You asked: Brodeur, Sabres, Vegas, more

You sent us your questions and ESPN.com's Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun have a few answers for you. Here are 10 to ponder:

Will this be the year Martin Brodeur really hits the wall and is no longer the same dominant goalie that we are all used to? Do the Devils miss the playoffs for the first time since 1996? -- Zach Emery (Glen Rock, N.J.)

Burnside: I've been predicting the Devils' demise for years now (luckily for me, they continue to flop in the playoffs), but I don't think this is the season the streak ends. Brodeur may play fewer games even if he's healthy, but he's still an all-world netminder and the Devils have enough offense and a solid blue line to comfortably qualify for the postseason again. After that, well, that's another story.

The Sabres have arguably the best goalie in the NHL and the defense is pretty good with seasoned veterans and good youth, including Calder winner Tyler Myers. However, the offense is questionable. Do the Sabres have enough offensive firepower to make a serious Cup run? -- Ryan Siskar (Tonawanda, N.Y.)

LeBrun: Actually, I'm more confident about the offense, especially with the addition of rookie Tyler Ennis for a full season and what I believe will be comeback seasons for Drew Stafford and Thomas Vanek. But it's the blue-line corps that worries me somewhat after the departures of Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman. Jordan Leopold and Shaone Morrison plugged those holes. I don't see that as an even trade. But if Butler and Sekera make strides, perhaps the gap is covered. Playoffs? Yes, I see the Sabres making the playoffs.

Was trading off Simon Gagne a bad decision? Can the flyers pull through this year? -- Ian (Philadelphia, Pa.)

Burnside: I think it was a calculated risk by Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren. By bringing in Nikolay Zherdev, there's a chance to upgrade the Flyers' offense moving forward. And given Gagne's history of injury problems, it made sense to move him as opposed to a younger asset like Claude Giroux or Jeff Carter. Now, Zherdev has proven difficult to coach, so that is an unknown going forward. There's also the possibility Gagne has a banner year in Tampa Bay. It will be interesting for sure.

Winnipeg and Quebec are always mentioned as possible destinations whenever there is talk of a franchise being sold and/or relocated. Why not Houston ? Fourth largest TV market, Toyota Center ... Seems like everything would be in place to put a team in Houston instead of going back into markets in Canada where it didn't work before from a revenue stream standpoint. -- Don Helbig (Fairfield/Ohio)

What are the odds of Vegas getting an NHL team in the next few years. Or at the least, getting the AHL to expand west. We have a good base of hockey fans here (and many more who travel here for ECHL and Kings "Frozen Fury" games) but the ECHL just isn't cutting it anymore. -- Kris (Las Vegas)

LeBrun: Winnipeg is definitely at the top of the list to get a team; the league is not even trying to hide that now. Houston and Las Vegas are bigger cities, but do they have bigger hockey fan bases? Um, no. One thing I think we've all learned from the struggles in Phoenix, Florida and Nashville -- converting fans isn't that easy. Winnipeg is a break-even proposition at best for any owner (there just isn't enough corporate money in that town), but the place will be packed every night and the team will lead every newscast. It's time to put a team back there, and the Coyotes will move next season unless the City of Glendale can iron out its issues and find an owner before we get to the halfway point of this season.

Quebec City is also next in line. An estimated 60,000 people rallied in the city last weekend, hoping to get the NHL's attention. Can you see 60,000 people rallying for hockey in Houston or Las Vegas? Once construction on a new rink begins in Quebec City, it's only a matter of time. Kansas City, meanwhile, would top my list of U.S. destinations for an NHL team. The Sprint Center is new, it's built and it's waiting for a tenant.

Florida, Atlanta, Toronto, New York Islanders ... which one of these four teams will make the postseason? -- Nick (Michigan)

Burnside: I like the Atlanta Thrashers to make the postseason for just the second time in their history. I like their balance along the blue line and goaltending depth with Ondrej Pavelec and Chris Mason. They will struggle to score, but I still think they will sneak in.

Do you think the Flames will struggle to score again this year? They've been scoring pretty well so far in the preseason and look to have a much more balanced team with more offensive-minded players and much better forward depth. -- Cameron (Calgary, Alberta)

LeBrun: One of the reasons the Flames might be OK offensively is they have the guys on the blue line to get the puck up in a hurry, so key in the way the game is played now. In Jay Bouwmeester, Mark Giordano and Ian White, in particular, these guys are premier puck-movers and that helps fuel the offensive game. I also think Brendan Morrison was an inspired late addition. He had a great camp/preseason with Vancouver. I think he found his speed last season in Washington, taking a full year to really find his wheels after knee surgery two years ago.

I have no traditional hockey market, so I kinda get the benefit of choosing my team and I have been a big fan of the Avs for a long while. My question is, what kind of expectations do you see for the Avalanche heading into the season with the young squad that they have? -- Kevin (Boise, Idaho)

Burnside: A lot of people think the Avs will fall back after their surprising run last season. I am not one of them. I think their young core will continue to mature, and as long as Craig Anderson doesn't get burned out, I think they'll be a playoff team again next spring.

I am VERY concerned about the Canadiens this year and am afraid the playoff run they made last year might turn out to be just that, a one-year run. Can Carey Price be a No. 1 goalie like the Canadiens' upper management thinks or will he be mediocre at best? -- Jason Cappuccio (Everett, Mass.)

LeBrun: I think the Habs will be a bubble team, fighting with six or seven clubs for the couple of playoff spots in the East. Their magical run from last spring does nothing to change that reality. As for Price, scouts and GMs I talked to around the league say he's got the skill set to be a No. 1 goalie in the league, but wonder about how his mental makeup will handle the pressure now that an entire province is ready to pounce on him for every bad goal. Time will tell.

Tuukka Rask had a very impressive rookie campaign. Do you see a sophomore slump in the future for him? -- Tom Flickiger (East Hartford, Conn.)

Burnside: No, I think the Bruins goaltender will continue to put up numbers that will keep him at or near the top of the NHL. It will be interesting to see how Boston coach Claude Julien divides playing time between Rask and Tim Thomas, though.

Who will be the Sharks captain this season? -- Max (Palo Alto, Calif.)

LeBrun: Joe Thornton was named captain of the Sharks on Thursday in Stockholm. Dan Boyle will get an "A" while Patrick Marleau and Ryane Clowe will share the other "A." Thornton was a young captain in Boston, but is much more ready for the role this time. He's grown a lot as a person and player in San Jose and was terrific in last spring's playoffs. I'm a little surprised Joe Pavelski didn't get a letter at all, but his time will come.