- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Washington Times’ Corey Masisak provides his predictions and what to watch for this season:

1. Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks Dominated for Canada in international competitions; will lead Chicago youth movement with Patrick Kane

2. Erik Johnson, Blues Future Norris Trophy candidate already face of the franchise in St. Louis

3. Brett Sterling, Thrashers He might be only 5-foot-7, but 55 goals in an AHL season is pretty nice, and having Ilya Kovalchuk as a linemate won’t hurt either

4. Bobby Ryan, Ducks No. 2 pick overall in 2005, power forward forced way onto Cup champs with strong preseason

5. Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals Could rack up points on Caps” 1A line with Michael Nylander, Alexander Semin

5 new household names

1. Alexander Radulov, Predators The next great Russian scorer

2. Derek Roy, Sabres Will put up Daniel Briere-type numbers in his old spot

3. Joe Pavelski, Sharks One of many young emerging stars in San Jose

4. Patrick Eaves, Senators Could be the guy to give Ottawa more scoring beyond Big Three

5. Milan Jurcina, Capitals Big hits, big shot, big minutes could catch hockey world’s attention

5 shootout snipers

1. Jussi Jokinen, Stars (5-for-12) Original shootout star (10-for-13 in 2005-06) still pretty effective

2. Petteri Nummelin, Wild (6-for-7) 34-year-old former Swiss league star was a crunch time revelation in first NHL action in six seasons

3. Erik Christensen, Penguins (8-for-14) Pittsburgh’s leadoff man has filthy quick wrists; could see more production in regulation this season

4. Slava Kozlov, Thrashers (7-for-11) Loves skating wide to get goalie moving sideways, and he’s 12-for-18 in the two years combined

5. Viktor Kozlov, Capitals (5-for-12) Both he and Michael Nylander (also 5-for-12) equaled the Caps” team total last season (5-for-40)

5 coaches feeling the heat

1. Paul Maurice, Maple Leafs Can’t add Jason Blake and Vesa Toskala and miss playoffs again in Toronto fishbowl

2. Michel Therrien, Penguins Ah, the burden of drastically increased expectations

3. Bob Hartley, Thrashers Joy of first playoff appearance turned bitter quickly after uninspired sweep

4. Brent Sutter, New Jersey Trying to be the first coach to finish a post-lockout season for Lou Lamoriello

5. Glen Hanlon, Capitals Rebuilding time is over in the District with all of the new additions

5 villains for Caps fans

1. Jaromir Jagr, Rangers This one doesn’t need much of an explanation

2. Sidney Crosby, Penguins Really 1A, will move up one spot if Gary Bettman hands him the Cup in June

3. Daniel Briere, Flyers He and his wayward stick move south to Philadelphia; boos from Caps fans follow

4. Bob Hartley, Thrashers Atlanta coach had words with Caps general Glen Hanlon during November brawl

5. Alexander Semin, Capitals Love him or hate him, no hometown player divides the fan base more

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