Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
1. Detroit Red Wings
2. Chicago Blackhawks
3. St. Louis Blues
4. Nashville Predators
5. Columbus Blue Jackets
The Red Wings lost a few players to retirement, but there are plenty of younger players reaching the top of their game.
The addition of Ian White should be a good replacement for Brian Rafalski.
In what appears to be Nicklas Lidstrom's last season, the defending Norris Trophy winner appears to be determined to win one more Stanley Cup, and he has the team to do it.
Chicago seems to be everyone's big pick this year, but I have trouble seeing why.
Despite backing into the playoffs on the last day of the season but almost pulling off a miracle comeback against Vancouver proved that the Hawks were better than a borderline eight seed.
Unfortunaltely, the losses of Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky, and Troy Brouwer may hurt them this year.
They added more grit with Dan Carcillo, Andrew Brunette, and Jamal Mayers; but they do not appear to have any depth whatsoever at the left wing position.
Corey Crawford cannot be expected to perform as well as last season.
The loss of Campbell and Chris Campoli seems to be a hit to the defense, but Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are better than they showed last season.
Even though they are not as good as everyone thinks, Chicago is still a playoff team.
The Blues could have definitely made the playoffs last season had it not been for the injury bug. They have an extremely talented young core and David Backes may be the most underrated player in the game.
To help out the young talent, St. Louis added veterans Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner, who should both provide a spark to the offense.
The defense is solid and if Jaroslav Halak can have a better year than last year, the Blues should definitely be a playoff team and challenge Chicago for second in the division.
Nashville took some positive steps last season, winning its first playoff series in franchise history.
However, the offense took a few hits in the offseason by losing J.P. Dumont, Marcel Goc, Matthew Lombardi, Steve Sullivan, and playoff hero Joel Ward.
Other than Mike Fisher and Martin Erat, this team does not have a lot going offensively and the fact that star defenseman Shea Weber is unhappy with the team right now makes the situation worse.
However, the spectacular goaltending of Pekka Rinne and one of the league's best coaches in Barry Trotz will be able to help this team make yet another run at the playoffs.
Columbus made some great moves during the offseason by picking up Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski, but they have too much competition within the division to finish any higher.
This is a very good team, but they have a few steps to go and Steve Mason needs to regain his 2009 form before they can make a good run.