New York Islanders
Of those 5 teams who do you think improves the most? Do any of them make the playoffs? I realize Toronto is 3-0-0 right now but keep in mind it's 3 games out of 82 so as far as I'm concerned it's a bit of an illusion. One of their wins was vs. a floundering Penguins team that saw Fleury allow 4 goals on 14 shots. Also as much as I hate to say this: Toronto has owned Ottawa over the last 7 or 8 games played in Toronto. Okay now that my Leafs rant is over I will move on to my prediction.
I think that the Isles will climb out of the bottom 5 and maybe Toronto as well. I believe that Carolina will crash to earth and Yzerman won't be able to work miracles in Tampa either. I see my bottom 5 this season being Carolina, Tampa, Florida, Columbus, Edmonton.
Carolina had a fire sale last season and are in re-build mode and despite a 2-0 start my thoughts on that haven't changed. The same goes for Edmonton. They are bringing in a lot of youth and giving them important minutes in a trial by fire type of manner. There's little to no pressure on that team but, their youth and inexperience will find them bottom 5 again this season.
Florida has actually found a way to get worse so they are going to stay bottom 5 barring a collapse of teams around them and a lot of good fortune.
As for Columbus, unless they get fantastic goaltending and find someone to play with Nash, they'll stay bottom 5. They're in a tough division and they play in a tough western conference.
So as much as it pains me to say this, I think Toronto makes the biggest baby steps out of the bottom 5 and may even make a late season surge to finish 9th in the east. A big reason for that is the D played well below their abilities and expectations last season and the addition of Giguere is at least an upgrade in that department. As badly as Phaneuf played in Calgary he's still young and he's still a potential stud on the back end as well. They'll still struggle to score goals despite McCarther's current scoring prowess but, out of the bottom 5 I didn't say another team with a better chance of improvement.