Contenders in the John Tavares sweepstakes

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

A pessimist would give this top 10 list the following headline: The top 10 teams most likely to miss the playoffs in 2008-09.

The optimist in me prefers to look at the bright side. These are the teams with the best chances of securing the first pick in the 2009 entry draft and earning the right to select either John Tavares or super Swede Victor Hedman, pending the results of the draft lottery, of course.

10. Minnesota Wild. They’re due for a big fall from defending division champions.

9. Columbus Blue Jackets. It’ll be eight years and no NHL playoffs in Ohio.

8. Florida Panthers. Can’t wait for the first Panthers versus Predators game.

7. Colorado Avalanche. If Joe Sakic comes back, the Avalanche are off this list.

6. Nashville Predators. No scoring depth, middling goaltenders. Watch for a big fall.

5. Atlanta Thrashers. One of these days, Don Waddell will run out of chances as Thrashers’ GM.

4. St. Louis Blues. Not enough depth and talent to make a playoff run over 82 games.

3. New York Islanders. Recent moves make it look as though they’re taking a run at Tavares.

2. Toronto Maple Leafs. If the Leafs prove me wrong and make the playoffs, I’ll eat a printed copy of this top 10 list, shredded and doused in Tabasco.

1. Los Angeles Kings. Great young talent is a couple years away from blossoming.

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