10 players with major expectations
Updated: January 9, 2013, 1:03 PM ETBy Scott Burnside | ESPN.com
Tim Thomas in hiatus, the Bruins turn their gaze once again to Rask, who not so long ago was "the answer" in Boston anyway. When Thomas was dealing with hip injuries during the 2009-10 season, Rask played 45 games and led the NHL with a 1.97 GAA. Rask, however, was part of the Bruins' epic playoff collapse in 2010 when they blew a 3-0 series lead (and 3-0 Game 7 lead) in falling to Philadelphia in the second round. Rask is just 22-22-5 in the past two seasons, and the Bruins will be looking for him to prove he's ready for the limelight (again).Washington Capitals (for whom Semin played since being drafted 13th overall in 2002), many of those fallow periods took place during critical playoff series. The Caps cut ties with the unrestricted free agent and Southeast Division foe Carolina took a gamble, handing Semin a one-year deal worth $7 million. Good risk for GM Jim Rutherford as Semin has 30- to 40-goal potential and should be motivated to silence the many (many, many?) critics of his game in a new environment. Ryan Suter this summer and shocked many by signing with the Edmonton Oilers. Schultz, along with a handful of the Oilers' young players, lit it up during the lockout for the Oilers' AHL affiliate in Oklahoma. No question the Oilers have a plethora of enticing young talent, but their defense was marginal, ranking 23rd in goals allowed per game. The expectations for Schultz to somehow fix that all without ever playing a single NHL game is something new head coach Ralph Krueger and the rest of the Oilers' management team will have to keep a close eye on.Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, the team's three young offensive dynamos, all struggled. But under new coach Bruce Boudreau, the team did show signs of turning a corner and made a spirited bid to get back in the playoff picture late in the season. Ryan finished with 31 goals, his fourth straight 30-goal campaign, but more to the point, he spoke out against Ducks management when his name continued to surface in trade discussions. We have long been a fan of Ryan's candor, and he's a terrific talent, so he should be ready to put last season and the controversy behind him.Buffalo Sabres. That seems like a long time ago as Roy, traded to Dallas in the offseason for agitator Steve Ott, looks to rebound from shoulder surgery and return to the form that saw him score 86 times from 2007 to 2010. His ability to do that will say a lot about whether the Stars are a playoff team or not.Claude Giroux. Now, can Voracek, who came to the Flyers last season in the deal that sent Jeff Carter to Columbus, justify the cash and confidence shown in him?
We ran into the personable Leino in Carolina early last season and already could see the strain of a whopping six-year, $27 million deal combined with a slow start to the season was wearing on him. He talked about having to gain the trust and confidence of the coaching staff, but when the dust cleared at the end of the season, Leino had only eight goals and 25 points in 71 games. The entire Sabres squad looks to rebound this season, but few will have higher expectations than Leino, who must prove that the Sabres' faith in him was not wildly misplaced.