When I was a sports media/business columnist, I generally scoffed at preseason predictions in any sport---except for those from the guys and gals who went to many or most of the camps, talked with coaches and players and had some track record to back 'em up.
Otherwise, it's fodder for bobblehead talk radio. Or in today's world: Twitter and FB and the internet and all the paper tigers out there who are oh-so-strident and clever.
The BOSOD: (Blatantly Obvious Statement of The Day), Too much can---and will--happen in the course of a season, whether it's 16 games or 82 or 162. But we press on anyway, because you've asked, and even if I think it's a results business, it's an entertainment business, daily snapshot by daily snapshot.
To me at this point, the NHL Conferences are basically divvied up into three sections: Playoff candidates, bubble teams and very little shot at the postseason. The individual rankings are a dart-toss. I will venture to say that I believe the bottom of the West appears weaker than last season.
So, with all due respect to fate and fun and the players and coaches and front offices who will do their darndest to change these forecasts:
In general, I tend to lean towards goaltending and special teams as barometers. Feel free to challenge here or @stevezipay or via ny newsday email. Chances are, I may agree with ya.