NHL players worth keeping an eye on this season for all different reasons:
Anaheim: McDonald, Kariya-pride of U. Maine, Rucchin-way underrated still today, Sykora who was great in Jersey with Holik and Elias on a crash line that could score and bang, Adam Oates- still one of the best passers and faceoff artists in the league like J. Nieuwendyk once was, Salei for the occasional big hits which can be controversial against the better stars in the league, maybe even S. Pahlsson if called up as this is likely his final boarding call with the Ducks.
Atlanta: Kozlov, super rookie sensations Heatley and Kovalchuk who were arguably the two brightest rising stars last season in the NHL, McEachern who was unreal in Boston and Ottawa in terms of pure goal scoring coming off of a bad season with a new team now, Stefan still looking to prove his critics wrong and avoid more concussions which could end his career early, Tamer for the occasional good scraps when the team needs a boost from their enforcer and Odgers isn't cutting it.
Boston: Thornton-newly captained and one of the brightest young stars in the league today like Marleau and Lecavalier, Samsonov-ditto Joe Thornton's skills and appetite only Sergei is one of the most amazing skaters in the NHL with a knack for scoring beautiful goals after skating like a water bug, Murray-no one ever would have figured 41 goals last season like Guerin did, Rolston-one of the most valuable players Bruins have, great at the point on the Power Play, great on the Penalty Kill, Even Strength you name it, Huml-looking good as a rookie, Girard-now has confidence he didnt have before and is playing like it, Berard who had the cornea of one of his eyes sliced open and is now mostly blind on one side by a M. Hossa high stick windup a few years back which left him kicking his skates into the ice holding his face in one of the ugliest misfortunate happenings I've ever seen, Boynton-one of B's best/most solid defenseman now, PJ Stock-hasn't fought yet, but he wont back down from anyone despite giving up a lot of size every night, Lapointe-way overpaid imho, but a good leader and good team player, G Tim Thomas-his parents once sold their wedding rings for $$$ to get him into a hockey competition as a kid. Hilbert and Herr when called up, Stumpel as a great playmaker/finesse passer who doesn't shoot enough and earned the appropriate label of ultimate "playoff bust" last year against Montreal -reputation for being easily taken out of the play and off pucks with any degree of physical play used against him.
Buffalo: Satan who is always worth watching closely, Connolly and Pyatt both looking like they are ready for true breakout years, Brown who is way underrated and a great hustler, Barnes who was super solid in Florida years ago, Gratton now looking reborn after a lot of trades around the league early in his career left his skeptics laughing to no end over his failure to live up to the potential he has, Hecht, Afinogenov when he returns- a young Samsonov in the making, JP Dumont who the Sabres fleeced Chicago out of in a Gilmour deal, Ray with the bare knuckles, Varada's big hits, McKee, Zhitnik, Wooley who had a brilliant hip check against Markov the other night before Langkow stepped in and challenged him to a fight, Patrick, Biron who is a really really good to great netminder in the making and who could help Buffalo fans get over D. Hasek pretty quickly.
Calgary: Iginla-unbelievable player, Drury-ditto Iginla, Gelinas, Conroy, Yelle, Berube, Turek. Small market Canadian dollars always a big factor in hurting this teams post season playoff chances.
Carolina: O'Neill who is one of my favorites for grit, heart, hustle, determination all out amazing play, Bataglia also really scrappy player who can hustle to no end, Brindamour and Francis still good as they age, Erik Cole-excellent rookie year last season, Hedican, Kapanen who is always worth watching, Hill can throw some big punishing hits from time to time, Vasicek, Kevyn Adams great on faceoffs, Tanabe, Wallin, Weekes had a career defining playoff series against NJ last season where he had never before played at that high of a level. Looks like he bumped Irbe out of the number one position and he looks prepared to hang onto his newfound status.