NHL Eastern Conference predicted order of finish

  • Updated: January 17, 2013 - 9:18 PM

EAST RANKINGS

(predicted order of finish)

1. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

2011-12: 51-25-6 (108 points)

With stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and now Brandon Sutter, it all comes down to erratic Marc-Andre Fleury in the cage.

2. BOSTON BRUINS

2011-12: 49-29-4 (102 points)

Super deep up front and on the back end, the big question is whether Tuukka Rask and former Wild goalie Anton Khudobin can cement the net.

3. CAROLINA HURRICANES

2011-12: 33-33-16 (82 points)

After a draft blockbuster last June, the Staal Brothers, Eric and Jordan, are united and joined by enigmatic Alexander Semin. This team could be stacked with Jeff Skinner, Justin Faulk and Cam Ward.

4. N.Y. RANGERS

2011-12: 51-24-7 (109 points)

Arguably the best goaltender in the world, Henrik Lundqvist, anchoring a team with a top line that now includes Rick Nash and Marian Gaborik.

5. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

2011-12: 47-26-9 (103 points)

Claude Giroux, a bona fide superstar, will now be leading a deep roster with the only worry being what's going on in Ilya Bryzgalov's "universe."

6. OTTAWA SENATORS

2011-12: 41-31-10 (92 points)

Good mix of star power (Jason Spezza) and young up-and-comers (Erik Karlsson, Jakob Silfverberg and Mika Zibanejad).

7. FLORIDA PANTHERS

2011-12: 38-26-18 (94 points)

Shockingly won the division last year and now add potential young star Jonathan Huberdeau to the lineup that includes Stephen Weiss, Tomas Fleischmann and Brian Campbell

8. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

2011-12: 38-36-8 (84 points)

Team continues to reinvent goaltending with Anders Lindback trade, but Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis will get the Bolts back in the playoffs.

9. WASHINGTON CAPITALS

2011-12: 42-32-8 (92 points)

Mike Ribeiro was a good acquisition, but it will be up to Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom to carry the Capitals in a deepening division.

10. NEW JERSEY DEVILS

2011-12: 48-28-6 (102 points)

Yes, they shocked everyone by going to last year's Stanley Cup Finals, but Martin Brodeur is 40 and Zach Parise is in Minnesota.

11. BUFFALO SABRES

2011-12: 39-32-11 (89 points)

Nearly made a late push into the playoffs last year, but instigator Steve Ott was the Sabres' only big offseason addition.

12. N.Y. ISLANDERS

2011-12: 34-37-11 (79 points)

At some point John Tavares, Frans Nielsen, Michael Grabner and Matt Moulson have to lead team out of the doldrums, right? Right?

13. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

2011-12: 35-37-10 (80 points)

Until new GM Dave Nonis finds a goaltender, whether it be Roberto Luongo or someone else, this team is going nowhere.

14. WINNIPEG JETS

2011-12: 37-35-10 (84 points)

Likely last year in the East; there are big holes on a roster that cause this rabid fan base heartache.

15. MONTREAL CANADIENS

2011-12: 31-35-16 (78 points)

PK Subban is unsigned and the Canadiens did nothing to aid their goal-scoring woes from a year ago. Carey Price will have to be an absolute stud in goal every night.

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