We are about a month into the season and with looks at teams and their new acquistions, it is time to make a prediction on what the NHL East and West will look like come late April.
Many teams are a trade away from being either great, or put them over the hump. We now know that Mats Sundin is returning to the NHL and whichever team he chooses to land with will easily get that boost. But not considering these possibilities, here is the standing after 2460 NHL Games.
1. Montreal Canadiens
2. New York Rangers
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
4. Pittsburgh Penguins
5. Buffalo Sabres
6. Washington Capitals
7. Boston Bruins
8. New Jersey Devils
Bubble teams: Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers
-NY Rangers, and Montreal Canadiens will be the class of the East throughout the season.
-Tampa Bay with a slow start to the season will pick it up with all that talent and win the South East. Too much talent on the team to be at bottom of the East.
-Pittsburgh is still a strong team but with all the losses during the off-season, they'll finish in the middle of the pack.
-Buffalo will surprise everyone this season, but with Vanek and Miller leading the team, they will be a strong team.
-Washington is a young offensively gifted team that is a year or two away from becoming the beast of the East.
-Boston Bruins is a solid team that will sneak by Philadelphia and make it into the playoffs. A team that gets little respect is actually stronger than most think.
-NJ Devils despite losing Brodeur for an extended period of time, the Devils will prevail and sneak into the playoffs on the grounds of a strong team play and Parise stepping it up
1. San Jose Sharks
2. Detroit Red Wings
3. Calgary Flames
4. Anaheim Ducks
5. Chicago Black Hawks
6. Edmonton Oilers
7. Nashville Predators
8. Vancouver Canucks
Bubble teams: Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild
-San Jose Sharks will have a strong season under a new coach and overtake Detroit as the best from the West.
-Detroit Red Wings will continue to be a dominant team, but Osgood will be their achilles heel during the playoffs.
-Calgary Flames will prevail from the North West and take the division. A strong all around team with questionable coaching will have a decent playoff run into the 2nd round.
-Anaheim Ducks is still a strong team but no longer the threat back when they won the Stanley Cup. They are neither on the rise or decline and will just stay in this position for the next few years.
-Chicago Black Hawks, a young team with Toews and Kane will surprise everyone and finish quite high in the West
-Edmonton Oilers is a fast and young team that can make the playoffs if they can rely on their goaltenders.
-Nashville is a team that continues to make the playoffs despite losing players every year.
-Vancouver Canucks is one of the bubble teams that can be great with couple trades. Offensive scoring is desparately needed but if the lineup stays as is, they will barely make the playoffs or possibly miss the playoff. However, with the addition of a couple offensive players will have them contend for the North West Title.
New York Rangers and the San Jose Sharks will play in the final with Patrick Marleau hoisting the cup over his head.