NHL

New Arrivals with the Most to Prove in the 2013-14 NHL Season

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistOctober 2, 2013

New Arrivals with the Most to Prove in the 2013-14 NHL Season

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    Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    When a player goes to a new team, it sounds so wonderful at the start.

    Take the case of David Clarkson, for example. His contract was up in New Jersey, and the memory of a stellar 2011-12 season was still fresh in the minds of many of the league's top general managers. As a result, Clarkson became a sought after commodity because he was a tough, physical forward who could also put the puck in the net.

    Clarkson eventually signed with Toronto, and that gave him a chance to play for his hometown team.

    That sounds great in the summer when everyone is smiling and back-slapping, but that's all forgotten when the puck drops.

    For Clarkson and nearly every other new arrival it's about production and nothing else.

    That means these players have to contend with pressure. Here's a look at the new arrivals who have the most to prove in the 2013-14 season.

Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars

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    Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

    The heat is on Tyler Seguin after being traded to the Stars by the Boston Bruins shortly after the Stanley Cup Final loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

    Seguin was the No. 2 pick in the 2010 draft behind Taylor Hall, and the Bruins expected him to become a superstar.

    Pehaps Seguin, 21, will become just that with the Stars. He had a solid three seasons with the Bruins, but he did not play as well as management wanted and he may not have been as serious about his career as he should have been.

    He gets a clean slate in Dallas. However, instead of being a right wing as he was in Boston, he will play center in Dallas. The Stars expect him to team with Jamie Benn to give them one of the most dangerous lines in the league, according to Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News.

    Seguin is going to have grow up in a hurry if he is going to meet those expectations.

Loui Eriksson, Boston Bruins

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    Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

    Loui Eriksson appears to be the polar opposite of Tyler Seguin on many levels.

    The two were traded for each other during the summer because the Bruins wanted a steady player rather than a potential superstar who was not playing up to his capacity.

    Calling Eriksson a steady player may not be giving him his full due. He has scored as many as 36 goals in a season and he had 71 points or more in the last three non-lockout seasons. In addition to his scoring touch, Eriksson is committed to playing responsible defensive hockey.

    The Bruins believe that Eriksson can perform consistently throughout the season and playoffs, something that Seguin has not been able to do.

    Seguin had just one postseason goal last year, and the belief is that Eriksson will be much more productive in the playoffs.

    However, there's one thing wrong with that theory. Eriksson hasn't played in the postseason since 2007-08, when he scored four goals and four assists in 18 games for the Dallas Stars. 

    Eriksson is a steady pro, but he will have much to prove come playoff time.

David Clarkson, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Spo

    The favored son returns to his hometown.

    That's nice for the feature writers, but it will only create a ton of pressure on David Clarkson if he is not up to the demands of the job.

    Clarkson signed a seven-year, $36.75 million contract to leave New Jersey and pull the Maple Leaf over his head. Toronto general manager Dave Nonis did not give Clarkson that kind of money to be a nice guy in the locker room. Clarkson got that kind of deal because he is supposed to score goals, throw hard body checks and stand up for his teammates.

    Head coach Randy Carlyle would like to see a 30-goal, 138-penalty minute season from Clarkson. That's what he produced in 2011-12 for the Devils.

    Clarkson's second-best mark is 17 goals. He scored 15 goals in last year's shortened season. .

    Clarkson has not started in ideal fashion for the Leafs. He was hit with a 10-game suspension for coming off the bench in a preseason fight-filled game with the Buffalo Sabres. The heat will be on Clarkson to produce as soon as he returns to the lineup Oct. 25 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Ray Emery, Philadelphia Flyers

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    Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    There's a ton of pressure on the Philadelphia Flyers' goalies this year.

    Since Ray Emery is likely to split time with Steve Mason, that means its not all on his shoulders. However, the Flyers are expecting something close to the performance that Emery had last year with the Chicago Blackhawks.

    He split goaltending duties with Corey Crawford during the regular season and Emery was spectacular. He had a 17-1-0 record in the regular season, he had a 1.88 goals against average and a .924 save percentage.

    He was one of the prime reasons the Blackhawks ran away with the President's Trophy last year.

    The Flyers' goaltending has been shaky for years, and they parted ways with Ilya Bryzgalov because he was too inconsistent. 

    If Emery and Mason can provide head coach Peter Laviolette with a major upgrade, the Flyers may be ready to return to power in the Eastern Conference.

    Mason is getting the opening night start for the Flyers, but Laviolette has no worries about Emery's peformance—at least not publicly.

Daniel Alfredsson, Detroit Red Wings

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    Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Daniel Alfredsson is a 40-year-old future Hall of Famer.

    Some players in his position would be content to take one more turn around the league and then walk off into the sunset accompanied by a standing ovation.

    Alfredsson was the face of the Ottawa Senators franchise. He scored 426 goals and 1,108 points for them. However, after wearing a Senators uniform since 1995-96, Alfredsson shocked his old team and signed with the Detroit Red Wings.

    Instead of leaving Ottawa in a year or two as a hero, he has angered his loyal fans and is now viewed as something of a traitor.

    Alfredsson said he left because he wants to win a championship with the talented Red Wings. He's going to get an opportunity to show how much he has left in the tank and he's also going to have to go back to Ottawa Dec. 1 to find out exactly what his one-time adoring fans think of him.

Jakob Silfverberg, Ottawa

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    Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

    Jakob Silfverberg found himself traded from the Ottawa Senators to the Anaheim Ducks in the offseason.

    All the Ducks gave up to get him was Bobby Ryan. Ryan had scored 30 goals or more for the Ducks in the last four non-lockout seasons.

    Silfverberg is a talented prospect with excellent potential to become a star. However, Silfverberg scored 10 goals as a rookie last season. He's going to have to do a lot of growing to keep up with Ryan.

    The Ducks were the No. 2 team in the Western Conference last year. That was a surprising finish for them and it may be difficult for them to come close to that. If they don't, Silfverberg is likely to hear a lot of questions.

    It may or may not have anything to do with his production, but the pressure is on to produce and help the Ducks remain a winning team.

Jonathan Bernier, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    The Toronto Maple Leafs traded for Jonathan Bernier so they would have better goaltending.

    While that area was somewhat improved in 2013, it was still part of the downfall for the Leafs when they collapsed in the seventh game of their first-round playoff matchup with the Boston Bruins.

    James Reimer could not stop Boston's relentless attack and he gave up three goals in the final 10-plus minutes of the third period and one more in overtime.

    Bernier was considered the best backup goalie in the NHL last year. He had a 9-3-1 record, a 1.88 GAA and a .922 save percentage.

    In addition to his numbers, he showed a quick glove hand and the ability to slide post-to-post to make saves.

    Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle said Bernier and Reimer will each get their share of games, but that a No. 1 goalie should emerge before the end of the year.

    “In most of the situations I was previously in we always had competition for the position for a certain period of time,” Carlyle told Stephen Whyno of the Toronto Globe and Mail. “By the end of the season it sorted itself out. There was an equal opportunity given to the people to earn that No. 1 job and usually their play indicates to you who will be the No. 1.”

Rob Scuderi, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    The Pittsburgh Penguins are loaded with offensive talent.

    They had no problems running away from the Eastern Conference during the regular season. However, they did not look like an elite team in the playoffs.

    Their troubles started in the first round when they were extended to six games by the eighth-seeded New York Islanders.

    Much of their problems had to do with Marc-Andre Fleury's shaky play in net, but it was not the whole story. Islanders forwards were able to skate in the Pittsburgh zone with almost no fear of getting hit or put off course by the Penguins' backcheckers.

    Their defense was not on its game and that's where Rob Scuderi comes into play. He is a solid defensive defenseman who established himself with the Penguins, played even better with the Los Angeles Kings and now returns to the Pens.

    Scuderi's impact should make the Pens a much more difficult team to play against throughout the year, but he will attempt to put his imprint on the team in the postseason. If it's harder to get scoring opportunites against the Penguins, that will mean that his acquisition was the right move.

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