’s predictions for the 2007-08 NHL season

These rankings are based on projected regular season points, not playoff seedings. (Hence San Jose at #2 and Anaheim at #3 in the Western Conference, and Pittsburgh at #2 and New Jersey at #3 in the Eastern Conference.)

Western Conference

1. Detroit: Nobody rules the regular season like the Wings
2. San Jose: Seemingly all the right tools, as usual
3. Anaheim: Still strong, but haven’t properly replaced Selanne and Niedermayer
4. Colorado: Got grittier and more skilled, and are ready to rebound
5. Vancouver: Should have added more scoring in the off-season
6. Minnesota:
It’ll come down to Backstrom’s brilliance and Gaborik’s groin
7. Dallas: 2007-08 could be bumpier than a ZZ Top bass line, but they’ll survive
8. St. Louis: Andy Murray will get more out of this group than expected
9. Calgary: This is Keenan ’07, not Keenan ’87
10. Edmonton: The Minus-S Factor (Smyth, Sykora, Smith) hurts
11. Nashville: Young talent still learning, can’t count on vets to lead successfully
12. Chicago: Even in the post-Wirtz era, they’ll struggle for another year
13. Columbus: Fading veterans and inconsistent youth equals tough times
14. Los Angeles: Goaltending could be a horror show
15. Phoenix: From the Great Gretzky to the Grey Gretzky

Eastern Conference

1. Ottawa: Will vie with Detroit for first President’s Trophy since 2003
2. Pittsburgh: Now entering 1981-82 Edmonton Oilers mode
3. New Jersey: Sutter spells shorthanded success, short shifts, and short haircuts
4. NY Rangers: Playoffs should be a given–Drury and Gomez must pay off then
5. Buffalo: Watch for Vanek, Roy and Connolly to step up, and it’s still Miller time
6. Philadelphia: Made free agent splash, but who knows if goalies will deliver
7. Tampa Bay: Big Three scorers will get them into the post-season, but that’s it
8. Washington: Nylander, Kozlov, and Poti will boost regular season results
9. Carolina: Has the ’06 formula gone stale?
10. Atlanta: Playoff flop was scary, and what says they’re better this year?
11. Montreal: Saku Koivu has a right to be concerned
12. Toronto: Questionable management will extend the post-season drought
13. Florida: Couldn’t make playoffs with Luongo, and won’t with Vokoun either
14. Boston: Unfortunately, they haven’t cloned Chara
15. NY Islanders: Not just because Alexei Yashin is no longer leading the way

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