It's coming soon, and I'm not the only one thinking about it. So here it is mine, without too much analysis.
Sorry for the color coordination, but this is all that google docs would allow me to use. It has the seeds as thus:
I figure that the Sharks won't catch up to Detroit, and I figure that PHX only has Bryzgalov holding them in 4th now, and with LA having a couple games in hand and the great Quick/Bernier duo, they'll pick up home ice. Chicago won't be able to catch up with PHX, Dallas will take a position on Nashville because Dallas has simply played better hockey this season. They've lost a LOT of ground, but they're the same players that they were at the beginning of the season, except for the changes in Goligoski, Neal and Niskanen. Anaheim won't make it; their hot streak is just a hot streak. Conveniently at the end of the season, but won't stand up to Nashville's consitent play, and Dallas' better play.
In the East, if you look, the spots are all pretty much settled in. Carolina has been slumping and Buffalo surging, but not enough to catch up to the rangers. While Montreal normally beats Boston, they won't grab the number 3 spot, and because of that, they'll be stuck behind Pittsburgh and TBL, two mid conference powerhouses.
In the playoffs, even without Malhotra, the Canucks will dominate. Assume Luongo is out; Schneider is in. That still worries me! SJ will dominate the series against Chicago this time, but it will be unfortunately be too early in the playoffs. The semi-final against Vancouver will probably last 7 games for the Sharks, but the Canucks will take it. Detroit will likely not stand-up against Vancouver in the finals. The only reason they make it so far is the matchups against Dallas and LA.
In the East, Washington and Philly will pit against eachother for the conference Finals. The only upset will be Montreal over Boston. If these two match up in the playoffs, Boston is in trouble. They've only won 1 game out of all five this season. Montreal just has Boston's number. Otherwise, pretty simple. Washington is only the number 2 seed presently because of poor early play, and will remain so because their trump card is out. But when the great 8 is back (for the playoffs) he's gonna carry the team on his shoulders and pocket all those OT game winners in the 7 game series against Philly, only to face the #1 and #3 scorers in the league. Of which he won't have a chance against. Vancouver's goaltending will win the series against Washington!
I have Vancouver winning the cup. And if it isn't Vancouver? It'll be a team from the West.