The 2017-18 NHL season is still a good three months from beginning.
Plenty of things have changed since the Pittsburgh Penguins wrapped up the Stanley Cup playoffs with their second straight championship.
The Vegas Golden Knights are now fully assembled. The 2017 NHL Entry Draft is complete. Free agency is right around the corner. And trades have shaken up a handful of contenders.
In a far-too-early look at the league from top to bottom, here's a post-draft rundown of where teams rank for the 2017-18 campaign,with the Pens' banner raising (and keep in mind this order will inevitably change as the return to ice draws closer):
The champs. Again. Looking for a three-peat, they deserve the benefit of the doubt. They have the ultimate blend of veteran star power, big-play youth and a long-term No. 1 goalie.
Their early playoff exit was not pretty. But John Tortorella's lineup should be even more dangerous with Artemi Panarin in the fold.
How can you not be excited about what's going on here? Connor McDavid won't have Jordan Eberle's support, but the Oilers are still scary.
Keeping Patrick Eaves around should make for some nice offensive chemistry.
Brandon Saad will probably do well back in the Windy City, just as Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews hoped. But are Kane and Toews enough to keep running the show anymore?
They have such admirable depth, and if Pekka Rinne hadn't faltered on the road, they would probably be going for a repeat title in 2017-18. Still, it'll be hard to top their playoff run.
Re-signing T.J. Oshie was smart, but for eight years and $46 million? Maybe not. This team needs new life, not a mirror image of the unit that keeps coming up short in the postseason.
Jonathan Drouin should give the offense some explosiveness. The question is whether Montreal is giving up too much long-term blue-line talent to get that explosion.
Year Two of Auston Matthews? This should be fun.
Like the Preds, their defensive grit made them surprise contenders. They need more consistency to get as far as they did in 2016-17, however.
How much longer can this team bank on big nights from Henrik Lundqvist?
They could swing in either direction here. Disappointing playoff exit aside, the Sharks still have the top-line talent to compete -- even if Joe Thornton somehow departs.
Coughing up way too much for Martin Hanzal proved ineffective. The Wild set the bar high for much of 2016-17, and topping that will be a challenge.
Jake Allen's playoff performance was a promising sign.
Of non-playoff teams, they have the juice to get back in the mix right away. Nolan Patrick was a gem of a pick for Philly -- an obvious gem, but a gem nonetheless.
Can Bruce Cassidy's interim fire carry over into a new season? Free agency will be a big factor for this team.
They've infused some flare into their lineup by landing Travis Hamonic. But their playoff dud was a reminder of the journey still ahead.
Look out down the road, when Mikhail Sergachev could start chipping in.
They could certainly finish better than this, but their sights should probably be set a little more on building for the future -- like via the Hamonic deal.
No. 20 almost seems too low for Dallas considering the stock they've put in making an immediate turnaround. Ken Hitchcock and Ben Bishop should up their chances.
Their core failed to deliver a playoff berth in 2016-17, and it's a little too early to say they'll get things together this time around.
Scott Darling will make for an interesting addition in the net. The Canes need more than another late-season rally, though.
Patrik Laine, part two. We'll see if the Jets can help him out with more concrete long-term support and goaltending.
The hunt for a return to the playoffs begins. A Dylan Larkin rebound would help.
Losing Jonathan Marchessault might have been the most quiet, albeit significant, move of the Panthers' offseason.
Nico Hischier. All eyes are on him. And it's about time the Devils gave Taylor Hall some help.
For some reason, they've almost approached the offseason in "win-now" mode. Maybe it helps them surprise this season, but it also throws more question marks onto a needed rebuild.
Tough to put them much higher than here, at least for the time being. Their 2016-17 finish was about as ugly as it gets.
Yeah, yeah. Expansion teams aren't first-year contenders, you say? That's fine. But Marc-Andre Fleury in the net and a decent crop of defensemen should make them worth a watch.
Somehow we're still talking about Matt Duchene. Their poor draft positioning was not a great start to the offseason.
Sorry, but we can't expect Travis Green to turn this thing around so quickly.