13 Reasons to Be Pumped for the 2013 NHL Season

Tom Urtz Jr.@@TomUrtzJrContributor IJanuary 6, 2013

13 Reasons to Be Pumped for the 2013 NHL Season

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    Waking up to the news that the NHLPA and NHL came to a tentative CBA agreement that would lead to the start of a 2013 NHL season was better than waking up on Christmas morning, and there are many reasons to be pumped for the 2013 season.

    Over the past few months, fans have focused on terms like HRR (hockey-related revenue) instead of PPG (points per game), but now that the players are going to get on the ice, they can look forward to some awesome moments.

    Here are 13 reasons to get loud, proud and totally pumped up for the 2013 NHL season.

NHL Hockey Is Back!

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    Although fans could watch AHL, CHL, KHL and other forms of hockey throughout the lockout, nothing beats NHL hockey.

    Hockey is a beautiful sport that blends passion, creativity, physicality and skill into a smooth cocktail that engrosses many fans each year.

Zach Parise Comes Home

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    Zach Parise was the biggest free-agent acquisition of the 2012 free-agency period, and it will be a magical moment on opening night at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul.

    Parise is a native of the state of Minnesota, and his father J.P. Parise was a Minnesota North Stars great.

    With Parise on the Wild along with Ryan Suter and rookie Mikael Granlund, Minnesota will be one of the most exciting teams to watch in 2013.

Teemu Selanne

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    Teemu Selanne is a player who has done everything that there is to do in the NHL. He is an international hockey icon and an NHL living legend.

    With Selanne back for a shortened season, his NHL career may actually be extended. Since the 2009-10 season, Selanne has signed one-year contracts, with each year expected to be his "final" season.

    A shortened season may allow him to play in 48 games and still be conditioned enough to return for an 82-game 2013-14 campaign.

    With Selanne currently sitting at 663 career goals, it will be interesting to watch him push for 700 goals, a mark that only six men have accomplished in league history.

Edmonton Oilers' Young Guns Can Make a Playoff Run

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    The Edmonton Oilers are a team that could be a real sleeper during the 2013 season.

    Their top players for the upcoming season—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Justin Schultz and Nail Yakupov—have all been playing at an impressive level and are in top condition.

    In a 48- to 52-game sprint, the Oilers could gain some immediate ground off the bat and return playoff hockey to Edmonton.

    The Oilers are one of the youngest teams in the league, and they will be fun to watch off the puck drop.

The New and Improved Carolina Hurricanes

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    The Carolina Hurricanes added Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin to their roster over the summer, and they could be a surprise team to emerge out of the Eastern Conference.

    Although the Hurricanes will not have Tuomo Ruutu until potential playoffs, the roster will still feature players like Jeff Skinner, Semin, Eric and Jordan Staal, Jiri Tlusty and defensive prospect Ryan Murphy.

    The Hurricanes are improving, and fans should be pumped to see them surge in 2013.

Watching the New York Rangers in a Shortened Season

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    The New York Rangers were one of the best teams in the NHL last year, but they fell short in the conference final.

    Fast-forward to 2013, and the Rangers have Rick Nash, a healthy Marian Gaborik, a settled-in Brad Richards and a motivated and conditioned Henrik Lundqvist.

    If there was ever a season for the Rangers to go on a tear and win the Stanley Cup, this would be the year.

    New York plays an aggressive style of hockey that emphasizes defense and shot-blocking, and that is something that can wear a team out over 82 games. In a shortened season, they won't have that problem.

    The Rangers' roster is so impressive that even diehard New Jersey Devils fan and Puck Daddy editor Greg Wyshynski predicts that the Rangers will win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1994.

Pittsburgh Will Be Back and Better Than Ever

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    Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik may be an impressive trio for the New York Rangers, but Pittsburgh's trio of Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and a healthy Sidney Crosby will be tough to beat.

    The return of Crosby will be exciting for fans because he is one of the most talented players to lace up a pair of skates. His vision, skills and ability to make teammates better make him one of the league's top players.

    Over the past two seasons, Pittsburgh has made the playoffs without a 100 percent healthy roster, but in 2013 it will be ready and better than ever.

    In a shortened season, the Penguins will be a lethal team, ready to take the league by storm.

Daniel Alfredsson Will Get His Last Hurrah

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    Daniel Alfredsson is the greatest player in Ottawa Senators history, and it would have been a shame if the 2012-13 lockout had deprived "Alfie" of a last hurrah and victory lap in the NHL.

    In July, Alfredsson announced that he was returning for his 17th season with the Sens, and it was noted that it could be his last.

    As one of the greatest leaders in the game, fans will be sad to see Alfredsson go, but they should be pumped that he will get to go out with a bang on a talented Senators team in a shortened season.

The Veterans in Dallas

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    Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr are two veterans who went through the 1994-95 lockout, the 2004-05 lockout and the most recent 2012-13 lockout, so they will be chomping at the bit to get back on the ice.

    These two "youthful" vets signed with Dallas over the offseason to complement a roster already highlighted by young guns Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn.

    With Jagr and Whitney in their early 40s, this season could be the start of their collective victory laps.

    Fans should be pumped for this season to see if these two veterans have enough in them to help Dallas make the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 season.

NHL Games to Watch Every Night

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    In a shortened season, the NHL will look to make the most of it, so you can assume that the league will attempt to load up on games featured on NBC and the NBC Sports Network.

    Additionally, fans have suggested that the NHL could help smooth things over from the lockout by making NHL Centre Ice free for the entire season.

    While this may not happen, at least fans should be able to watch a ton of nationally televised games right off the bat.

Anything Can Happen in a Shortened Season

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    One of the most exciting parts about the upcoming season is that anything can happen. In an 82-game season, there is a significant amount of room for error, because even the league's top teams go on slumps from time to time.

    In a 48-game tilt, the slightest bump in the road can have an impact on the outcome. Last year, the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds in the Eastern Conference (the Senators and Sabres, respectively) were separated by three points, so in a shortened season, anything can happen.

    In this shortened season, every game will have more meaning and value because no team will be able to afford a losing streak with only 96 points at stake.

Impact of New Draft Lottery

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    In the past, NHL teams that were out of playoff contention could "tank" in the second half of the season to increase their odds of receiving a prime lottery pick. Under the new CBA, the 14 teams that fail to make the playoffs will all have a shot at receiving the No. 1 overall pick.

    The draft lottery will be weighted like usual, but teams that miss the playoffs by a point will have a chance to draft Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon or Jonathan Drouin instead of moving up five draft spots like in previous years.

    This should make the season interesting, because tanking will no longer guarantee a lottery pick.

Fans Can Expect an Active Trade Deadline

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    In the 2012-13 season, teams will be able to spend up to $70.2 million against the salary cap. In 2013-14, that number will drop to $64.3 million, and teams will be hard pressed to retain free agents and sign new ones.

    This may even lead to trades before the season starts.

    Compliance buyouts as part of the new CBA should help matters, but expect teams to be active at the trade deadline if they are unsure about their cap situations moving forward.

    With players like Alex Edler, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Jarome Iginla set to become available, things could be very interesting at this year's trade deadline.