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NHL Lockout: 6 Players Guaranteed to Return out of Shape

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistDecember 25, 2012

NHL Lockout: 6 Players Guaranteed to Return out of Shape

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    There's a big difference between a player that may be out of shape now and players from past generations who showed up at camp with spare tires around their midsection.

    Conditioning today is taken much more seriously than it was in the 1970's and '80's. Not only do players lift weights and work on their cardio with much greater frequency, they also pay strict attention to their diet before they lace up their skates.

    However, when players are locked out of the NHL, all bets are off. Many players are supposedly staying in shape because they are playing in professional leagues overseas. However, some players may not put the same amount of energy into conditioning as they would in the NHL.

    Here's a look at 6 players who are guaranteed to return to the NHL out of shape when the NHL ends the lockout.

Dustin Penner, Los Angeles Kings

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    Dustin Penner is one of the biggest and most intimidating players in the NHL.

    At 6'4" and 242 pounds, Penner has the size to establish himself in front of the net and he should be nearly impossible to move.

    That means he should be able to pick up rebounds, deflections and create havoc in front of the net. Penner scored seven goals and had 10 assists last year in 65 games for the Kings.

    That's not exactly dominance. Penner has size, but he has never earned a reputation for taking care of himself and making sure he is in the best possible condition.

    In the video above, Penner demonstrates his love for pancakes, not exactly the type of food that trainers recommend for getting in the best possible shape.

Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets

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    Dustin Byfuglien came into prominence when he had a superb playoff run with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010.

    He scored 11 goals and had five assists in the Blackhawks' postseason run that resulted in the team's first Stanley Cup championship since the 1960-61 championship season.

    Byfuglien has alternated between defense and power forward and has been one of the most inconsistent players in the league. He can dominate games and he can also disappear for long stretches.

    Byfuglien is a huge man at 6'5" and 265 pounds. He has never shown a commitment to getting in shape and remaining there.

    Byfuglien is somewhat overweight with a doughy physique.

    A commitment to excellence could upgrade his status.

Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Phil Kessel is one of the most criticized players in the NHL.

    He is an NHL star, having scored 30 or more goals in each of the last four seasons.

    There is little doubt that he is one of the best snipers in the league as he has a deadly accurate and vicious wrist shot.

    He is often criticized for his defensive play and his all-around play.

    Other criticisms involve his conditioning.

    In the video above, Kessel's double chin and pudgy face are obvious. At the 29-second mark, teammate Dion Phaneuf teases Kessel as he eats a cookie and lets him know that he should be "on the bike" after consuming the sweet treats.

John Scott, Buffalo Sabres

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    John Scott is not in the NHL for his skating or goal-scoring ability.

    Scott is in the league because he can stand up for himself and his teammates by using his size and his fists to intimidate opponents.

    Scott is 6'8" and 270 pounds. He is the second-tallest player in the league behind Boston's Zdeno Chara (6'9"), but he outweighs the Bruins' defenseman by 17 pounds.

    Scott uses his size to his advantage when he shows off his fistic talents, but he could be in better shape.

Ilya Bryzgalov, Philadelphia Flyers

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    The Flyers' goalie had an up-and-down performance in his first season in Philadelphia.

    Ilya Bryzgalov started slowly, got hot later on and then struggled in the postseason.

    Bryzgalov is noted for his philosophical meanderings and his offbeat personality, but the Flyers acquired him to steady their shaky goaltending situation.

    He did not deliver in his first season in Philadelphia, and his overall lack of conditioning did not help his performance. Bryzgalov lacks definition in his physique and seems to struggle with stamina.

    If he could improve in those areas, he has the talent to dominate.

    When the lockout ends, he will have a lot to do in that area.

Evander Kane, Winnipeg Jets

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    Evander Kane is a young star on the rise and conditioning should not be an issue.

    During the lockout, he signed a contract to play with KHL's Dynamo Minsk, but he was released after just eight games with the team.

    According to the Winnipeg Free Press, the team released Kane because he was out of shape and his performances were not acceptable.

    Most NHL players who decided to play in the KHL did it so they could be in top shape when the lockout ends. Kane did not take advantage of that opportunity.

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