Favs, unknowns, and the like
Anaheim - Getzlaf, Perry and/or Penner. Take your pick, they’ll be around for a long time. Moen was a surprise on the checking line with Rob Niedermayer and Pahlsson. George Parros gets a mention for hailing from my NJ high school alma mater.
Atlanta - Pascal Dupuis – The guy impressed a couple years back during Minnesota’s long playoff run (the year before Gaborik started getting hurt) with a great shot and an eye for the net. Eventually he should be able to regain that form. Zhitnik gets honorable mention because he is Zubov-silky on his skates.
Boston - Bergeron obviously. When you are 18 and still surprise the hell out of everyone in the league, something tells me you’ve got intangibles. Second choice is Marc Savard. After suffering through offensive purgatory with the Flames, he finally got a breathe of fresh air in Atlanta, only for no one to give him any credit. Oops.
Buffalo - Everyone’s favorite team to dissect last year, and a divisional rival, its tough to find a favorite or an unknown. So I’ll go with Michael Ryan. He should break 50 pts this year. Timmy Connolly is my favorite. A thinking man’s player.
Calgary - Mark Giordano for the sole reason he scored two against his hometown Leafs last season. I’d never heard of him before that night, and I’ll never forget him now.
Carolina - Erik Cole is an unbelievable hockey player. He’d get more credit if he was a canuck.
Chicago - Brent Seabrook. Two years ago Seabrook came out of nowhere with a crazy +/- on a crap team. For a rookie, that is reason to pay attention. Duncan Keith gets honorable mention as well. Enigma Radim Vrbata also deserves a mention, as he seems to have found a home, if only he could be consistent.
Colorado - Wojtek Wolski – one of the best hockey names around. Overshadowed by GWG Svatos and Calder candidate Stastny, but I prefer his game overall.
Columbus – David Vyborny – the guy is a maestro at times. Great to watch.
Dallas – Loui Eriksson – Ever since I heard about him disrespecting Mike Modano, I took a liking to him. If a rookie is that confident, I can’t wait to see what he can do with line 1 minutes. The other Lundqvist gets honorable mention for helping create one of the best goalies in the world.
Detroit – Hank Zetterberg – Top 5 forward in the league. I wish I got to watch him more often. Hopefully a chronic injury won’t impact his play too much. Tomas Kopecky gets a nod for being an effective big man on a team I presumed lacked size.
Edmonton – Joni Pitkanen is the real BIG D signing by the Oil. Another out of nowhere surprise from a few seasons ago, this guy is only going to get better. Potential is just astronomical.
Florida - Olli Weiss and Horton get more ink, but Rostislav Olesz is one slick player. Born in Oct 1985, he is still developing and should break out with a solid year, if this franchise keeps it together.
Los Angeles – Kopitar. All it took was seeing him dismantle Neidermayer and Pronger for goals during the opening week last season. Dustin Brown’s game is like a bull in a china shop. Very effective if he can stay out of the box a bit more.
Minnesota – I exposed my affinity for Kurtis Foster earlier this summer. Nolan Schaefer is a curiousity at this point, because he was schooled by one of the best goalie coaches in the game in San Jose.
Montreal – Latendresse could be what Lindros never became. That is saying quite a bit, but the power moves this guy has at his age are incredible. Once he learns to utilize his size in more situations, watch out.
Nashville – Jim Balsillie. I keed. Letting Steve Sullivan go on waivers still hurts. If Radulov gets a full season worth of line 3 ice time, by the end of the season he’ll be line 2. I believe its called a knack for scoring.
New Jersey – Travis Zajac. I saw some of the sweetest passes I’ve ever seen from this guy last year. One-touch redirects through his legs right on the tape. Just sick. If Lou fosters the chemistry with Parise, which I think he will, these two might just keep the Devils' post season streak going.
NY Islanders – Trent Hunter and Chris Campoli. Both are young and unfortunately stuck on the Islanders.
NY Rangers – Michal Roszival is a hidden gem. Though I don’t know how he is still unnoticed after his post season last year. Girardi is another name to learn. His awareness and deft passing on transitions was impressive. Ryan Callahan will also surprise with his offensive contributions in a limited role.
Ottawa – Mike Fisher has been a favorite for a while. I like his speed, tenacity and smarts.
Philadelphia – Mike Richards. Less glamorous of a player than Jeff Carter, but his hard-nosed approach more than makes up for it. Should rebound nicely this season.
Phoenix – Keith Ballard. Speed, smarts, fighting majors, puck carrying, big shot. You name it, he’s got it.
Pittsburgh – Ryan Malone. Home town pressure seems to weigh on him, but has great potential. Jordan Staal was my pick for Calder, mostly because his shot is deadly. Go check his shooting percentage. Scary good.
San Jose – Bernier, Clowe, Michalek, Pavelski, Rissmiller, Goc, Carle, Pickles….This team is ridiculously stacked.
St. Louis – Erik Johnson. Can’t wait to see what this kid can do against the big boys.
Tampa – Dan Boyle. A key cog in the super power play. Logs huge minutes. Always seems to be around the puck. Can score on the rush. He finally was recognized this past year as a Norris candidate. Nick Tarnasky is a favorite because I’d like to see him skate with Poni and Antro.
Toronto – Kyle Wellwood He can confound entire teams with his wizardy. Could become an Adam Oates if given a sniper to dish to. Matt Stajan is a close second. He is so close to putting his skills together to become a very good line 2 player. When he winds up with the puck on the break out, it is a sight to behold.
Vancouver – Luongo. Watched him play unbelievable hockey for years in Florida and no one noticed. He finally gets his due now that he plays in a market that cares. Very Brodeur-esque, in the way he leads from his crease.
Washington – Wake me up when there is anyone other than the Alexs.