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P.K. Subban takes Nashville by storm
0:50 | NHL
P.K. Subban takes Nashville by storm
Tuesday July 19th, 2016

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The future's been drafted. Trades have been consummated. Free agents have been added, and lost.

The new season's not here yet, enough changes have been made to give us an early impression of how each team might rank in 2016-17. Here's an early look, based on what we've see so far this summer.

• Free agent signings | Trade tracker | Summer transaction scorecard

HOW THEY STACK UP
 
  • 1
    1Pittsburgh Penguins
     
    last week: 1
    record: 48-26-8
    The champs cut ties with a few supporting players (defenseman Ben Lovejoy will be missed) but are set to return with essentially the same roster that steamrolled through the postseason. They're the class of the field.
     

  • 2
    2San Jose Sharks
     
    last week: 7
    record: 46-30-6
    The Stanley Cup finalists are deeper and faster with the addition of speedy winger Mikkel Boedker. If keeper Martin Jones can match his playoff performance, they'll be the favorites to claim the Pacific Division.

  • 3
    3Tampa Bay Lightning
     
    last week: 15
    record: 46-31-5
    The Bolts fell a game short of the Stanley Cup Final despite losing No. 1 goaltender Ben Bishop and captain Steven Stamkos to injury. With both back to full health, Tampa Bay should control the Atlantic.
     

  • 4
    4Washington Capitals
     
    last week: 6
    record: 56-18-8
    The sting of last spring's playoff failure should provide all the motivation this group needs to get off to a hot start. Their one major addition, center Lars Eller, improves their depth, but he's not the missing piece. This group has to dig deep inside to find that.

  • 5
    5Dallas Stars
     
    last week: 2
    record: 50-23-9
    Dan Hamhuis seems like the perfect addition to a defense that's going to skew young next season (Esa Lindell, Patrik Nemeth, Stephen Johns), but the decision to roll with Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi between the pipes again leaves GM Jim Nill open to criticism.
     

  • 6
    6Florida Panthers
     
    last week: 4
    record: 47-26-9
    Forget about regression. A wild summer of change sees the defending Atlantic champs deeper in net (backup James Reimer) and more mobile on defense (Keith Yandle, Mark Pysyk and Jason Demers). They're ready to take the next step.

  • 7
    7Nashville Predators
     
    last week: 8
    record: 41-27-14
    The addition of P.K. Subban might not make the Preds the summer's most improved team, but they're certainly the most intriguing. That defense deserves some time to gel, but once it does it could be the best in the league. If netminder Pekka Rinne bounces back, they're a threat to win the Central.
     

  • 8
    8Chicago Blackhawks
     
    last week: 10
    record: 47-26-9
    The additions of Brian Campbell and Michal Kempny should address the blue line depth problems that cut their 2015-16 season short. Now the questions surround the forward corps. Can Nick Schmaltz, Tyler Motte and Ryan Hartman handle full-time NHL duty? That's a big ask. This team is still has all-world talent, but could struggle out of the gate.

  • 9
    9Anaheim Ducks
     
    last week: 5
    record: 46-25-11
    There's lots to like about the defending Pacific champs, but still so many questions to be answered. Randy Carlyle brings a new voice, but is he really an improvement on Bruce Boudreau? Can Cam Fowler be flipped for a top-six left winger? If not, who steps up to fill the role? Nick Ritchie and Mason Raymond won't cut it.
     

  • 10
    10Los Angeles Kings
     
    last week: 9
    record: 48-28-6
    After the Kings blew a 16-point lead over the Ducks, then bowed out meekly in the first round to the Sharks, there was pressure on GM Dean Lombardi to pump new life into this roster. Instead, cap issues cost L.A. top-six winger Milan Lucic and the best option to patch over the holes on defense was Canadiens castoff Tom Gilbert. That's not going to get it done.

  • 11
    11Montreal Canadiens
     
    last week: 21
    record: 38-38-6
    Forget the dire long-term implications of the Shea Weber-P.K. Subban trade. A healthy Carey Price makes the Habs a more formidable opponent this season. Alexander Radulov and Andrew Shaw come with asterisks attached, but both could add fiestiness and scoring punch.
     

  • 12
    12St. Louis Blues
     
    last week: 3
    record: 49-24-9
    Having lost starting goalie Brian Elliott, captain David Backes and heart-and-soul forward Troy Brouwer, this team simply isn't as good as the one that fell short in the Western Conference Finals. They'll have to figure out quickly whether they can maintain the same identity, or if they need to change it up to reflect the shifting demographics.

  • 13
    13Minnesota Wild
     
    last week: 20
    record: 38-33-11
    Hiring Bruce Boudreau was a coup, but he faces a serious challenge getting the disparate personalities in that room on the same page. Eric Staal should improve a middling offense, but they need at least one more piece up front to move away from the bubble.
     

  • 14
    14New York Rangers
     
    last week: 12
    record: 46-27-9
    The Mika Zibanejad trade was a step forward for a team that needed to get younger, but it still feels like the Blueshirts are on the verge of taking two steps back. The defense that hung Henrik Lundqvist out to dry in the postseason (4.39 GAA, .867 save percentage) is a lingering concern.

  • 15
    15New York Islanders
     
    last week: 13
    record: 45-27-10
    Hard to imagine the Isles will be a better team after losing Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin to free agency. Andrew Ladd and P-A Parenteau might hold the fort, but they'll need help from the kids (Matthew Barzal, Michael Dal Colle) if they're going to build on last season's first-round win.
     

  • 16
    16Philadelphia Flyers
     
    last week: 11
    record: 41-27-14
    Despite their ahead-of-schedule playoff appearance last spring, GM Ron Hextall stuck to his slow-and-steady approach to team building. That's the right move, opening the door for kids like defenseman Ivan Provorov and winger Taylor Leier to grab full-time slots and prove their value. It also likely means another year on the bubble.

  • 17
    17Detroit Red Wings
     
    last week: 14
    record: 41-30-11
    GM Ken Holland has been busy this summer, replacing Pavel Datsyuk with Frans Neilsen and taking a flyer on Thomas Vanek, but he has yet to address the pressing need for more speed and mobility on the blue line. There's still time but, for now, the Wings look like outliers.
     

  • 18
    18New Jersey Devils
     
    last week: 19
    record: 38-36-8
    GM Ray Shero went all in to improve the league's worst offense, acquiring a “motivated” Taylor Hall in a blockbuster trade with the Oilers. The left wing will add speed, grit and panache to a forward corps that could use all three. Beau Bennett and Vernon Fiddler help with depth, and get the Devils closer to the four-line model. Ben Lovejoy was an underrated pickup for the back end. The Devils might not be a playoff team yet, but they'll be more entertaining as they make their bid.

  • 19
    19Buffalo Sabres
     
    last week: 16
    record: 35-36-11
    GM Tim Murray has set his sights on 95 points and a playoff berth. He just might make it. The goaltending is a concern and the blue line still needs help, but if the team's young players take a step forward, and if free-agent signing Kyle Okposo delivers and if Jimmy Vesey signs ... hey, it's possible.
     

  • 20
    20Carolina Hurricanes
     
    last week: 18
    record: 35-31-16
    Hard to figure out why the 'Canes would re-sign Cam Ward, essentially doubling down on a goaltending tandem that finished 29th last season in even-strength save percentage. But that was the only misstep in a summer that saw GM Ron Francis acquire Teuvo Teravainen and Lee Stempniak to fill top-nine roles and juice an offense that finished 27th last year.

  • 21
    21Winnipeg Jets
     
    last week: 22
    record: 35-39-8
    For all the excitement about the kids up front—Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, Nic Petan—Winnipeg's season hinges on improving upon that dismal .903 save percentage at even strength (tied for second-to-last with Carolina). Connor Hellebuyck would seem to be their best hope in net, but he's no sure thing at this point in his career.

  • 22
    22Boston Bruins
     
    last week: 26
    record: 42-31-9
    Not sure that re-signing John-Michael Liles and leaning heavily on Joe Morrow and Colin Miller addresses the glaring needs on the blue line. If the B's are going to be something more than a bubble team, they have to add a legitimate No. 2 or 3 defender before the start of the season. Remember the name Danton Heinen. The ex-DU Pioneer could be an intriguing addition to the top nine.
     

  • 23
    23Ottawa Senators
     
    last week: 17
    record: 38-35-9
    Guy Boucher was an interesting hire, but it remains to be seen how the offensive-minded bench boss will fix Ottawa's troubled defensive game. At least GM Pierre Dorion has gifted him with a couple of new weapons up front. Derick Brassard should add some pop, but Chris Kelly's two-way game and experience could prove equally valuable.

  • 24
    24Edmonton Oilers
     
    last week: 28
    record: 31-43-8
    The Taylor Hall debacle aside, the Oilers that take the ice in October will be deeper, tougher and more talented than any group the franchise has iced in the past decade. A healthy Connor McDavid, an inspired Milan Lucic and a gifted Jesse Puljujarvi will juice a revamped offense. All eyes though will be on Adam Larsson, the new centerpiece of the much-maligned D corps. If he lives up to expectations, they'll be in the mix.
     

  • 25
    25Calgary Flames
     
    last week: 24
    record: 35-40-7
    A new coach (Glen Gulutzan), new goaltenders (Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson), and a veteran physical presence up front (Troy Brouwer) give the faithful reason to hope for real improvement this season. The Flames still lack the depth needed to crack the playoffs, but they're headed in the right direction.

  • 26
    arizona Coyotes
     
    last week: 23
    record: 35-39-8
    With Christian Dvorak, Dylan Strome, Anton Karlsson, Tyler Gaudet and Laurent Dauphin all pushing for roster spots, the Coyotes are young and getting younger. That's brilliant for the future, but it sets them up as the 98-pound weakling just waiting to get bullied by the established teams.

  • 27
    27Colorado Avalanche
     
    last week: 30
    record: 39-39-4
    It was a fairly productive off-season in Denver. The Nathan MacKinnon extension was a gem, and there were some solid depth acquisitions in Joe Colborne, Fedor Tyutin and Patrick Wiercioch. But when all's said and done, there are still glaring deficiencies on a blue line that's counting on Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie (still unsigned) to play first-pair minutes.
     

  • 28
    28Toronto Maple Leafs
     
    last week: 29
    record: 29-42-11
    The Buds enjoyed a terrific summer, adding a No. 1 goaltender (Frederik Andersen) and a future franchise center (Auston Matthews). And with roster spots up for grabs, youngsters like Mitch Marner and William Nylander should make the cut. That infusion of talent makes this a better team, but there are too many holes for the Leafs to be competitive yet.

  • 29
    29Vancouver Canucks
     
    last week: 27
    record: 31-38-13
    Loui Eriksson and Philip Larsen should bolster that 27th ranked power play, and Bo Horvat is primed for a breakthrough season, but this team is still a mix of ill-fitting parts. Hard to imagine the Canucks working their way into the playoff mix.

  • 30
    30Columbus Blue Jackets
     
    last week: 25
    record: 34-40-8
    The worst center corps in the league, a young blue line that will rely heavily on a pair of U-23s (Ryan Murray and Seth Jones) and an injection of talent from their Calder Cup-winning AHL club (Josh Anderson, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Zach Werenski): Cue up the theme song to Growing Pains and dream of better days ahead.

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