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