Who's ready for another great season of hockey? I am!
Last season, the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup in an exciting seven-game upset over the Vancouver Canucks.
Despite another season just starting, it's never too early to make some predictions on who will compete for the ultimate prize.
There are many great teams out there, and it should be really exciting to see who may end up on top this year.
Hockey is one of the most exciting sports, and out of 30 teams, 16 of them make the playoffs—eight from each conference.
In the first eight slides, I'll go over my predictions for who I think the eight teams will be to compete in the Eastern Conference. In the last eight, I'll pick my choices for the Western.
Just a note, I won't be going in order with the seeds, so don't be surprised if you see a team like the Canucks in the 15th slide.
Making the playoffs should be an easy task for the Buffalo Sabres. They have a top goaltender in Ryan Miller, who can easily snatch a few games.
The Sabres were able to sign defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, who is a talented player and will be the perfect complement to Tyler Myers.
They have some great forwards like Thomas Vanek, Drew Stafford, Jason Pominville and Derek Roy.
The Sabres should easily make it within the top five.
The Washington Capitals may be better than ever this season. After coming up short the last few postseasons, the Capitals signed goaltender Tomas Voukoun.
Voukoun is a great goaltender who excelled with the Florida Panthers. If he could post solid numbers with them, he should have no problem with the Caps.
The Caps should easily make the playoffs, led by their captain Alexander Ovechkin, who is still looking to adapt to the new Capitals system.
Last season, the Caps introduced a more defensive element to their game than all offense.
Ovie struggled last season, "only" scoring 32 goals, his career lowest. If he can get used to the new system, he should easily be able to lead the Caps to the postseason.
With Sidney Crosby possibly out to start the season, it will be up to Evgeni Malkin to lead the Penguins to open up the season.
The Penguins still have a lot of talent, with Malkin, James Neal, Tyler Kennedy and Jordan Staal, all able to contribute offensively.
They have an All-Star-caliber netminder in Marc-Andre Fleury.
The team did quite well without Crosby last season, when he missed half the year. The team still made the playoffs, and I can't see this year being any different.
The team that won it all.
When you win the Stanley Cup, you had better be able to return to the playoffs the following year. The Bruins still have many dynamic players.
They can get offensive production from Nathan Horton, Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Brad Marchand. Not to mention, Tyler Seguin will be entering his sophomore season, and is poised to have a very big year.
Tim Thomas will probably once again be one of the top netminders in the league, and stole so many games for the Bruins.
They have a defensive stalwart with a monster of a shot in Zdeno Chara.
Yeah, making the playoffs will be a snap for this team.
Call this a gutsy, dark horse, stupid, weird pick if you want—but I seriously believe the Islanders have a chance to get into the playoffs this season.
John Tavares, who the Isles drafted first overall a few seasons ago, is about to enter his third year in the NHL. He's getting better and better, and should score about 35 goals this year.
They have other young talent that is improving, such as Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Blake Comeau. Matt Moulson and Michael Grabner should score about 30-35 goals apiece.
The Islanders also solved two of their biggest problems: defense and goaltending.
Well, defense kind of solved itself, as Mark Streit is back from his injury and is looking good so far.
The Isles have three solid goaltenders in Rick DiPietro, Al Montoya and Evgeni Nabokov. If the team stays consistent this year, they have a shot at the eighth seed.
The Flyers have a new look this season. They released Jeff Carter and Michael Richards, so they lost a big chunk of their offense.
However, they acquired veteran forward Jaromir Jagr, who's actually been looking pretty good so far.
They really bolstered their goaltending, one of their weaker areas the past few seasons. They signed Ilya Bryzgalov from the Phoenix Coyotes, who is very stellar in-net.
The team still has guys like Danny Briere, James Van Riemsdyk, Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell.
The Flyers should once again see the light of the playoffs.
After losing in the Eastern Conference Finals last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning will look to return to the postseason.
They won't have much trouble with that. They have stars like Steven Stamkos, Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis.
Dwyane Roloson, the goaltender, seems to get better and better with age. He should be able to help backstop the Lightning into the playoffs again, probably in one of the top five seeds.
After just making it into the playoffs last season over a thriller with the Hurricanes, the New York Rangers should be able to make it into the playoffs fairly easier this season.
They signed playmaker Brad Richards, who will be great with sniper Marian Gaborik. Gaborik will bounce back with the help of Richards, and the Rangers will have offensive production this season.
Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan are young forward talents as well.
Henrik Lundqvist is one of the best goalies in the league. His talent almost alone, has gotten the Rangers into the postseason a few times. With more offensive players, he'll have a load taken off his shoulders.
The Rangers shouldn't have too much of a problem making the playoffs.
The San Jose Sharks are almost a given in the playoffs. With talented forwards like Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, Ryane Clowe and Martin Havlat on offense, they won't miss a beat without Heatley and Setoguchi.
They acquired Brent Burns, who is a huge addition for the team and a great complement for Dan Boyle.
Once Antti Niemi gets healthy, the Sharks will be in great shape and are one of the best bets to win the Stanley Cup this season.
The team that lost the Stanley Cup to the Bruins. Once again, even the team that makes it to the cup should be able to make the playoffs.
The Canucks are a highly talented team with the likes of Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows.
Roberto Luongo should have another stellar regular season, which is what counts as far as this article goes, at least.
The Canucks should be able to easily win their division.
The Kings are a great team. If all goes well, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Michael Richards, Dustin Penner and Justin Williams will all contribute offensively.
They have great defensemen in Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty.
They also have two great goaltenders in Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier.
The Kings will most likely be in the top five seeds and finish second in the Pacific Division behind the Sharks.
Another pretty obvious team. Expect to see the Wings in the postseason after two second-round defeats in a row by the Sharks.
The Wings have too much talent to miss the playoffs—some names include Henrik Zetterburg, Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen.
Nicklas Lidstrom will be back for another season, and is always a reliable defenseman.
Jimmy Howard is also pretty solid between the pipes. Shouldn't be too hard for the Wings to get into playoffs.
The Blackhawks are my favorite to win the Central Division, personally.
They have explosive offensive talent in players like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa.
They have a stonewall defense with players like Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson holding down the fort.
Their young goalie, Corey Crawford, is getting better and better. The Blackhawks should easily make the postseason, and do better than the eighth seed like last year.
Pekka Rinne is a very good goaltender who can carry the team on his back.
The Predators don't have any offensive superstars. They have some pretty good forwards though, like Mike Fisher, David Legwand and Patric Hornqvist.
The Preds also have some great defensemen, like Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.
Point is, they can win, and they should be able to get into the playoffs again.
After missing the playoffs recently, I think the Flames have what it takes to get back in.
They have a great goaltender in Miikka Kiprusoff, who's established himself as one of the tops in the league.
On offense, Jarome Iginla is still a 40-goal scorer. And they also have Rene Bourque, Olli Jokinen, Alex Tanguay and Curtis Glencross.
The Flames should be able to get into the playoffs as one of the lower seeds this season.
Last season, the Rocket Richard Trophy was won by a Duck. Corey Perry scored 50 goals for the team, and should turn in another solid season this year.
The Ducks also have Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf.
Jonas Hiller is a solid netminder, and the Ducks are a young, talented team.
Veteran Teemu Selanne is returning for another season, and "The Finnish Flash" has still got it.
The Ducks should be able to make the playoffs again this season, but may be challenged by teams like the Colorado Avalanche and the Colombus Blue Jackets.