The lockout may be draining our spirit, but hockey is still in the forefront of our minds, and we still fantasize about the Washington Capitals roster for next season.
After a disappointing couple of seasons, the Caps head into the new year with questions to answer.
Here are five players who, good or bad, have something to prove this year.
Caps General Manager George McPhee signed Joel Ward to a four-year, $12 million contract last summer because he was hoping the grinding forward could become one of the league's best third-liners.
Instead, Ward became an expensive fourth-liner on the nights he wasn't a healthy scratch, and contributed his lowest ever NHL point total.
Ward scored the playoff goal that sent the Caps to the second round. There is still hope for him in DC, but he needs to have a good year if he wants to stay beyond next summer.
"Something to prove" doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing.
After an impressive playoff run, netminder Braden Holtby was set to come into the new season competing with Michal Neuvirth for time in the crease. Many thought that, realistically, Holtby could step up and become one of the NHL's better goalies.
Obviously, for now, the lockout has robbed Holtby of that opportunity, but when the 2012-13 season does kick off, he'll have a lot of expectations to live up to.
Despite not playing a full, 82-game season since 2007-08 and seeing his point totals decrease over the past two years (including a seven-point effort last year), the Caps re-signed Mike Green to a three-year, $18.25 million contract this summer.
When at his best, Green can be a 30-goal, 70-point scorer, and at 26, he still has a couple of very good seasons left in him. If he steps up this year, he could re-establish himself as one of the league's very best defensemen.
With elite size, skill, speed and shot, Wojtek Wolski has the potential to be one of the NHL's finer top-six forwards.
But after posting a 50-point rookie season as a 20-year-old, the Colorado Avalanche's 21st overall pick from 2004 managed only 12 points in 31 games last year.
Wolski is on a $600,000 contract, near the league minimum, and is very much a low-risk pick-up for the Caps. If he plays well, he could prove to be an immense addition, perhaps even good enough to replace Alexander Semin.
He has a lot to prove.
Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin posted 65 goals and 112 points in 2007-08. In each of the four seasons since, Ovechkin has seen his totals decrease, to the point where he managed only 38 goals and 65 points this season.
And though he only just turned 27 years old, many would argue that the superstar winger is already past his prime.
There are few players in the NHL with as much to prove this season as Ovechkin, who will either step up to once again become one of the league's best players, or sink to become just another goalscoring power forward who fizzled out.