Destined for the basement

At the start of each new NHL season the debates surrounding who will win each conference and who has the best shot at the cup dominate hockey arguments everywhere.

But what about the opposite – the thing that no team aspires to be? Who will be the epitome of futility, the archetype of ineffectuality? Who will be the worst team in the NHL?

Eastern Conference: New York Islanders

The pool of talent among the men from Long Island is remarkably slim. The Islanders’ skaters generally fall into three categories: those who were once good, those who were never good and those who will be good. This is a combination that does not bode well for a franchise that has not been a legitimate playoff threat for many years.

In the has-been column sit the likes of Doug Weight (now 38 years), Dwayne Roloson (39) and Richard Park (33).

Those like Sean Bergenheim, Andy Sutton and Brenden Witt never really matched their promise while Trent Hunter, Freddy Meyer and Jon Sim are all aging place-fillers.

The good news for the Islanders is the future. Talented youngsters Josh Bailey (19), Rob Schremp (23) and Kyle Okposo (21) will look to supplement John Tavares in the future, and it is in that future that the Islanders’ fans must pin their hopes.

Unfortunately, there is not enough around all-star offensive defenceman Mark Streit to keep this batch of Long Islanders out of the Eastern Conference cellar.

Western Conference: Phoenix Coyotes

The amount of young talent on the Coyotes is unmistakable; however, their roster is a classic case of youth plus distraction equals disaster.

Phoenix’s third overall pick in the 2007 draft, Kyle Turris, has failed to impress over the past few years, a characteristic that echoes the desert dogs’ performance in general.

The youth movement lead by Peter Mueller (21), Viktor Tikhonov (21) and Mikkel Boedker (19) is not yet good enough to take this team out of the bottom of the 2009-10 NHL Western Conference.

The off-ice issues surrounding the ownership of the team will be too much for this overall extremely young squad, and will struggle with that distraction in spite of the leadership of aging veterans Shane Doan, Ed Jovanovski and Adrian Aucoin.

Dishonourable mentions:

Eastern Conference

Ottawa Senators, Florida Panthers, Atlanta Thrashers, Tampa Bay Lightning

Western Conference

Nashville Predators, Minnesota Wild, Los Angeles Kings, Colorado Avalanche