The Atlanta Thrashers take the 11 seed. 4 teams remain. Who will finish 12th?
The Japers' Rink Community Predicted Eastern Conference Standings
1) Washington Capitals (54-15-13, 121 points, 1st in the Southeast, 1st in the Eastern Conference in 2009-10)
Current Capgeek.com cap payroll: $54,931,796. Cap space remaining (including bonuses) $5,318,204.
2) Pittsburgh Penguins: 47-28-7, 101 points, 2nd in the Atlantic, 4th in the Eastern Conference in 2009-2010
Current Capgeek.com cap payroll: $57,717,312. Cap space (including bonuses) $1,682,688
3) Boston Bruins: (39-30-13, 91 points, 3rd in the Northeast, 6th in the Eastern Conference in 2009-10)
Current Capgeek.com cap payroll: .$63,108,332. Cap space (after bonuses): $-3,087,771
4) New Jersey Devils: (48-27-7, 103 points, 1st in the Atlantic, 2nd in the Eastern Conference in 2009-2010)
Current Capgeek.com cap payroll: $63,108,332. Cap space (including bonuses) $-2,968,332
5) Philadelphia Flyers: 41-35-6, 88 points, 3rd in Atlantic, 7th in the Eastern Conference in 2009-2010
Current Capgeek.com cap payroll: $59,459,763. Cap space (including bonuses) $877,737.
6) Buffalo Sabres: (45-27-10, 100 points, 1st in the Northeast, 3rd in the Eastern Conference)
Current Capgeek.com cap payroll: $55,517,024. Cap space (including bonuses) $4,822,976
7) Tampa Bay Lightning: 34-36-12, 80 points, fourth in the Southeast, 12th in the Eastern Conference.
Current Capgeek.com cap payroll: $53,034,416. Cap space (including bonuses) $10,820,584.
8) Ottawa Senators : 44-32-6, 94 points, 2nd in Northeast, 5th in the Eastern Conference in 2009-2010.
Current Capgeek.com cap payroll: $59,220,833. Cap space (including bonuses) $604,167.
9) New York Rangers: 38-33-11, 87 points, 4th in the Atlantic, 9th in the Eastern Conference in 2009-2010.
Current Capgeek.com cap payroll: $57,751,667. Cap space (including bonuses) $3,260,833.
10) Montreal Canadiens: (39-33-10, 88 points, 4th in the Northeast, 8th in the Eastern Conference)
Current Capgeek.com cap payroll: $59,046,727. Cap space (including bonuses) $778,273.11) Atlanta Thrashers (35-34-13, 83 points, 2nd in the Southeast, 10th in the Eastern Conference in 2009-10).
Current CapGeek.com cap payroll: $46,466,666, cap space (including bonuses) $17,388,334.
Carolina Hurricanes: (35-37-10, 80 points, 3rd in the Southeast, 11th in the Eastern Conference)
Current Capgeek.com cap payroll: $49,945,833. Cap space (including bonuses) $10,469,167
The Hurricanes have missed the playoffs for two consecutive years. Can they reverse the trend this year? Despite their overall lack of success in the standings, the Hurricanes have given the Caps a pretty hard time as both teams finished last season 3-1-2, after Carolina finished 3-2-1 against the Caps in 08-09. With the loss of Ray Whitney, the Hurricanes appear to be trending slightly dowards offensively as their only significant off season addition up front is the recently signed Patrick O'Sullivan.
Among the returning forwards, Jussi Jokinen easily had his most productive season of his career leading the team with 30 goals, and was especially deadly on the power play with 10 goals and 14 assists with the man advantage.Eric Staal struggled but managed to average exactly a point per game thanks to a particulatly strong finish with 9 points combined in the Hurricane's 80th and 81st games of the season before a goose egg and -4 in the season finale against Boston.
Defensively the Hurricanes remain pretty solid with the return of Anton Babchuck from the KHL. Joe Corvo also hit the reset button, after a forgettable stint in Washington. While power play quarterback Joni Pitkanen notched 19 points on the power play, he'll look to rebound from an unimpressive -11. Tim Gleason should continue to be a steady stay at home presence in front of goalie Cam Ward, who must remain healthy for the Hurricanes to have a shot at the playoffs.
Florida Panthers: (32-37-13, 77 points, 5th in the Southeast, 14th in the Eastern Conference)
Current Capgeek.com cap payroll: $51,155,000. Salary cap space (including bonuses) $9,520,000.
New GM Dale Tallon takes over after serving as the Blackhawks GM from June 2005-July 2009. He inherits a roster that is surprisingly over $50 million considering the lack of "big name" players beyond goalie Tomas Voukoun. That salary figure starts to make sense when you realize a player like Rotislav Olesz signed a 6 year, $18.5 million contract after the 07-08 season, his reward for a putting up 26 points in 56 games as a 22 year old. Olesz followed that "breakout" season with 9 points in 37 games in 08-09 and 29 points in 78 games in 09-10. He's on the books through 2013-2014.
Still, the Panthers have some decent (albeit not All Star level) young talent on the roster. David Booth is only 25,Stephen Weiss is 27, and skilled blue liner Dmitry Kulikov averaged over 17 minutes a game as a 19 year old. They also have the aforementioned Vokoun in net, who gets a lot of well deserved love around these parts, and is sure to be a hot commodity around the trading deadline if the Panthers are out of the running for a playoff spot.
It will be interesting to see what happens if the Panthers are hovering around the playoff bubble at the end of February. Will the front office roll the dice as they did with Jay Bouwmester and shy away from a trade in pursuit of a playoff spot, or will they look to the future and trade their stud goalie for picks and prospects?
New York Islanders: (34-37-11, 79 points, 5th in Atlantic, 13th in the Eastern Conference in 2009-2010)
Current Capgeek.com cap payroll: $44,776,650. Cap space (including bonuses) $19,078,350.
Key Additions: Mark Eaton (UFA, Pittsburgh), Andy Hilbert (UFA, Minnesota), Milan Jurcina (UFA, Washington), Zenon Konopka (UFA, Tampa Bay), Nino Niederreiter (Draft), P.A. Parenteau (UFA, New York Rangers), James Wisniewski (UFA, Anaheim)
The John Tavares era began last season on Long Island. Tavares started the season strong with 19 points in his first 21 games, finished strong with 18 points in his final 13 games, but had a forgettable middle portion of the season. Overall, his 54 points in 82 games was respectable but not spectacular for a rookie, though his strong finish to the season should give Islander fans hope that he'll continue to progress this season.
Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey and the awesomely named Nino Niederreiter give the Isles some talented young forwards to go with Doug Weight, who is retuning for a 19th NHL season. There is also Matt Moulson who came from nowhere to score 30 goals last season, and Mark Streit who had a solid all around year on the blue line, averaging nearly 26 minutes a game, adding 49 points and an even plus/minus on a team that got outscored by 42 goals last season.
If Rick DiPietro can stay healthy, and if the Islander's youth movement continues to progress, can this team surprise the NHL? Even if he is healthy, will DiPietro be anything close to the player he once was, after playing in only 13 games over the past 2 seasons?
Toronto Maple Leafs: 30-38-14, 74 points, 5th in the Northeast, 15th in the Eastern Conference in 2009-2010.
Current Capgeek.com cap payroll: $64,129,166. Cap space (including bonuses) $-274,166.
GM Brian Burke continues to rebuild the Maple Leafs, who appear to be going "thin and green" at center. Versteeg is a quality second line player, and Armstrong will add some character (and flying elbows) to the lineup. Rookie Nazem Kadri could wind up as the second or third line center this year, and his attempt to jump into the NHL will be the story to watch in Toronto this training camp.
As you would expect from a Burke built team, the Leafs are solid defensively, but need newly minted captain Dion Phaneuf to improve and re-gain the form that made him one of the most talked about young d-men in the game.Luke Schenn is another young and promising blue liner looking to take a big step forward. Schenn won't turn 21 until November, and saw improvement from his rookie season but was still plagued by the inconsistencies that you'd expect from a young defenseman. The subject of nearly constant trade rumors, Tomas Kaberle is still a Leaf and will continue to rack up points on the power play. 2009 free agent acquisition Mike Komisarek only managed to play in 34 games last season, and had a rough start pverall to his career in Toronto, but may benefit from having Phaneuf in town to take some of the pressure off.
In goal, J.S. Giguere and Jonas Gustavsson will be splitting time between the pipes. Giguere has been up and down for the past couple seasons, but is expected to begin the season as the starting goalie. Gustavsson arrived from Sweeden with a lot of hype, but had a season derailed by a heart ailment. He appears to be in good shape heading into camp