Robert Tychkowski's picks

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 5:04 PM ET

WESTERN CONFERENCE

1. Vancouver - Done a great job keeping their nucleus together.

2. San Jose - Young, very fast and well-coached, Sharks are ready for the new-look game.

3. Detroit - Enough here, even though it's old, to win division.

4. Calgary - They're for real, but not as real as Vancouver.

5. Colorado - Took some big salary cap hits, but still have talent.

6. Los Angeles - Made some huge off-season acquisitions, but question marks in goal.

7. Edmonton - Vastly improved, but tough to gain ground in NHL's toughest division.

8. Dallas - Guerin, Modano, Zubov and Turco are a solid foundation.

9. Anaheim - Niedermayer and Brian Burke can turn a team around in a hurry.

10. Columbus - Some brilliant young talent here, but still a few pieces away.

11. St. Louis - Hmmmm. Who should we keep? Pronger or Tkachuk?

12. Phoenix - This will be like Michael Jordan coming back with the Washington Wizards.

13. Nashville - Entertaining and hard working, but not good enough.

14. Minnesota - They changed the NHL's rules to keep teams like this from succeeding.

15. Chicago - Khabibulin will make a difference, but they still have a long way to go.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1. Ottawa - If Hasek is a shadow of his former self, start engraving Cup.

2. Philadelphia - If you can't clutch and grab Forsberg, he'll get 120 points.

3. Tampa Bay - They'll miss Khabibulin more than they can imagine, but they'll feast on a soft division.

4. Boston - A lot of offence here, complemented by Andrew Raycroft.

5. New Jersey - New rules don't suit, but this team knows how to win.

6. N.Y. Islanders - Yashin, Satan, York, Niinimaa, Zhitnik? Guys who can wheel in open ice.

7. Toronto - If they can stay healthy - a huge if - gambles on Lindros, Allison will pay dividends.

8. Pittsburgh - Management has done a good, and quick, job surrounding their phenom.

9. Atlanta - Kovalchuk and Hossa a deadly one-two punch.

10. Montreal - Good goaltending, but not strong or deep enough to crack the top 8.

11. Florida - Are old-timers Roberts and Nieuwendyk going to Florida to retire?

12. N.Y. Rangers - They'll be better off with a cap but it'll take time.

13. Buffalo - Nobody knows the trouble they've seen.

14. Carolina - Even their nickname leaves a bad taste.

15. Washington - Is management trying?


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