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2010-2011 Season Preview

Lombardi, Franson expected to step into breach

Thursday, 09.30.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

The offseason in Nashville brought about some shrewd moves by GM David Poile and the continued hope that a few of Predators' top prospects develop into true NHL players in the coming season. Yup, it's like Groundhog Day in the Music City.

Every year it seems Poile and coach Barry Trotz find a way to create a playoff contender out of a limited budget. Rising stars emerge and veterans fill roles while goaltending serves as the backbone for the Predators' success.

The formula works. Why change it?

This time, Poile traded away team captain Jason Arnott in a deal that netted him $4.5 million in cap space and a younger, up-and-coming forward in Matt Halischuk, as well as a 2011 second-round pick. Poile used that cap room to sign Matthew Lombardi as Arnott's replacement. He also signed restricted free-agent defenseman Ryan Parent.

At 25, Weber is long in the tooth on young Preds

Thursday, 09.30.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Brian Hunter - NHL.com Staff Writer

Since making his NHL debut on Jan. 6, 2006, Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber has come a long way in a short amount of time.

The former second-round pick in the 2003 Entry Draft already has put together three seasons of 16 or more goals and 40 or more points. This past year, he suited up for his country in his home province of British Columbia and helped Canada win the gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics. And he enters the 2010-11 campaign as the new captain in Nashville, inheriting the "C" from Jason Arnott following his trade to New Jersey.

At the tender age of 25, Weber is already a grizzled veteran as far as the Predators are concerned, even if he doesn't quite see himself that way.


Richard Trophy chase sure to be an entertaining one

Wednesday, 09.29.2010 / 10:51 PM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Two players who never had done so before hit the magic 50-goal mark last season, with the Penguins' Sidney Crosby and the Lightning's Steven Stamkos each taking home a share of the Rocket Richard Trophy for netting 51 goals apiece.

Can either do it again? Clearly the talent is there, but even if they hit 50, there's still an immense amount of offensive talent around the League that could make 51 a starting point.

NHL.com takes a look at the potential candidates for this year's goal-scoring title -- in alphabetical order only.

Devils duo not playing like North American novices

Wednesday, 09.29.2010 / 10:21 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

It's only a matter of time before New Jersey Devils coach John MacLean finds himself reveling in the "Swede" smell of success.

While MacLean would prefer to take the wait-and-see approach, former first-round picks Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby are making it very difficult.

Not surprisingly, the young Swedes sit side-by-side in the New Jersey dressing room and watching them interact has become as entertaining as witnessing their incredible skill set on the ice. Even as reporters are asking questions, they'll glance at one another, smile and speak in Swedish before serving up a response. Only one season removed from playing in the Swedish Elite League -- Josefson with Djurgardens and Tedenby with HV 71 Jonkoping -- the duo appears right at home in New Jersey.


Plenty of scoring stars with Art Ross potential

Wednesday, 09.29.2010 / 9:28 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The NHL hasn't seen a repeat winner of the Art Ross Trophy since Jaromir Jagr won the last of his four straight scoring titles in 2001. That doesn't automatically disqualify the Canucks' Henrik Sedin from again leading the League in scoring, but it's just one factor working against him.

Another much larger one is the number of outstanding scorers playing the game today. Six active players are former Ross Trophy winners, and 14 current players other than Sedin have 100-point seasons to their credit.

So can Sedin buck the odds and win a second straight scoring title? Or will some other player rise up and collect the hardware? NHL.com takes a look at the potential leaders -- in alphabetical order only. After all, picking the scoring leader in September is a shot that has little chance of going in.

Nicklas Backstrom, C, Capitals -- Backstrom gets far less attention than he would on any other team because of the force that is Alex Ovechkin. But getting that little spotlight certainly hasn't bothered the fourth pick of the 2006 Entry Draft, who finished fourth in the League last season with 101 points.

Healthier Wild are optimistic about playoffs return

Wednesday, 09.29.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

It's difficult to be successful if you're not healthy. The Minnesota Wild learned that the hard way in 2009-10, when several key players suffered injuries, which contributed to the Wild's 13th-place finish in the Western Conference.

These days, though, things are looking up in Minnesota. Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who missed the final 81 games last season with a concussion, is back on the ice. Brent Burns, Chuck Kobasew and Niklas Backstrom are all healthy as well.

It makes for a different vibe for Todd Richards, who is entering his second season behind the bench in Minnesota.

Spezza says play will turn boos to cheers

Wednesday, 09.29.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Jason Spezza is prepared to wipe the slate clean in 2010-11 following the most tumultuous season of his career with the Ottawa Senators.

A 70-point producer for four straight seasons, Spezza entered the 2009-10 season brimming with expectations, but the reality proved to be harsh. In addition to recording his lowest point total in five seasons during an injury-plagued, 60-game regular season, Spezza admitted disappointment at the cascade of boos raining down on him at Scotiabank Place during the playoffs and then having to deal with summer speculation he might be traded.

"I just want to clear up a lot of the talk going on," Spezza said during his celebrity golf tournament over the summer. "At no point did I ever demand a trade to (General Manager) Bryan Murray.

Gonchar a fit in many ways for Senators

Wednesday, 09.29.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

"We expect him to be one of our top minute guys and we have to play him in all areas. That's why he's here, that's why we went out and signed him. Not only can he contribute offensively, but we expect him to be solid defensively. With Pittsburgh, he played against the opponent's top lines and killed penalties." -- Sens coach Cory Clouston

Don't expect Ottawa Senators coach Cory Clouston to suddenly implement the "torpedo system" now that offensive-minded defenseman Sergei Gonchar has joined the team.

"Obviously we feel we've improved in the back end in a lot of different areas," Clouston told NHL.com. "By signing Sergei, we've added a guy who knows how to move the puck, can make great reads, smart plays and create offense, but I'm not about to sacrifice good defensive positioning for more offense."

So what will change now that Gonchar is in the fold?

"We want to make sure that our puck possession is increased and we feel we have that now with someone like Sergei coming to our club," Clouston said.

Senators on the verge of something special

Wednesday, 09.29.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Ottawa Senators had one of the NHL's more up-and-down seasons in 2009-10.
They opened with five wins in seven games and were looking good at the quarter point of the season with a 12-6-3 record. They held the fort through early January and were 22-16-4 with the Boston Bruins coming to town on Jan. 5.
That's when the ship suddenly started sinking -- fast.

Wild hoping for same success with Madden

Wednesday, 09.29.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

It's impossible to place a monetary value on having the experience of winning multiple Stanley Cups. But for the Minnesota Wild to snag 37-year-old John Madden from the free-agent market this summer for a mere $1 million, GM Chuck Fletcher had to feel like he was getting himself a bargain.

"We were thrilled he came," said Fletcher, who signed Madden on Aug. 6. "It came down to two things -- last year we struggled defensively and we also had so many injuries that we felt it would probably be very important if we could convince John Madden to come play for us. You can never have enough centerman, and clearly to find a player with that kind of experience and talent, we just felt it was a very logical addition for our club at that point in the summer."

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Quote of the Day

I'm just excited about the opportunity. I've been on the ice earlier than usual and in the weight room, pushing around a little more weights than usual. Every day I go into a workout with a smile on my face and ready to go. When you do have a little more responsibility, you want to take your lunch pail and get ready to work.

— Brian Elliott to Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch on being the Blues' No. 1 goalie