by PuckStopsHere on 06/15/09 at 03:32 AM ET
The season has barely completed and we do not know what rosters will look like next year, but nevertheless I thought it would be fun to take a look at next season. Obviously there is uncertainty in any pronouncements that can be made at this point. A big trade or a big free agent signing might render these assessments moot.
I have grouped the teams into six different groups of five teams. There are the likely contenders, possible contenders, probable playoff teams, possible playoff teams, likely also rans and the bottomfeeders.
Boston Bruins - Won the East in the regular season, but had a playoff run stopped by a hot Carolina team
Detroit Red Wings - Lost in the finals, but could have own if healthier
Pittsburgh Penguins - Defending cup champions
San Jose Sharks - As long as they don’t change too much from last year
Washington Capitals - If Varlamov solves goaltending problems
Anaheim Ducks - As long as Bob Murray doesn’t start a rebuild
Calgary Flames - An injured defence stopped their 2009 playoff run
Chicago Blackhawks - If a couple young stars take big steps forward this might be a low ranking
New Jersey Devils - Does Brodeur still have a full season without injury in him?
Vancouver Canucks - Assuming the Sedins return or they have something significant for their departure
Probable Playoff Teams
Carolina Hurricanes - A bit low for a semi-finalist, but it was a well timed hot streak.
Columbus Blue Jackets - As long as Steve Mason doesn’t hit a sophomore jinx
Montreal Canadiens - Carey Price needs to bounce back
New York Rangers - Salary cap woes, but some talent
Philadelphia Flyers - Will KHL goaltending stop an otherwise playoff team?
Possible Playoff Teams
Buffalo Sabres - Miller’s late season injury kept them out in 2009
Dallas Stars - The best non-playoff team in 2009, but had lots go wrong
Edmonton Oilers - I like Pat Quinn as coach. Goalie could be a problem. Roloson is 40.
Nashville Predators - Happy to not be the most likely to fold/move team in the NHL
St Louis Blues - Young team overachieved to make playoffs in 2009
Likely Also Rans
Colorado Avalanche - Not as bad as 2009 showed. Paul Stastny could be a star.
Florida Panthers - Was keeping Bouwmeester worth it?
Los Angeles Kings - Still rebuilding. Will they finally produce an above average goalie?
Minnesota Wild - Should drop without Lemaire coaching
Ottawa Senators - What can Heatley trade bring back?
Atlanta Thrashers - Kovalchuk is a UFA in 2010. Will he be traded?
New York Islanders - It will take more than John Tavares to save them
Phoenix Coyotes - Could move up if ownership is solved in time for them to make some good moves
Tampa Bay Lightning - Can’t trust these owners to make any good moves
Toronto Maple Leafs - I like Burke, but it will take more than a summer to fix it
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