Forget that Minnesota's rookie defenseman was inexplicably not among the finalists for the Calder Trophy: He was a stalwart playing alongside Ryan Suter. Polished beyond his years in the defensive zone, look for the 20-year-old Brodin's offensive game to blossom this season.
COACH ON THE HOT SEAT
For two seasons the franchise has basked in the goodwill of the NHL's return to Winnipeg. Now it's time for the Jets to actually go to the playoffs. In his third season behind the bench, the leash will be short for Noel, who needs to get his club off to a fast start.
Buried on low-wattage Dallas, the nine-year veteran is routinely, and wrongly, overlooked as one of the game's top goalies. Calm and steady with a great glove hand, the 6'4", 210-pound Finn might steal more points for his team than any netminder in the NHL.
IN THE CREASE
BY PIERRE MCGUIRE
CONSISTENCY AND A RUGGED blue line make the Predators a team that may surprise. Everyone knows superstar defenseman Shea Weber. They should also know ROMAN JOSI, who is terrific with the puck and may be the most undervalued defenseman in the NHL.... For the Wild to take the next step, wingers Dany Heatley and Jason Pominville—who combined for 15 goals in 2013, and missed a combined 13 games because of injuries—need to help Zach Parise (18 goals) with scoring.... Playing in the West may help the Jets in terms of travel but it won't translate into a playoff spot. Winnipeg lacks depth at center and on defense. The Jets' strength is on the wings, where Evander Kane (17 goals, 16 assists) could be one of the NHL's top power forwards.
ROCKY WIDNER/GETTY IMAGES (BRODIN)
JOHN RUSSELL/NHLI/GETTY IMAGES (JOSI)