JONATHAN BERNIER MAPLE LEAFS
Jonathan Quick's understudy with the Kings for the last four seasons finally has a chance at a starring role with Toronto, with whom Bernier, 25, signed a two-year, $5.8 million deal in July. The tools and instincts are there. Now the 2006 first-rounder must prove he can handle a heavier workload.
COACH ON THE HOT SEAT
KEVIN DINEEN PANTHERS
Dineen's third season behind the Florida bench will be a pivotal one. The Panthers went from a division championship in 2011--12 to the Eastern Conference basement last season. His ability to get the most out of his young players will be the key to his survival.
DENNIS SEIDENBERG BRUINS
Obscured by the massive shadow of defensive partner Zdeno Chara, the 6'1", 210-pound Seidenberg quietly operates as one of the league's most effective blueliners. He is relentless on the penalty kill and is a shutdown defender at even strength.
IN THE CREASE
BY PIERRE MCGUIRE
THE ADDITION OF Jarome Iginla should goose the Bruins' below-average power play—their only glaring weakness. It ranked 26th in the NHL last season.... The Senators will definitely be able to score because of the additions of free-agent forwards Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur (who combined to score 19 goals in 2013) and the return of center JASON SPEZZA, who missed all but five games last season with a back injury. The presence of Spezza should also benefit second-line center Kyle Turris.... The Sabres are in the beginning stages of the rebuilding process, so it will be interesting to see if they keep top scorer Thomas Vanek (20 goals in 38 games), No. 1 goalie Ryan Miller and veteran winger Drew Stafford around all season.
JOHN E. SOKOLOWSKI/USA TODAY SPORTS (BERNIER)
ANDRE RINGUETTE/NHLI/GETTY IMAGES (SPEZZA)