Every season teams fail. They suffer through ignominy and embarrassment with a year full of the type of play that is best forgotten. Yet all those teams come back from the off-season with the chance to put that behind them and achieve greatness. Or at least competence.
The teams that finish last in a season obviously have the most room for improvement. Throw in the fact that they normally "win" an early entry level draft pick and it doubles the chance for those struggling teams in improve greatly.
Last years' last place teams however look like the may struggle for another year.
The Edmonton Oilers managed a league worst 62 points last year. They were rewarded with the first over-all pick in the NHL entry draft and picked up can't miss scoring winger Taylor Hall. He joins a line-up burdened with unrealized potential and has to help what was an anemic offense. A healthy Ales Hemsky has to improve the scoring in Edmonton.
Yet the Oilers still need a number 1 center, are prepared to let Tom Gilbert and the motionless Ryan Whitney quarterback the power-play while a surly Sheldon Souray languishes in the minors, and have their other big free agent acquisition from 2009 convicted of drunk driving in Arizona.
None of these elements are likely to produce a huge upward surge in the standings for the Oilers.
The Leafs didn't have the virtue of still owning their high draft pick. They still don't have many established NHL forwards to rely on. They need their defense and a goal-tending tandem with issues to carry them. As Tampa Bay found out a few years back when they tried to run with almost no proven defence-men, Toronto will learn you need some established players to succeed. They'll struggle to surpass last years win total.
So what teams are likely to improve the most this hockey season? Here is a list of the six teams I think are going to improve the most in the standings from last season to this.