GM: Darcy Regier.
Head coach: Lindy Ruff
Out: D Jay McKee, F J.P. Dumont, F Taylor Pyatt, F Mike Grier.
In: D Jaroslav Spacek.
Good: Young guns G Ryan Miller and F Thomas Vanek have a season under their belts.
Not so good: Shot-blocker McKee is a big loss.
Conclusion: A team with no gaping holes that will be hard to beat.
GM: Jim Rutherford.
Head coach: Peter Laviolette.
Out: G Martin Gerber, D Aaron Ward, F Matt Cullen, F Mark Recchi, F Doug Weight.
In: G John Grahame, D David Tanabe, D Jason Woolley, F Brad Isbister, F Jesse Boulerice, F Scott Walker, F Shane Willis.
Good: Stanley Cup champions still have all their biggest pieces, and Erik Cole should be back.
Not so good: Cory Stillman out for three months and Ward was a solid defenceman in the Canes’ Cup drive.
Conclusion: If veteran Rod Brind’Amour can have another big year and young G Cam Ward holds up, they’ll contend again.
3. N.Y. Rangers
GM: Glen Sather.
Head coach: Tom Renney.
Out: D Tom Poti, F Steve Rucchin, F Martin Rucinsky, F Dominic Moore.
In: D Aaron Ward, D Karel Rachunek, F Brendan Shanahan, F Matt Cullen, F Adam Hall.
Good: Landing Shanahan was a big boost, the defence is deeper and Cullen upgrades the second line.
Not so good: Jaromir Jagr’s sore shoulder is a concern.
Conclusion: If Henrik Lundqvist’s goaltending holds up, they’ll take another step forward.
GM: Bob Clarke.
Head coach: Ken Hitchcock.
Out: D Eric Desjardins, D Kim Johnsson, F Keith Primeau, F Michal Handzus, F Turner Stevenson.
In: D Nolan Baumgartner, F Marty Murray, F Riley Cote, F Randy Robitaille, F Kyle Calder, F Boyd Kane.
Good: With Peter Forsberg’s expected return from injury, the team has a nice mix of experience and young talent.
Not so good: Forsberg’s health is always iffy, and goaltending is sometimes less than stellar.
Conclusion: A team that could finish first or 10th, depending on its health.
GM: Peter Chiarelli.
Head coach: Dave Lewis.
Out: G Andrew Raycroft, D Nick Boynton, D Hal Gill, D Jiri Slegr, D David Tanabe, D Brian Leetch, F Alexei Zhamnov, F Travis Green, F Shawn MacEachern, F Brad Isbister.
In: G Brian Findley, D Zdeno Chara, D Paul Mara, D Jason York, D Wade Brookbank, F Phil Kessel, F Marc Savard, F Shean Donovan, F Mark Mowers, F Jeff Hoggan, F Peter Tenkrat.
Good: Serious upgrade on defence with Chara and at second-line centre and on the power play with Savard.
Not so good: Goaltending looks good, but is untested over time.
Conclusion: In everything falls into place, they could take the conference.
GM: John Muckler.
Head coach: Bryan Murray.
Out: G Dominik Hasek, D Zdeno Chara, D Brian Pothier, F Martin Havlat, F Brian Smolinski, F Vaclav Varada, F Tyler Arnason.
In: G Martin Gerber, D Joe Corvo, D Tom Preissing, F Michal Barinka, F Dean McAmmond, F Alexei Kaigorodov.
Good: Gerber settles last season’s goaltending issue.
Not so good: Losing Chara and Havlat makes them a little less scary.
Conclusion: They’re thinner, but there are still enough guns up front and quality defencemen in back to win.
7. Tampa Bay
GM: Jay Feaster.
Head coach: John Tortorella.
Out: G John Grahame, G Fredrik Norrena, D Darryl Sydor, D Pavel Kubina, D Timo Helbling, F Fredrik Modin, F Dave Andreychuk.
In: G Marc Denis, G Johan Holmqvist, D Filip Kuba, D Andy Delmore, D Doug Janik, D Luke Richardson, F Eric Perrin, F Nikita Alexeev.
Good: Goaltending is stronger and they still have a first-rate power play.
Not so good: Salary cap issues cost Sydor and Kubina.
Conclusion: The 2004 champions still have enough to contend.
GM: Bob Gainey.
Head coach: Guy Carbonneau.
Out: F Mike Ribeiro, F Richard Zednik, F Jan Bulis, F Niklas Sundstrom.
In: D Janne Niinimaaa, F Sergei Samsonov, F Mike Johnson, F Guillaume Latendresse.
Good: A core of quick young players keeps maturing.
Not so good: Thin on defence, not very big.
Conclusion: Goaltender Cristobal Huet must show he wasn’t a one-year wonder.
9. New Jersey
GM: Lou Lamoriello.
Head coach: Claude Julien.
Out: F Viktor Kozlov.
In: D Mike Mattau, F Michael Rupp.
Good: Three strong lines and hockey’s best goalie in Martin Brodeur.
Not so good: Salary cap issues leave threat of trades hanging over team.
Conclusion: If everyone can be kept, they’re good enough to win the conference.
GM: John Ferguson Jr.
Head coach: Paul Maurice.
Out: G Ed Belfour, D Luke Richardson, D Aki Berg, F Eric Lindros, F Tie Domi, F Jason Allison, F Alexander Khavanov, F Clarke Wilm.
In: G Andrew Raycroft, D Pavel Kubina, D Hal Gill, F Michael Peca.
Good: Raycroft and Kubina strengthen two key positions.
Not so good: Still thin on defence and, after the top line, unproven up front.
Conclusion: Can be a playoff team if young players step up.
GM: Jacques Martin.
Head coach: Jacques Martin.
Out: G Roberto Luongo, D Sean Hill, D Lucas Krajicek, F Jon Sim.
In: G Ed Belfour, G Alex Auld, D Ruslan Salei, D Bryan Allen, F Todd Bertuzzi, F Ville Peltonen.
Good: Bertuzzi gives Olli Jokinen a top power winger and the defence is deeper.
Not so good: Losing Luongo weakens a key position.
Conclusion: Everything hangs on the goaltending, particularly Belfour’s bad back.
GM: Don Waddell.
Head coach: Bob Hartley.
Out: D Jaroslav Modry, D Petteri Nummelin, F Marc Savard, F Patrik Stefan, F Peter Bondra, F Serge Aubin.
In: G Johan Hedberg, G Fred Brathwaite, D Vitali Vishnevski, F Niko Kapanen, F Steve Rucchin, F Glen Metropolit, F Jason Krog, F Jon Sim, F Kyle Wanvig.
Good: Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa remain top offensive thrests.
Not so good: Loss of Savard weakens the top line and the power play.
Conclusion: Young goalie Kari Lehtonen should be busy.
13. N.Y. Islanders
GM Garth Snow.
Head coach: Ted Nolan.
Out: G Garth Snow, D John Erskine.
In: D Tom Poti, D Sean Hill, D Brendan Witt, F Mike Sillinger, F Andy Hilbert, F Chris Simon.
Good: Added depth on defence.
Not so good: Many question marks over management changes, and Rick DiPietro’s 15-year contract.
Conclusion: Nolan’s return to the NHL won’t be easy.
GM Ray Shero.
Head coach: Michel Therrien.
Out: G Sebastien Caron, D Lyle Odelein, F Shane Endicott, F Andy Hilbert.
In: D Mark Eaton, D Kris Letang, F Evgeni Malkin, F Jordan Staal, F Mark Recchi, F Dominic Moore, F Nils Ekman, F Jarkko Ruuttu.
Good: Emerging star Sidney Crosby has a year’s experience and they are deeper at forward.
Not so good: Malkin’s debut delayed by injury.
Conclusion: The future looks bright, but they’re still a year or two away.
GM: George McPhee.
Head coach: Glen Hanlon.
Out: D Mathieu Biron, F Jeff Halpern, F Brian Willsie, F Andrew Cassels.
In: D Brian Pothier, D John Erskine, F Richard Zednik, F Donald Brashear, F Alexander Semin.
Good: Alexander Ovechkin has a year’s experience to draw on.
Not so good: No key players added.
Conclusion: This is a longer-term project than Pittsburgh.