The One Player Who's the Biggest Question Mark for Each Team in the NHL

Tom Urtz Jr.@@TomUrtzJrContributor ISeptember 27, 2012

The One Player Who's the Biggest Question Mark for Each Team in the NHL

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    In the world of professional sports, nothing is guaranteed and there are always questions marks surrounding players and teams.

    The NHL is currently in the middle of a major work-stoppage, but optimists believe the season will eventually start, and with that in mind, each team in the NHL has a question mark entering the 2012-13 season.

    Some players are looking to bounce back, others are in a free-agent walk year and others have joined a new team.

    With that in mind, here are the biggest question marks for each team in the NHL. 

Anaheim Ducks: Ryan Getzlaf

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    Ryan Getzlaf is coming off the worst season of his career and is also an impending UFA. Getzlaf only managed to contribute 57 points in 82 games and he is the Anaheim Ducks' biggest question mark for this upcoming season.

    Getzlaf is an interesting subject because it seems that he produces better in shortened seasons as opposed to 82-game campaigns. If you look at the Ducks' captain's statistics, you will see for yourself how he has been " on" one year and turned "off" the next.

    It isn't solely a numbers argument but Getzlaf hasn't played like the elite 91-point player he was in 2008-09.

    A player of his caliber who could score 69 points in 67 games, shouldn't drop to 57 points in 82 games.

    The questions surrounding Getzlaf are two-fold. The first question is: Will Getlzaf bounce back, remain healthy and be a solid contributor for Anaheim?

    This is the case because as an impending free agent, Getzlaf could stand to make a lot of money on the open market.

    Despite his down year, Getzlaf is an offensive center with tons of size. Teams interested in Getzlaf will keep a close eye on his production because they don't want to over-pay for an under-performing center.

    The next question mark surrounding Getzlaf is whether or not he will remain a Duck for the entirety of the 2012-13 season. This is the case because it is quite possible that the Ducks may decide to trade him before he hits the open market this summer, as suggested by Lyle Richardson of The Hockey News.

    Richardson, suggests that the Ducks could deal Getzlaf for a return that includes a young building block center, because it would be better than losing him to free agency.

    So the question remains, will Ryan Getzlaf rebound this season and stay in Anaheim, or will he make a ton of money on the open market next summer?

Boston Bruins: Tuukka Rask

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    Tim Thomas is no longer in the picture and now Tuukka Rask is the team's full time starter.

    Part of the reason the Bruins have been so successful the past few years is their successful goaltending tandem.

    Thomas is a former Vezina and Conn Smythe recipient who was a very good starter. On the other hand, Rask has been a worthy backup but he is now on his own. If he can't handle the starter's job, the Bruins could struggle.

    There is no guarantee that this will happen but it is something that fans should be thinking about heading into the new NHL season. 

Buffalo Sabres: Cody Hodgson

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    Cody Hodgson is one of the NHL's top young centers and he is a player who could be a question mark for the Buffalo Sabres in 2012-13.

    There is no denying the potential of Hodgson and his abilities, but he is a player who could be the Sabres' top center this season.

    Last season, Hodgson put up 41 points while splitting time with the Vancouver Canucks and the Sabres. The question facing Hodgson is whether or not he can be a number one center to help carry the offense?

    Center depth is an area the Sabres have improved upon through trades and drafting, but a big part of the Sabres offense rests on Hodgson's shoulders.

Calgary Flames: Roman Cervenka

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    Roman Cervenka was one of the Calgary Flames' biggest acquisitions this offseason. Cervenka has spent his career to date in both the KHL and the Czech Extraliga.

    He gained notoriety as Jaromir Jagr's linemate when Jagr suited up for Avangard Omsk of the KHL. That season, Cervenka had 61 points in 51 games.

    The question surrounding Cervenka is whether or not he can be effective in the NHL, and if he will have an impact on the Flames offense with new acquisition Jiri Hudler.

Carolina Hurricanes: Alex Semin

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    Although Alex Semin's one-year, $7.0M contract is low risk, he is the Carolina Hurricanes biggest question mark heading into this season. The dynamic Russian forward has posted back-to-back 54-point campaigns and it appears that his career has hit a lull.

    As the biggest signing of the Hurricanes summer, he remains a question mark because what happens if Carolina is a playoff contender and Semin is struggling?

    His contract and work ethic could make him a hard sell, and it wouldn't be out of the question for Carolina to bulk up for a playoff run. This year could be Semin's last chance to prove that he can be a successful scorer in the NHL.

Chicago Blackhawks: Corey Crawford

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    The success and failures of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2012-13 could hinge on the effectiveness of netminder Corey Crawford. The Blackhawks have a great offensive punch and a decent blue line but Crawford could really hurt the Hawks' chances.

    Crawford posted a 30-17-7 record in 2011-12 with a paltry 2.72 GAA. It is also fair to hang the demise of the Hawks in the playoffs on Crawford's lackluster play. Crawford posted a record of 2-4-3 with a 2.58 GAA and a .893 SV%.

    It is safe to say that the team doesn't have the utmost confidence in the young netminder after they considered replacing him with Martin Brodeur this summer.

    Although the Blackhawks have a solid forward core and a solid blue line, Crawford's ineptitude could lead to the Hawks struggling in 2012-13.

Colorado Avalanche: P.A. Parenteau

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    P.A. Parenteau was the Colorado Avalanche's biggest addition this summer and he is their biggest question mark.

    Many Islanders fans would like to suggest that Parenteau's offensive success was a byproduct of playing alongside the NHL's next big star, John Tavares.

    In Colorado, Parenteau will play with either Matt Duchene or Paul Stastny, so either way he will still be paired with an offensive center.

    Can Parenteau continue to pot 65-plus points a season, or will he flop around in the snowy mountains of Colorado?

Columbus Blue Jackets: The Entire Team

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    The entire Columbus Blue Jackets team is a huge question mark this season for obvious reasons.

    The Jackets started things off when they traded away their franchise star in Rick Nash this offseason. The loss of Nash is really going to hurt the Jackets' limited offense, and they are going to struggle greatly.

    The additions of Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov will give the team depth, but they aren't game changers like Nash and it will take time for those players to find their niche.

    Tim Erixon is a top defensive prospect, who alongside Ryan Murray, will be a solid anchor on the Jackets' blue line in the future.

    Although Sergei Bobrovsky is an improvement in net, the Jackets' blue line and goaltending is still questionable at best, so expect the team to struggle to find its way this season.

    No matter how you slice it, the Blue Jackets are in a tough predicament after receiving a lackluster return for their franchise star Rick Nash.

Dallas Stars: Derek Roy

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    Derek Roy was added this summer through a trade with the Buffalo Sabres, and he replaced the outbound Mike Ribeiro as the team's No. 2 pivot.

    Since coming back from injury, Roy has been a huge question and the same will apply during the 2012-13 season. Roy was once a player who could produce at a near point-per-game rate, and he hasn't come close to that in quite some time.

    Roy will be surrounded with quality linemates in Dallas, so it will be interesting to see if he can rebound in 2012-13.

    Until Roy proves he can still be a successful scoring center in the NHL, there will be tons of questions surrounding his potential for the upcoming season.

Detroit Red Wings: Niklas Kronwall

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    Niklas Kronwall is now the Detroit Red Wings top defender, but will he be able to embrace that role?

    The Detroit Red Wings have been a very successful playoff team for the past two decades but they could run into problems this season after failing to address two key losses on their blue line.

    The Red Wings didn't make major additions this summer to compensate for their major subtractions of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart, and that puts a big burden on Kronwall, Kyle Quincey and Ian White.

Edmonton Oilers: Justin Schultz

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    After all the hoopla surrounding Justin Schultz and the #SchultzWatch that ensued before he signed with the Edmonton Oilers, will Schultz live up to the hype this season?

    Schultz was a talented college defenseman in the NCAA but there are a lot of questions on whether or not he can make the transition to the NHL level right off the bat.

    As one of hockey's top prospects, there are a lot expectations for Schultz, but will he live up to them this season?

Florida Panthers: Jose Theodore

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    Jose Theodore was the Florida Panthers' starting goaltender in 2011-12, and he will be between the pipes for the 2012-13 season.

    Theodore remains a huge question mark because his play has declined over the past few years. Instead of giving top goalie prospect Jacob Markstrom a shot between the pipes, the Panthers will keep Theodore as the starter and Scott Clemmensen will be the backup.

    However, can Theodore have a bounce back year for a Panthers team looking to make it back to the playoffs? The Southeast Division improved over the summer, so Theodore will need to be on top of his game this season.

Los Angeles Kings: Mike Richards

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    It is tough to look at the defending Stanley Cup Champions and find a player who has major questions surrounding him, but it appears that one player needs to prove themselves in 2012-13.

    Mike Richards only mustered 44 points of offense last season, even though he was acquired to be a force in the Los Angeles Kings' top six. The question mark associated with Richards is whether or not he can return to producing at a near point-per-game rate.

    Richards' 44-point campaign was a significant slide from the 66 points he had the year before.

    Richards' career high is 80 points in 79 games, so something was clearly amiss last year because he has illustrated he can be an upper-echelon performer.

    The former Philadelphia Flyers captain has been reunited with his best friend and Flyers' linemate Jeff Carter, so there is no reason why the duo should not be as lethal as they were in Philly.

    The Kings have a stacked lineup and they could increase their chances of repeating as Stanley Cup Champions if Mike Richards can start playing better hockey.

Minnesota Wild: Zach Parise

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    Zach Parise was the Minnesota Wild's top addition this offseason and he is a player who will be looked upon to improve the team's offense. He will likely be paired with Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley in some capacity, and that could become one of the league's top lines.

    The question marks surrounding Parise stem from his haughty contract. Will Parise be able to score 80 or more points and led the Wild to the playoffs?

    If not, $7.53M a season for Parise could prove to be one of the worst contracts handed out in free agency history. This isn't a knock on Parise, but he isn't a flashy or dynamic scorer like Steven Stamkos, yet he is making more money annually than the reigning Rocket Richard winner.

    There is no denying Parise's talent and his leadership qualities, but you have to think that a lot will be expected of Parise during his first few years in Minnesota.

Montreal Canadiens: David Desharnais

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    David Desharnais had a breakout season for the Montreal Canadiens in 2011-12, but will he be able to do it again in 2012-13?

    There is no denying how well Desharnais played in 2011-12, but prior to last year, Desharnais had a grand total of 23 NHL points to his name over the course of 49 games.

    The 60-point campaign was impressive, but was it a one-and-done outburst?

    There are question marks surrounding him because he will no longer be allowed to fly under the radar against opponents.

    He is now outed as an offensive threat and he will be expected to be a major contributor to a Canadiens team that is taking a step in a new direction.

Nashville Predators: Shea Weber

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    Shea Weber will be a Nashville Predators for the entire 2012-13 season, but after that there is no certainty to where he will reside.

    The departure of his defense partner Ryan Suter will not only have an impact on the team, but it will have an impact on Weber.

    The two defenders had been paired together for years, and whenever you lose a linemate there is an adjustment.

    Will Weber be the same defender for the Predators in 2012-13? There is no questioning Weber's status as an elite defender, but will he have to play the game differently without Suter?

    Weber has always been a physical defender with an offensive side complimented with a booming shot, but Suter was a solid situational and shutdown-defender who could cover for Weber.

    It will be interesting to see how the Predators and their captain cope with the lose of a top-flight defender like Suter.

New Jersey Devils: Martin Brodeur

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    Martin Brodeur may be one of the greatest goaltenders to play in the NHL, but that doesn't change the fact that he's 40 years old. As Brodeur has aged, his reflexes have diminished and he isn't the goaltender he was during the 1990s and early 2000s.

    By maintaining an elder goaltending tandem, the New Jersey Devils are taking a huge risk. What happens if Brodeur suffers an injury? What happens if he can no longer keep up with the workload?

    There are tons of questions surrounding Brodeur and whether or not the Devils were wise to lock him up for the next two seasons. 

New York Islanders: Brad Boyes

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    Brad Boyes was brought in by the New York Islanders to replace the outgoing P.A. Parenteau. Boyes is a player who is a former 40-goal scorer but he has really regressed over the past few seasons.

    John Tavares is expected to anchor a line alongside Boyes so there is a chance that the newest Islander may benefit from playing with the gifted star centerman.

    Can Boyes return to 30-goal, 60-point form? That is a question on the mind of countless Islander fans.

New York Rangers: Rick Nash

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    The New York Rangers are one of the best teams in the NHL on paper heading into the 2012-13 season, and that is largely because of the addition of Rick Nash, an All-Star winger and former Rocket Richard winner.

    There are tons of question surrounding the acquisition of Nash, and many of them involve whether or not Nash is overrated.

    Bleacher Report's own Nick Krapf tackled that subject, so I suggest checking it out.

    Will Nash be able to thrive in New York playing alongside elite center Brad Richards? Only time will tell, but many Rangers' fans are very curious.

Ottawa Senators: Daniel Alfredsson

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    Daniel Alfredsson is in the final year of his contract with the Ottawa Senators, and it appears to be his final season in the NHL. The question surrounding the Sens captain is, how much does he have left in the tank?

    After Ottawa was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, Alfredsson wasn't so sure about returning for the 2012-13 season, according to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun. Alfredsson has done a lot in his NHL career, but he hasn't won a Stanley Cup.

    In what is expected to be his final season, how effective will the aging captain be as he does his final victory lap?

Philadelphia Flyers: Ilya Bryzgalov

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    The great Russian cosmonaut affectionately known as Ilya Bryzgalov has a "humungous big" contract, and he remains a huge question mark for 2012-13.

    Last season, Bryzgalov had a below average year and a terrible postseason in which he couldn't stop a beach ball. The Russian netminder was coming off a 42-win season in Phoenix when he signed with Philadelphia, but he struggled throughout the year.

    Although he managed to win 33 games, his GAA and save percentage numbers were poor.

    With the Philadelphia Flyers' defense currently battered and bruised, will Bryzgalov be able to be an effective goaltender, or will he become another goaltender to be run out of Philadelphia?

Phoenix Coyotes: Mike Smith

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    Mike Smith had an outstanding 2011-12 campaign, and he finished fourth in the Vezina trophy voting. Last year was a breakout year for Smith and it appeared he finally found a team he could be successful with. 

    Smith previously bounced around both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars' organizations. However, was last year an anomaly for Smith and will he be successful again in 2012-13?

    When you look at Smith's previous numbers, they suggest that last year was just a good year. Smith has not been able to show consistency and success from year to year, so until he does there will be questions surrounding his overall ability.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Sidney Crosby

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    Since Sidney Crosby was sidelined because of multiple concussions, there have always been questions about his ability to play in a full 82-game season.

    Crosby made two returns in 2011-12 and was able to be successful in the regular season games he played, and during the Pittsburgh Penguins playoff run.

    Whether or not Crosby is able to remain healthy for the entire 2012-13 season is unclear and it remains a huge question mark because of the fickleness of concussions and brain injuries.

San Jose Sharks: Ryane Clowe

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    Ryane Clowe is an impending free agent and he is a player who has a few question marks surrounding his production.

    Clowe had a significant dip in production during the 2011-12 season as the rugged power forward had only 45 points.

    This was a dip for Clowe after recording 62 points the year before, and with Clowe set to become a free agent, it begs the question of whether or not he will be worth the big contract he is offered this offseason.

    If Clowe can bounce back and return to the offensive and physical forward he has shown he can be, Clowe can redeem himself and there won't be any question marks associated with his game.

St.Louis Blues: Chris Stewart

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    Chris Stewart had a down year with the St.Louis Blues and took a slight cut in pay when he re-signed with the team.

    Stewart had 30 points in 79 games last year and it was a poor performance after he tallied 53 points in 62 games the year prior. 

    It is surprising that the team decided to re-sign an underperforming player and he remains a huge question mark for 2012-13.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Anders Lindback

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    The Tampa Bay Lightning were a team needed to add a goaltender this offseason, so Steve Yzerman traded for Anders Lindback. Lindback will be the No.1 netminder this season whether he is ready for it or not.

    Lindback has never been a starter before so there is an obvious concern about whether or not he will embrace the role in a positive way. If he is unable to handle his new role, the Lightning could struggle in 2012-13 and Yzerman could end up searching for another goaltender.

Toronto Maple Leafs: James Reimer

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    The Toronto Maple Leafs still have not addressed their dire need for a No.1 goaltender and James Reimer will start the season as the team's de facto starter.

    The Leafs will continue to be a mediocre and struggling team until they secure a solid goaltender that can be counted on to take the team back to the playoffs and the jury is still out on whether or not Reimer can become that solid goaltender.

    Toronto parted ways with goalie coach Francois Allaire so it will be interesting to see if Reimer improves under a new goalie coach.

Vancouver Canucks: Cory Schneider

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    Cory Schneider won the starting job from Roberto Luongo during the 2011-12 Stanley Cup playoffs, and the Vancouver Canucks will move forward with Schneider.

    With Roberto Luongo's fate up in the air, Schneider is in an interesting situation. He currently has the starting job, but their is no guarantee that he will be able to handle it.

    If Schneider falters and is unable to step up with his new responsibilities, the Vancouver Canucks could struggle this season and he could potentially lose his new job to Luongo.

Washington Capitals: Alex Ovechkin

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    The Washington Capitals could struggle this season if the trend of Alex Ovechkin under-performing continues.

    Once a dependable 50-goal and 100-point forward, what to expect from Ovechkin year-to-year has turned into a crap shoot.

    Ovechkin has dropped from 109 points in 2009-10 to 85 points in 2010-11 to 65 points in 2011-12. 

    The Capitals added Mike Ribiero this offseason and he is a player that should help the both Ovechkin and the Caps' offense, but until Ovechkin proves he can perform, fans will question his ability.

Winnipeg Jets: Olli Jokinen

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    Olli Jokinen signed a sizable $4.5M contract with the Winnipeg Jets this offseason, but will he be worth is? Jokinen is a player who has regressed over the last few seasons and his contract puts some added pressure and expectations on his shoulders.

    Last season Jokinen was able to tally 61 points, but will that translate in Winnipeg? There is a good chance that the Finnish forward will be paired with Evander Kane, but he could easily find himself out of the top-six if he isn't able to remain consistent.

    Jokinen was looked at as a risky signing because of production, price and age but he will have his opportunity to prove himself in Winnipeg.