The rosters are set, the red carpet is unfurled and the puck is about to drop. So you know what that means: It’s time for baseless shots in the dark as we predict the Eastern Conference divisions and playoff teams! Check out our predictions for this season’s NHL Awards and some predictions on trends and players like Connor McDavid. Read previews for all 30 NHL teams this season here. [ Yahoo Fantasy Hockey: Sign up for a league today ] Your esteemed panel: Greg Wyshynski , NHL editor, Puck Daddy; Sean Leahy , editor, Puck Daddy; Jen Neale , editor, Puck Daddy; Josh Cooper , editor, Puck Daddy; Ryan Lambert , lead columnist, Puck Daddy; Darryl “Dobber” Dobbs , fantasy columnist, Puck Daddy; Sam McCaig, NHL editor/columnist, Yahoo Sports. Greg Wyshynski, Editor, Puck Daddy Atlantic Division Metropolitan Division Tampa Bay Lightning Washington Capitals Montreal Canadiens Pittsburgh Penguins Detroit Red Wings New York Rangers Florida Panthers New York Islanders Ottawa Senators Columbus Blue Jackets Boston Bruins Philadelphia Flyers Buffalo Sabres New Jersey Devils Toronto Maple Leafs Carolina Hurricanes The Metro is stacked with playoff teams, although I do fear they could end up cannibalizing each other. But we’ve had five teams from one division (the Central) make it in the first two years of this playoff format, so this time it’s the Metro’s turn. The Capitals win the division, as the deepest team in the conference (and one that, frankly, is usually at its best in the regular season). The Islanders and Rangers could flip-flop if the Brooklyn home ice advantage turns out to be something more that we expect. The Blue Jackets climb back into the postseason … or at least they better, lest this be Todd Richards’ final season there. In the Atlantic, Detroit makes it (again), as Jeff Blashill has a Jon Cooper-esque effect on the team’s younger players. But the actual Jon Cooper gets the Lightning to the top of the division. As for Montreal, my guess is that they locate their offense and make waves in the East ... potentially with a different coach. Sean Leahy, Editor, Puck Daddy Atlantic Division Metropolitan Division Tampa Bay Lightning Washington Capitals Montreal Canadiens Pittsburgh Penguins Detroit Red Wings New York Rangers Florida Panthers New York Islanders Ottawa Senators Columbus Blue Jackets Boston Bruins Philadelphia Flyers Buffalo Sabres New Jersey Devils Toronto Maple Leafs Carolina Hurricanes Barring the injury ninja doesn't take up residence again inside the Blue Jackets dressing room, they should find a way back into the postseason at the expense of the Senators. The rest of the playoff teams in the East will be the same as last year, with everyone fighting to get by the Lightning and rep the conference in the Stanley Cup Final. The Red Wings, unlike the Undertaker, will keep their playoff streak alive for another year. The Panthers will again make great strides and hover around the wild card bubble before ultimately falling just short, thereby robbing us all of a Jaromir Jagr playoff mullet. Jen Neale, Editor, Puck Daddy Atlantic Division Metropolitan Division Tampa Bay Lightning Washington Capitals Montreal Canadiens Pittsburgh Penguins Florida Panthers New York Islanders Detroit Red Wings New York Rangers Boston Bruins Columbus Blue Jackets Ottawa Senators Philadelphia Flyers Buffalo Sabres Carolina Hurricanes Toronto Maple Leafs New Jersey Devils The usual suspects will make the playoffs. The two newcomers are Columbus and Florida. The addition of Brandon Saad to the Blue Jackets helps a young but potent offense. If Sergei Bobrovsky can stay healthy and prove he wasn't just a one-Vezina wonder, the Jackets make the playoffs. The cardiac Cats are one year older, one year better. They showed glimpses of promise throughout the previous season and will shock people again. Detroit will finally miss the playoffs after a million years. Philly is in midlife crisis mode going for a hot new coach. Boston doesn’t know what the hell they’re doing with the roster. One thing we know for sure, Babcock’s first season in Toronto is going to be painful, leaving him to wistfully stare across the Great Lakes thinking about ‘what could have been’ with Mike Green on his team. And you're right, I do hate your favorite team. Josh Cooper, Editor, Puck Daddy Atlantic Division Metropolitan Division Tampa Bay Lightning Pittsburgh Penguins Florida Panthers Washington Capitals Montreal Canadiens New York Rangers Detroit Red Wings New York Islanders Ottawa Senators Columbus Blue Jackets Boston Bruins Philadelphia Flyers Buffalo Sabres Carolina Hurricanes Toronto Maple Leafs New Jersey Devils Five teams from the Metropolitan Division make sense to make the playoffs. The Capitals and Penguins should slug it out for the Metro crown all year, with the Pens winning the division by one point. [ Play Yahoo Daily Fantasy and get a 100% deposit bonus with your first deposit ] The Atlantic Division seems weak and I see a drop-off with the Ottawa Senators. They have some good, young players but I don’t think they can have another magical run in them. Their goaltending and overall depth is an issue. The Florida Panthers will be this year’s postseason surprise. A full season of Jaromir Jagr and another year of seasoning for Aaron Ekblad and Aleksander Barkov will push Florida into the playoffs. The Tampa Bay Lightning will likely end up with the best record in the Eastern Conference – mostly based off the Atlantic’s lack of strength.
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