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Early Playoff Predictions: Who’s In and Who’s Out.



2015-’16 Early Playoff Predictions: Who’s In and Who’s Out.


Top of the Mountain
ANAHEIM DUCKS- Trading for speedster Carl Hagelin and signing veteran Chris Stewart bolsters a strong forward attack. The major move comes in acquiring blue line specialist Kevin Bieksa who gives depth and muscle to an inexperienced defensive group.
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS- Stan Bowman has done this before, reconstructed a team after a Cup victory, and he has once again allowed the ‘Hawks to get younger while keeping Kane and Toews at the center of a modern day Dynasty.
On the Rise:
DALLAS STARS-Stealing Johnny Oduya and Patrick Sharp from Chicago and adding them to a roster laced with young talent Dallas will look to return to the postseason after just missing the cut in ’14-’15.
On the Outs:
VANCOUVER CANUCKS- Matt Bartkowski and Brandon Prust add more grit to a team that is desperate for offensive production away from the Sedin/Vrbata top line. Losing back-up Eddie Lack will put young stud Jacob Markstrom in a tough spot should starting goalie Ryan Miller falter.
SAN JOSE SHARKS- Missing the playoffs for the first time in a decade should light a fire under a veteran squad who added a needed grinder in Joel Ward to the mix. Goaltending will decide the franchise’s fate and young netminders Alex Stalock and Martin Jones will be at the helm.
On the Bubble:
L.A. KINGS- Adding Superstar Milan Lucic to a squad that won the Cup 2 seasons ago could be the push this physically dominating team needs to move into the top 8 of the West.


Top of the Mountain:
MONTREAL CANADIEANS- No additions, no subtractions means with Price in net Montreal will continue to front run.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING & NY RANGERS- Prince of Wales has traded homes in consecutive seasons between these modern day rivals who appear to contend for the East yet again.
On the Rise:
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS- Adding playoff experience in Greg Campbell and a superstar in the making Brandon Saad will help to elevate a team that continues to under achieve.
On the Outs:
OTTAWA SENATORS-When Dave Cameron took over for Paul Mclean he provided a spark to a talented young crew that had stopped responding to their coach. Expecting Andrew Hammond or Craig Anderson to replicate the late season surge of last season may prove to be too much for the Senators.
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS- There’s a lot of question marks with the new roster GM Ron Hextall has assembled. If new coach Dave Haskstol can drive them as he did North Dakota in the NCAA they might have just enough talent to make some noise.
FLORIDA PANTHERS- Over achieving squad will continue to surprise everyone but will need clutch late season play from aging Roberto Luongo to clinch a playoff spot.
On the Bubble:


BOSTON BRUINS- Now more than ever the boys of Beantown will lean heavily on leadership in the locker room to help bridge the gap between the new and the old but would be a scary 1st round opponent for anyone in the east with Raask in net.



* Photo by Getty Images


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Wow, glad to see someone else believe in what Bowman has done in Chicago. Any way you slice it he still has Kane, Toews, Keith and Hossa and a ton of talented players as a supporting cast. And Columbus went 15-1-1 down the stretch.

My Picks:




St. Louis



After that, a mares nest of Dallas, Colorado, Vancouver, Kings, Winnipeg, Nashville and San Jose are all capable of claiming any of the final three spots. IMHO only Edmonton and the 'Yotes are officially eliminated before opening day.










7 teams seen locks or nearly so. The balance of power is shifting to the East after the West having a stranglehold for years.

Other contenders are Ottawa, Florida, the Flyers and MAYBE Boston. A big maybe.

Out of contention before the year starts are Toronto, Buffalo, Carolina and New Jersey although Buffalo and Carolina are making strides in the right direction.

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