10. Philadelphia Flyers
They got a tandem of Neuwirth and Elliott which has the potential to be great, they have offensive threats everywhere with Giroux, Simmonds, Voracek, and their newest member, Nolan Patrick. Defensively, they are strong, stable and can hopefully cover up some of their goaltending flaws. (Unless Elliott can play the way he’s supposed to play)
9. Dallas Stars
Their offseason moves have totally turned the tides of the Western Conference. Their powerplay will be ridiculous (imagine a line of Radulov, Benn, and Seguin, holy crap), Ben Bishop could be their saviour in net, and their defence got a major upgrade with Marc Methot. As long as their goaltending situation is finally resolved, they can become a major playoff contender.
8. Ottawa Senators
They have a strong defensive structure (some people call it boring but I call it genius), Craig Andersen will be playing for a full season, and they have the best defenseman in the world in Erik Karlsson. They made it to the Eastern Conference Finals with almost the exact same roster and they are perfectly capable of making it there again. A lot of people underestimate this team and I’m sure that they will use that to their advantage.
7. Columbus Blue Jackets
Sergei Bobrovsky is a world-class goalie, Zach Werenski will be one year wiser, and they got Panarin to help their already potent offence. After exiting the playoffs last season way too early, they will be out for blood.
6. Edmonton Oilers
McDavid, Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins, Klefbom, Larsson, and Talbot. Enough said.
5. New Jersey Devils
Armed with one of the best goalies in the world in Cory Schneider, the 2017 first overall pick Nico Hischier, and a strong nucleus of centres (Hischier, Zajac, Zacha, and Boyle), this team is poised to make a quick turnaround.
4. Nashville Predators
After their tremendous success in the playoffs, I expect nothing less than a Stanley Cup Final appearance for this team. They have the best defensive corps in the league, a possibly undefeatable starting goalie in Pekka Rinne, and a terrifying one-two centre punch with Johansen and Bonino. This team will be a nightmare to play against.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins
They are back-to-back Stanley Cup champions and they are going into the season with virtually the exact same roster. Crosby and Malkin are a sensational one-two punch, Matt Murray is one of the best goalies in the league, and hopefully, they will have a healthier roster for the playoffs. If they won the Stanley Cup with that injury-depleted roster, imagine how unstoppable they will be at full health.
2. Anaheim Ducks
They have a stellar defensive corps with Fowler, Lindholm, and Vatanen, they have three terrifying offensive lines anchored by an elite centre group of Getzlaf, Kesler, Vermette, and Wagner. Add that with their newest acquisition, veteran goalie Ryan Miller, this team seems to have no weaknesses.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning
This team has absolutely no weakness and they are my pick for the winner of the East (if they can stay healthy). All four lines are filled with star power and they have one of the best defensemen in the league in Victor Hedman. In net, they have Vasilevskiy and Budaj which is an affordable and formidable duo.
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