- Associated Press - Thursday, October 6, 2011




LAST SEASON: 47-23-12, 106 points. Lost to Boston 4-0 in conference semifinals.

COACH: Peter Laviolette, 3rd season with Flyers, 75-47-17; 11th overall, 319-231-76 in NHL.

ADDED: C Brayden Schenn, RW Wayne Simmonds, RW Jakub Voracek, G Ilya Bryzgalov, Signed RW Jaromir Jagr, C Maxime Talbot, D Andreas Lilja.

LOST: C Mike Richards, C Jeff Carter, LW Ville Leino, C Darroll Powe, RW Kris Versteeg, D Sean O’Donnell, G Brian Boucher, LW Dan Carcillo, RW Nikolay Zherdev, D Danny Syvret, D Nick Boynton.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Bryzgalov. The Flyers might finally have the goalie they need to win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1975. However, Bryzgalov will face pressure unlike before in Phoenix and will have to shoulder the blame if the Flyers fall short again. Bryzgalov has won 78 regular-season games the past two seasons but went 3-8 in two postseason series losses.


LAST SEASON: 49-25-8, 106 points. Lost to Tampa Bay 4-3 in first round.

COACH: Dan Bylsma, 4th season with Penguins, 114-56-19; 4th overall in NHL.

ADDED: LW Steve Sullivan, D Boris Valabik, D Alexandre Picard, C Jason Williams.

LOST: C Maxime Talbot, C Mike Rupp, LW Brett Sterling, RW Chris Conner, RW Eric Godard, RW Alex Kovalev, C Mike Comrie.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Sidney Crosby. The Penguins’ captain hasn’t played since early January because of a concussion and has yet to even take part in a contact practice. Pittsburgh managed to get into the playoffs last season despite lengthy absences of Crosby and fellow star centers Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal. The task might be tougher this time if they have to go without Crosby for another long stretch.


LAST SEASON: 44-33-5, 93 points. Lost to Washington 4-1 in first round.

COACH: John Tortorella, 5th season with Rangers, 94-76-17; 12th overall, 333-298-93 in NHL.

ADDED: C Brad Richards, D Tim Erixon, C Mike Rupp, D Brendan Bell.

LOST: C Chris Drury, D Matt Gilroy, C Evgeny Grachev, C Vinny Prospal, LW Alex Frolov, D Bryan McCabe.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Richards. The playmaking center was the big free agent prize, and the missing piece for New York’s offense and power play. If he can carry the burden of being in the Broadway spotlight and live up to the nine-year, $60 million deal he signed by bringing out the best of new linemate Marian Gaborik, he will be an instant Madison Square Garden favorite.


LAST SEASON: 38-39-5, 81 points. Out of playoffs.

COACH: Peter DeBoer, 1st season with Devils; 4th overall, 103-107-36 in NHL.

ADDED: D Adam Larsson, RW Cam Janssen, LW Eric Boulton.

LOST: D Tyler Eckford, D Anssi Salmela, LW Brian Rolston, D Colin White, C Adam Mair.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Zach Parise. The dynamic forward returns after missing most of last season because of a knee injury. He and the Devils were unable to work out a long-term deal, so that uncertainty could also weigh on his mind.


LAST SEASON: 30-39-13, 73 points. Out of playoffs.

COACH: Jack Capuano, 2nd season with Islanders, 26-29-10; 2nd overall in NHL.

ADDED: C Marty Reasoner, LW Brian Rolston, D Steve Staios.

LOST: C Doug Weight, D Bruno Gervais, D Radek Martinek, C Zenon Konopka, RW Trent Hunter, D Jack Hillen.

PLAYER TO WATCH: John Tavares. The No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft has shown a commitment to Long Island by forgoing a chance to be a restricted free agent and signing a six-year deal with the Islanders. As the leader of a strong group of young forwards, he will be counted on to get the Islanders in the playoffs for the first time since 2007.



LAST SEASON: 46-25-11, 103 points. Beat Vancouver 4-3 to win Stanley Cup.

COACH: Claude Julien, 5th season with Bruins, 179-103-55; 9th overall, 298-189-88 in NHL.

ADDED: LW Benoit Pouliot, D Joe Corvo.

LOST: D Tomas Kaberle, RW Michael Ryder, RW Mark Recchi, D Shane Hnidy.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Tim Thomas. The veteran goalie will be hard-pressed to match last season when he set an NHL record for save percentage (.938), led the NHL with a 2.00 goals-against average and backstopped the Bruins’ first Stanley Cup title since 1972. If he can, he and the Bruins could be repeat champions.


LAST SEASON: 44-30-8, 96 points. Lost to Boston 4-3 in first round.

COACH: Jacques Martin, 3rd season with Canadiens, 83-63-18; 17th overall, 600-469-193 in NHL.

ADDED: LW Erik Cole, G Peter Budaj, D Jeff Woywitka.

LOST: D James Wisniewski, D Roman Hamrlik, C Tom Pyatt, D Alexandre Picard, LW Benoit Pouliot, C Jeff Halpern, G Alex Auld, D Brent Sopel, D Paul Mara.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Carey Price. The Canadiens’ goalie tied Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo with 38 wins in the regular season, but Montreal failed to get out of the first round. Price allowed only 16 goals in the seven-game series against Boston, but he will have to bounce back from dropping Game 7 in overtime.


LAST SEASON: 43-29-10, 96 points. Lost to Philadelphia 4-3 in first round.

COACH: Lindy Ruff, 14th season with Sabres, 526-390-150; 14th overall in NHL.

ADDED: D Robyn Regehr, D Christian Ehrhoff, LW Ville Leino.

LOST: D Chris Butler, C Paul Byron, C Tim Connolly, D Steve Montador, RW Mark Mancari, G Patrick Lalime, C Rob Niedermayer, RW Mike Grier.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Ehrhoff. New Sabres owner Terry Pegula rolled the dice and acquired the rights to the defenseman, and then signed him to a 10-year, $40 million contract before he could get to free agency. Ehrhoff will be counted on to anchor the defense in front of star goalie Ryan Miller.


LAST SEASON: 37-34-11, 85 points. Out of playoffs.

COACH: Ron Wilson, 4th season with Maple Leafs, 101-107-38; 18th overall, 619-533-185 in NHL.

ADDED: D John-Michael Liles, C Tim Connolly, D Cody Franson, C Matthew Lombardi, C Philippe Dupuis.

LOST: D Brett Lebda, G Jean-Sebastien Giguere, C Tim Brent, LW Fredrik Sjostrom.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Phil Kessel. The forward posted his second straight 30-goal season with Toronto but will have to be better than a minus-20 to have a stronger impact.


LAST SEASON: 32-40-10, 74 points. Out of playoffs.

COACH: Paul MacLean, 1st season with Senators; 1st overall.

ADDED: LW Nikita Filatov, G Alex Auld, C Zenon Konopka.

LOST: G Curtis McElhinney, RW Ryan Shannon, D David Hale, G Pascal Leclaire, RW Marek Svatos.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jason Spezza. The center led the disappointing Senators with 21 goals and 57 points despite missing 20 games because of injury. If he can remain healthy, the mix of youngsters and veterans could help Ottawa shake off a 13-place finish in the East and challenge for a playoff spot.



LAST SEASON: 46-25-11, 103 points. Lost to Boston 4-3 in conference finals.

COACH: Guy Boucher, 2nd season with Lightning, 46-25-11; 2nd overall in NHL.

ADDED: D Bruno Gervais, G Mathieu Garon, RW Michel Ouellet, D Matt Gilroy, C Tom Pyatt, RW Ryan Shannon.

LOST: LW Sean Bergenheim, D Randy Jones, LW Simon Gagne, G Mike Smith, D Mike Lundin, G Cedrick Desjardins, D Matt Smaby.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Steven Stamkos. Nearly won his second straight goal scoring title, but dipped to 45 (just 14 in the second half) after netting 51 in the 2009-10 season and had to settle for second. At 21 and three seasons under him, Stamkos might now be the NHL’s most dynamic goal scorer with 119 in 243 career games.


LAST SEASON: 40-31-11, 91 points. Out of playoffs.

COACH: Paul Maurice, 13th season with Hurricanes/Whalers franchise, 376-378-141 (including 1995-2004); 15th overall, 452-444-163 in NHL.

ADDED: G Brian Boucher, C Tim Brent, LW Alexei Ponikarovsky, RW Anthony Stewart, D Tomas Kaberle.

LOST: LW Erik Cole, D Joe Corvo, D Bryan Rodney, LW Cory Stillman.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jeff Skinner. The 19-year-old center burst onto the scene last season and was second on the Hurricanes with 31 goals and 63 points in 82 games. The NHL’s youngest player skated off with the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year and will look to avoid the sophomore jinx.


LAST SEASON: 34-36-12, 80 points as Atlanta Thrashers. Out of playoffs.

COACH: Claude Noel, 1st season with Winnipeg; 2nd overall, 10-8-6 in NHL.

ADDED: D Randy Jones, LW Tanner Glass, D Derek Meech, C Aaron Gagnon, D Mark Flood, RW Eric Fehr, LW Kenndal McArdle, C Kyle Wellwood.

LOST: RW Anthony Stewart, RW Radek Dvorak, LW Eric Boulton, D Freddy Meyer, C Rob Schremp.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Dustin Byfuglien. After leading NHL defensemen last season with 20 goals and posting career highs with 33 assists and 53 points, Byfuglien was charged during the offseason with boating while intoxicated on a lake near Minneapolis. He will need to overcome his legal troubles and the move to Winnipeg from Atlanta and produce on the ice again for the Jets to have hopes of a successful season.


LAST SEASON: 30-40-12, 72 points. Out of playoffs.

COACH: Kevin Dineen, 1st season with Panthers; 1st overall in NHL.

ADDED: C Jonathan Huberdeau, D Brian Campbell, C Tomas Kopecky, LW Scottie Upshall, G Jose Theodore, D Ed Jovanovski, C Marcel Goc, RW Tomas Fleischmann, D Nolan Yonkman, LW Sean Bergenheim, RW Kris Versteeg, RW Matt Bradley, C Angelo Esposito.

LOST: G Tomas Vokoun, C Marty Reasoner, LW Rostislav Olesz, RW Niclas Bergfors, LW Darcy Hordichuk, D Alexander Sulzer, RW Byron Bitz, LW Kenndal McArdle, RW Steve Bernier, LW Sergei Samsonov.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Campbell. The well-traveled defenseman should help the Panthers gain an identity as he joins a host of veteran additions to a club that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2000. Florida is his fourth team in five seasons, but he is only two seasons removed from being a Stanley Cup champion with Chicago. He will try to bring the winning attitude with him to Florida.




LAST SEASON: 47-25-10, 104 points. Lost to San Jose 4-3 in conference semifinals.

COACH: Mike Babcock, 7th season with Red Wings, 304-126-62; 9th overall, 373-188-95 in NHL.

ADDED: D Mike Commodore, D Ian White, D Garnet Exelby, RW Chris Conner, G Ty Conklin.

LOST: D Brian Rafalski, D Derek Meech, G Chris Osgood, C Kris Draper, C Mike Modano.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jimmy Howard. After winning 37 games in 63 appearances in goal last season, Howard will be looked upon to get the veteran Red Wings deep into the playoffs the way the recently retired Chris Osgood did.


LAST SEASON: 44-27-11, 99 points. Lost to Vancouver 4-2 in conference semifinals.

COACH: Barry Trotz, 13th season with Predators, 455-398-131; 13th overall in NHL.

ADDED: D Brett Lebda, LW Robert Slaney, RW Niclas Bergfors, C Kyle Wilson, RW Zack Stortini, D Tyler Sloan, D Jack Hillen.

LOST: D Cody Franson, C Matthew Lombardi, C Marcel Goc, LW Steve Sullivan, RW Joel Ward, RW J.P. Dumont, D Shane O’Brien.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Shea Weber. The star defenseman was awarded $7.5 for this season after being taken to arbitration by Nashville. That marked the highest arbitration award in NHL history and made Weber the fifth-highest paid defenseman. Weber, who had 48 points in 82 games last season, can be a restricted free agent next summer.


LAST SEASON: 44-29-9, 97 points. Lost to Vancouver 4-3 in first round.

COACH: Joel Quenneville, 4th season with Blackhawks, 141-73-28; 15th overall, 579-356-146 in NHL.

ADDED: LW Rostislav Olesz, D Steve Montador, LW Andrew Brunette, RW Jamal Mayers, C Brett McLean, D Sean O’Donnell, LW Dan Carcillo, D Sami Lepisto.

LOST: LW Troy Brouwer, D Brian Campbell, C Tomas Kopecky, C Jake Dowell, D Chris Campoli, D Jassen Cullimore, C Ryan Johnson, D Jordan Hendry, RW Fernando Pisani, G Marty Turco.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The duo combined for 59 goals and 90 assists. They might have to fill the net more, along with Patrick Sharp, who is expected to return in early October from an appendectomy, to get Chicago back to an elite level. Kane should be ready for the start of the season after having wrist surgery in July.


LAST SEASON: 38-33-11, 87 points. Out of playoffs.

COACH: Davis Payne, 3rd season with Blues, 61-48-15; 3rd overall in NHL.

ADDED: C Evgeny Grachev, G Brian Elliott, D Kent Huskins, LW Brett Sterling, C Scott Nichol, C Jason Arnott, RW Jamie Langenbrunner, RW Jonathan Cheechoo, D Danny Syvret.

LOST: G Ty Conklin, D Nathan Oystrick, RW Cam Janssen.

PLAYER TO WATCH: David Backes. The 27-year-old forward is taking over as captain from Eric Brewer after putting up a season with team-highs of 31 goals, 31 assists, and a plus-32 rating.


LAST SEASON: 34-35-13, 81 points. Out of playoffs.

COACH: Scott Arniel, 2nd season with Blue Jackets, 34-35-13; 2nd overall in NHL.

ADDED: C Jeff Carter, D James Wisniewski, G Mark Dekanich, G Curtis Sanford, LW Alexander Giroux, D Aaron Johnson, D Radek Martinek, C Vinny Prospal.

LOST: RW Jakub Voracek, LW Scottie Upshall, D Jan Hejda, D Mike Commodore, G Mathieu Garon, C Kyle Wilson, LW Nikita Filatov, D Sami Lepisto, C Andrew Murray, LW Ethan Moreau, RW Chris Clark, D Anton Stralman, D Craig Rivet.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Carter. After his stunning trade from Philadelphia to Columbus, Carter - who led the Flyers with 46 goals last season - will be counted on to take some of the scoring load off of stalwart captain Rick Nash.



LAST SEASON: 54-19-9, 117 points. Lost to Boston 4-3 in Stanley Cup finals.

COACH: Alain Vigneault, 6th season with Canucks, 236-133-41; 10th overall, 345-251-80 in NHL.

ADDED: LW Marco Sturm, RW Mark Mancari, C Andrew Ebbett, D Alexander Sulzer, RW Mike Duco, RW Byron Bitz.

LOST: D Christian Ehrhoff, LW Raffi Torres, RW Guillaume Desbiens, LW Tanner Glass, LW Jeff Tambellini, C Alex Bolduc.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Roberto Luongo. The franchise goalie backstopped the team’s first Presidents’ Trophy and the club’s second trip ever - first since 1994 - to the Stanley Cup finals. Luongo might be hitting his peak now following an Olympic gold medal for Canada in 2010 and his first appearance in the Cup finals.


LAST SEASON: 41-29-12, 94 points. Out of playoffs.

COACH: Brent Sutter, 3rd season with Flames, 81-61-22; 5th overall, 178-117-33 in NHL.

ADDED: LW Roman Horak, D Chris Butler, C Paul Byron, RW Guillaume Desbiens, RW Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, D Scott Hannan, RW Lee Stempniak.

LOST: D Robyn Regehr, RW Ales Kotalik, D Adam Pardy, C Craig Conroy, LW Fredrik Modin, C Daymond Langkow, D Steve Staios.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Miikka Kiprusoff. The tireless goalie played in 71 of Calgary’s 82 games last season and earned 37 wins with a 2.63 goals-against average and .906 save percentage, but it wasn’t enough for the Flames, who finished 10th in the Western Conference, three points behind No. 8 Chicago.


LAST SEASON: 39-35-8, 86 points. Out of playoffs.

COACH: Mike Yeo, 1st season with Wild; 1st overall in NHL.

ADDED: RW Devin Setoguchi, C Charlie Coyle, C Darroll Powe, RW Dany Heatley, D Mike Lundin.

LOST: RW Martin Havlat, D Brent Burns, C James Sheppard, RW Chuck Kobasew, RW Antti Miettinen, G Jose Theodore, LW Andrew Brunette, D Cam Barker, C Patrick O’Sullivan, C John Madden.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Setoguchi and Heatley. This pair was acquired in separate deals with the San Jose Sharks for All-Star defenseman Burns and potent forward Havlat. The Wild hope the infusion of offense will take them at least as far as San Jose’s back-to-back trips to the Western Conference finals.


LAST SEASON: 30-44-8, 68 points. Out of playoffs.

COACH: Joe Sacco, 3rd season with Avalanche, 73-74-17; 3rd overall in NHL.

ADDED: C Joakim Lindstrom, LW Gabriel Landeskog, G Semyon Varlamov, D Jan Hejda, G Jean-Sebastien Giguere, RW Chuck Kobasew, G Cedrick Desjardins, D Shane O’Brien.

LOST: D Adam Foote, D John-Michael Liles, RW Tomas Fleischmann, G Peter Budaj, G Brian Elliott, C Philippe Dupuis.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Varlamov. The Avalanche targeted the 23-year-old goalie and nabbed him from the Washington Capitals for a first- and a second-round pick. Colorado put so much faith in him that it cut ties with last season’s goalie tandem of Budaj and Elliott, and signed Varlamov to a three-year, $8.5 million deal. Giguere is the veteran backup.


LAST SEASON: 25-45-12, 62 points. Out of playoffs.

COACH: Tom Renney, 2nd season with Oilers, 25-45-12; 9th overall, 228-215-67 in NHL.

ADDED: C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, LW Ryan Smyth, D Andy Sutton, LW Ben Eager, LW Darcy Hordichuk, D Cam Barker, C Eric Belanger.

LOST: C Andrew Cogliano, D Kurtis Foster, LW Jean-Francois Jacques, RW Zack Stortini, D Jim Vandermeer, D Sheldon Souray, C Colin Fraser, G Jeff Deslauriers, LW Liam Reddox, G Martin Gerber, D Jason Strudwick.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Smyth. After a tearful farewell four years ago when he was traded to the New York Islanders after he and the Oilers couldn’t reach a new contract, Smyth has found his way back to Edmonton. He isn’t quite the scorer and force in front of the net he once was, but Smyth still can provide offense and loads of leadership to a young squad.



LAST SEASON: 48-25-9, 105 points. Lost to Vancouver 4-1 in conference finals.

COACH: Todd McLellan, 4th season with Sharks, 152-63-31; 4th overall in NHL.

ADDED: D Brent Burns, C Michal Handzus, D Jim Vandermeer, RW Martin Havlat, C Andrew Murray, D Colin White, C James Sheppard.

LOST: RW Dany Heatley, RW Devin Setoguchi, D Niclas Wallin, C Scott Nichol, D Kent Huskins, D Ian White, LW Ben Eager, RW Jamal Mayers, C Kyle Wellwood.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Burns. The Sharks’ defense was already strong with Dan Boyle, who had 50 points last season, but the addition of the All-Star Burns could be the difference come playoff time.


LAST SEASON: 47-30-5, 99 points. Lost to Nashville 4-2 in first round.

COACH: Randy Carlyle, 7th season with Ducks, 266-169-57; 7th overall in NHL.

ADDED: D Kurtis Foster, RW Andrew Gordon, D Bryan Rodney, LW Jean-Francois Jacques, C Andrew Cogliano, G Jeff Deslauriers, D Matt Smaby, C Mark Bell.

LOST: C Todd Marchant, D Andy Sutton, D Andreas Lilja, C Kyle Chipchura, G Ray Emery, LW Jarkko Ruutu, LW Brad Winchester.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Corey Perry. The forward busted out last season with 50 goals - 18 more than his previous best in the NHL - that earned him the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP. Another season like that could be enough to propel the Ducks much further in the playoffs.


LAST SEASON: 43-26-13, 99 points. Lost to Detroit 4-0 in first round.

COACH: Dave Tippett, 3rd season with Coyotes, 96-55-13; 9th season overall, 367-211-78 in NHL.

ADDED: C Petteri Nokelainen, G Mike Smith, LW Raffi Torres, C Boyd Gordon, C Alex Bolduc, G Curtis McElhinney, D Tyler Eckford, C Kyle Chipchura, C Patrick O’Sullivan, C Daymond Langkow, RW Trent Hunter.

LOST: G Ilya Bryzgalov, D Ed Jovanovski, C Vernon Fiddler, C Andrew Ebbett, C Eric Belanger, RW Lee Stempniak.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Smith. He will fill the void in goal created by the trade of Ilya Bryzgalov to Philadelphia. Bryzgalov won 130 games with the Coyotes the previous three-plus seasons. Phoenix reached the playoffs twice during that time but failed to advance to the second round.


LAST SEASON: 46-30-6, 98 points. Lost to San Jose 4-2 in first round.

COACH: Terry Murray, 4th season with Kings, 122-93-31; 15th overall, 482-370-131 in NHL.

ADDED: C Mike Richards, C Colin Fraser, LW Simon Gagne, LW Ethan Moreau.

LOST: LW Ryan Smyth, C Michal Handzus, LW Alexei Ponikarovsky, RW Wayne Simmonds, C Brayden Schenn.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Doughty. It took several months, but the Kings and the 21-year-old defenseman finally reached agreement on an eight-year contract worth a reported $56 million. A Norris Trophy finalist in 2009-10, Doughty was fifth in the NHL last season with more than 25 1/2 minutes of ice time per game and led all Kings defensemen with 11 goals.


LAST SEASON: 42-29-11, 95 points. Out of playoffs.

COACH: Glen Gulutzan, 1st season with Stars; 1st overall in NHL.

ADDED: RW Michael Ryder, RW Radek Dvorak, C Vernon Fiddler, D Adam Pardy, D Sheldon Souray, C Jake Dowell, RW Eric Godard.

LOST: C Brad Richards, RW Jamie Langenbrunner, C Aaron Gagnon, C Jason Williams, D Jeff Woywitka.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Ryder. The forward left the Stanley Cup-champion Bruins for a two-year, $7 million deal with Dallas after posting eight goals and nine assists in the playoffs. He had 18 goals and 23 assists in 79 regular-season games, which will help replace the loss of leading scorer Brad Richards, who left as a free agent.

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