NHL 97-98/SCOUTING REPORTS - Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com
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As the NHL begins its 1997-98 season, everybody already is
thinking about vacation. For the first time the league is taking
a 17-day break in February to allow its stars to play in the
Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. The result will be a meeting
of Dream Teams from Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia,
Sweden and the U.S. that will energize the often dreary Olympic

The Games will determine the best hockey nation in the world,
and then in June the NHL will crown the best hockey team in the
world--Colorado. The Avalanche should overcome the Flyers in the
finals and become Stanley Cup champions for the second time in
three years. Here are SI's rankings of the 26 teams in order of
their likelihood of winning the Cup.


Atlantic Division

1. Philadelphia Flyers*
2. New Jersey Devils*
3. New York Rangers*
4. Washington Capitals*
5. Florida Panthers*
6. New York Islanders
7. Tampa Bay Lightning

Northeast Division

1. Ottawa Senators*
2. Montreal Canadiens*
3. Buffalo Sabres*
4. Carolina Hurricanes
5. Pittsburgh Penguins
6. Boston Bruins

Conference Finals: Flyers over Devils


Central Division

1. Detroit Red Wings*
2. Dallas Stars*
3. Phoenix Coyotes*
4. St. Louis Blues*
5. Chicago Blackhawks
6. Toronto Maple Leafs

Pacific Division

1. Colorado Avalanche*
2. Edmonton Oilers*
3. Anaheim Mighty Ducks*
4. Vancouver Canucks*
5. San Jose Sharks
6. Calgary Flames
7. Los Angeles Kings

Conference Finals: Avalanche over Red Wings

Stanley Cup Finals: Avalanche over Flyers

*Playoff Team

COLOR PHOTO: DAVID E. KLUTHO [Colorado Avalanche player with face pressed against glass]