Kovalchuk is one of maybe 3 absolutely deadly players in this league. Not just scorers, guys who, every time they touch the puck, it looks like a goal is about to happen. Him, Jagr, and Sakic when he's healthy. Ovechkin could easily make that group soon.
Saying the Red Wings won't make the playoffs pretty much establishes you as a know-nothing fan from Georgia who likes to root for the home team and act like he knows about the game. You are so wrong I don't even know what to do with myself here. Detroit will win the central again barring some sort of miracle, and they will place, at worst, 6th, if Hasek gets hurt. Hell, they could make 6th spot with Osgood as a starter all year.
Atlanta will probably hit 7th or 8th spot. They aren't really any better than last year. Of course, Toronto absolutely won't allow their team to miss the playoffs twice in a row (and I hate the fucking leafs but if they have any degree of competence they can fix their team and git er done now that they have a goalie). So it won't be quite as easy to sneak in.
Teams that will make the playoffs this year that didn't last year: Vancouver (yay! Finally a goalie, too bad no first line to speak of though; but whatever, it's good enough for 7th or 8th), Toronto, Atlanta/Florida (race between those 2). Teams that did but won't: Edmonton (Barely made it last year, and now no Pronger... can they play playoff-level hockey for 82 games? Doubtful), Montreal (perennial on-the-brink team), Tampa(on a big downhill slide unless they fix serious holes).
When you're nothing
But a boyfriend
Dangling by a thread
Keep in mind the bottom line
Diamonds are a girl's best friend...