Which teams of 03/04 have the best chance of being the Lightning, Wild, and Ducks of last year? With each conference having its top spots locked up as usual it will be up to the rest of teams to battle it out for those last couple spots to get into the playoffs.
Florida- I’m really high on this team. This team has great young tlaent at every position and if they don’t gel together this year they at least have a couple years down the road to come together and make the playoffs in the weakest division in hockey. With Roberto Loungo in net and young players such as Jokinin, Weiss, Hagman, and Bouwmesster this team just might make some noise next year.
Los Angeles- This may not be considered a dark horse or break out because this team was pretty good a year ago. They don’t have much depth when it comes to offense but if Allison can stay healthy and if Ziggy can get hot then this team has a good chance. They got a average defense led by Miller and their goaltending will be as wonky as its gets with Cechmanek in net but he should be good enough to get them into the post season this year.
Columbus- I was really impressed when they got Sydor. This guy could do so much for a team in desperate need of help from the backend. They will miss Whitney but Nash should score more this year and Marc Denis is extrememly underated.
Phoenix- They got one of the top 5 goalies in the league with Sean Burke and the whole team underacheived last year some i’m looking for a better year from the yotes. The may have lost a great asset in Numminen but I think they are strong enough to fight through it and give any team a run for its money just as long as Burke stays around.
Rangers- Not a darkhorse by any means. With all the talent on that team they have no right being in this article but I just threw them in because they have to make the playoffs some year and with the East being weak this year this may just be it.