The salary cap and free agency have brought about an era of parity in the NHL which results in exciting seasons where the margin of winning it all and falling just short is pretty thin. There are roughly ten franchises this season who can legitimately claim they are Stanley Cup contenders.
You could make compelling arguments for each one.
In the end it will come down to which team has the best health, good timing and lucky bounces of the puck. Of course there is always the tinfoil hat brigade that will tell you it all comes down to which team Gary Bettman likes at the time.
For the fans this is great but for us self-proclaimed know-it-all blowhards it makes predicting the champion tougher. We like to be right.
There are many unknowns that will either lift a team up or ultimately spell their doom this coming season. What will they be? How great or how damaging will they be?
Pondering these things is what makes this time of year great…or at least it is what passes the time while we wait for the actual games to start. We can only watch so many playoff reruns after all.
Here are ten burning questions that will most likely decide who lifts that big cup above their head in June of 2012.