NHL Power Rankings: Ranking Every Team's Projected Starting Lineup

Jeff Langridge@@JeffLangridge1Correspondent IIIJuly 15, 2011

NHL Power Rankings: Ranking Every Team's Projected Starting Lineup

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    It's only the middle of July but most of the teams in the NHL are already done tweaking their lineup barring a major development. The question is whether their rosters can lead them to the Stanley Cup.

    From big additions to a team like Brad Richards joining the New York Rangers to smaller additions such as Sean O'Donnell joining the Chicago Blackhawks, teams are hoping that the additions they made to their team are enough to push them to the next level. Other teams are hoping their losses don't affect them that much.

    Note that this is a list ranking a team's projected starting lineup, not a team's chances of winning the Stanley Cup. With that, let's start the list.

30. Ottawa Senators

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    Quite simply, the Ottawa Senators are the worst team heading into the 2011-12 season. A team that just started rebuilding last season, it will be a while before Ottawa is relevant in the NHL again. Jason Spezza, in my opinion, will not be part of the rebuild and should be dealt if they can find the right suitor. Daniel Alfredsson is nearing the end of his career, and when he leaves he will be leaving a massive hole in the Sens' lineup that will be hard to replace.

    The only way that Ottawa does not finish last in the league is if Craig Anderson stands on his head and screws up Ottawa's chances of getting the first overall pick.



    First Line: LW- Milan Michalek, C- Jason Spezza, RW- Daniel Alfredsson

    Second Line: LW- Nikita Filatov, C- Peter Regin, RW- Bobby Butler

    Third Line: LW- Nick Foligno, C- Zack Smith, RW- Chris Niel

    Fourth Line: LW- Colin Greening, C- Zenon Kenopka, RW- Erik Condra

    Extra: Jesse Winchester, Mark Parrish



    First Pairing: Sergei Gonchar and Erik Karlsson

    Second Pairing: Filip Kuba and Chris Phillips

    Third Pairing: Brian Lee and Jared Cowen

    Extra: Matt Carkner, David Rundblad



    Starter: Craig Anderson

    Backup: Alex Auld

29. Phoenix Coyotes

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    It's going to be a sad ending in Glendale this year. It seems that every month we get more news that could potentially signal the end of the Coyotes.

    Although the team has made the playoffs for the past two seasons, the Coyotes have lost some vital cogs in their lineup and their biggest addition was Raffi Torres. The loss of Ilya Bryzgalov will be crippling to the Coyotes and bringing an injury-prone replacement in Mike Smith is nowhere near a good enough replacement. With Tomas Vokoun still being available at the time, it would have been wise to throw as much money as they could at him.



    First Line: LW- Ray Whitney, C- Martin Hanzal, RW- Shane Doan

    Second Line: LW- Lauri Korpikoski, C- Kyle Turris, RW- Radim Vrbata

    Third Line: LW- Taylor Pyatt, C- Petteri Nokelainen, RW- Lee Stempniak

    Fourth Line: LW- Raffi Torres, C- Boyd Gordon, RW- Mikkel Boedker

    Extra: Paul Bissonnette, Alex Bolduc, Viktor Tikhonov



    First Pairing: Keith Yandle and Adrian Aucoin

    Second Pairing: Rostislav Klesla and Derek Morris

    Third Pairing: Michal Rozsival and Oliver Ekman-Larsson

    Extra: David Schlemko



    Starter: Mike Smith

    Backup: Jason LaBarbera

28. Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Even with the additions of Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski, the Columbus Blue Jackets still have a lot to prove if they want to make the playoffs for only the second time in team history. In a tough Western Conference, I don't think they've done enough to make the playoffs.

    While Carter finally gives Rick Nash the center he's needed since his career began, the rest of the Blue Jackets' forward corps leaves a lot to be desired. Wisniewski will provide a jolt to the defense, but how much of a jolt is the question that needs to be answered. Another concern is whether Steve Mason can bounce back and play like he did in his rookie season. If he doesn't, there is no proven backup behind him.

    The biggest loser in Columbus is Ryan Johansen. He was primed to become Nash's centerman before the acquisition and will now most likely spend a season in the AHL.



    First Line: LW- Kristian Huselius, C- Jeff Carter, RW- Rick Nash

    Second Line: LW- Matt Calvert, C- Antoine Vermette, RW- RJ Umberger

    Third Line: LW- Derek Dorsett, C- Derick Brassard, RW- Jared Boll

    Fourth Line: LW- Alexandre Giroux, C- Samuel Pahlsson, RW- Tomas Kubalik

    Extra: Ryan Johansen, Derek MacKenzie



    First Pairing: James Wisniewski and Fedor Tyutin

    Second Pairing: Brant Clitsome and Marc Methot

    Third Pairing: Radek Martinek and Kris Russell

    Extra: John Moore



    Starter: Steve Mason

    Backup: Mark Dekanich

27. Colorado Avalanche

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    Two seasons ago, the Colorado Avalanche made a Cinderella run to the playoffs. Last season, the clock hit midnight and the Avalanche fell hard. It wasn't all bad news, because the bad season allowed them to take the most NHL-ready player in the draft in Gabriel Landeskog. He and Matt Duchene should be on the same line for the next decade or so.

    The biggest question in Colorado is the goaltending. If Semyon Varlamov can prove that he can be a No. 1 goalie in the NHL, there won't be a problem. With J.S. Giguere backing him up, they have a veteran goaltender who can step in and start when the need arises. Hopefully, he his fully recovered from all the groin injuries he suffered last season.



    First Line: LW- Gabriel Landeskog, C- Matt Duchene, RW- Milan Hejduk

    Second Line: LW- David Jones, C- Paul Stastny, RW- Peter Mueller

    Third Line: LW- T.J. Galiardi, C- Ryan O'Reilly, RW- Daniel Winnik

    Fourth Line: LW- Cody McLeod, C- Jay McClement, RW- Chuck Kobasew

    Extra: Ryan Stoa, Kevin Porter, Brandon Yip



    First Pairing: Erik Johnson and Jan Hejda

    Second Pairing: Kyle Cumiskey and Ryan Wilson

    Third Pairing: Kyle Quincey and Ryan O'Byrne

    Extra: Matt Hunwick, Jonas Holos, Cameron Gaunce



    Starter: Semyon Varlamov

    Backup: Jean-Sebastien Giguere

26. Winnipeg Jets

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    Fans in Winnipeg hope that the mostly unchanged roster of the Atlanta Thrashers can be more successful now that the Jets have returned. With the only additions being Eric Fehr and fringe players like Tanner Glass and Rick Rypien, last year's players are going to have to prove that they can improve.

    Another season of development will only do good for Evander Kane and Alex Burmistrov, and the better they get the better the Jets will be. Winnipeg has a pretty strong defense led by Dustin Byfuglien and Zach Bogosian, who is in the midst of contract talks but should sign with the team. Their biggest strength is their goaltending with Ondrej Pavelec and Chris Mason giving the Jets a very good tandem.



    First Line: LW- Andrew Ladd, C- Bryan Little, RW- Blake Wheeler

    Second Line: LW- Evander Kane, C- Nik Antropov, RW- Eric Fehr

    Third Line: LW- Patrice Cormier, C- Alex Burmistrov, RW- Chris Thorburn

    Fourth Line: LW- Tanner Glass, C- Jim Slater, RW- Tim Stapleton

    Extra: Rick Rypien, Ben Maxwell



    First Pairing: Dustin Byfuglien and Zach Bogosian

    Second Pairing: Tobias Enstrom and Ron Hainsey

    Third Pairing: Johnny Oduya and Mark Stuart

    Extra: Randy Jones, Brett Festerling, Derek Meech



    Starter: Ondrej Pavelec

    Backup: Chris Mason

25. Dallas Stars

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    The Dallas Stars lost the biggest fish in free agency in Brad Richards and he leaves a big hole in point production. Jamie Benn has some big shoes to fill as the first line center.

    The addition of Michael Ryder will help replace some of Richards' production, but when you lose 77 points of production, there will always be problems. Vernon Fiddler, Radek Dvorak and Jake Dowell will give additional depth on the bottom six forwards. On defense, Dallas is taking a risk that Sheldon Souray can return to the NHL and bring in some secondary scoring from the blue line. Kari Lehtonen mans the net until prospect Jack Campbell is ready to make the jump to the NHL.



    First Line: LW- Brendan Morrow, C- Jamie Benn, RW- Loui Eriksson

    Second Line: LW- Steve Ott, C- Mike Ribiero, RW- Micael Ryder

    Third Line: LW- Toby Petersen, C- Vernon Fiddler, RW- Radek Dvorak

    Fourth Line: LW- Krys Barch, C- Jake Dowell, RW- Adam Burish

    Extra: Tom Wandel, Eric Godard



    First Pairing: Stephane Robidas and Alex Goligoski

    Second Pairing: Trevor Daley and Niklas Grossman

    Third Pairing: Sheldon Souray and Adam Pardy

    Extra: Mark Fistric, Brad Lukowich



    Starter: Kari Lehtonen

    Backup: Andrew Raycroft

24. Florida Panthers

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    The big spenders in free agency, the Florida Panthers, have either vastly improved their roster or have doomed themselves for the next four years. The Panthers have made changes at every position and will be pushing for a playoff spot if the new additions can mesh with the returning players.

    The Panthers have no doubt improved their offense, adding Kris Versteeg, Tomas Fleischmann, Sean Bergenheim and Tomas Kopecky to bring in some secondary scoring. The questionable moves the Panthers made were on defense and in goal. Brian Campbell is a good defenseman who is making way too much money and Ed Jovanovski has too long a contract for how old he is. Jose Theodore is once again a starting goalie and will be looked upon to bring back at least some of the play that led him to a Hart trophy in 2002.



    First Line: LW- David Booth, C- Stephen Weiss, RW- Scottie Upshall

    Second Line: LW- Kris Versteeg, C- Tomas Fleischmann, RW- Jack Skille

    Third Line: LW- Sean Bergenheim, C- Mike Santorelli, RW- Evgeny Dadonov

    Fourth Line: LW- Tomas Kopecky, C- Marcel Goc, RW- Matt Bradley

    Extra: Ryan Carter, Shawn Matthias, Michael Repik, Tim Kennedy



    First Pairing: Brian Campbell and Dmitry Kulikov

    Second Pairing: Ed Jovanovski and Erik Gudbranson

    Third Pairing: Keaton Ellerby and Jason Garrison

    Extra: Mike Weaver, Evan Oberg



    Starter: Jose Theodore

    Backup: Scott Clemmensen

23. St. Louis Blues

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    The St. Louis Blues have been pretty quiet in free agency, only adding veteran forwards Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner, and defenseman Kent Huskins. With the roster they have, they might be able to make a Cinderella run, but as the team, talented as it is, hasn't been able to do well the past few years and the roster is mostly unchanged, they will be hard pressed to do so.

    The Blues might have one of the best top six in the NHL on paper, with David Backes leading the way, but they will need to up their production to move up in the standings. They have a young defense core that should be able to grow together and get better as the years go by. Goaltending should not be a problem with Jaroslav Halak in the net.



    First Line: LW-Andy McDonald, C- David Backes, RW- Chris Stewart

    Second Line: LW- David Perron, C- Patrik Berglund, RW- T.J. Oshie

    Third Line: LW- Alex Steen, C- Jason Arnott, RW- Jamie Langenbrunner

    Fourth Line: LW- Vladimir Sobotka, C- Scott Nichol, RW- Matt D'Agostini

    Extra: B.J. Crombeen, Stefan Della Rovere, Ryan Reaves, T.J. Hensick



    First Pairing: Alex Pietrangelo and Barret Jackman

    Second Pairing: Kevin Shattenkirk and Carlo Coliacovo

    Third Pairing: Roman Polak and Kent Huskins

    Extra: Nikita Nikitin, Ian Cole



    Starter: Jaroslav Halak

    Backup: Ben Bishop

22. Minnesota Wild

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    The most improved team that still will have little chance to make the playoffs, the Minnesota Wild made two trades with the San Jose Sharks that netted them Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi. While those bring in a much needed offensive boost, the rest of the roster is rather nameless, outside of Mikko Koivu.

    The Wild offense should be improved with the new additions; the defense, on paper, is arguably the worst in the league. With the departure of Brent Burns, the defense might be something that Wild fans are cringing about throughout the season. The good news is that they have a good goalie tandem behind them in Nicklas Backstrom and Josh Harding.



    First Line: LW- Dany Heatley, C- Mikko Koivu, RW- Pierre-Marc Bouchard

    Second Line: LW- Guillaume Latendresse, C- Matt Cullen, RW- Devin Setoguchi

    Third Line: LW- Eric Nystrom, C- Kyle Brodziak, RW- Cal Clutterbuck

    Fourth Line: LW- Colton Gilles, C- Darroll Powe, RW- Brad Staubitz

    Extra: Warren Peters, Casey Wellman, Jed Ortmoyer



    First Pairing: Marek Zidlicky and Greg Zanon

    Second Pairing: Nick Schultz and Clayton Stoner

    Third Pairing: Jared Spurgeon and Mike Lundin

    Extra: Marco Scandella, Justin Falk



    Starter:  Niklas Backstrom

    Backup: Josh Harding

21. New York Islanders

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    The New York Islanders are the team that always has the potential to be better but, for whatever reason, never reaches it. Usually, that reason is Rick Dipietro's health, but there have been others. Last season, the Islanders were bolstered by the play of Calder Trophy nominee Michael Grabner. They are now hoping that Nino Niederreiter can step in and provide a similar contribution. With Grabner, Niederreiter being led by John Tavares, the Islanders are growing a pretty nice young core which will only get better when Ryan Strome gets to the NHL.

    On defense, the Islanders are led by Mark Streit. He is followed by veterans Mark Eaton and Milan Jurcina. They then have more youngsters, led by Andrew MacDonald. Calvin De Haan is knocking on the door and will improve the Isle defense even more. Of course, the biggest question mark is the goaltending, with Dipietro hoping that he can kill the injury bug and prove why he was drafted first overall in 2000.



    First Line: LW- Matt Moulson, C- John Tavares, RW- Kyle Okposo

    Second Line: LW- Michael Grabner, C- Frans Nielsens, RW- Nino Niederreiter

    Third Line: LW- Blake Comeau, C- Josh Bailey, RW- PA Parenteau

    Fourth Line: LW- Matt Martin, C- Marty Reasoner, RW- Trent Hunter

    Extra: Jesse Joensuu, Casey Cizikas



    First Pairing: Mark Streit and Andrew MacDonald

    Second Pairing: Travis Hamonic and Mark Eaton

    Third Pairing: Milan Jurcina and Ty Wishart

    Extra: Mike Mottau, Dylan Reese, Calvin De Haan



    Starter: Rick Dipietro

    Backup: Al Montoya

20. Edmonton Oilers

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    If I can only make one guarantee for this season, it is that Edmonton will not be selecting first overall for the third straight year. If they're lucky, they might not even be in the lottery. The Oilers have languished at the bottom of the NHL for two straight years, but now they are poised to at least make a modest improvement in the standings.

    Bringing in faceoff specialist Eric Belanger will help with secondary scoring and gives the Oilers more time to let Ryan Nugent-Hopkins develop. The additions of Ben Eager and Darcy Hordichuk bring in some upgraded toughness to that of the departed Zack Stortini. If Cam Barker can rebound, Edmonton will have made a good addition to their defense. Again, like most teams on the bottom of this list, their problem is goaltending.



    First Line: LW- Taylor Hall, C- Shawn Horcoff, RW- Ales Hemsky

    Second Line: LW- Margnus Paajarvi, C- Sam Gagner, RW- Jordan Eberle

    Third Line: LW- Ryan Smyth, C- Eric Belanger, RW- Ryan Jones

    Fourth Line: LW- Ben Eager, C- Anton Lander, RW- Linus Omark

    Extra: Darcy Hordichuk, Gilbert Brule



    First Pairing: Ryan Whitney and Tom Gilbert

    Second Pairing: Ladislav Smid and Theo Peckham

    Third Pairing: Jeff Petry and Cam Barker

    Extra: Andy Sutton, Taylor Chorney



    Starter: Devan Dubnyk

    Backup: Nikolai Khabibulin

19. Calgary Flames

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    The Calgary Flames have not really changed that much other than the departure of Robyn Regehr. While that loss will hurt the Flames, they should be able to stay right where they are in the standings. They'll still be in a dogfight to make the playoffs, but it will be the offense that decides whether they make it or not.

    If Olli Jokinen can do what Brendan Morrison did for Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay last year, there shouldn't be a problem—if he doesn't, don't be surprised when Calgary sends him an offer if he is still not signed. The defense is now fully in Jay Bouwmeester's hands if he can lead the defense and make the loss of Regehr more bearable.The goaltending is in good hands of Miikka Kiprusoff and Henrik Karlsson.



    First Line: LW- Alex Tanguay, C- Olli Jokinen, RW- Jarome Iginla

    Second Line: LW- Rene Bourque, C- Mikael Backlund, RW- David Moss

    Third Line: LW- Curtis Glencross, C- Daymond Langkow, RW- Tom Kostopoulos

    Fourth Line: LW- Lance Bouma, C- Matt Stajan, RW- Tim Jackman

    Extra: Nik Hagman, Paul Byron, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, Greg Nemisz



    First Pairing: Jay Bouwmeester and Mark Giordano

    Second Pairing: Chris Butler and Cory Sarich

    Third Pairing: Anton Babchuk and Brett Carson

    Extra: Brendan Mikkelson, T.J. Brodie



    Starter: Miikka Kipprusoff

    Backup: Henrik Karlsson

18. Montreal Canadiens

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    The Montreal Canadiens have been overachieving for the past two seasons. Their top six is comprised of smaller forwards who could be worn out during the course of the game by bigger forwards or defensemen. Once they are, they're easy pickings for the other team.

    The addition of Erik Cole gives them the big forward they need and the Canadiens are hoping that he doesn't revert back to the way he was playing in Edmonton. Another good season from Mike Cammalleri is a must. There are now new additions to the defense, with the exception of Alexei Yemelin, who comes over from Russia. They did lose a good defenseman in James Wisniewski though.



    First Line: LW- Michael Cammalleri, C- Tomas Plekanec, RW- Brian Gionta

    Second Line: LW- Max Pacioretty, C- Scott Gomez, RW- Erik Cole

    Third Line: LW- Travis Moen, C- David Desharnais, RW- Andrei Kostitsyn

    Fourth Line: LW- Mathieu Darche, C- Lars Eller, RW- Ryan White

    Extra: Andreas Engqvist, Aaron Palushaj, Mike Blunden



    First Pairing: P.K. Subban and Hal Gill

    Second Pairing: Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges

    Third Pairing: Jaroslav Spacek and Yannick Weber

    Extra: Alexei Yemelin



    Starter: Carey Price

    Backup: Peter Budaj

17. Carolina Hurricanes

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    The Carolina Former-Maple Leafs, oops, I mean the Carolina Hurricanes, barely missed out on the playoffs last season, and will be looking to make it back after missing the past two seasons. The additions they have made should go a long way into helping the Hurricanes reach that goal.

    The offense, once again led by Eric Staal, shouldn't be a problem and barring a sophomore slump by Jeff Skinner, could be one of the best in the league, especially with the addition of Anthony Stewart. Alexei Ponikarovsky was brought in to help with the bottom six and should provide some secondary scoring as well. Tomas Kaberle will provide a significant boost to the defense and gives the Hurricanes two very good puck-moving defensemen, along with Joni Pitkanen. Cam Ward now has a more experienced backup and that should be a good thing.



    First Line: LW- Jussi Jokinen, C- Eric Staal, RW- Tuomu Ruutu

    Second Line: LW- Jeffrey Skinner, C- Brandon Sutter, RW- Anthony Stewart

    Third Line: LW- Alexei Ponikarovsky, C- Zac Dalpe, RW- Chad Larose

    Fourth Line: LW- Zack Boychuk, C- Tim Brent, RW- Patrick Dwyer

    Extra: Jiri Tlusty, Drayson Bowman, Jerome Samson



    First Pairing: Joni Pitkanen and Tim Gleason

    Second Pairing: Tomas Kaberle and Jay Harrison

    Third Pairing: Jamie McBain and Bryan Allen

    Extra: Derek Joslin



    Starter: Cam Ward

    Backup: Brian Boucher

16. Toronto Maple Leafs

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    The Toronto Maple Leafs have a lot of work to do if they want to make it to the playoffs for the first time since the lockout. The Leafs have made improvements in every place they need them and now have a defense that can hang with anyone in the league.

    Tim Connolly wasn't the center Toronto fans were hoping to be brought in, but if he stays healthy he could be the center Phil Kessel needs. If Connolly falls to injury, Matthew Lombardi could take the job if he is in fact ready for training camp. Bringing in John-Michael Liles and Cody Franson to the defense gives them incredible depth on the blueline. Although, I'd expect Mike Komisarek to be dealt before the season begins. The goalies, James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson, are both young and the Leafs will need them to prove they can handle the rigors of the NHL for a full NHL season.



    First Line: LW- Joffrey Lupul, C- Tim Connolly, RW- Phil Kessel

    Second Line: LW- Clarke MacArthur, C- Mikhail Grabovski, RW- Nikolai Kulemin

    Third Line: LW- Nazem Kadri, C- Matthew Lombardi, RW- Colby Armstrong

    Fourth Line: LW- Mike Brown, C- Tyler Bozak, RW- Colton Orr

    Extra: Jay Rosehill, Philippe Dupuis, Darryl Boyce, Matt Frattin



    First Pairing: Dion Phaneuf and Keith Aulie

    Second Pairing: Luke Schenn and John-Michael Liles

    Third Pairing: Cody Franson and Carl Gunnarsson

    Extra: Mike Komisarek, Matt Lashoff



    Starter: James Reimer

    Backup: Jonas Gustavsson

15. New Jersey Devils

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    As the New Jersey Devils enter what is most likely the swan song of Martin Brodeur's career, they will be looking to rebound from when of their worst seasons ever. The Devils enter the 2011-2012 season with pretty much the same lineup they ended the 2010-11 season with, with the exception of Adam Larsson. If Larsson decides to stay in North America, he will give the Devils a face of the defense for the first time since Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer.

    The offense is unchanged from last season with the only question being whether Zach Parise will be signed to a long-term deal before he reaches arbitration. If not, he could be leaving the Devils if they don't give him Ilya Kovalchuk-like money. The Devils defense will be a lot better if Larsson does stay, but if he doesn't they do have the talent to improve upon what they did last year.

    Martin Brodeur will most likely retire after this season and, if not, after the 2012-13 season for sure. The Devils hope one of their young goalie prospects can step in and take over when needed. Johan Hedberg returns to backup and step in to start if Brodeur gets injured.



    First Line: LW- Ilya Kovalchuk, C- Travis Zajac, RW- Dainius Zubrus

    Second Line: LW- Zach Parise, C- Parick Elias, RW- Nick Palmieri

    Third Line: LW- Brian Rolston, C- Jacob Josefson, RW- Mattias Tedenby

    Fourth Line: LW- Rod Pelley, C- David Steckel, RW- David Clarkson

    Extra: Tom Stestito, Vladimir Zharkov



    First Pairing: Andy Greene and Henrik Tallinder

    Second Pairing: Adam Larsson and Anton Volchenkov

    Third Pairing: Colin White and Mark Fayne

    Extra: Bryce Salvador



    Starter: Martin Brodeur

    Backup: Johan Hedberg

14. New York Rangers

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    The winners of the Brad Richards sweepstakes, the New York Rangers are hoping that he brings them back to the playoffs and gets them past the first round. The question in New York is with Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan and Brian Boyle all heading to arbitration, how much wiggle room will they have with the salary cap. The Rangers have around $12 million in cap room right now, and Dubinsky, Callahan and Boyle will eat up a significant chunk of it.

    The Rangers have one of the best first lines in the NHL but, with Richards coming off a concussion and Marian Gaborik's constant injury problems, they could be quickly back to where they started. The defense is only going to get better with the oldest d-man being Dan Girardi at 27. The addition of Tim Erixon brings in another young defense to the mix and my bet is he will be a full-time NHLer this season. The goaltending is once again in the capable hands of Henrik Lundqvist.



    First Line: LW- Brandon Dubinsky, C- Brad Richards, RW- Marian Gaborik

    Second Line: LW- Wojtek Wolski, C- Derek Stepan, RW- Ryan Callahan

    Third Line: LW- Ruslan Fedotenko, C- Brian Boyle, RW- Brandon Prust

    Fourth Line: LW- Michael Rupp, C- Artem Anisimov, RW- Mats Zucarello

    Extra: Sean Avery, Erik Christensen, John Mitchell



    First Pairing: Marc Staal and Dan Girardi

    Second Pairing: Ryan McDonagh and Michael Sauer

    Third Pairing: Tim Erixon and Michael Del Zotto

    Extra: Wade Redden



    Starter: Henrik Lundqvist

    Backup: Martin Biron

13. Nashville Predators

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    When I look at the Nashville Predators roster, only four names stand out. Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Mike Fisher and Pekka Rinne are the faces of this franchise. If they underachieve, the Preds underachieve. Nashville's roster is one that you look at and you ask: how can they be so good? Barry Trotz has a lot to do with it but, then again, a coach can only do so much.

    The blue-collar offense that the Predators have needs to overachieve in order for them to make any noise in the tough Central division. The defense is led by Weber and Suter. The departure of Cody Franson will hurt but it gives Ryan Ellis the chance to finally crack the lineup. The Preds will be looking for another great season from Rinne, whose stellar play last year lead him to a Vezina nomination.



    First Line: LW- Sergei Kostitsyn, C- David Legwand, RW- Martin Erat

    Second Line: LW- Nick Spaling, C- Mike Fisher, RW- Patric Hornqvist

    Third Line: LW- Colin Wilson, C- Cal O'Reilly, RW- Matt Halischuk

    Fourth Line: LW- Niclas Bergfors, C- Jerred Smithson, RW- Jordin Tootoo

    Extra: Blake Geoffrion, Kyle Wilson, Zack Stortini



    First Pairing: Shea Weber and Ryan Suter

    Second Pairing: Kevin Klein and Jonathon Blum

    Third Pairing: Francis Bouillon and Ryan Ellis

    Extra: Brett Lebda



    Starter: Pekka Rinne

    Backup: Anders Lindback

12. Anaheim Ducks

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    Without a doubt, the Anaheim Ducks have the best first line in the NHL and they will once again count on that line for most of their offensive production, especially if Teemu Selanne elects to retire. If Selanne does in fact retire, he will leave a hole on the second line and it will be hard to replace the 80 points he tallied last season.

    Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan are the backbone of the Ducks and contributed 245 points to the Ducks last season. They will need to do that again. Their defense is strong and they have Cam Fowler, who will only get better as he gains more experience. If Jonas Hiller fully recovers from the vertigo that he suffered from last season, then the Ducks are set in goal.



    First Line: LW- Bobby Ryan, C- Ryan Getzlaf, RW- Corey Perry

    Second Line: LW- Brandon McMillan, C- Saku Koivu, RW- Teemu Selanne

    Third Line: LW- Jason Blake, C- Andrew Cogliano, RW- Dan Sexton

    Fourth Line:  LW- Matt Beleskey, C- Nick Bonino, RW- George Parros

    Extra: Jean-Francois Jaques, Kyle Palmieri, Peter Holland



    First Pairing: Lubomir Visnovsky and Toni Lydman

    Second Pairing: Francois Beauchemin and Cam Fowler

    Third Pairing: Lucas Sbisa and Kurtis Foster

    Extra: Sheldon Brookbank



    Starter: Jonas Hiller

    Backup: Dan Ellis

11. Tampa Bay Lightning

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    The Tampa Bay Lightning have one of the best forward corps in the league. The question is whether they will be together come the start of the season. With Steven Stamkos bound to get lots of money for a long term contract, the Lightning are going to have to shed some salary in order to get under their self-imposed cap.

    While Ryan Malone will be the player who will most likely be dealt, the Lightning will still have plenty of fire power up front with Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis leading the way. They can count on decent production from the blueline but they won't do anything special. The Lightning will once again count on the ageless wonder Dwayne Roloson in goal.



    First Line: LW-Ryan Malone, C- Steven Stamkos, RW- Martin St. Louis

    Second Line: LW- Nate Thompson, C- Vincent Lecavalier, RW- Teddy Purcell

    Third Line: LW- Ryan Shannon, C- Dominic Moore, RW- Steve Downie

    Fourth Line: LW- Dana Tyrell, C- Blair Jones, RW- Adam Hall

    Extra: Carter Ashton, Mattias Ritola, Tom Pyatt



    First Pairing: Eric Brewer and Victor Hedman

    Second Pairing: Mattias Ohlund and Brett Clark

    Third Pairing: Pavel Kubina and Marc-Andre Bergeron

    Extra: Matt Gilroy, Bruno Gervais



    Starter: Dwayne Roloson

    Backup: Mathieu Garon

10. Los Angeles Kings

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    With the acquisition of Mike Richards and Simon Gagne, the Los Angeles Kings are now poised to make a run to the top of the Western Conference. The Kings might now have the best top six in the league on paper and, if they all play up to their potential, the Kings will more than likely have home-ice advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs.

    Richards and Gagne join Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Dustin Penner and Justin Williams to form what could be a potent force on offense. The defense, led by young stars Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson, was one of the strengths of the team last year and that shouldn't change. The two Jonathans, Quick and Bernier, could end up being the best tandem this year.



    First Line: LW- Simon Gagne, C- Anze Kopitar, RW- Dustin Brown

    Second Line: LW- Dustin Penner, C- Mike Richards, RW- Justin Williams

    Third Line: LW- Kyle Clifford, C- Jarret Stoll, RW- Kevin Westgarth

    Fourth Line: LW- Brad Richardson, C- Trevor Lewis, RW- Brandon Kozun

    Extra: Scott Parse, Colin Faser, Oscar Moller



    First Pairing: Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson

    Second Pairing: Willie Mitchell and Rob Scuderi

    Third Pairing: Matt Greene and Alec Martinez

    Extra: Davis Drewiske



    Starter: Jonathan Quick

    Backup: Jonathan Bernier

9. Chicago Blackhawks

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    The Chicago Blackhawks are nowhere near the team they were when they won the Stanley Cup only two seasons ago. It just shows that if you want to have a sustained run at the top, you have to spend wisely and actually realize there is a salary cap. Dale Tallon didn't and that's why his office is in Florida now.

    The Blackhawks added a lot of veteran talent to their roster in free agency. They brought in forwards Andrew Brunette and Jamal Mayers and defensemen Steve Montador and Sean O'Donnell. They also brought in some toughness by adding Daniel Carcillo. If these players mesh with the remaining Cup winners, they might find their way back. In goal, Chicago hopes Corey Crawford continues his stellar play from last year as they have another youngster beside him in Alexander Salak.



    First Line: LW- Patrick Sharp, C- Jonathan Toews, RW- Patrick Kane

    Second Line: LW- Andrew Brunette, C- David Bolland, RW- Marian Hossa

    Third Line: LW- Bryan Bickell, C- Jamal Mayers, RW- Michael Frolik

    Fourth Line: LW- Viktor Stalberg, C- Marcus Kruger, RW- Dan Carcillo

    Extra: Rostislav Olesz, John Scott



    First Pairing: Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook

    Second Pairing: Niklas Hjalmarsson and Nick Leddy

    Third Pairing: Steve Montador and Sean O'Donnell

    Extra: Chris Campoli



    Starter: Corey Crawford

    Backup: Alexander Salak

8. Philadelphia Flyers

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    Oh, how quickly things can change. The Philadelphia Flyers have completely remade their roster and need them to play to their potential so they don't fall in the standings. In dealing away both Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, they lost their No. 1 and No. 2 centermen and now Claude Giroux and Daniel Briere are the ones who will have to step their games.

    The Flyers' slew of new additions could be enough that they might have replaced at least half of the production that Carter and Richards provided. Jakub Voracek and Jaromir Jagr are going to be relied upon to play top-six minutes and produce as such. For Voracek, it won't be a problem, but it is yet to be seen if Jagr still has what it takes to play in the NHL. The defense is pretty much unchanged from last season and in goal is where they made their biggest improvement.

    Ilya Bryzgalov gives the Flyers what they have been looking for years, a bonafide No. 1 goalie who will be a huge improvement to the stop gaps who have been manning the Flyers' net for the last 10 years.



    First Line: LW- James Van Riemsdyk, C- Claude Giroux, RW- Jakub Voracek

    Second Line: LW- Scott Hartnell, C- Daniel Briere, RW- Jaromir Jagr

    Third Line: LW- Andreas Nodl, C- Brayden Schenn, RW- Wayne Simmonds

    Fourth Line: LW- Jody Shelley, C- Blair Betts, RW- Maxime Talbot

    Extra: Ian Laperierre



    First Pairing: Chris Pronger and Matt Carle

    Second Pairing: Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn

    Third Pairing: Andrej Meszaros and Andreas Lilja

    Extra: Oskar Bartulis



    Starter: Ilya Bryzgalov

    Backup: Sergei Brobovsky

7. Washington Capitals

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    The Washington Capitals offseason was once again longer than they expected it to be and they spent the offseason trying to fix the problem. The Capitals always seem to choke in the playoffs and they are hoping that their new additions can help them in that area.

    Bringing in Joel Ward, Jeff Halpern and Troy Brouwer should go a long way into doing that. They have all made significant contributions to their respective team's playoff runs in the last few years. The same thing goes for new defenseman Roman Hamrlik, although his contributions will never be called significant anymore. In net, they brought in Tomas Vokoun at a bargain basement price and he will be the biggest step in making it farther into the playoffs.



    First Line: LW-Alex Ovechkin, C- Nickas Backstrom, RW- Mike Knuble

    Second Line: LW- Troy Brouwer, C- Brooks Laich, RW- Alex Semin

    Third Line: LW- Jason Chimera, C- Marcus Johansson, RW- Joel Ward

    Fourth Line: LW- Matt Hendricks, C- Mathieu Perrault, RW- Jeff Halpern

    Extra: D.J. King, Chris Bourque



    First Pairing: John Carlson and Mike Green

    Second Pairing: Karl Alzner and Dennis Wideman

    Third Pairing: Roman Hamrlik and Jeff Schultz

    Extra: Tom Poti, John Erksine



    Starter: Tomas Vokoun

    Backup: Michal Neuvirth

6. Vancouver Canucks

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    The Vancouver Canucks did pretty much nothing in free agency, only adding players who might slide into the lineup if there is an injury. Although, even with the departure of Christian Ehrhoff, they still have one of the best rosters in the league.

    The Sedins will once again be counted again to decide which one of them will lead the scoring again this year. If one of them does and if all others can play just a little better than they did last year, there is no reason that Vancouver can't find its way back to the Stanley Cup finals. The biggest question will once again be whether Roberto Luongo can win in a big game situation in the NHL.



    First Line: LW- Daniel Sedin, C- Henrik Sedin, RW- Alex Burrows

    Second Line: LW- Mason Raymond, C- Ryan Kesler, RW- Jannik Hansen

    Third Line: LW- Christopher Higgins, C- Manny Malholtra, RW- Mikael Samuelsson

    Fourth Line: LW- Marco Sturm, C- Maxim Lapierre, RW- Victor Oreskovich

    Extra: Cody Hodgson, Andrew Ebbett



    First Pairing: Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis

    Second Pairing: Alex Edler and Sami Salo

    Third Pairing: Aaron Rome and Chris Tanev

    Extra: Andrew Alberts, Keith Ballard



    Starter: Roberto Luongo

    Backup: Cory Schneider

5. San Jose Sharks

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    The San Jose Sharks theory this offseason was addition by subtraction. By ridding themselves of Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi, they have traded away two inconsistent scorers. They made only one notable move in free agency, signing Jim Vandemeer away from Edmonton.

    Martin Havlat will now replace Heatley on the first line and hopefully he can have the same chemistry as Heatley did with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau in the 2009-10 season. Brent Burns is Dan Boyle's eventual replacement and will be learning from the man himself for the next few seasons at least.



    First Line: LW- Patrick Marleau, C- Joe Thornton, RW- Martin Havlat

    Second Line: LW- Ryan Clowe, C- Joe Pavelski, RW- Torrey Mitchell

    Third Line: LW- Jamie McGinn, C- Logan Couture, RW- Benn Ferriero

    Fourth Line: LW- Frazer McLaren, C- Michal Handzus, RW- Tommy Wingels

    Extra: John McCarthy



    First Pairing: Dan Boyle and Brent Burns

    Second Pairing: Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Jim Vandemeer

    Third Pairing: Douglas Murray and Jason Demers

    Extra: Justin Braun



    Starter: Antti Niemi

    Backup: Antero Niittymaki

4. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    The biggest question in Pittsburgh will be whether Sidney Crosby will be ready for training camp. If he is, the Penguins will once again be the force they were in 2008-09. If not, they will be once again in a fight for the division as they were this year.

    The Penguins might have found one of the wingers for Crosby when they traded for James Neal last season, but Evgeni Malkin is still without a true offensive winger. They did bring Steve Sullivan into the fold but he's going to be a third-line for sure.



    First Line: LW- James Neal, C- Sidney Crosby, RW- Tyler Kennedy

    Second Line: LW- Chris Kunitz ,C- Evgeni Malkin, RW- Pascal Dupuis

    Third Line: LW- Steve Sullivan, C- Jordan Staal, RW- Aaron Asham

    Fourth Line: LW- Matt Cooke, C- Craig Adams, RW- Nick Johnson

    Extra: Eric Tangradi, Mark Letestu, Dustin Jeffrey



    First Pairing: Paul Martin and Kris Letang

    Second Pairing: Zbynek Michalek and Brooks Orpik

    Third Pairing: Matt Niskanen and Ben Lovejoy

    Extra: Deryk Engelland



    Starter: Marc-Andre Fleury

    Backup: Brent Johnson

3. Buffalo Sabres

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    The Buffalo Sabres have, without a doubt, the most improved roster in the NHL. Owner Terry Pegula sure has put his fingerprints all over this team and the Sabres will be poised to challenge for the Stanley Cup as soon as this season.

    While Ville Leino is a very nice pickup on the offensive side of things, the biggest improvement they made was on defense. Christian Ehrhoff and Robyn Regehr will make the Sabres defense even more dangerous. With Ryan Miller in goal, Buffalo has made a huge improvement from a team that has struggled to make the playoffs to a team that will be challenging for the division title.



    First Line: LW- Thomas Vanek, C- Derek Roy, RW- Ville Leino

    Second Line: LW- Nathan Gerbe, C- Brad Boyes, RW- Jason Pominville

    Third Line: LW- Tyler Ennis, C- Paul Gaustad, RW- Drew Stafford

    Fourth Line: LW- Cody McCormick, C- Jochen Hecht, RW- Patrick Kaleta

    Extra: Zack Kassian, Luke Adam, Ales Kotalik 



    First Pairing: Christian Ehrhoff and Tyler Myers

    Second Pairing: Robyn Regehr and Andrej Sekera

    Third Pairing: Jordan Leopold and Marc-Andre Gragnani

    Extra: Mike Weber, Shaone Morrisonn



    Starter: Ryan Miller

    Backup: Jhonas Enroth

2. Boston Bruins

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    The defending Stanley Cup Champions didn't really need to do anything this offseason and that's exactly what they did, with the exception of trading for Joe Corvo. With the departures of Michael Ryder and Tomas Kaberle, they "lost" two players who have the potential to underachieve with the worst of them.

    If all things go right for Boston, they should have no problem challenging for the Stanley Cup once again.



    First Line: LW- Milan Lucic, C- Patrice Bergeron, RW- Nathan Horton

    Second Line: LW- Brad Marchand, C- David Krejci, RW- Rich Peverly

    Third Line: LW- Daniel Paille, C- Chris Kelly, RW- Tyler Seguin

    Fourth Line: LW- Benoit Pouliot, C- Gregory Campbell, RW- Shawn Thornton

    Extra: Marc Savard



    First Pairing: Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg

    Second Pairing: Johnny Boychuk and Joe Corvo

    Third Pairing: Andrew Ference and Adam McQuaid

    Extra: Steven Kampfer, Matt Bartkowski



    Starter: Tim Thomas

    Backup: Tuuka Rask

1. Detroit Red Wings

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    This might seem like a cop out but, honestly, until Nik Lidstrom retires, the Detroit Red Wings are going to have the best roster in the league. The Red Wings are such a complete team that they can go on a run whenever they want to.

    For a team that most of us thought would go out and make a big splash in free agency and only walked away with Ian White and Mike Commodore, might be better off for it. The offense didn't need to be touched so they didn't. The defense has a few new additions and the goaltending is in good hands. Detroit has been a top contender in the NHL for years and it won't be stopping soon.



    First Line: LW- Johan Franzen, C- Pavel Datsyuk, RW- Dan Cleary

    Second Line: LW- Justin Abdelkader, C- Henrik Zetterberg, RW- Todd Bertuzzi

    Third Line: LW- Jiri Hudler, C- Valtteri Filppula, RW- Tomas Holmstrom

    Fourth Line: LW- Drew Miller, C- Darren Helm, RW- Patrick Eaves

    Extra: Cory Emmerton, Tomas Tatar



    First Pairing: Nik Lidstrom and Nik Kronwall

    Second Pairing: Brad Stuart and Ian White

    Third Pairing: Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl

    Extra: Brendan Smith, Mike Commodore



    Starter: Jimmy Howard

    Backup: Joey MacDonald