I suppose THN's wildly premature, summer traffic bait ("as a special bonus for our online audience ... [we'll unveil them] a day at a time") predictions are the topic of some conversation. So sure, we can tackle them here. What are your predictions at this pre-training camp, pre-Heatley trade, pre-roster finalization juncture? Or are you insulted at the mere question?
Personally, I'm amused that they bothered to list their projections this early -- but that is a necessary part of their equally premature THN Yearbook production process. Nonetheless, in their predictions ... nothing has changed! In each conference, exactly one playoff team has fallen out of the top eight (Rangers in the East, hee hee hee; and Blues in the West, doh!). Meaning Dallas is now a playoff team by their estimation -- you know, Brendan Morrow is coming back -- and Buffalo is, too (um ... Mike Grier to the rescue I guess?).
So now, as "a special bonus" for our online audience, I will publish the rest of this post one word per day at a time.
The... (Tune in tomorrow for the second word in this sentence.)(Sorry, bad Web-cynic joke.)
Honestly, predictions like these never do anything for me -- not at this early stage, which is why this section of the otherwise valuable THN Yearbook leaves me wanting. Part of me feels obliged, after bringing this up, to create a list of my own -- but I can't, I simply can't create one now, in August, with any conviction behind it.
I see a bunch of teams in the East that don't impress me for the coming season (Montreal, Florida, Rangers, Ottawa, New Jersey), and a bunch of teams in the West that scare me. I see Carolina and New Jersey dropping, and Philadelphia ... ack, if only I could believe in their goaltending. Atlanta and L.A. improving -- but by how much? There are too many unknowns, and my brain is still on Pilsner Urquell-fed beach time.
The most I can say with conviction is that I have no problem with the Islanders being picked 15th again. With good goaltending and health they could go as high as 10th -- but why would you bet against the smart money at this point? Likewise Tampa Bay, which has improved its roster but is still mired in off-ice turmoil and led by a coach of debatable merit.
That said, if you're so inclined, leave your own list here -- or simply join me in a chorus of ennui at the futility of such a mid-August exercise.