Eastern Conference:Florida Panthers: Always ice a team that's average at best; this season they managed to finish off as the worst. Could get better if Dale Tallon can use the ridiculous amount of cap space on the team to build a squad that's competitive.
New York Islanders: Injuries, as well as a locker-room that was reportedly lackadaisical, were enough to mute the torrid second-half run they made. Could get better if owner Charles Wang cares to properly invest in the team.
Atlanta Thrashers: The successful first-half wasn't enough to allow them to overcome their rather pedestrian second-half; perhaps the team was more average than they cared to admit in the off-season. Could get better if they get those "marquee" players to come to Atlanta.
New Jersey Devils: Had the only coach to recently come from the AHL that turned out to be a dud. Kovalchuk's contract matters didn't help and this team might have sacrificed the future for one player. Rebuild?
Toronto Maple Leafs: Started getting it together in the second half but could only get so close; should be a playoff team again next season.
Carolina Hurricanes: Lost the game that would have made them a playoff team. They can be successful next season with the right cast and a heaping dose of fortitude.
Western Conference:Columbus Blue Jackets: Jumped the shark after their only playoff season and rushed their goalie to the NHL too quickly. They don't ever seem to have a strategy that works.
Minnesota Wild: Despite a talented roster, the team came up short more often than not. It cost to coach his job but does it need to stop there?
St. Louis Blues: The team's too young and despite a promising pedigree, there's something that needs to be said about experience. The ownership issues affecting the club certainly didn't help matters.
Calgary Flames: On paper it should work so why doesn't it on the ice? There's going to be another year of this before they'll have the finances freed up to make the moves necessary for an appropriately-balanced roster; hopefully they learn to stop leaning on the same few people to carry them along.
Dallas Stars: Another team that needed to win to get into the playoffs and come up short, this wouldn't have been a problem if they hadn't been atop of the standings during the All-Star Break. Did trading James Neal away really lead to THAT monumental of a collapse?!?!