NHL: Who Will Return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2011?
Every year, 16 NHL teams get a chance to compete for hockey's prized Stanley Cup.
At the same time, 14 teams go home for the summer and wonder what could have been.
This slideshow will take a look at the 14 teams that missed the Stanley Cup playoffs in the 2009-2010 season. We'll look at the new faces on each team and the key players who are returning. We'll also see if any departures will hurt any of the teams in contention.
Each team will receive a rating on how likely they are to make the 2011 playoffs. A low rating indicates that the team will probably miss the playoffs again, a mixed rating means that the team is on the fence, and a high rating means the team will likely be back in the playoffs next year.
Please note: When looking at the new additions, we will only look at key additions rather than each and every signing for the teams featured in this piece.
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2009-2010 record: 39-32-11 (89 points, 11th in Western Conference)
Last Playoff Appearance: 2008-2009. The Ducks lost to the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference semifinals.
NHL veteran Teemu Selanne will play at least one more year in the league. He played his 16th NHL season and had 48 points in 54 games. He missed time with a broken jaw and a broken hand. This is the second consecutive year he has dealt with an injury. He missed a month with a leg injury in the 2008-2009 season, but he still posted 54 points in 65 games.
The Ducks also have some solid young talent up front. Corey Perry had 76 points in 2009-2010 and was the team's leading scorer. Ryan Getzlaf, second on the team with 69 points, has scored at least 50 points a season for the last three years. Bobby Ryan finished the year with 64 points, and his 35 goals were ranked 10th in the NHL.
On defense, the Ducks lost Scott Niedermayer to retirement. Niedermayer spent five seasons in Anaheim and helped the Ducks to their first Stanley Cup in 2007. He had 48 points and a minus-nine rating in his last season.
Anaheim also returns Sheldon Brookbank, who posted nine points and a plus-10 rating.
Toni Lydman will join the Ducks after spending the last five years with the Buffalo Sabres. He had 20 points and a plus-10 in 67 games, but he missed time with hand and groin injuries. However, he is a consistent scorer and a reliable defenseman.
In goal, the Ducks will turn to Jonas Hiller, who took over the No. 1 spot from Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Hiller finished with a 30-23-4 record with a .918 save percentage and 2.73 GAA. He posted worst statistics as a primary goaltender than he did as Giguere's backup. However, the last time Anaheim was in the playoffs, he played 13 games and had a 7-6 record with a .943 save percentage and 2.23 GAA.
2011 playoff odds: Mixed
The Ducks have some players on their roster who are prone to injuries, and Teemu Selanne is already considered old for a hockey player. The loss of Niedermayer will likely be felt on defense, and their odds will depend on whether or not Hiller finds a steadier level of play in 2010-2011.
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2009-2010 record: 35-34-13 (10th in Eastern Conference)
Last playoff appearance: 2006-2007. The Thrashers lost to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.
Aside from the midseason departure of Ilya Kovalchuk, the Thrashers said goodbye to forward Colby Armstrong, who signed a three year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He joined Atlanta in 2008 after being traded from the Pittsburgh Penguins. In 2010, he had 29 points in 79 games, a disappointment after scoring 40 points in 2008-2009.
Veteran goaltender Johan Hedberg signed a one year deal with the New Jersey Devils. He played four seasons with the Thrashers and had a 21-16-6 record with a 2.62 GAA and .915 save percentage last season. Hedberg is an NHL veteran who has also played with Pittsburgh, Vancouver, and Dallas.
Todd White, who spent three years with Atlanta, was recently traded to the Rangers. In 2009-2010, he had 26 points in 65 games. White is also a veteran and previously played with the Chicago Blackhawks, Ottawa Senators, and Minnesota Wild before coming to Atlanta.
The Thrashers' biggest acquisition of the offseason came in the form of four Cup winners from the Blackhawks. Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Brent Sopel, and Ben Eager all played a key role in winning Chicago's first Cup in almost 50 years.
Chris Mason comes to Atlanta after spending the last two years with the St. Louis Blues. He had a 30-22-8 record with a .913 save percentage and 2.53 GAA in 2009-2010. He regressed slightly from 2008-2009, when he had a .916 save percentage and 2.41 GAA.
Tough guy Donald Brashear comes down south after being traded from the Rangers. He had one point and a minus-nine rating in 36 games last year and also had 73 penalty minutes.
Returning to Atlanta is Nik Antropov, who played his first season with the Thrashers last year. He had 67 points and a plus-13 in 76 games, an improvement over his 59 points and minus-14 rating in 2008-2009. Antropov has also played with Toronto and the Rangers.
Rich Peverley also improved on his 2008-2009 total of 35 points. He had 55 points last year and just finished his second season in Atlanta after previously playing with the Nashville Predators.
Rookie Evander Kane had a respectable first season. He had 26 points in 66 games despite missing 15 games with a foot injury.
On defense, the Thrashers have Tobias Enstrom, who has yet to miss a game and has scored at least 30 points every season. He had 50 points in 2009-2010.
Johnny Oduya, who came to the Thrashers as part of the Kovalchuk trade, had 13 points and a plus-eight rating. He has posted a positive plus/minus rating in four out of his five seasons.
Ondrej Pavelec will return as the Thrashers goaltender for 2010-2011. He just played his first full season in Atlanta and had a record of 14-18-7 with a .906 save percentage and 3.29 GAA.
2011 playoff odds: High
Most teams would kill to have four recent Stanley Cup winners on their team. The Thrashers also have many young players who are only getting better, and Mason is a solid choice to form a goaltending duo with Pavelec. On the surface, they lost significant talent, but they went out and got some good pieces to put the team back together.
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2009-2010 record: 40-32-10 (90 points, 10th in Western Conference)
Last playoff appearance: 2008-2009. The Flames fell to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals in six games.
The Flames re-signed Craig Conroy, who is in the midst of his second stint with Calgary. He played his fourth season since his return to the team in 2006 and had 15 points and a minus-six rating in 63 games. This is a major drop-off from his 48 points and plus-20 in 2009, but he missed almost two months from January to March with an injury.
Olli Jokinen will be back in Calgary after being traded to the Rangers in the middle of last season. He had 50 points and a plus-three rating last year and has posted more than 50 points in seven consecutive seasons. However, rumors were going around that he was having difficulty getting along with Flames captain Jarome Iginla.
Ian White came to the Flames as part of the trade that sent Dion Phaneuf to Toronto. He had his first 30 point season this year, finishing with 38 points.
Raitis Ivanans will be a new addition to the team after playing the last four seasons with the Los Angeles Kings. He had no points and a minus-eight last year, but his 136 penalty minutes were ranked 19th in the NHL.
The Flames will bring back Alex Tanguay, who played two seasons with the Flames from 2006-2008 before going to the Tampa Bay Lightning. He had 37 points and a minus-two this year, and his production has been dropping since after the 2006-2007 season when he had 81 points.
Calgary's other departures had also failed to put up significant points in their time with the Flames. Eric Nystrom, who had 19 points last year, has never posted more than 20 points a season. Meanwhile, both Christopher Higgins and Jaml Mayers experienced drop offs in their point totals from the 2008-2009 season.
Iginla will lead Calgary for another season and has spent his entire 13-year career in Western Canada. He is a consistent 50-point scorer and had 69 points in 2009-2010. He has three seasons where he scored more than 90 points, but he has been dropping off since 2007-2008, when he had 98 points.
One player who is improving every year is Rene Bourque. He had 5 points and a plus-seven in 2009-2010 and has been getting better every year for the last four years.
Niklas Hagman is also getting better. He had 44 points with the Leafs and Flames last year and has played in every game for three out of the last four seasons.
On defense, the Flames have Jay Bouwmeester, who has played in every game for six out of the last seven seasons. He has posted three 40-point seasons and had 29 points in 82 games last year.
Mark Giordano had 30 points and a plus-17 rating in 2009-2010. He has spent four seasons with Calgary and has also gotten better each year.
In goal, the Flames will once again turn to Mikka Kiprusoff. He has spent six seasons with Calgary and has played in more than 70 games for the last five seasons. In 2009-2010, he had a 35-28-10 record with four shutouts with a .920 save percentage and 2.31 GAA.
The Flames signed Henrik Karlsson to be a backup for Kiprusoff. He has played his entire career in Sweden, but one of the criticisms of him is that he does not have a lot of experience playing against tougher competition.
2011 playoff odds: Mixed
While Calgary has some players who are getting better, they also have a fair amount of players who are slowing down. Kiprusoff plays too much during the regular season and has often burned out in the playoffs as a result. Karlsson is not likely to be a sure answer in goal if Kiprusoff falters. Calgary also did not do a lot in free agency, which may not bode well for their season.
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2009-2010 record: 35-37-10 (80 points; 11th in Eastern Conference)
Last Playoff Appearance: 2008-2009. The Canes upset the heavily favored New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins before being swept by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Canes lost two of their veterans who helped lead the team to their first Stanley Cup in 2006. Rod Brind'Amour, who spent 10 seasons in Carolina, retired from professional hockey. His production had been declining the last three years, and he had just 19 points and a minus-29 rating last year.
Ray Whitney spent five seasons with the Canes and signed a two year deal with the Phoenix Coyotes. He had 58 points and a minus-six rating in 2009-2010.
Joe Corvo will return to Carolina after being traded to the Washington Capitals last season. He spent three seasons with the Canes before the trade. Last season, he had 18 points and a minus-10 in 52 games, a drop-off from 2008-2009 when he had 38 points and a minus-one rating in 81 games.
On offense, the Canes will be led by new captain Eric Staal. He has played his entire six-year career with Carolina and was also a Stanley Cup winner in 2006. In 2009-2010, he had 76 points and a plus-four in 70 games. He has scored more than 70 points in five out of his six seasons, including one 80-point season in 2007-2008 and one 100 point season in 2005-2006.
Jussi Jokinen had his best season last year, finishing with 65 points in 81 games. This was his second season with the Hurricanes.
On defense, Joni Pitkanen had 46 points in 71 games last year. He completed his second season with the Canes and previously played with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Tim Gleason has played the last four years with Carolina after coming over as part of a trade with the Los Angeles Kings in 2006. He had 19 points and an even rating in 61 games, but missed the end of the season with a broken bone in his foot. However, he still led Canes defensemen in hits with 144.
Cam Ward looks to rebound from a difficult season after suffering from a leg injury. He had a record of 18-23-5 with a .916 save percentage and 2.69 GAA and in 47 games.
Justin Peters is a possible candidate to back up Ward in goal. He made his NHL debut in 2009-2010 and played in nine games with a record of 6-3. He posted a 2.83 GAA and .905 save percentage.
2011 playoff odds: High
In addition to returning consistent players, the Canes also have several prospects in the AHL who have been productive in their call-ups. Staal has already started to prove himself as a leader after receiving the captaincy last year, and Ward has been consistent every year despite the Canes' recent playoff disappointments.
Colmbus Blue Jackets
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2009-2010 record: 32-35-15 (79 points; 14th in Western Conference)
Last playoff appearance: 2008-2009. The Blue Jackets were swept in the Western Conference Quarterfinals by the Detroit Red Wings in their first and only playoff appearance in franchise history.
The Blue Jackets made two significant re-signings in the 2010 offseason. Anton Stralman had 34 points and a minus-17 rating in 73 games last season, his first full NHL campaign. Jared Boll had seven points in 68 games, and his 149 penalty minutes were ranked 15th in the NHL.
Beyond that, the team mostly re-signed minor league prospects who have not been very productive in the NHL. For example, Trevor Frischmon, who has 25 points in 75 games with the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL, has no points in three games with Columbus. Derek Mackenzie, who had 47 points in 47 games with Syracuse, has played 64 games with the Jackets, but only has eight NHL points.
Chad Kolarik had 15 points in 17 games with Syracuse, but he has played in less games every year, and as a result, he is not putting up a lot of points.
Columbus lost defenseman Mathieu Roy, who signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He had 10 points in 31 games with Columbus and four points in 14 games with Syracuse.
Nathan Paetsch also left the team. He played just 21 games this season with the Buffalo Sabres and the Jackets and had two points.
Captain Rick Nash will play his eighth season with the team in 2010-2011. He is a consistent 50-point scorer and has one 70-point season under his belt, a 79 point campaign in 2008-2009. He had 67 points and a minus-two rating in 2009-2010.
Kristian Huselius has scored 40 points in six out of his eight seasons in the NHL. He had 63 points and a minus-four rating last season.
R.J. Umberger, who played with the Flyers before coming to Columbus, has played every game for the last two seasons. He posted his second 50-point season last year with 55 points.
On defense, Kris Russell had 22 points and a plus-three rating. He has been improving his point totals every year. The Jackets also have Fedor Tyutin, who had 32 points and a minus-seven rating last year. However, he is not as consistent as he could be.
2009 Calder Trophy winner Steve Mason will look to rebound in 2010-2011. He missed some of last season with mononucleosis and posted a 20-26-9 record with a .901 save percentage and 3.06 GAA. He was ranked seventh in the NHL with five shutouts.
Backup goalie Mathieu Garon had a 12-9-6 record with a .903 save percentage and 2.81 GAA. He has improved over the last two years and was a member of the 2009 Stanley Cup Champion Penguins.
2011 playoff odds: Low
The Jackets did not make a lot of big moves in free agency, and they do not have a lot of depth in their current roster. No one is going to get excited for players who cannot produce when they get their shot in the NHL. Furthermore, their defense is shaky at best.
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2009-2010 record: 37-31-14 (88 points; 12th in Western Conference)
Last Playoff Appearance: 2008. The Stars lost to the Red Wings in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
The Stars re-signed Fabian Brunnstrom, who has played 99 games over the last two seasons and tallied 40 points and a minus-11 rating. Last year, he had 11 points and a minus-three rating in 44 games with Dallas and five points in eight games with the Texas Stars of the AHL.
Raymond Sawada has played 10 games with Dallas in the last two seasons. He had no points in five games in 2009-2010 and had 19 points in 60 games with Texas.
Maxime Fortunus played eight games with Dallas and had no points. He also played with Texas for the majority of the season, posting 23 points in 72 games.
Dallas secured Brad Lukowich, a defenseman who has played over 600 NHL games with six teams. He was a part of the Stars' Stanley Cup team in 1999 and had 29 points from 1997-2002. In 2009-2010, he had 18 points in 29 games with Dallas and two points in 13 games with the Vancouver Canucks. His NHL career has also taken him to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the New York Islanders, the San Jose Sharks, and the New Jersey Devils.
Andrew Raycroft comes to the Stars after spending last year as Roberto Luongo's backup in Vancouver. He had a record of 9-5-1 with a 2.42 GAA and a .911 save percentage.
Adam Burish was a member of the Blackhawks this year as they captured the Stanley Cup. He had four points and a plus-two rating in 13 games but missed 65 games recovering from an injury.
The Stars lost two notable players this offseason. Mike Modano, who spent his entire career with the Stars organization, signed a one year contract with Detroit. He had 30 points and a minus-six rating in 59 games this year, and his statistics have been declining for the last three years.
Marty Turco headed for the Chicago Blackhawks. He spent 10 years with the Stars, the only team he has ever played with. He played 53 games last year and posted a 22-20-11 record with a .913 save percentage and 2.72 GAA.
The Stars return Brad Richards. His 91 points were ranked seventh in the NHL, while his 67 assists were ranked fourth and his 13 power play goals were sixth. He nearly doubled his point total of 48 points from 2008-2009.
Loui Eriksson, who just played his second full season with the Stars, is always improving his game. He had 79 points in 82 games last year. James Neal also gained ground over his 2008-2009 total of 37 points and posted 55 points last year.
On defense, the Stars have Stephane Robidas, who had 41 points in 82 games. He improved for the third year in a row. There is also Trevor Daley, who had 22 points and a plus-three in 77 games. He has had at least 20 points every year for the last three years and is going in to his sixth season with Dallas.
Kari Lehtonen will return as Dallas' goaltender for 2010-2011. He had a .911 save percentage and a 2.81 GAA while posting a record of 6-4-0. Before coming to Dallas, he played four seasons in Atlanta.
2011 playoff odds: Mixed
Dallas has a lot of rising players to be excited about but also brought back some players who have not accomplished a lot in the big leagues. Their goaltending situation is also somewhat uncertain, with neither Lehtonen or Raycroft having significant NHL playoff experience.
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2009-2010 record: 27-47-8 (62 points; 15th in Western Conference)
Last playoff appearance: 2005-2006. The Oilers lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup Finals.
After finishing the 2009-2010 season with the worst record in the NHL, the Edmonton Oilers will look to rebuild for the 2010-2011 season. And it all starts with two players who have not yet played a minute at Rexall Place.
Taylor Hall was the Oilers' first overall pick in this year's NHL Draft. He finished his junior career with 106 points with the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL and helped his team win two consecutive Memorial Cups.
Jordan Eberle was the 2008 first round pick and had 50 points in each of his four years with the Regina Pats of the WHL. He also had 106 points this season and played in 11 games with the Springfield Falcons of the AHL, where he posted 14 points.
The Oilers also bring back Liam Reddox and Gilbert Brule. Reddox has 14 points in 56 NHL games. He had 35 points in 70 games with Springfield and two points in nine games with Edmonton. Brule had 37 points in 65 games and just finished his second full season with the Oilers.
Edmonton goalies Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk will return for another season as the Oilers' goaltending tandem. Deslauriers just completed his first full season with the Oilers and posted a record of 16-28-4 with a .901 save percentage and a 3.26 GAA.
Meanwhile, Dubnyk split the 2009-2010 season between Edmonton and Springfield. He had a 4-10-2 record with a .889 save percentage and 3.57 GAA for the Oilers while posting a 13-17-2 record with a 3.02 GAA and .915 save percentage in 33 games for the Falcons.
J.F. Jacques has played 109 games with the Oilers between 2005 and 2010. He had 11 points in 49 games this year, but his season ended early due to back problems.
Jason Strudwick, a veteran of over 600 NHL games with five different teams, was also re-signed. He had six points in 72 games last year.
Colin Fraser was one of the many Hawks players on the move this offseason and has landed in Edmonton. In 2009-2010, he had 19 points in 70 regular season games and no points in three playoff games.
Kurtis Foster spent last year with Tampa Bay and has also played with the Minnesota Wild. Last year, he had 42 points in 71 games.
Martin Gerber, a backup goaltender who has played on four teams, returns to the NHL after spending 2009-2010 in the KHL. In his last NHL season in 2008-2009, he played a combined 26 games with Toronto and Ottawa and had a record of 10-14-1 with a .902 save percentage and 3.04 GAA.
The Oilers lost Fernando Pisani, a veteran of seven seasons, who went to the Blackhawks. His production had been dropping in the last five seasons, and he posted just eight points in 40 games this year.
Marc-Antoine Pouliot spent the last two years with Edmonton and will be heading to Tampa Bay for 2010-2011. He had 14 points in 35 games this year after missing 44 games with a sports hernia.
A pair of Oilers' forwards will return to their fourth year in Edmonton. Dustin Penner had 63 points and a plus-six rating in 2009-2010, and he has only missed four games in the last four years. Sam Gagner has put up more than 40 points every year and had 41 points in 68 games last season.
On defense, Edmonton has Tom Gilbert, a consistent 30-point scorer who has not missed a game in three season. He had 31 points in 82 games in 2009-2010.
2011 playoff odds: Mixed
Oilers fans have every right to be excited about the arrival of Hall and Eberle. However, it may not mean an immediate rise to the top. Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby, and Jonathan Toews did not lead their teams to immediate playoff glory; they just made their squads forces to be reckoned with. Expect the same from the 2010-2011 Oilers.
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2009-2010 record: 32-37-13 (77 points; 14th in Eastern Conference)
Last playoff appearance: 2000. The Panthers lost to the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
The Panthers are looking to get back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a 10-year absence.
The Panthers signed Andrew Peters, who played 29 games with the Devils in 2009-2010. He had no points and a minus-five and missed playing time due to a scratched eye. He has never played a full 82 game season in his NHL career.
Mike Weaver comes to Florida after spending two years with the St. Louis Blues. In 2009-2010, he had 10 points and a plus-10 rating in 77 games. He has also played with the Atlanta Thrashers, Los Angeles Kings, and Vancouver Canucks.
Nathan Paetsch managed only two points in 21 games with Buffalo and Columbus last season.
The Panthers re-signed Jason Garrison, who has played 40 career NHL games. This year, he posted eight points and a plus-five for his first set of NHL points. He also spent 38 games with the Rochester Americans of the AHL and had 19 points.
Chris Higgins comes to Florida from the Calgary Flames. Last year, he had 17 points and a minus-nine as his stats dropped for the second year in a row.
Dennis Wideman was traded to the Panthers as part of a deal that sent Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell to Boston. He spent three and a half seasons with the Bruins and had 30 points and a minus-14 in 76 games in 2009-2010. He has also played with St. Louis and is probably most famous for crashing head-frst into the boards during a shootout.
Aside from losing Horton and Campbell, the Panthers also traded Keith Ballard to the Vancouver Canucks (hope someone warned Roberto Luongo about this). Ballard spent two seasons with Florida and has missed just 13 games in his NHL career. He had 28 points and a minus-seven in 2009-2010, a drop-off from his 34 points and plus-14 in 2008-2009.
Stephen Weiss returns to help Florida on offense in Horton's absence. He posted his second consecutive 60-point season this year and had 60 points and a minus-seven after finishing with 61 points in 2008-2009.
Bryan McCabe, the Panthers captain, had 43 points and a minus-four in 82 games. He has played two seasons in Florida and is a veteran of over 1,000 NHL games with four other teams.
Steven Reinprecht had 38 points and a minus-one in 2009-2010 to post his fourth consecutive 30 point season. He is another NHL veteran who played with four other teams prior to joining the Panthers.
Tomas Vokoun will return to the Panthers to be the main goaltender. This is his third season with Florida. He had a 23-28-11 record with a .925 save percentage, which was ranked third in the NHL, and a 2.55 GAA. He also had seven shutouts to rank third among goaltenders in that category.
2011 playoff odds: Low
Horton and Campbell were big parts of the Panthers. Horton was a consistent 40-50 point scorer, while Campbell led the team in hits. Vokoun is a strong net-minder, but he has not gotten a lot of playoff time during his career. Weiss is a strong scorer but does not have a lot of other help on offense. The defense also leaves a lot to be desired, with only three players posting positive plus/minus ratings in 2009-2010.
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2009-2010 record: 38-36-8 (84 points; 13th in Western Conference)
Last playoff appearance: 2007-2008. The Wild lost to the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
The Wild will bring in three-time Stanley Cup champion John Madden to boost their lineup. Madden has won two Stanley Cups with the Devils and one with the Blackhawks. He spent the past season with Chicago, where he had 23 points and a minus-two in 79 games and two points and a minus-two in 22 playoff games.
Anton Khudobin was re-signed as a promising goaltender of the future. He made his NHL debut last season and played in two games, going 2-0 and posting a .979 save percentage and 0.87 GAA. He played 38 games with the Houston Aeros of the AHL and had a record of 14-19-4 while putting up a 2.43 GAA and .907 save percentage.
Goaltender Josh Harding just finished his fourth season with the Wild. In 2009-2010, he had a 9-12 record with a .905 save percentage and a 3.05 GAA in 25 games.
Robbie Earl has played 41 NHL games with Minnesota and Toronto. He has six points in 32 games for his Wild career and posted 18 points in 41 games with the Aeros in the 2009-2010 season.
Eric Nystrom joins the Wild after spending the last two seasons with the Calgary Flames. He had 19 points in 82 games, but he has never scored more than 20 points a season.
Matt Cullen is another former Stanley Cup champion who won the title with Carolina in 2006. Last year, he split the season between Carolina and Ottawa and had 48 points in 81 games. He has posted 40 points every year for the last five years and has also played with Anaheim, Florida, and the Rangers.
Guillame Latendresse played three years with Montreal before joining Minnesota this past year. He played 78 games and posted 40 points for the first 40-point season of his career.
Minnesota's most notable departures were Andrew Ebbett, who had 15 points in 61 games with the Ducks, Hawks, and Wild, and Derek Boogaard, the Wild's enforcer who spent five seasons with the team.
Minnesota fans should keep an eye on Mikko Koivu this year. He is the first permanent captain in team history and was recently signed to a seven-year contract extension. He has spent five years with the Wild and has posted four 40-point seasons. He had 71 points and a minus-two rating in 2009-2010.
Andrew Brunette had 61 points in 2009-2010 and played his sixth 82 game season this year. He has played with the Wild on two separate occasions, from 2001-2004 and from 2008 until this season. He was crucial to the Wild's 2003 playoff run, posting 13 points in 18 games. He has also played for the Washington Capitals, the Nashville Predators, the Atlanta Thrashers, and the Colorado Avalanche.
Cam Barker was traded to Minnesota from the Hawks and posted 21 points and a plus-five in a combined 70 games.
In goal, the Wild will bring back Niklas Backstrom. This will be his fifth year with Minnesota, and he has played at least 40 games every year. In 2009-2010, he had a record of 26-23-8 in 60 games while posting a .903 save percentage and 2.72 GAA. During the Wild's last playoff run, he went 2-4 in six games and had a .900 save percentage with a 2.82 GAA.
2011 Playoff Odds: High
The Wild still have two players who were on the team during previous playoff runs and did respectable jobs. It also helps that they have two Cup winners coming on to the team that know what it takes to win. Throw that in with some strong offensive talent, and the Wild look poised to return to the postseason in 2011.
New York Islanders
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2009-2010 record: 34-37-11 (79 points, 13th in Eastern Conference)
Last playoff appearance: 2007. The Islanders lost to the Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
The Islanders have two issues to settle this season. Not only do they have to get back to the postseason, they have to figure out how to get past the first round for the first time since 1993.
James Wisniewski is one of the most recent arrivals to the Islanders, coming to New York in a trade from Anaheim. He spent three full seasons with the Blackhawks before being traded to the Ducks last year. He finished the 2009-2010 season with 30 points and a minus-five in 69 games for the first 30-point season of his career.
The Islanders re-signed Jon Sim, who has played with six other teams in his NHL career. Last year, he improved over his 15 point season in 2008-2009 by finishing with 22 points in 77 games.
Matt Moulson played his first full NHL season on Long Island this past year and had 48 points in 82 games. Prior to joining the Islanders, he spent parts of the last two seasons with Los Angeles.
New York has two other key players who just played their first full NHL seasons. Rob Schremp had 25 points in 44 games after spending parts of the previous three years with Edmonton. Meanwhile, John Tavares, the first overall pick of the 2009 draft, had 54 points in 82 games.
The Islanders acquired Zenon Konopka from Tampa Bay. Konopka had five points and a minus-11 in 74 games this year, but his 265 penalty minutes were ranked first in the NHL. He also played a few games with Anaheim and Columbus.
Defenseman Mark Eaton is another new addition. Eaton played the last four seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins and had the best season of his career this year, posting 16 points in 79 games. He was a Stanley Cup champion in 2009 and had nine points in 68 games that year.
Milan Jurcina spent last season with the Capitals and the Blue Jackets, posting seven points in 44 games.
The Islanders' key departures were Sean Bergenheim, who left for Tampa Bay, and Tim Jackman, who signed with the Calgary Flames. Bergenheim played three seasons on Long Island and had 23 points in 63 games this past season, while Jackman had nine points and a minus-four rating in 54 games during his first full season.
Backup goaltender Martin Biron heads to New York City to play with the Rangers. Last year, he played 29 games and has a record of 9-14-4 with a .896 save percentage and 3.37 GAA. He has also spent his career with Buffalo and Philadelphia.
Among the Islanders' players who are still under contract for this year are Kyle Okposo who had 52 points in 80 games last year, Mark Streit who posted his third 40-point season with 49 points in 82 games, and Jack Hillen who had 21 points in 69 games and has improved his totals every year.
Dwayne Roloson will likely be the Islanders' starting goaltender once again. Last year, he had a record of 23-18-7 with a .907 save percentage and a 3.00 GAA.
2011 playoff odds: High
The Islanders have brought in a Stanley Cup winner, and their young players will likely become some of the brightest stars in the league. Roloson may be turning 40, but he is still able to handle the workload, and if Rick DiPietro can't go, Nathan Lawson looks like a solid prospect to take his place. Throw in some toughness with Konopka, and the Islanders will be ready to compete.
New York Rangers
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2009-2010 record: 38-33-11 (87 points, ninth in Eastern Conference)
Last playoff appearance: 2009. The Rangers lost to the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Things haven't exactly been rosy for the Rangers since John Tortorella took over during the 2008-2009 season. They blew a 3-1 series lead to the Caps in the 2009 playoffs, and then they missed the 2010 postseason by losing in a shootout on the last day of the regular season.
Derek Boogaard does not bring much to the Rangers. He has never had more than 10 points a season and is more into putting up penalty minutes than he is about scoring points.
One would think Alexander Frolov would be a decent alternative, but this is a gamble for the Rangers. Frolov spent seven seasons with the Kings and had 51 points in 81 games. It doesn't seem terrible, but Frolov has been scoring less since he posted 71 points in the 2006-2007 season.
However, it does get a little better. Dan Girardi re-signed and will return to the Blueshirts for his fourth season. He has never missed a game and had 24 points to post his third 20-point season.
Brandon Prust had 14 points and a plus-nine rating in 26 combined games with the Flames and Rangers. There is also Vinny Prospal, a veteran of over 900 NHL games with six teams, who had 58 points and a plus-eight in 75 games. Despite being age 35, Prospal can still produce at a high level.
The Rangers also re-signed Erik Christensen, who was traded to New York from Anaheim during the season. He had 26 points and a plus-11 rating in 58 games and has also played with the Penguins and Thrashers.
The Rangers lose Olli Jokinen, a midseason addition who will be returning to Calgary, and Jody Shelley, who had nine points and a plus-five in a combined 57 games with the San Jose Sharks and Rangers.
Backup goaltender Alex Auld will sign with Montreal after playing 24 games with the Rangers and Stars last year. He had a 9-7-3 record and averaged a .899 save percentage and 2.76 GAA.
On offense, New York will have the help of Marian Gaborik, who had 86 points in 76 games last year. He is a strong defensive forward who has had a positive plus/minus rating in all but one of his NHL seasons.
Brandon Dubinsky finished the season with 44 points and posted a plus-nine rating, his second positive plus/minus rating in his three year career. This was also his third consecutive 40 point season.
Aside from Girardi, the Rangers' defensive corps has Michael Del Zotto. Del Zotto had 37 points this year, but he will need to improve his minus-20 rating. Marc Staal just finished his third NHL season and had the best season of his career, posting 27 points and a plus-11. His plus/minus rating led all New York defensemen.
Henrik Lundqvist will make his return to the Rangers' goal. He played more than 70 games for the fourth straight year and had a 35-27-10 record with four shutouts. He posted a .921 save percentage and a 2.38 GAA. Lundqvist played the second most games of all NHL goaltenders, and his save percentage and GAA were both ranked in the top 10 of the league.
2011 Playoff Odds: High
The Rangers have some great young talent, as well as some veterans who are still capable of producing. The team may not be highly seeded this year, but look for Lundqvist to get somewhat of a reward for all his hard work the last several years. How could you not think that kid will eventually lead New York to a Cup?
OK, don't plan the parade on Broadway yet, but just try to be optimistic.
St. Louis Blues
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2009-2010 record: 40-32-10 (90 points; ninth in Western Conference)
Last playoff appearance: 2008-2009, a loss to the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
St. Louis made a splash early in the 2010 offseason when they picked up Jaroslav Halak in a trade with Montreal.
Halak had a career year in 2009-2010, finishing the regular season with a 26-13-5 record with a .924 save percentage, which was ranked fourth in the NHL, and a 2.40 GAA, which was ranked ninth. He was also ranked seventh in the NHL with five shutouts.
However, Halak really turned it up in the postseason. He had a 9-9 record and was first in save percentage with a .923 and third in GAA with a 2.55. His nine wins were ranked second among postseason goaltenders.
The Blues also signed Dave Scatchard from the Nashville Predators. In 2009-2010, he had five points in 16 games with the Preds and 30 points in 36 games with the Milwaukee admirals of the AHL. He has played over 600 NHL games with five different teams.
Erik Johnson was re-signed after a successful second season in St. Louis. He had 39 points in 79 games, an improvement over his 33 points in 2007-2008. It was a nice comeback for Johnson, who missed the entire 2008-2009 season recovering from knee surgery.
The Blues brought back five more key pieces to begin the road to a 2011 postseason appearance:
David Perron had 47 points and a minus-10 rating in 82 games. He posted his second 40-point season in three seasons with the Blues.
Cam Janssen had no points in 43 games, but his 190 penalty minutes were ranked fifth in the NHL.
Brad Winchester has played 128 games with St. Louis the last two years. He has 29 points and a plus-two in those games and had eight points in 2009-2010 with 108 penalty minutes.
Alex Steen just finished his second season with St. Louis. He had 47 points in 68 games and spent three seasons with Toronto before joining the Blues in 2008-2009.
Carlo Colaiacovo had 32 points in 67 games and improved over his 29 points in the 2008-2009 season.
St. Louis brought on Vladimir Sobotka, who spent the last three seasons with Boston. He had 10 points in 61 games in 2009-2010 and finished his Bruins career with 22 points in 134 games.
Aside from losing Mike Weaver and Chris Mason, the Blues also lost Paul Kariya to free agency. Kariya spent three seasons with St. Louis and had 87 points in 168 games. It was recently announced that he will not play in 2010-2011 to recover from a concussion.
The Blues' offense will be led by T.J. Oshie, who has been in St. Louis for two seasons. He had 48 points in 78 games and improved on his 2008-2009 total of 39 points.
Andy McDonald will be another key part of the offense. He had 57 points in 79 games this year and also improved from his previous year's total of 44 points. He won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007 and was teammates with Kariya during the 2003 Stanley Cup playoffs, where the Ducks finished as runners-up to the Devils.
The biggest part of the Blues' defense is Barrett Jackman, who has been on the team for seven seasons. He had 17 points and a plus-three last year, a slight drop from his total of 21 points in 2008-2009.
Halak will be joined in goal by Ty Conklin, who played his first season with St. Louis in 2009-2010. He had a record of 10-10-2 with a .921 save percentage and 2.48 GAA.
2011 playoff odds: Mixed
The Blues definitely have the talent to get back to the playoffs. However, they will have to see if Halak can repeat his success from last season. They also lost a big veteran presence with the departure of Kariya, and the new free agent signings are just average.
Tampa Bay Lightning
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2009-2010 record: 34-36-12 (80 points, 12th in Eastern Conference)
Last playoff appearance: 2007. The Bolts lost to the Devils in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
New General Manager Steve Yzerman is eager to make Tampa competitive again, and he has not messed around this offseason.
The biggest acquisition for the Lightning has been forward Simon Gagne, who was traded from Philadelphia. Gagne spent 10 years with Philly and posted 48 points in 58 games in 2009-2010. He was seventh in playoff goals scored with nine and was first in power play playoff goals with five.
Yzerman picked up free agent Randy Jones from Los Angeles. Jones had 21 points in 48 games this year and previously spent six seasons with the Flyers from 2003 to 2009. He also got Dominic Moore who had 11 points in 21 games with Florida and Montreal, and Pavel Kubina, who had 38 points in 76 games with Atlanta. Kubina previously played in Tampa from 2003 to 2006 and was a member of the 2004 Stanley Cup team.
Brett Clark comes to the Bolts after spending the last three years with Colorado. He had 20 points and a plus-six rating in 2009-2010 and has also played with the Canadiens and Thrashers.
Dan Ellis, who spent the last three seasons in Nashville, will join Mike Smith in goal. Ellis served as backup to Pekka Rinne this year and had a record of 15-13-1 in 31 games with a .909 save percentage and 2.69 GAA.
Yzerman re-signed several players this offseason. The most important pieces are:
Steve Downie, who had 46 points in 79 games and was ranked third in the NHL with 208 penalty minutes.
Mike Lundin, who posted 13 points and a minus-four in 49 games during his third season with the Lightning.
Teddy Purcell came to the Lightning in a trade from Los Angeles. He had 15 points and a minus-nine in 60 games.
The Lightning still have a wide array of top talent on their team. Steven Stamkos tied Sidney Crosby for the Rocket Richard trophy this year after scoring 51 goals. His 95 points were ranked fifth in the NHL and his 24 power play goals were ranked first.
Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier are still two of the most dominant forwards in the league. St. Louis had 94 points this year and was ranked sixth in the league, and his 65 assists were ranked fifth. He has had two 90-point seasons in his career and will be going into his 10th season with the Bolts in 2010-2011.
Lecavalier has played 11 seasons in Tampa and had 70 points in 2009-2010. He has posted five 70-point seasons, and despite undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, he will be ready for training camp next month.
On defense, Tampa keeps Mattias Ohlund, who played with Vancouver for 11 seasons before joining the Lightning. He had 13 points and a minus-eight rating last year.
The Lightning experienced their fair share of losses with Zenon Konopka, Kurtis Foster, and Alex Tanguay all heading in different directions. They also lost Andrej Meszaros in the Gagne trade. Meszaros played two seasons in Tampa and finished the 2009-2010 season with 17 points and a minus-14 in 81 games.
2011 playoff odds: High
The Lightning have a lot of star power, and Ellis will be a solid netminder. The Bolts also boast three Cup winners and a strong veteran presence. They lost some key pieces, but Yzerman did a good job of plugging up the holes.
Toronto Maple Leafs
2009-2010 record: 30-38-14 (74 points, 15th in Eastern Conference)
Last playoff appearance: 2003-2004, a loss to the Flyers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The Maple Leafs are looking to get back to the playoffs for the first time in seven years. They have the second longest playoff drought among the teams in this slideshow.
Toronto brings in Brett Lebda, who spent the last five seasons with Detroit. He finished the 2009-2010 season with eight points and a minus-two and has never had more than 20 points in a season.
Colby Armstrong signed a three year deal after spending two and a half years with Atlanta. He had 29 points in 2009-2010 and is a consistent 20-30 point scorer, but many think he is overrated (your writer does not agree and happens to still be in love with him.).
The Leafs re-signed two players from last year's team. John Mitchell had 23 points and a plus-seven in 60 games, but he regressed from his 29-point total in 2008-2009. Nikolai Kulemin had 36 points in 78 games and improved from his 2008-2009 total of 31 points.
Toronto said goodbye to Ben Ondrus, who departed for Edmonton, but he only had two points in 52 games, so it's not likely many Maple Leafs fans will notice he left.
Tomas Kaberle, after dealing with a summer of trade rumors, will return to the Leafs for his 12th season. Last year, he had 49 points and a minus-16 rating. Although he has had negative plus/minus ratings for the last three years, he can consistently score 30-40 points a year and also has three 50-point seasons.
Phil Kessel had 55 points and a minus-eight in 70 games during his first season in Toronto. This was the second 50-point season of his career, and he previously spent three years with Boston before joining the Leafs.
Dion Phaneuf will begin his first season as the 12th captain of Toronto in 2010-2011. His statistics have been declining for the last three years. He posted 32 points and a plus-one rating this year, down from his 47 points in 2008-2009.
Mikhail Grabovski had 35 points and a plus-three rating in 59 games to round out his second season in Toronto. He also regressed from 2008-2009 after posting 48 points that year.
The Leafs will turn to Jonas Gustavsson and Jean-Sebastien Giguere as their goaltending duo. Gustavsson had a 16-15-9 record with a 2.87 GAA and a.902 save percentage in his first full NHL season. Giguere, who was traded to Toronto from Anaheim, had a record of 10-15-7 in 35 games with both teams and posted a .908 save percentage and a 2.89 GAA.
2011 playoff odds: Low
The playoff drought will march on for the Leafs. They do not have a lot of star power outside of Kessel, and they have too many players who don't have enough upside. Gustavsson could turn into a strong goaltender as time goes on, but Giguere is not the same goalie who led Anaheim to two Stanley Cup Finals.