20. Dallas Stars: 38-36-8
The Division is too competitive right now, sure the Stars have a lot of good options on their front end, they have two superstars in Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn but lack offensive depth Martin Hanzal has been a bust and Jason Spezza is on the way out. Past the Stars top 3 forwards who else is chipping in? Jason Klingberg is a now solidified number one d option, losing Dan Hamihus is a blow and they have not gained much offensive depth this offseason and their defense is very young. Ben Bishop is a solid goaltender but seems to not be himself since his departure in Tampa Bay. Missing the playoffs is reasonable for Dallas.
Key acquisitions: Valeri Nichuskin, Blake Comeau, Marc Methot, Miro Heiskanen
19. Calgary Flames: 40-33-8
The Flames definitely improved in the offseason and this may come back to bite me but taking a look at the Pacific division it is going to be a dog fight once again the Golden Knights, Sharks and Ducks did not get worse, the Kings got better and the Flames are the team battling for that final wild card spot at the moment. The Flames have James Neal to add some insurance in the goal scoring department, with already Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, but after Matthew Tkachuk and the second line what are the Flames going to do? Same on the back end, losing your top scoring defenseman is tough luckily adding Noah Hanafin is a plus but Hanafin and Hamilton are at different points in their career where Hamilton may have the upper hand right now. Flames have to hope Travis Hamonic finds his way this season and Mike Smith stays healthy and remains a solid number one option. For me I don’t see the Flames ending anywhere that much better than last year.
Key acquisitions: James Neal, Noah Hanafin, Elias Lindholm, Troy Bouwer
18. Colorado Avalanche: 45-30-7
The Av’s finished way above and beyond than what anyone thought they were going to, but with St. Louis has done this offseason there is a slight chance the Avalanche finish above St. Louis this season. The Avalanche and Flames will be the two battling for that final wild card spot in the West, or even missing it. The Avalanche have a superstar in Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Ratanen coming off an unbelievable year with a ton of young talent surrounding these two with Tyson Jost, Alex Kerfoot, Sven Andrighetto and some other solid veterans in Matt Calvert, Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Nieto. With a solid back end in Tyson Barrie and Erik Johsnon with some great tools in Ian Cole, Nikita Zadorov and Samuel Girad this won’t be the end of the Avalanches playoff years but like I said St. Louis has improved drastically they won’t miss the playoffs this season.
Key acquisitions: Matt Calvert, Ian Cole, Phillip Grubauer
17. New Jersey Devils: 39-33-10
The Devils had a fantastic and unimaginable run last season sparked by Taylor Hall and some small additions in some young forwards but to do it again will be very difficult for the Devils. With an aging goalie in Corey Schneider, Keith Kinkaid not being a viable number one option and losing John Moore on the back end the Devils have a lot of holes in their line up. Without the same year by Taylor Hall, the Devils will be missing the playoffs in my opinion. The Devils do not have much forward depth nor do they have a study blue line. The Devils could possibly make a run at the wild card with the Islanders, Rangers and Hurricanes not being great but I think Florida bumps them for that final wild card spot.
16. Florida Panthers: 45-30-7
The Panthers have now Mike Hoffman a 30-goal scorer, on top of Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Evegnii Dadanov, Vincent Trocheck and Nick Bjugstad with a solid number four defenseman and the only question mark remains in the crease for the Panthers sure, Roberto Luongo is a solid goaltender but at this age what can he do more? Jonathan Reimer going to be able to withstand the pressure and be a solid 1-2 option for the Panthers. The two will split time for most of the year but the Panthers had a hot run at the end of the year last season and with the addition of Mike Hoffman it will give a ton of fire power to this already solid Panthers defense. If the Panthers back end and Luongo can stay healthy they will make a playoff run, a short lived one but a run at least.