1. Pittsburgh Penguins. Champs start on top in bid for first three-peat since '80s Islanders.
2. Edmonton Oilers. No. 97 on a quest of his own to hoist the Cup just like No. 99 used to do.
3. Nashville Predators. Housley brings his style to Buffalo; too bad he can't bring the NHL's best atmosphere inside and outside an arena.
4. Anaheim Ducks. Ryan Miller's best chance at a Cup since '07 Sabres.
5. Washington Capitals. Can't believe in them anymore until they find a way to beat Penguins in playoffs.
6. Chicago Blackhawks. We're about to find out if changes after sweep by Preds were panic moves or smart ones.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs. Their fans are sick of hearing about 1967.
8. Columbus Blue Jackets. Panarin gets a chance as main man but will he thrive no longer playing with Patrick Kane?
9. Tampa Bay Lightning. As Stamkos was sidelined, Kucherov became a star in his own right.
10. Dallas Stars. With Bishop in goal, they're a major candidate for a quick turnaround in post-Lindy era.
11. San Jose Sharks. No surprise on the ice, Burns made surprise visit to Bisons game in July.
12. Minnesota Wild. Good for Ennis to get reunited with lifelong friend Jared Spurgeon.
13. New York Rangers. Steps back: Traded Stepan, overpaid for Shattenkirk, Lundqvist is 35.
14. Carolina Hurricanes. They're the chic pick to come from back end of the East and make the playoffs.
15. Montreal Canadiens. Is brutal preseason a sign of what's to come?
16. Calgary Flames. In world of Sams, Reinhart has been better than Bennett.
17. St. Louis Blues. Rugged preseason including Fabbri's season-ending knee injury.
18. Ottawa Senators. How did they ever get to Game Seven of the East final? No way they get close to that again.
19. Boston Bruins. Have not won a playoff series last three years. Won't win one this year either.
20. Philadelphia Flyers. Elliott is a slump-prone goalie and venomous fans won't allow that to linger.
21. New York Islanders. With demise of Joe Louis, Barclays Center has become NHL's worst arena.
22. Los Angeles Kings. Stevens has tough task to get former Cup champs back into playoffs.
23. Buffalo Sabres. Hoping new leadership can produce different results.
24. Winnipeg Jets. Have yet to win a playoff game in six seasons back in NHL, and don't figure to win one this year.
25. Florida Panthers. Why didn't they re-sign Jagr? Not nearly as much fun in the sun.
26. Detroit Red Wings. Reports on new Little Caesars Arena are that it is Montreal-style spectacular. Good thing. Team is not.
27. Vancouver Canucks. New coach Travis Green has a heavy rebuild at hand.
28. New Jersey Devils. Sure looks like they got it right by taking Hischier at No. 1 overall.
29. Arizona Coyotes. Will they ever get better before they finally leave the desert?
30. Colorado Avalanche. Duchene soap opera another mess for tattered franchise.
31. Vegas Golden Knights. Viva to NHL's newest team – and sudden top priority for visiting fans and players.