The Hockey News is doing their series, so I'll do mine.
1. Washington: again?! Yes. A very strong team in a weaker division than the main competitor.
2. Pittsburgh: might be stronger than Washington, but play in a much tougher division.
3. Boston: I think they got better.
4. New York Rangers: I think their situation at every position is pretty predictable and stable, unlike for the rest of this list.
5. Philadelphia: they got lucky in net last year, but Bryzgalov should be able to keep it up.
6. Tampa Bay: assorted growth and aging.
7. Buffalo: they made some pretty bad moves, but they had money to spend. No move made them worse. So I bump them up from their seventh place finish last season.
8. New Jersey: they were an elite possession team last year...without Parise. Yes, no Lemaire, but even Maclean coached a 51% Fenwick team.
9. Montreal: they got worse, but not too much. Getting Markov back helps a bunch. I don't think Price will be that good again, though.
10. Toronto: they got a bit better, but I don't know about their situation in net.
11. New York Islanders: I think they're really underrated. Mark Streit is a top notch defenseman, and with the continued growth in their lineup I see a good season ahead.
12. Carolina: just outside the playoffs again.
13. Atlanta: they relied heavily on hot percentages and great goaltending last season.
14. Florida: lottery, and no surprise.
15. Ottawa: see Florida.
1. Chicago: they were almost the best team last year and got better.
2. Vancouver: I think Vancouver is in line for some shooting percentage regression.
3. San Jose: either them or LA and I'll play it safe.
4. Los Angeles: I love their depth at center, and with so much youth they're getting better.
5. Detroit: Lidstrom is on the decline and they aren't deep on the blueline and are simultaneously reluctant to promote prospects from their top notch farm system.
6. Nashville: stable for at least one more year, and the other teams don't make me feel awed.
7. St. Louis: Jaroslav Halak will bounce back in a big way, I think.
8. Columbus: why yes, I did just pick the Central to make the playoffs. Jeff Carter is a two way force.
9. Calgary: I think losing Regehr will hurt quite a bit.
10. Phoenix: big downgrade in net. Dave Tippett will have his biggest challenge yet.
11. Anaheim: they were a terrible possession team last year and continue to be very thin among skaters.
12. Edmonton: the seasons Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Magnus Paajarvi had last year make me optimistic they'll be better. After all, Devan Dubnyk looks like a good goalie, and they have firepower up front.
13. Colorado: I've seen this story before, on Long Island. Their goalies likely won't stay healthy.
14. Dallas: I don't know, I not feeling it. They are thinner down the middle and weren't a good possession team to begin with.
15. Minnesota: the last team left. I think their goaltending should be alright but I continue to fail to see the goals.