Shoulder surgery in April derailed his training regimen, but Florida sources insist the second overall pick will be 100 percent for the regular season. No one expects him to dominate men as he did in the Finnish league, but at 6'-3", 209 pounds, he has the size and strength to assert his presence down low and give the Cats a much-needed offensive option.
2 of 17Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
His roommate at the Olympic orientation camp was Ryan Suter. In Nashville, it's expected that he'll be teamed with Shea Weber. Those pairings speak volumes about the expectations Jones faces this season. Just remember to temper them early on: this right-handed blueliner could be asked to play the left side for the Preds, a switch that demands an adjustment period.
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It's been 30 years since an 18-year-old last captured the Calder Trophy, but MacKinnon is ideally suited to succeed Tom Barrasso. The first-overall pick in the 2013 draft brings to the Avs world-class wheels, creative overdrive and a hunger for the net. He's expected to center the third line to start, but could force his way up the depth chart.
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There were scouts heading into the 2013 draft who believed tjhat Nichushskin was hands-down the most talented player on the board,. Watching him in camp action this summer, it's easy to see why. He has the size to dominate in the corners and down low, and the hands of an elite finisher. He'll be given every chance to play a top-six role for the Stars.
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Last season's most prized college free agent stunned observers with his effortless transition to the NHL pace. Joining the Wings with 11 games left in the season, he assumed a shutdown role, playing a smart, calm style that stabilized a struggling blueline down the stretch. DeKeyser earned coach Mike Babcock's trust in the playoffs before breaking his thumb in Detroit's first round series vs. Anaheim. He only notched one assist, but brings a high skill level that should reveal itself as he plays top-four minutes this year.
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A hip flexor injury ? and maybe a sense of entitlement -- derailed what should have been a dominant rookie season for the 13th overall pick in 2011. But Baertschi finished the year strong, tallying six points in his final seven games, and he's hoping that confidence from that hot streak, brushed with a touch of humility, will see him earn top-six minutes with the rebuilding Flames. However, Brian Burke, the team's fiery director of hockey ops, felt compelled to light a fire under the young winger by saying, "Flashes of brilliance are fine if you're working in the university, but they're not much good to people in an NHL building."
7 of 17Joel Auerbach/Getty Images
Listed at 6'-6", 215 pounds -- but reportedly taller and heavier at his camp weigh-in -- Bjugstad is the brick wall of a center that every team craves. He's shown offensive touch in the past, scoring 25 goals in 40 college games last season, but could step in as a Joel Otto-type defensive presence this season.
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Trade deadline house cleaning opened a spot in Dallas for Chiasson, who responded to his first NHL break with six goals in seven games. There's not a lot of flash to his game, but his willingness to drive the net, and the ability to finish once he gets there, sets him up to start the season with a top-six role
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Stolen from the Capitals at the trade deadline, Forsberg is exactly the sort of big-bodied, offensively minded forward the Predators never seem to draft but always desperately need. He's a bit raw at this point, but his terrific shot and ability to create space with speed would be a nice add for a team that tied for last in goal scoring last season.
10 of 17Michael Tureski/Icon SMI
Yeah, he had a great couple weeks in the playoffs, but he's not mistaking that streak for a key to a permanent stall at the TD Garden. Krug looked like a Don Sweeney-style defender who played bigger than his size and was as adept in his own end as he is keying the offense. The trick now is to prove that he can play this way consistently.
11 of 17Jay La Prete/AP
Murray was penciled into the Jackets' lineup last season until a shoulder injury suffered during the lockout scuttled those plans. He comes into camp this year ready to prove that he's healthy and capable of playing significant minutes as a Karl Alzner-type shutdown blueliner who can quell an attack with physical play or smart positioning.
12 of 17Mark Goldman/Icon SMI
The Caps may have depth on the right wing, but Wilson brings an element of physical menace that this team ? every team, actually ? desperately needs. The 6'-4", 210-pound winger held his own in three playoff games last spring, showing that he could handle himself against grown men, and he could use his size to add a fresh element to Washington's power play this season.
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No pressure or anything, but after spending two seasons in Sweden's elite league, Carolina GM Jim Rutherford says Lindholm is expected to make an immediate contribution to the 'Canes. The team loves his versatility ? he's played all three forward positions ? and his hockey sense, but his speed will make him valuable to a team that could use a little giddy up.
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It always seemed like an indefatigable work ethic would be the element that earned Jenner his shot in the NHL, but it was the surprisingly deft touch he displayed in camp that finds him starting the season on the Jackets' top line alongside Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik. His style is sure to make him a fan favorite in Columbus and public enemy No. 1 everywhere else.
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The Leafs seemed committed to ensuring a slow developmental curve for Rielly after ruining several top defensive prospects by rushing them into service, but the fifth overall pick from 2012 wouldn't be denied a spot. His ice time may be limited to a depth role, but his ability to read the play and make smart decisions with the puck could allow him to chip in on the power play.
16 of 17Jen Fuller/Getty Images
After watching him excel against men in Finland's top league, scouts agreed that Ristolainen was the most NHL-ready player in this year's draft. The big defenseman lived up to the hype, impressing with his mature play in Buffalo's camp. There were nights when he was the best D-man in blue and gold, according to assistant coach Teppo Numminen.
17 of 17Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images
The Habs still ice the cast of <italics>Smurfs 2</italics> up front, but the presence of Tinordi ensures that they'll have a big, physical presence on the back end. The son of former NHLer Mark Tinordi plays exactly as you'd expect, making smart, simple plays and keeping the opposition honest. He'll be a boon to Montreal's struggling penalty kill, and might surprise with what he can bring offensively.
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