The Boston Bruins are still making the summer rounds with Lord Stanley's Cup.
While the Bruins have been busy passing the trophy, racking up outrageous bar tabs and playing "Where's Waldo" with a mysterious bottle of Amstel Light, the NHL's other 29 teams have been working on plans to dethrone the current champions.
After a flurry of trade activity and a frenzy of free agent signings, many teams have vastly different looks than the ones that they skated out last spring.
Change certainly can be a good thing, but will those changes be enough to humble Boston's snarky marketing team?
J.S. Giguere, Semyon Varlamov, Jan Hejda, Shane O'Brien, Chuck Kobasew
Tomas Fleischmann, Peter Budaj, Brian Elliott, John-Michael Liles
Someone has to be last, right?
The Avs followed up a surprising playoff run with a simply brutal encore last season. Even after a very unpopular trade with St. Louis, Colorado clearly possesses some young offensive talent, but they struggled mightily on defense last year.
The Avalanche were dead last in total goals against, goals allowed per game, and penalty kill percentage.
While Giguere and Varlamov represent an upgrade over the previous tandem, they won't be able to overcome the defensive lapses from the skaters in front of them regularly enough to make much of a difference.
Zenon Konopka, Alex Auld, Mark Parrish, Lee Sweatt, Tim Conboy, Nikita Filatov
Ryan Potulny, Curtis McElhinney, Ryan Shannon, Cody Bass, Derek Smith
Last season's acquisition of Craig Anderson had a profound effect on Ottawa's goaltending situation.
However, Anderson doesn't score goals, and neither do most of the Senators' skaters.
The team ranked next-to-last in goals scored last season.
They didn't add any proven scorers to the roster. Getting a full season from Spezza, Michalek and Alfredsson would help tremendously, but can't be counted on.
The good news is that the Sens have plenty of young offensive talent on the way. They just won't make an impact this season.
Ben Eager, Cam Barker, Eric Belanger, Darcy Hordichuk, Andy Sutton, Ryan Smyth
Sheldon Souray, Jim Vandermeer, Andrew Cogliano, Kurtis Foster, Colin Fraser
The Oilers ranked near the bottom in both goals scored and scored against. It's little wonder that they finished at the bottom again last season.
Inexperience coupled with a plague of injuries to their top players had much to do with their struggles.
With a healthy roster and the addition of veteran leadership, grit and defensive responsibility, the Oilers seem poised to break out of the cellar.
Don't expect miracles from this team, but they should improve significantly.
Tomas Kopecky, Jose Theodore, Scottie Upshall, Ed Jovanovski, Marcel Goc, Tomas Fleischmann, Sean Berganheim, Kris Versteeg, Brian Campbell
Marty Reasoner, Darcy Hordichuk, Tomas Vokoun, Niclas Bergfors, Alexander Sulzer, Rastislav Olesz
No team was more active than the Panthers this offseason.
With approximately one bazillion dollars to spend just to reach the cap floor, Florida spent liberally in free agency and made trades to add both skill and payroll.
Will they be better for it? They have to be, right?
Roster overhauls tend to take time to gel.
While they have made improvements, particularly up front, the Panthers lost an elite netminder in Tomas Vokoun.
Jose Theodore can play, but is he Vokoun? No.
Let's put the playoff hopes on hold for now.
Adam Pardy, Radek Dvorak, Vernon Fiddler, Michael Ryder, Sheldon Souray, Eric Godard
Brad Richards, Jamie Langenbrunner
A late-season collapse and the loss of their best offensive talent have the Stars trending downward.
The team was an early-season surprise, but faded badly down the stretch.
If they are going to compete this season, Dallas will need big contributions from their young forwards, and Michael Ryder to believe he's in the playoffs all season long.
The Stars could make the playoffs this season. They also could be a lottery pick team.
Jeff Carter, James Wisniewski, Curtis Sanford, Aaron Johnson, Radek Martinek, Cody Bass, Vinny Prospal
Mathieu Garon, Scottie Upshall, Jan Hejda, Mike Commodore, Sami Lepisto, Andrew Murray, Nikita Filatov, Jakub Voracek
Carter, Wisniewski, Prospal...the Jackets are going to the playoffs.
Well...maybe not. You do know what division they play in, right?
Carter gives them a proven goal scorer to play alongside Rick Nash, but Columbus had defensive issues last season that needed to be addressed more seriously.
The team made some strides forward. It remains to be seen if they will be any better.
Marty Reasoner, Brian Rolston
Zenon Konopka, Radek Martinek, Trent Hunter, Bruno Gervais, Doug Weight
This team is loaded with potential, but potential doesn't beat Devils, Rangers, Flyers and Penguins.
The Islanders possess a bevy of young stars and prospects that any team would be proud to have.
The team showed flashes of what it is capable of accomplishing last season, but are they ready to win consistently?
Evgeni Nabokov, Nino Niederreiter and Ryan Strome may have answers to the question.
The Isles are on the rise. How far they go is up to them.
Derek Smith, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, Chris Butler
Adam Pardy, Robyn Regehr, Ales Kotalik
Hockey is a young man's game. The Flames are the NHL's equivalent of a retirement home.
Just a few years ago, Calgary had some young players on the rise, and a blueline that boasted an embarrassment of riches.
Currently the Flames have one forward under the age of 27 on the roster, and a defensive corps that would be a source of pride... in the AHL.
With ten guys on the wrong side of the 30's fence, it's little wonder that they ran out of gas last spring.
They added little in the offseason, so they can be expected to continue on a tail spin.
Jason Jaffray, Rick Rypien, Randy Jones, Tanner Glass, Derek Meech, Eric Fehr
Eric Boulton, Anthony Stewart, Radek Dvorak
The Atlanta Thrashers ended last season in limbo. Not just in regard to their ownership mess, but also in that unenviable spot between lottery picks and the playoff teams.
A new city, a new name and new executive team may not have much effect on the standings, however.
These Thrashers/Jets have some talent. Now they have a little more grit too.
Give them a year or two to figure out things in their new home.
Mike Smith, Raffi Torres, Boyd Gordon, Nathan Oystrick, Marc-Antoine Pouliot, Matt Clackson
Ilya Bryzgalov, Ed Jovanovski, Vernon Fiddler, Eric Belanger, Andrew Ebbett, Nolan Yonkman
The League-run Coyotes staved off a move, for another year anyway, but why?
In the throws of an ownership "Twilight Zone," the Coyotes, legit contenders the past two seasons, will only spiral downward.
No team lost more talent than Phoenix, nor will any team fall further in the standings.
They have put on a brave face, and have exceeded expectations under the guidance of coach Dave Tippett, but the wheels are beginning to fall off.
Jonathan Cheechoo, Jason Arnott, Jamie Langenbrunner, Scott Nichol, Kent Huskins, Brett Sterling, Brian Elliott, Evgeny Grachev
Ty Conklin, Cam Janssen, Nathan Oystrick
When the Blues head back to school this fall, they will be required to read their "What I Did This Summer" report.
It will be short.
It should read something like this:
"We got better at taking faceoffs, and look forward to a ride on the Cheechoo train."
St. Louis can score and they can stop goals; they just can't get out from the middle of the pack.
The Blues hope that some veteran leadership and being stronger in the faceoff dot will get them over the hump.
Tim Connolly, Matthew Lombardi, Cody Franson, John-Michael Liles
Tim Brent, J.S. Giguere, Christian Hanson, Brett Lebda
The Leafs hope that Connolly can stay healthy, feed the puck to Phil Kessel's stick, that Lombardi can open up the ice with his blazing speed, that Liles will carve out an offensive presence from the blueline and that James Reimer is the real deal.
That's a lot of hoping.
It's possible, even probable, but not promised.
Perhaps it's plausible that the pertinent pieces fall into place precisely the way the team needs them to perform properly to play in the postseason.
Far be it from me to propagate their potential, but their chances are propitious.
Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi, Darroll Powe
Brent Burns, Jose Theodore, Andrew Brunette, Cam Barker, Chuck Kobasew, Martin Havlat
The Wild tease us every season teetering on the fringe. They can play well in all three zones, but seemingly come up short when the spring arrives.
Dead last in shots, the Wild were determined to add gunners.
Welcome Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi.
Add back a healthy Guillaume Latendresse and you have a certified shooting gallery...even if it did cost them Brent Burns and Havlat.
Minnesota has more of a north/south team, but will they head north or south in the standings?
Niclas Bergfors, Tyler Sloan, Brett Ledba
Marcel Goc, Steve Sullivan, Joel Ward, Aaron Johnson, Shane O'Brien, Matthew Lombardi, Cody Franson
Could this be the year that the magic ends for coach Barry Trotz?
Nashville always seems to get the maximum out of a minimum payroll.
With the losses the team incurred this summer, and with little coming back in the way of replacements, a new, even more daunting challenge is facing Trotz and his staff.
It may just be too much to ask to keep this squad in the playoffs.
Tim Brent, Brian Boucher, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Anthony Stewart, Tomas Kaberle,
Erik Cole, Joe Corvo
Carolina kept most of the team that finished strong last season intact.
Despite the losses of Cole and Corvo, the Canes improved on the blueline when they signed Kaberle, and added depth and versatility to their corps of forwards.
The Canes will compete, but they have a big gap to close between where they are and the top contenders.
Cam Janssen, Eric Boulton
Brian Rolston, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, Colin White
The Devils began last season as the worst team in hockey.
They finished as one of the best.
Couple that team with a fixed-up Zach Parise and a pair of guys who like to "punchasize" your face in Janssen and Boulton, and the Devils are primed to perform for new coach Peter DeBoer.
Peter Budaj, Erik Cole,
Jeff Halpern, Roman Hamrlik, Alex Auld, Benoit Pouliot, Tom Pyatt
Erik Cole adds another threat to Montreal's potent stable of forwards.
The Habs possess the necessary defensive depth to offset the loss of Roman Hamrlik as well.
Yet, les Canadiens lack a certain "je ne sais quoi" to avoid another manqué attempt in the post season.
The team will go only as far as Carey Price can carry them. Mais oui!
Ilya Bryzgalov, Jaromir Jagr, Max Talbot, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, Jakub Voracek, Andreas Lilja
Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Sean O'Donnell, Brian Boucher, Ville Leino, Dan Carcillo, Kris Versteeg, Darroll Powe, Matt Clackson
No one knows the immediate effect that the seismic shift that took place in the Philadelphia locker room will have on the team's on-ice performance.
Yet, massive overhauls generally mean things will get worse before they get better.
Thus the low ranking for a team that was playing in the Cup Final just two seasons ago.
We are all about to find out whether the massive changes will push the Flyers over the top, or drop them like a stone.
The faithful all hope this stint in Pennsylvania doesn't end in Jaromir Jagr "dying alive."
Christian Ehrhoff, Ville Leino, Robyn Regehr, Ales Kotalik
Tim Connolly, Mark Parrish, Tim Conboy, Patrick Lalime, Rob Niedermayer, Chris Butler
A new owner with deep pockets...what could go wrong?
The Sabres want to win, and win now, so they set about creating a formidable blueline corps by adding a banger and a scorer, then mixing in a playoff hero to boot.
The Bruins made all the right moves last year.
Is this season Miller time?
Mike Rupp, Brad Richards
Matt Gilroy, Vinny Prospal, Evgeny Grachev, Chris Drury, Alexander Frolov
The Rangers accomplished what they set out to do this summer:
Lure in Mike Rupp!
With Rupp, they re-signed a slew of their own RFAs, and some guy named Brad Richards.
With Rupp and company now in the mix, the Blueshirts have to be regarded as a legit contender.
Steve Montador, Jamal Mayers, Sean O'Donnell, Andrew Brunette, Dan Carcillo, Sami Lepisto, Rastislav Olesz
Marty Turco, Brian Campbell, Troy Brouwer, Chris Campoli
The Blackhawks are clearly content with the skill players they had in place when their season ended last spring. Adding Brunette, Lepisto and Olesz only gives them more options.
The team also spent the summer getting much, much nastier.
Montador, Mayers and Carcillo will make the dirty areas filthy, and the crease an unwelcome place for opponents.
Now if only they could work on a plan to move the Red Wings out of the Conference. Hmmm.
J.F. Jacques, Matt Smaby, Andrew Cogliano, Kurtis Foster, Mark Bell
Andreas Lilja, Kyle Chipchura, Andy Sutton, Todd Marchant, Ray Emery
We know that Corey Perry has at least two friends.
Some guy named Hart, and Rocket Richard. We know he will remain loyal to them, but will they return the favor?
Perry and the Ducks were on fire to end the regular season last spring, despite being without the services of their top goaltender.
Getting Jonas Hiller back will be a shot in the arm. The roster saw little change, so there should be little change expected in where this team ranks...near the very top.
Simon Gagne, Mike Richards, Colin Fraser
Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Michal Handzus, Ryan Smyth
You know the Kings were awfully good last season. If only they had a Mike Richards and Simon Gagne...they would be downright scary.
Oh well, LA fans can dream, I suppose.
The Kings have all the elements in place to be successful in the regular season, and now, an extended postseason run.
Richards and Gagne will provide this team a calming effect in pressure situations that just may get them to the Finals.
Benoit Pouliot, Joe Corvo
Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder, Tomas Kaberle
The Bruins are the defending Cup Champions. Doesn't that automatically make them number one?
A power ranking is really a measure of the best teams "on paper."
Boston wasn't the best team entering the playoffs, but they earned their way to the Cup.
A couple of new faces and departures leaves them in the same position.
Could they win the Cup again? Certainly.
But, a glance at their roster says they are about the 7th best team out there.
Mathieu Garon, Tom Pyatt, Ryan Shannon, Bruno Gervais
Chris Durno, Matt Smaby, Randy Jones, Simon Gagne, Sean Bergenheim, Mike Smith, Marc-Antoine Pouliot
Out are a bunch of guys that seem important now. In are a bunch of guys who don't.
The best teams don't have to chase down big ticket free agents. They make big ticket free agents.
The Lightning are loaded. They showed the hockey world that they have the skill, grit and coaching needed to contend for the Cup.
The right blend of youth and experience will make Tampa a formidable foe for years to come. They are as good as anyone out there.
Mike Commodore, Ian White, Ty Conklin, Chris Conner
Kris Draper, Chris Osgood. Mike Modano, Brian Rafalski, Ruslan Salei
Lookout, the Red Wings are still the Red Wings, AND they have cap space.
With a slew of retirements, Detroit will brave the storm, stay near the top, then pounce on a finishing piece at the deadline, making the other 29 teams groan when it happens.
They are a model franchise and will stay that way no matter who is or isn't wearing their sweater.
Jim Vandermeer, Brent Burns, Michal Handzus, Andrew Murray, Martin Havlat
Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi, Niclas Wallin, Scott Nichol
The Sharks are no longer regular season ringers.
Deep playoff runs have proven they have the guts to do damage in the postseason, but have fallen short of a Finals appearance.
The team added new elements with Burns and Havlat, but they came with a hefty price.
They have a new look, and will likely still swim with the elite, but will it be enough?
Jeremy Roenick says no.
Marco Sturm, Andrew Ebbett, Alexander Sulzer
Jeff Tambellini, Raffi Torres, Tanner Glass, Rick Rypien, Lee Sweatt, Christian Ehrhoff
Last season's Final appearance brought both pride and pain to Vancouver.
With a President's Trophy already in hand, the Canucks were a wrecking ball that blasted through the Western Conference.
However, in the Final they were bashed by the Bruins, and then had to watch as the citizenry bashed their city.
Free agency exits will rob the team of depth and character, but the Canucks still have the horses to stay near the top.
Jeff Halpern, Joel Ward, Roman Hamrlik, Ryan Potulny, Tomas Vokoun, Troy Brouwer
Boyd Gordon, Semyon Varlamov, Marco Sturm, Jason Arnott, Tyler Sloan, Eric Fehr, Scott Hannan, Matt Bradley
Mix in some rugged types and an all-world goaltender with a team that finished as one of the best in the league and what do you get?
Well...a team that is one of the best in the league, I suppose.
For better or worse, the Caps reinvented themselves last season. Once an offensive juggernaut, Washington became a defensive-minded squad.
A top regular season record was the reward, but postseason glory eluded them again.
The character guys they added are awash with the ones they lost, but plugging in Vokoun in net could be huge.
Steve Sullivan, Jason Williams
Eric Godard, Mike Rupp, Max Talbot, Chris Conner
Despite a slew of injuries that saw them play with as many as 12 regulars out of the lineup at once, Pittsburgh finished the regular season with the league's elite.
The Penguins return for the new season with one of the best teams in the NHL, and add Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to the mix.
No team in hockey can boast additions to their lineup on par with Crosby and Malkin...and Steve Sullivan is a nice complement as well.
When fully healthy, Pittsburgh is the team to beat.