By Tim Sassone
Here's a look at our NHL power rankings by division to open the season, and our predictions for the Stanley Cup playoffs:
Key additions: G Nikolai Khabibulin, RW Joakim Nordstrom, D Mike Kostka.
The skinny: The Hawks will not only win the division but repeat as Stanley Cup champions. The only concern is the power play.
2. St. Louis Blues
Key additions: LW Brenden Morrow, C Derek Roy, LW Magnus Paajarvi, RW Maxim Lapierre,
The skinny: The Hockey News picked the Blues to win it all and all the pieces appear to be in place for a Cup run.
3. Minnesota Wild
Key additions: LW Matt Cooke, D Keith Ballard, RW Nino Niederreiter.
The skinny: The Wild made the playoffs last year, then suffered goalie injuries in the first round against the Hawks. There's pressure in Minnesota to win now.
4. Nashville Predators
Key additions: RW Viktor Stalberg, C Matt Cullen, LW Eric Nystrom, D Seth Jones.
The skinny: The Predators signed Stalberg to beef up one of the league worst offenses, but he will miss 3-4 weeks with a shoulder injury.
5. Dallas Stars
Key additions: C Tyler Seguin, C Rich Peverley, C Shawn Horcoff, D Sergei Gonchar.
The skinny: The Stars made big changes during the off-season, turning over their top three centers, but it still won't get them into the playoffs.
6. Winnipeg Jets
Key additions: LW Devin Setoguchi, LW Michael Frolik.
The skinny: The Jets don't have enough to get to the playoffs, but they do have a nice 1-2 punch at left wing in Evander Kane and Andrew Ladd.
7. Colorado Avalanche
Key additions: LW Alex Tanguay, C Nathan MacKinnon.
The skinny: New coach Patrick Roy won't be miracle worker in his return to the NHL.
1. Los Angeles Kings
Key additions: LW Matt Frattin, LW Daniel Carcillo, G Ben Scrivens.
The skinny: The Kings believe they have what it takes to compete again for the Cup, and they do.
2. Vancouver Canucks
Key additions: C Brad Richardson.
The skinny: How the players react to temperamental new coach John Tortorella might define the Canucks' season. That and the return of Roberto Luongo to No. 1 goalie status.
3. San Jose Sharks
Key additions: LW Tyler Kennedy.
The skinny: The Sharks might be the most disappointing team in the league with so much talent and so little to show for it.
4. Anaheim Ducks
Key additions: LW Jakob Silverberg, LW Dustin Penner.
The skinny: Trading Bobby Ryan to Ottawa is going to come back to bite the Ducks and GM Bob Murray.
5. Phoenix Coyotes
Key additions: C Mike Ribeiro, G Thomas Greiss.
The skinny: The Coyotes finally have stability in ownership and one of the game's top goalies in Mike Smith, but there's little reason for optimism in the desert.
6. Edmonton Oilers
Key additions: LW David Perron, C Boyd Gordon, G Jason LaBarbara, D Andrew Ference.
The skinny: It's put up or shut up time for the Oilers. This young group is out of excuses.
7. Calgary Flames
Key additions: RW David Jones, LW T.J. Gallardi, D Kris Russell, G Karri Ramo,
The skinny: The rebuild in Calgary is going to be long and painful despite the presence of Brian Burke as the new director of hockey operations.
1. Pittsburgh Penguins
Key additions: D Rob Scuderi.
The skinny: Despite their dismal showing in the Eastern Conference finals against Boston, the Penguins are convinced they have what it takes to win it all.
2. Washington Capitals
Key additions: None.
The skinny: Can the Capitals hold up in a more competitive division? They can if goalie Braden Holtby and Alex Ovechkin perform.
3. Philadelphia Flyers
Key additions: C Vincent Lecavalier, G Ray Emery, D Mark Streit.
The skinny: The Flyers went all in by signing Lecavalier, Streit and Emery, and now they must produce.
4. New York Rangers
Key additions: LW Benoit Pouliot.
The skinny: The Rangers have a new voice behind the bench in Alain Vigneault, which could make all the difference in the world for this team.
5. Carolina Hurricanes
Key additions: D Andrej Sekera, G Anton Khudobin.
The skinny: The Hurricanes were on their way to the playoffs last season when goalie Cam Ward got hurt. Their season depends on Ward again.
6. New York Islanders
Key additions: LW Pierre-Marc Bouchard, LW Cal Clutterbuck.
The skinny: The Isles could make a return to the playoffs if John Tavares achieves and goalie Evgeni Nabokov is solid again.
7. Columbus Blue Jackets
Key additions: RW Nathan Horton, RW Jack Skille.
The skinny: The Blue Jackets will be wishing they were back in the Central Division before this season is over. Can goalie Sergei Bobrovsky stay hot?
8. New Jersey Devils
Key additions: RW Michael Ryder, RW Jaromir Jagr, LW Ryane Clowe, G Cory Schneider.
The skinny: Last off-season, the Devils lost Zach Parise as a free agent. This off-season, they watched Ilya Kovalchuk sign to play in Russia. They won't survive his loss.
1. Boston Bruins
Key additions: RW Loui Eriksson, RW Jarome Iginla, RW Reilly Smith, G Chad Johnson.
The skinny: The Bruins will make another run at the Cup behind a strong core led by Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask.
2. Detroit Red Wings
Key additions: RW Daniel Alfredsson, C Stephen Weiss.
The skinny: The Red Wings have two top lines but depth will be an issue as well as a thin defense. Jimmy Howard remains the most underrated goalie in the NHL.
3. Ottawa Senators
Key additions: LW Bobby Ryan, RW Clarke MacArthur.
The skinny: The Senators will get along just fine without Daniel Alfredsson thanks to the addition of Bobby Ryan. Goalie Craig Anderson was a stud last year.
4. Montreal Canadiens
Key additions: RW Danny Briere, RW George Parros.
The skinny: The Canadiens remain on the small size, especially up front, where size matters. A young and mobile defense helps.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs
Key additions: C Dave Bolland, RW David Clarkson, G Jonathan Bernier.
The skinny: Clarkson left the bench to fight in the preseason, which earned him a 10-game suspension. That's a big loss to overcome.
6. Tampa Bay Lightning
Key additions: C Valtteri Filppula.
The skinny: The Lightning are loaded up front with Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, but there are big questions on defense and in goal.
7. Buffalo Sabres
Key additions: D Jamie McBain, D Henrik Tallinder.
The skinny: All you need to do is look at the Sabres down the middle (Cody Hodgson, Tyler Ennis and Mikhail Grigorenko) to see it's going to be a long season.
8. Florida Panthers
Key additions: G Tim Thomas, C Brad Boyes, D Tom Gilbert, C Aleksander Barkov, RW Bobby Butler.
The skinny: The Panthers were going young until they went out and signed veteran free agent goalie Tim Thomas. So which way are they headed?
Blackhawks over Nashville
St. Louis over Minnesota
Los Angeles over Anaheim
Vancouver over San Jose
Pittsburgh over Rangers
Philadelphia over Washington
Boston over Montreal
Detroit over Ottawa
Blackhawks over St. Louis
Los Angeles over Vancouver
Pittsburgh over Philadelphia
Detroit over Boston
Western Conference finals
Blackhawks over Los Angeles
Eastern Conference finals
Pittsburgh over Detroit
Stanley Cup Final
Blackhawks over Pittsburgh
-- Tim Sassone