Until the Ilya Kovalchuk situation is figured out, here's what the balance of power looks like in the NHL.
Even though the Flyers traded away Simon Gagne, they added depth to an already solid defense group. With Chris Pronger able to play 20-25 minutes instead of 30-35, he will stay fresher and come off the bench with some more pop. Michael Leighton will continue to shine and prove that his playoff heroics were not a fluke. Look out for the Flyers in the upcoming season.
The Sharks led the Western Conference last season with 113 points. With Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Dan Boyle anchoring the defense, the Sharks have a solid blueline. Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, and Patrick Marleau will give any team's defense a problem. And we can't forget Antero Nittymaki. He finished with 21 wins last season and a .909 save percentage. They should be representing the West in the Cup Final.
The addition of Simon Gagne might have been just what the Bolts needed to make the playoffs in 2010-2011. Now that they have locked up Martin St. Louis long term, the offensive fire power of Vinny Lecavalier, St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, and now Gagne will be very hard to deal with no matter who is on the other side.
The Capitals will always be relevant as long as The Great Eight is suiting up. They were able to re-sign important parts of their 2009-2010 team when they brought back forward Andrew Gordon and defensemen Patrick McNeill, Zach Miskovic, and Jay Beagle. They were also able to grab forward Brian Willsie through free agency. With Semyon Varlamov in goal for the majority of the season, I wouldn't be surprised if the Caps contend for a second consecutive President's Trophy.
For those who read my article on this topic, this isn't a surprise. I believe that with the additions the Pens made this offseason more than make up for the loss of Sergei Gonchar; they added Paul Martin, Zybnek Michalek, and Corey Potter. That will complement Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, and Jordan Staal on the offensive side. Marc Andre Fleury will be his normal solid self in net and the Pens will represent the East in the Cup Final.