Helene Elliott's NHL team-by-team preview
Leading scorer: Jeff Carter, 46-38.

Outlook: General Manager Paul Holmgren wanted a bigger, more physical team to combat the skill teams like the Penguins and Capitals and he got that in a 6-foot-6 physical force named Chris Pronger. He lost Lupul and Knuble in that trade with the Ducks, but 21-year-old center Claude Giroux and 6-foot-3 rookie James van Riemsdyk are being counted on to pick up some of the scoring slack. It all looks good except the goaltending. Ray Emery had a tumultuous time in Ottawa and spent last season in Russia. If he can't handle the job they don't have much salary cap space to replace him with an elite goalie.


2008-09 record: 53-19-10=116 points.

Power play: 23.6% (fourth). Penalty killing: 82.4% (12th).

Leading scorer: Marc Savard, 25-63.

Outlook: They're deep everywhere, even in trophies. Coach Claude Julien won the Adams Trophy as coach of the year, Zdeno Chara won the Norris as the top defenseman and Tim Thomas (36-11-7, 2.10, .933) won the Vezina as the top goalie. Savard didn't win any hardware but he won a lot of opponents' respect. They'll miss Kessel, who led them last season with 36 goals but couldn't agree on a new contract and was traded to Toronto. Czech center David Krejci is recovering rapidly from hip surgery. He might sit out the opener but isn't expected to sit out many games beyond that. The Bruins should finish atop the Northeast again without much strain.


2008-09 record: 45-28-9=99 points.

Power play: 17.2% (20th). Penalty killing: 82.7% (eighth).

Leading scorer: Evgeni Malkin, 35-78.

Outlook: Their best players during their Cup run were their youngest players: Crosby, who turned 22 in August, Malkin, 23, Staal, 21, and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, 24. That bodes well for a third straight trip to the finals and becoming the first consecutive Cup winner since the 1997 and 1998 Red Wings. Losing shot-blocker and penalty killer extraordinaire Rob Scuderi and towering Hal Gill will force their defense to regroup but Brooks Orpik is a big hitter and Alex Goligoski will get a chance to shine. Without Talbot, Tyler Kennedy will get time alongside Malkin and will benefit from the Russian center's many talents.


2008-09 record: 45-30-7=97 points.

Power play: 18.7% (18th). Penalty killing: 80.4% (19th).

Leading scorer: Ray Whitney, 24-53.

Outlook: They awoke in the second half last season to grab the No. 6 seeding and made it to the East finals. Very deep down the middle with Eric Staal, Matt Cullen and veterans Rod Brind'Amour and Stephane Yelle. They were able to re-sign free-agent wingers Erik Cole and Chad LaRose, good second liners. Goalie Cam Ward (2.44, .916) was outstanding down the stretch and in the playoffs and is a franchise cornerstone at 25 with a Cup title to his credit as a rookie in 2006. He signed a six-year, $37.8-million contract extension this week. Coach Paul Maurice, who replaced Peter Laviolette -- who had replaced Maurice in 2003 -- restored the energy and confidence the Hurricanes had lost. Assistant coach Ron Francis deserves kudos for his work, too. A team that could go far.


2008-09 record: 51-27-4=106 points.

Power play: 18.9% (15th). Penalty killing: 79.9% (20th).