team? There are too many problems starting with the front office down to the players on the ice for this team to be in contention. Kyle Turris is a future star and Shane Doan is one of the best captains in the league.
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