Do you notice a pattern going on in the NHL in the past years? Let me give you a little hint...In the 02-03 Season, the six worst teams in the league were Carolina, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Florida, Buffalo, & Nashville. Carolina went on to win the Stanley Cup in 2006, Pittsburgh won the cup in 2009, Buffalo made it to the conference finals in 2007, & Nashville have seen their fair share of post-season action.
In the 03-04 Season, the five worst teams (now this is a good one) were: Pittsburgh, Washington, Chicago, Columbus, and Phoenix. Three of those five teams are the best in the league today, the other two have seen playoff action since that time.
In 05-06, (again, a very good one), the five worst teams were: St.Louis, Pittsburgh, Washington, Chicago, & Boston. Four of those five teams have had a good four years since that time. It keeps on going...
In 06-07, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Washington, & Chicago were the five worst teams. Three years later, all five of those teams made it into the playoffs this season, three of those five teams made it into the playoffs last season.
I reckon, Edmonton, Toronto, Florida, Columbus, & the New York Islanders will probably all be successful in the future...Maybe not all of them will grow at the same pace, but, it will happen. However, those are not my four teams that will be successful in the near future, these are...
New York Islanders
Their saviour John Tavares was on a roll in the near end of this regular season, kind of like Steven Stamkos was last season. The New York Islanders have some good young talent to look forward to, Kyle Okposo, Matt Moulson, Calvin De Hann, Jesse Joensuu, & they still have Rick Dipietro in goal but they better hope that he becomes healthy quick because he can still be a solid goal-tender in this league.
It may take some time for players like Calvin De Hann, Jesse Joensuu, Kirrill Petrov until they produce as a threat but once they do, Long Island will be a scary team to play.
Prediction: New York Islanders will see post-season action in two seasons. John Tavares will score 35+ goals next season.
They really fought the injury bug this season but, the Carolina Hurricanes are still a good team and have the capability to be a real threat in the Eastern Conference. Led by Eric Staal, Jussi Jokinen has been a pleasent surprise achieving 30+ goals this season. Brandon Sutter is one of the best young guns the Canes' have and he had an excellent season with the club in 2009-2010. Keep in mind Zach Boychuk, Drayson Bowman, Jamie McBain.
They have one of the best goalies in the NHL (when healthy) in Cam Ward.
Prediction: Carolina Hurricanes will make the post-season next season.
Love em' or hate em', they have a very bright future. To be fair, I may be a little biased here since I am a Leafs fan, but you can't deny the fact that the Leafs have many good prospects and young talent. Since about 90 percent of their offensive core consists of players with the age of 25 and under, all they have is young guns. Phil Kessel is 22, Tyler Bozak is 24, Nazem Kadri is their top prospect, along with future starting goal-tender Jonas Gustavsson.
If Brian Burke can add some more depth to this club in the off season, then they might just have what it takes to be a playoff contending team next season, and real threat in two, three or four seasons.
Prediction: Toronto Maple Leafs will make the post-season next season. They will have the most band-wagon fans suddenly jumping ship in the league.
They have a few really good prospects. Jordan Eberle, Magnus-Pajavaari Svennson, Linus Omark. Along with the talent of Ales Hemsky, Andrew Cogliano, Sam Gagner, & Gilbert Brule, Edmonton can be a very dangerous team in the near future.
Their main concern will be goal-tending, they need to acquire a goalie in this off-season because neither Devyn Dubnyk, or Jeff Delersaurier are ready to take on the number one role.
Prediction: Edmonton Oilers will make the post-season next season.