Devils' goaltender Brodeur among the players to watch in the NHL this season

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

A look at 10 players to watch this season in the NHL:

Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils

Last season: 44-27-6, 2.17 GAA

Career: 538-290-125, 2.20 GAA

Skinny: Not long after Patrick Roy's No. 33 jersey is retired in November by the Montreal Canadiens, Brodeur is likely to pass Roy's NHL record of 551 regular-season wins by a goaltender and add fuel to the debate over which Quebec-born goalie was the best. Brodeur, who has 538 wins, also goes into the season with 96 shutouts, only seven short of Terry Sawchuk's 1949-1970 record. Roy had 66 shutouts.

Marian Hossa, Detroit Red Wings

Last season: 29 goals, 37 assists

Career: 299 goals, 349 assists

Skinny: The high-scoring Slovak right-winger was sent from Atlanta to Pittsburgh at the trade deadline and helped the Penguins reach the Stanley Cup final. Then he signed a one-year, US$7.45-million deal as a free agent with the team that beat Pittsburgh in the final - Detroit. Pens captain Sidney Crosby says he understands, but Steeltown fans may not. The Pens visit Detroit on Nov. 11, Remembrance Day.

Brian Campbell, Chicago Blackhawks

Last season: 8 goals, 54 assists

Career: 35 goals, 160 assists

Skinny: The slick-skating defenceman was traded to San Jose at the deadline, then jumped to Chicago as a free agent on July 1 on an eight-year contract worth about US$7.1 million per season. The Hawks' playoff hopes rocketed at the notion of young phenoms Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane getting first-rate support on the rush.

Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins

Last season: 3 goals, 4 assists

Career: 72 goals, 117 assists

Skinny: Last Oct. 27, the Bruins' shifty young centre was knocked cold by a hit from Philadelphia's Randy Jones and missed the rest of the season with a severe concussion. There was fear he wouldn't play again, but he resumed skating in March and reported to training camp feeling no lingering effects. Now comes the real test, a gruelling 82-game NHL season with more big hits.

Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning

Last season: 40 goals, 52 assists

Career: 273 goals, 329 assists

Skinny: The big centre signed an 11-year, US$85-million contract extension in July, but starts the season at less than 100 per cent after off-season shoulder surgery. He expects to play with pain throughout the 2008-09 campaign, but will still be looked to for a third straight 90-point-plus season.

Olli Jokinen, Phoenix Coyotes

Last season: 34 goals, 37 assists

Career:208 goals, 253 assists

Skinny: The Finnish centre is the NHL's active leader in games played without ever being in the playoffs - 723. There is no guarantee that streak will end after he was traded at the draft in June by Florida to the Coyotes, whose last post-season appearance was in 2002. But coach Wayne Gretzky is confident his club is ready to make the jump.

Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Captitals

Last season: 65 goals, 47 assists

Career: 163 goals, 147 assists

Skinny: What will the NHL's most dynamic winger do for an encore to the 2007-08 season? The star Russian led the league in scoring last season with 112 points, set a record for goals by a left winger with 65, won the Hart, Art Ross and Rocket Richard trophies and then helped Russia win gold at the IIHF World Championships.

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

Last season: 24 goals, 48 assists

Career: 99 goals, 195 assists

Skinny: The dazzling centre missed 28 games last season with a high ankle sprain, but came back to lead the Pens to the Stanley Cup final. Along the way, he was usurped by Ovechkin for the scoring title and MVP awards, but is sure to answer back if he stays healthy this season. Crosby had 120 points in 2006-07 and had 72 in only 53 games last season.

Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens

Last season: 24-12-3, 2.56 GAA

Career: 24-12-3, 2.56 GAA

Skinny: Optimism runs high in Montreal after the Canadiens finished first in the Eastern Conference. The addition of Robert Lang, Alex Tanguay and Georges Laraque in the off-season has boosted their hopes, but much depends on the play of their highly touted second-year goaltender, who foundered in the playoffs last spring. Price says he ran out of steam, but showed up to camp looking fit and ready.

Jeff Finger, Toronto Maple Leafs

Last season: 8 goals, 11 assists

Career: 9 goals, 15 assists

Skinny: Finger is a decent defenceman who toiled 4 1/2 years in the minors before making it to the NHL with Colorado in 2007. Now he's thrown into hockey's brightest spotlight as the rebuilding Leafs' main off-season acquisition, inking a four-year, US$14-million contract that has been widely panned as excessive. The reassuring part for Finger is that he has new coach Ron Wilson on his side.



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