Toronto Maple Leafs: 8-3-1 (17 points: 2nd in NHL)
Why they're contenders: The magic of Phil Kessel, who leads the NHL in every category other than most goaltenders injured.
Why they're pretenders: Kessel's 23.8 shooting percentage and MacArthur's 26.7 shooting percentage is as inflated as the real estate market was four years ago.
Verdict: Does the Leafs' planned parade route stop by the Hockey Hall of Fame? ... Sorry, force of habit...
Dallas Stars: 8-3-0 (16 points: Tied for 3rd in NHL)
Why they're contenders: Dallas has revived Sheldon Souray and Jamie Benn scores goals that make Blue Jackets players wonder why they're even in the NHL.
Why they're pretenders: Didn't they get off to a good start last year too?
Verdict: Even if they lose every game for the rest of the season, they'll be the 3rd best team of the 4 major sports in the Dallas area.
Edmonton Oilers: 7-2-2 (16 points: Tied for 3rd in NHL)
Why they're contenders: Two first overall picks in a row probably will make your team better, eventually.
Why they're pretenders: Linus Omark was sent down to the AHL, so the Oilers have no incentive to win shootouts now.
Verdict: Nail Yakupov could really help them long-term...
Phoenix Coyotes: 6-3-2 (14 points: Tied for 8th in NHL)
Why they're contenders: As long as they're coached by Dave Tippett and have a goaltender who knows what pads are, they'll be decent.
Why they're pretenders: The Coyotes' owners apparently tend to cancel things and lose a lot of money for a lot of people.
Verdict: The team's shooting percentage is 9.7%, which is approximately the percentage of seats that have ever been filled for hockey games at Jobing.com Arena, give or take 9%.
Colorado Avalanche: 7-5-0 (14 points: Tied for 8th in NHL)
Why they're contenders: Ryan O'Byrne has already scored a goal this year. To clarify, it was a goal for the Avs...
Why they're pretenders: If they keep waiting on the potential of Erik Johnson, they'll be waiting longer than Islander fans waiting for Brian Rolston's stick to strike the puck when he loads up.
Verdict: Somehow, the Avs are 7-5, but the team is a combined -37 in terms of +/- rating.
Ottawa Senators: 7-6-0 (14 points: Tied for 8th in NHL)
Why they're contenders: They've played 13 games, and they don't have 13 losses yet.
Why they're pretenders: Sens players have reportedly talked about winning some huge silver Cup this year. C'mon, the Calder Cup isn't that big...
Verdict: Losing to the 2nd worst team in the NHL normally wouldn't be unusual for Ottawa, since they're usually right behind that team. That wasn't the case this week.
Florida Panthers: 6-4-1 (13 points: Tied for 12th in NHL)
Why they're contenders: They renovated their roster coming into this season by signing every free agent available.
Why they're pretenders: Their signings of guys like.......oh, so they didn't really sign anyone good?!
Verdict: It's about quality, not quantity...unless you're talking about getting fans to attend home games.
Minnesota Wild: 5-3-3 (13 points: Tied for 12th in NHL)
Why they're contenders: They've had some dramatic moments already this season, and even Dany Heatley seems exciting to be on the team.
Why they're pretenders: Heatley hasn't experienced a Minnesota winter yet. That's when trade rumors could surface.
Verdict: They're still the only team in NHL history to have never outshot their opponent in any game. Okay, that's a minuscule exaggeration...
Carolina Hurricanes: 5-4-3 (13 points: Tied for12th in the NHL)
Why they're contenders: They're always in contention...at least until the last day of the season when all they need to do is win one home game to make the playoffs.
Why they're pretenders: Eric Staal is a -13 and Tomas Kaberle still thinks he's good.
Verdict: As a side note, Jeff Skinner told his team he was participating in No-Shave November. The team is still laughing at him.