With the 2015-16 NHL season about to start, The Canadian Press lists 10 players to keep an eye on:
1. Mark Giordano, Calgary — The 31-year-old looked to be a shoo-in for the Norris Trophy as top defenceman until he suffered a season-ending torn biceps on Feb. 25. Fully recovered after surgery, the Flames captain will be trying to pick up where he left off.
2. Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh — Run out of Toronto after his worst season in six years, the 27-year-old now has the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to feed him the puck, which makes the speedy winger a potential 50-goal scorer.
3. Jaromir Jagr, Florida — He’s 43 and entering his 24th NHL campaign, looking to become a mentor for young talent on the Panthers. He is also fourth in all-time NHL scoring, only 48 points behind third-place Gordie Howe. He had 47 points in 77 games last season.
4. Mark Stone, Ottawa — He seemed to come out of nowhere to become one of the NHL’s most dangerous forwards late last season. The 23-year-old led the league in scoring after the all-star break and tied Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau for the rookie scoring lead with 64 points.
5. Milan Lucic, Los Angeles — An uninspired season of only 18 goals saw the brawny winger traded by Boston to Los Angeles, a team with two Cups in recent years that is already well stocked with big, gifted scorers and playmakers. A focused and motivated Lucic makes the Kings even scarier.
6. Jamie Benn, Dallas — The big centre gets better every season and last year he won the scoring title with 87 points in 81 games, one more than the New York Islanders’ John Tavares.
7. Patrick Kane, Chicago — He enters the season under the cloud of yet another controversy, but nothing seems to faze the 26-year-old. If he somehow gets through his latest troubles, he will no doubt continue to produce more than a point per game and score some dazzling goals.
8. Carey Price, Montreal — The big goalie won everything last season, the Hart Trophy as league MVP and the Vezina as best goalie. And the first thing he said when he turned up for camp was that he can do even better this season.
9. Connor McDavid, Edmonton — Dubbed as the next superstar, the first overall draft pick begins his NHL career trying to help the once-great Edmonton Oilers become contenders again. His every move will be watched for signs of genius.
10. Jack Eichel, Buffalo — In McDavid’s shadow is Eichel, the second overall pick who will try to raise the last-place Sabres back to respectability. McDavid is Canadian and Eichel is American, and they are fated to be career-long rivals