With the bulk of free agency over and teams just putting the bits and pieces together, we can finally see a clear picture of who will be competitive in 2011-12 and who will not.
The Western Conference was stacked head to toe last season, with the Blackhawks making the final eighth seed at 97 points. Only five teams in the Eastern Conference had more than 97 points in 2011.
However, the 2011-12 season should be even more competitive in the Western Conference. Free agency did wonders for some teams, and for others it simply brought them back to the field, in a sense.
There are arguably 13 of 15 teams with a shot at making the playoffs in 2012.
Here are my predictions for the final Western Conference standings at the end of the 2011-12 NHL season.