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25 Surprises You Can Bank on for the 2013 NHL Season

Tom Urtz Jr.Contributor IJanuary 9, 2013

25 Surprises You Can Bank on for the 2013 NHL Season

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    In a shortened 2013 NHL season, anything can happen, so there are bound to be tons of surprises (like the Edmonton Oilers making the playoffs) that you can bank on.

    In a shortened season, teams that go on a hot streak can get a nice jump from the start, and they can distance themselves in their respective divisions.

    Additionally, players like Jordan Eberle who have been conditioning themselves during the lockout could contend for the scoring title.

    With the NHL season set to start on January 19th, here are 25 surprises you can bank on for the upcoming season.

Sidney Crosby Will Win the Rocket Richard Trophy

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    During the 2010-11 season, Sidney Crosby played in 41 games because of injury. During that time period, he scored 32 goals.

    Crosby is one of the league's most talented players, and he will surprisingly win the Rocket Richard Trophy over favorites like Steven Stamkos and Evgeni Malkin.

    The Pittsburgh Penguins' captain is ready to go, and he will capture the Rocket Richard Trophy.

Edmonton Oilers Will Make the Playoffs

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    The Edmonton Oilers will make the playoffs this year on the strengths of their young guns and because of their new head coach Ralph Kruger.

    In the past, former head coach Tom Renney relied on his veterans instead of his talented youngsters.

    With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov, Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner and Justin Schultz, the Oilers will have a great group of players that will be ready to make their mark once the season starts.

The Philadelphia Flyers Will Struggle to Make the Playoffs

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    The Philadelphia Flyers have a solid forward group, but injuries on the blue line and Ilya Bryzgalov's lack of consistency will lead to the Broad Street Bullies struggling to make the playoffs.

    The Flyers were unable to make any improvements to their blue line over the summer, and they are already slated to start without Andrej Meszaros. There is little depth in the AHL, with Erik Gustafsson and Marc-Andre Bourdon currently recovering from injuries.

    With a weakened blue line and inconsistency in net, the Flyers will struggle to make the playoffs.

The New Jersey Devils Will Not Make the Playoffs

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    The New Jersey Devils, despite being the reigning Eastern Conference Champions, will not make the playoffs in the shortened 2013 season.

    After losing Zach Parise, the Devils did nothing to improve their team over the offseason, while other non-playoff teams like the Carolina Hurricanes made improvements to their roster.

    The Devils will try to make a run, but they will finish just short of making the playoffs.

Eric Staal Will Contend for the Art Ross Trophy

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    The Carolina Hurricanes' captain Eric Staal will be united with his brother Jordan during the 2013 season, and this addition will allow him to contend for the Art Ross Trophy as one of the league's top point-getters.

    Eric Staal is a former 100-point scorer, and after rebounding in the second half of the 2011-12 season, he will get off to a hot start with his brother in 2013.

Teemu Selanne Will Be Traded at the Deadline for One Final Cup Run

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    Teemu Selanne loves the Anaheim Ducks and keeps coming back for one more year, but he will help the team's future by accepting a trade to a Stanley Cup contender at the deadline.

    Skilled veterans like Selanne will be in demand at the trade deadline, because teams are always looking to add pieces that can put them over the top.

    The Ducks are looking to add some depth, particularly at center, and trading a player like Selanne should allow them to address that concern.

Jarome Iginla Will Finally Be Traded

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    Year after year it seems that Jarome Iginla will finally be traded at the deadline so he can pursue his dream of winning a Stanley Cup, but year after year Iginla remains a member of the Calgary Flames.

    This is the final year of Iggy's contract, and he is slated to become one of the top free agents in July of 2013.

    It would make sense for Calgary to trade Iginla for a nice return, because some team will step up to overpay for him in free agency.

Roberto Luongo Will Not Be Traded

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    If you are the Vancouver Canucks, it would make sense to keep Roberto Luongo around for the upcoming shortened season.

    Although Cory Schneider was set to take over the starting job, if he struggles out of the gate, Vancouver will want to have a reliable second option in net. 

    Additionally, with no many goaltending options available on the 2013 free-agency market, the price for Luongo will be significantly higher, so there should be no rush for the Canucks to deal Luongo.

Ottawa Senators Will Not Make the Playoffs

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    The Ottawa Senators made the playoffs as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference last season, but surprisingly they will not make the playoffs in 2013.

    The Senators did not make many improvements over the summer, and they could be passed over by teams like the Carolina Hurricanes that did improve their roster.

Minnesota Wild Will Make the Playoffs

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    The Minnesota Wild are going to have a great season with new addition Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and rookie sensation Mikael Granlund in the fold.

    The Wild are a team that has struggled to make the playoffs during the past few seasons, but with these new additions, Minnesota will be able to help change the landscape of the Western Conference.

    The Wild will make the playoffs, and they will finish between fourth and sixth in the conference.

Justin Schultz Will Not Win Rookie of the Year

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    Justin Schultz has been tearing it up at the AHL level, but that won't guarantee him a Calder Trophy in a shortened NHL season.

    With Schultz set to challenge teammate Nail Yakupov, Florida Panthers newcomer Jonathan Huberdeau and Minnesota Wild pivot Mikael Granlund for the award, he will come close but will fall just short on claiming the hardware.

Buffalo Sabres Will Make the Playoffs

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    The Buffalo Sabres didn't make the playoffs last season, but the additions of Cody Hodgson and Mikhail Grigorenko and a healthy Thomas Vanek should give the team the edge it needs to make the playoffs in 2013.

    Jason Pominville had a great 2011-12 season—expect the captain to keep up the good work.

    Ryan Miller should also bounce back in a big way this year, and it will ultimately be enough to make the difference for the Sabres.

Shea Weber Will Struggle Without Ryan Suter

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    Ryan Suter signed with the Minnesota Wild over the summer and left his defense partner Shea Weber with the Nashville Predators.

    Weber is one of the best defenders in the NHL, but it is fair to say that having a reliable defensive-minded partner like Suter helped him.

    Weber is a defender who has offensive skills and a booming shot, so there is bound to be an adjustment period off the bat without his familiar partner by his side.

The Anaheim Ducks Will Trade Corey Perry

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    Corey Perry is an elite winger, a great goal scorer and a player who likes to play with an edge.

    He is set to become the league's top free agent in July, and instead of getting outbid during the summer, the Anaheim Ducks will deal Perry for a nice overall return.

    Perry is a former 50-goal scorer, and he will be very valuable at the deadline.

Sam Gagner Will Have a Breakout Season

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    Sam Gagner is a member of the Edmonton Oilers who will complete the team's top six, and he is guaranteed to have a breakout year.

    With a larger role and more ice time under new bench boss Ralph Kruger, Gagner will finally prove he was worth his lottery pick in 2007.

    Gagner will have quality linemates and the opportunity to surprise many people in 2013.

Detroit's Defense Will Survive Without Nicklas Lidstrom

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    Nicklas Lidstrom retired after the end of last season, and after Detroit failed to sign a replacement, it was expected that the Detroit defense would fall apart without him.

    However, Brendan Smith is a defender who is expected to be with the team after previously skating for the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL.

    Smith is a competent defender with a lot of upside, and although he is no Nicklas Lidstrom, he should help stabilize the blue line in 2013.

Marian Gaborik Will Break His Trend

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    If you look at Marian Gaborik's career statistics, he is a player who is usually "on" one year and down the next. In his first year with the Rangers, he scored 42 goals, and then he struggled when he scored 22 goals in 2010-11.

    Last year, Gaborik scored 41 goals, so if history were to repeat itself, he would be slated to have a down year.

    This year, Gaborik should break his trend, because he is 100-percent healthy and he knows how to produce in a shortened season.

    Injuries limited Gaborik to 48 games during the 2006-07 season, but he still scored 30 goals and added 27 assists for 57 points, so a 48-game season in 2013 should benefit the Slovak sniper.

St.Louis Blues Will Win the Western Conference

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    Although the Los Angeles Kings are among the favorites to win the Western Conference because of the shortened season, the St.Louis Blues are going prove why they are one of the new forces in the West.

    Coming off the heels of a year in which Ken Hitchcock almost guided the Blues to the Presidents' Trophy, St.Louis will contend for the Stanley Cup on the backbone of great goaltending and stellar defense.

The Dallas Stars Will Make the Playoffs

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    The Dallas Stars were a team that made some headlines over the summer when they added veterans Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney to the roster.

    They also added center Derek Roy to a roster that includes Michael Ryder, Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson and team captain Brendan Morrow.

    All of the additions up front and a healthy Kari Lehtonen in net will enable the Stars to make the playoffs in 2013.

Florida Panthers Will Repeat as Southeast Division Champions

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    As strange as it may sound, the Florida Panthers will repeat as the Southeast Division champions in 2013.

    The Panthers' roster from last season is intact sans Jason Garrison, but the addition of big-bodied and über-talented forward Jonathan Huberdeau will give the Panthers an edge over the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Jordan Eberle Will Be One of the NHL's Top Scorers

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    Jordan Eberle is one of the NHL's top young talents, and he tore it up with the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL during the lockout.

    Eberle is in optimal condition, he will be playing with the same linemates in Edmonton that he had in Oklahoma City and he will be one of the leading scorers once the NHL season is over.

Cam Ward Will Be a Vezina Finalist

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    Over the past few seasons, goaltenders like Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick and Pekka Rinne have been considered the league's best, with multiple nominations between them.

    However, in 2013, Cam Ward will re-enter the picture as one of the league's top netminders. Ward is a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe winner, but he has never won a Vezina Trophy.

    Ward is a workhorse netminder, and in a shortened season, he will have an advantage to enter the spotlight.

Jonathan Toews Will Win the Art Ross Trophy

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    Jonathan Toews is one of the NHL's top leaders and two-way players, and in a shortened season he will look to make a huge impact with the Chicago Blackhawks.

    Toews missed 23 regular season games last year, but he came back for Chicago during the playoffs.

    Although Toews' career high in points is 76, this will be the year in which the Blackhawks captain explodes offensively.

Ryan McDonagh Will Win the Norris Trophy

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    The Norris Trophy is an award for the league's top defender, but it usually goes to the league's top offensive defender.

    Last season, Ryan McDonagh was one of the league's top point-producing defenders at even strength. McDonagh was seventh in the NHL with 30 even-strength points.

    Had McDonagh been given power-play time, he would have finished in the same points range as elite defenders like Erik Karlsson, Kris Letang and Shea Weber.

    McDonagh is arguably one of the league's best shutdown defenders, and in a shortened season, overall play will be valued more than actual points.

San Jose Will Shake Up Their Roster

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    The San Jose Sharks have only 14 players signed for the 2013-14 season, and they have $9,960,833 in cap space to work with.

    That's a tight squeeze for the Sharks when you consider the talent they have on their roster.

    With two compliance buyouts and the availability to trade portions of salary, the Sharks are going to have to shake up their roster this season in order to create cap space to fill out the roster.

    Although Patrick Marleau has a no-trade clause, this may be the year in which he is finally traded.

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