NHL: 5 Key Questions Answered
1. How Will Sidney Crosby Perform This Year?
Injuries have hampered the 25-year-old captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins the last two years. He has only played 63 games due to a concussion. Crosby at the end of last season signed a 12-year, $104.4M contract extension that will keep him in Pittsburgh through the 2024-25 NHL season. Pretty big risk taken by the Pittsburgh organization. However, when healthy (even at 50 percent) Sidney Crosby is a top five player or even the best player in the NHL. With that said, how will his body feel in a shorten season? Someone coming off a concussion has to be extra careful of injury. Sure, plenty of injuries will occur during this year, during the shorten schedule, but no one will be monitored more than Sid the Kid. Still, if he is healthy I expect Crosby to be top five in points with him leading the league in assists.
2. Is This Martin Brodeur’s Last Year?
His contract would indicate no, considering he signed a two-year, $9 million deal to remain with the Devils in July. However, I felt he should have retired last year, coming off a Stanley Cup appearance. Also, the Devils have lost some key pieces, which included Zach Parise who left for the Minnesota Wild. Still, Brodeur is here to stay and last time there was a shorten season 1994-95, Brodeur lead the Devils to a Stanley Cup victory. Can the same happen this year? Maybe, but I’ll go out on a limb and say no. With that said, Brodeur will stay the two years that his contract allows.
3. Are The Carolina Hurricanes The Real Deal?
The Hurricanes had a solid group of players last year, which included Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner and Cam Ward. Now, they added Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin. More than likely the Staal brothers will be playing on the same line together which should be a joy to watch. As for Semin I see him on the second line. The addition of Jordan Staal, is a good one. However, the Alexander Semin free-agency signing can be a bit of a risk. Semin has great offensive ability, but can be known as a lazy player and someone who doesn’t give it his all throughout the entire year. With a short schedule (48 games), Semin will have to be dialed in every single game. However, I think the Hurricanes will make the playoffs this year as a fifth seed.
4. Can The Kings Repeat?
Let’s not forget folks, when the Kings started their magical run they were the eighth seed in the Western Conference. They got hot at the right time and mowed down everyone in the playoffs. It was an impressive outing. With that said, I give the Kings a good chance of repeating, as they are my choice out of the West to go to the Stanley Cup. They still have their pieces intact, included Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Dustin Penner, Drew Doughty, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Jonathan Quick. When you have all those key guys back you have a solid chance of repeating.
5. Who Will Be In The Stanley Cup?
Last year, in the playoffs there wasn’t too much scoring (except Penguins/Flyers first round matchup). With that said, I expect goaltenders to have a huge role this year as well. I believe the Kings will get back to the Stanley Cup Finals. Who will they take on from the Eastern Conference? Two teams come to mind, the New York Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Picking one team? I’m going with the New York Rangers. They have the best goaltender in the game in Henrik Lundqvist and one of the best defenses in the game. Last year, offense was a problem and they acquired Rick Nash to solve that problem. So for the 2012-13 season my Stanley Cup prediction is the Los Angeles Kings vs. the New York Rangers.