15. Columbus Blue Jackets: 43-30-9
The Metropolitan division is not as deep as it used to be. The Rangers, Hurricanes and Rangers are not contending teams anymore and the Devils while they had a great year last year are going to need a lot of fire power to repeat that season. I believe Columbus comes in at 4th in their division but middle of the pack for the year. They do not have a great team to be honest, while they have a very competent goalie and two good defenseman they are very thin on the backend. Like many teams though they have a solid group upfront, that is if Artem Panarin stays the full-year in Columbus as of right now basing of their situation it seems Panarin is starting the year with them. Making their first three lines very capable of scoring goals, with a fourth line of Sonny Milano-Riley Nash-Anthony Duclair they have a potential four scoring lines. Hopefully Nick Foligno and Cam Atkinson can stay healthy, along with Josh Anderson. But aside from those three the Blue Jackets will be relying on Oliver Bjorkstrand, Alex Wennberg and Pierre-Luc Dubois to have a big year and be a focal point of this offense day in and day out. After another playoff season and falling short in the first round perhaps the Blue Jackets can come over that hump once and for all!
14. Anaheim Ducks: 45-30-7
I think they creep into that #3 spot, essentially that 3, 4, 5 is going to be a real dogfight in the Pacific next year and with the Kings, Ducks and Flames really all relatively similar in structure and lineup depth, the Ducks team overall may be a little more balanced. Sure Corey Perry is not on-fire lately but with Ryan Getzlaf, Rickard Rakell, Jakub Silvferberg, Adam Henrique and a few other options on the forward end their has to be some spark in Anaheim. Their defense when healthy is a solid group of seven guys honestly, Brendan Montour, Cam Fowler, Josh Manson Hamphus Lindholm, Andrej Sustr and Luke Schenn that is a solid seven if you look at what each line will be doing. If John Gibson and Anaheim’s D can stay healthy it is a major confidence booster for the Ducks offense as well knowing you have puck moving defense it makes the forwards job easier, and looking at four puck moving d on Anaheim it can be a major positive for them. A possible third place finish or if they come out slow like they usually do, it could be a missed playoff chance for Anaheim.
13. Minnesota Wild: 43-32-7
The Wild are going to need another big year out Jason Zucker and Eric Staal without those two forward last year it would have been a different turn out for Minnesota. They have a lot of skill but not much consistency. Zach Praise you can chalk up for about 30 points if that, Mikael Granlund had that one year where he rose to the occasion hen battled injuries last year, same with Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle, two young forwards that have been hovering around that same point total for quite sometime now, they are either due for a breakout year or going to continue on this path. Along with an aging and injured Ryan Suter, all you have is Jared Spurgeon and Matthew Dumba two good defenseman but it is not enough. The Wild are good, they will get away with a lot because of their offensive talent and depth but, where they lack defensive depth is their issue. Same goes for goaltending, Devan Dubnyk is solid but at 32-years-old it is not getting easier for the goalie. This may be one of the last seasons we see the Wild within the top 15, another playoff run fallen short for this team.
12. Los Angeles Kings: 43-30-9
That division is not a breeze through for L.A. as it used to be but now you have teams like Vegas, San Jose, Calgary and Anaheim this is going to be a battle for L.A. I would not be surprised if they missed the playoffs. With the Flames getting better, the Ducks staying relatively the same and the Sharks and Vegas being the power houses in this division. The Kings may fall in the 4, 5 spot if anything. But luckily they do have a great tandem on defense in Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez and Dion Phaneuf to accompany that Jonathan Quick the William J Jennings trophy and Vezina winner is a solid addition not to mention. Hopefully eh Kings can string some offense together they saw a bizarre year out of Dustin Brown, a big bounce back year from Anze Kopitar but with Jeff Carter aging and really only Tyler Toffloli being the other option the Kings are not super deep on the offensive side of things. We can assume Ilya Kovalchuk will come in and score 30-goals but being out of the NHL since 2011-12 is a long time, as they say one year out and in the KHL equals like seven years (technically he was gone for 42 years), all joking aside. Kovalchuk may be a good addition with Kopitar or he may not be, we do not know he has been out for quite sometime I would not be surprised if the veteran winger had around 50 points this year. Anyways, middle of the pack for the Kings is reasonable what they finished last year essentially perhaps a little worse.
11. Philadelphia Flyers: 44-28-10
They somehow got by with their goaltending last year and I don’t think anything will change in that regards. They added James Van Reimsydk a former Flyer and now current Flyer gets to play alongside Nolan Patrick and Jakub Voracek, not to mention their first line with Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny, they are very deep across the forward side of things. But they are very similar to Minnesota good upfront and lack depth on the back end. The Flyers saw some good things out of their young defenseman last year and with Ivan Provorov with another year under his belt, Shane Gostisbehere on the back end too these two will do a lot of the heavy lifting. But Travis Sanheim and Robert Hagg showed some bright spots last year. It will be a similar run for the Flyers they will have their ups and downs but at the end of it all, they will be out in the first round.