5. Young guns vs. old heads
In a shortened season, do rookies or aging veterans benefit more? In theory, veterans could benefit from playing fewer games but the compacted schedule could put more strain on their bodies. Younger players, on the other hand, should be rearing to go the second the puck drops.
Young teams like the Islanders, Oilers, and Blues could outlast the competition and will be midseason form with a better ability to handle banged up bodies by the time the playoffs role around. Sheer adrenaline, youth, and raw skill could benefit these teams if they sneak into the postseason.
4. The return of Redden
Sheldon Souray was 35 when he got a reprieve from the Dallas Stars to rejoin the NHL after being buried in the AHL for a good portion of the 2011 season. He started off very strong and was a top-flight fantasy defenseman, racking up big points before an injury derailed him and he tapered off in the latter part of last season. Wade Redden, also 35, may not put up as many points if a team signs him this season but he will bounce back and have even more motivation than Souray to prove his worth as a capable NHL defenseman. Expect a strong start to the season from him.
3. David Perron
The 24-year-old winger, David Perron, suffered a number of setbacks due to injuries over the last two seasons but finished the 2012 season off with a bang, scoring and finishing fifth on the St. Louis Blues in netting 42 points in the final 57 games of the year. He has proven he can score in bunches and the shortened season will allow him to pick up right where he left off last season. Perron could flirt with the 50-point mark this season and be top 10 in the league in scoring.
2. Mass confusion
Given that the NHL has a new CBA which is ridiculously long (the summary PDF alone is 24 pages), filled with tedious legalese and already being amended, it is nearly a given that people will spread misinformation when transactions occur and GMs will slip up and make moves that may hurt their team. Remember that time the Flyers signed Chris Pronger to an extension, thinking it wouldn’t count against the 35-plus rule? Yeah, stuff like that is going to happen again.
1. Bubbling Oil
The Edmonton Oilers have a lineup packed with such elite talent and barely any of those players have hit their prime yet. This team is going to be good — like close to the original Oilers dynasty good — once they put it all together and solidify their goaltending. This could be a very strong year for them.