Daily Herald
NHL season preview: What to watch for
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 10/3/2007 12:17 AM

Look who's a Shark

Jeremy Roenick was set to retire when he got a call from San Jose Shark general manager Doug Wilson, his old Blackhawks teammate, offering a contract - one year for $500,000. Roenick jumped at the chance to win a Stanley Cup.

"I had a longtime friend reach out his hand when a lot of people weren't doing that," Roenick said. "I know people are going to say that I'm done, that I can't play anymore, that I'm only here to score 500 goals and that I can't keep my mouth shut. But I'm going to play hard and then people can make their own evaluations."

Said Wilson of Roenick: "I think the pilot light is still on."

Red Wings rule

The tough news for Blackhawks fans is that the Detroit Red Wings are going to be very good again despite losing Mathieu Schneider, Robert Lang and Todd Bertuzzi in the off-season.

"I guess when you're one of the top teams, everyone's waiting for you to fall," said defenseman Chris Chelios, who turns 46 in January. "It hasn't happened, and I don't see it happening this year, either. We've got a great group of guys. There's good chemistry here."

They helped themselves

1. Philadelphia. The Flyers could go from last place to the playoffs after added goalie Martin Biron, defensemen Jason Smith and Kimmo Timonen and forwards Daniel Briere and Scott Hartnell.

2. Colorado. How can the Avs not be better after signing winger Ryan Smyth and defenseman Dave Hannan as free agents?

3. New York Rangers. Think they have enough offense now with Chris Drury and Scott Gomez joining Jaromir Jagr?

Story lines to watch

1. Are the Pittsburgh Penguins ready to win the Stanley Cup?

2. Will Blackhawks rookies Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane be good enough right away to make a difference?

3. Will Anaheim Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer stay retired or decide he wants to play down the stretch?

The Forsberg watch

Free-agent center Peter Forsberg still hasn't made up his mind about playing as he continues to recover from foot and ankle problems. If Forsberg does decide to return to hockey, the best bets are it's with either Colorado, Detroit or Philadelphia. What's that? The Blackhawks have talked to Forsberg's agent? That's not going to happen.

Iron Mike's last dance?

While there might still be a few teams out there that Mike Keenan hasn't coached, this might be his last stop now that he is back behind the bench with the Calgary Flames. The Flames are ready to win a Cup, and GM Darryl Sutter couldn't think of a better man to try to get them there than his former Hawks colleague. Will Keenan ruffle some feathers in the Flames' dressing room? Of course he will. Captain Jarome Iginla already has said he expects to clash with Keenan, but that it's OK as long as they win. Keep tuned.

Predictions

• Stanley Cup champion: Ottawa Senators

• Stanley Cup runner-up: San Jose Sharks

• Hart Trophy (MVP): Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh

• Ross Trophy (Scoring): Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh

• Richard Trophy (Goals): Dany Heatley, Ottawa

• Norris Trophy (Defense): Chris Pronger, Anaheim

• Calder Trophy (Rookie): Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks

• Adams Trophy (Coach): Mike Keenan, Calgary

• Vezina Trophy (Goalie): Roberto Luongo, Vancouver

• Comeback player: Todd Bertuzzi, Anaheim

• First coach fired: John Tortorella, Tampa Bay

• Breakout season: Shea Weber, Nashville

• Best free-agent signing: Ryan Smyth, Colorado

• Worst free-agent signing: Michal Handzus, Los Angeles