Here are five players I expect to bounce-back from disappointing 2009-2010 campaigns:
5. Brad Boyes
After career-highs in goals (43) in 2007-2008 then points (72) in 2008-2009, the St. Louis Blues' sniper posted just 14 goals and 42 points last season. Boyes, who's in his third year of his 4-year $16 million contract, struggled - as did his team - to find the back of the net all season and was probably shopped at the trade deadline by the Blues but he comes with a hefty cap hit. I think finding more consistency as a team, will allow Boyes to get back on track as the goal-scorer we've become acustomed to.
4. Jerome Iginla
The two-time fifty goal-scorer saw his point totals drop off by twenty last season after the Flames missed out on a playoff birth for the first time since the 2002-2003 season. Management failed to find a suitable center that meshed with 'Iggy' even after Olli Jokinen came and went through Calgary. Though Jokinen is back for his second stint with the Flames, Iginla will likely start the season with youngster, Mikael Backlund, at center. The Flames will need Iginla to start the year strong as forwards David Moss, Ales Kotalik, Matt Stajan, and Daymond Langkow are all out with injuries.
3. Vincent Lecavalier
Granted, the Lightning haven't made the playoffs in three seasons but Vinny Lecavalier's goal totals have dropped from 40 in 2007-2008 to 29 in 08-09 and just 24 in 09-10. You would expect the former Rocket Richard winner to score more than twenty-four goals when he's making $10 millions dollars this season and is only in his second year of his 11 year $85 million extension. With the management overhaul in Tampa Bay, the addition of Simon Gagne, and the continuing ascension of Steven Stamkos, Lecavalier is poised to bring this franchise out of the depths of the South-Least division.
2. Dion Phanuef
The newly appointed captain of the Maple Leafs saw such a drop off in his play, that he was traded from Calgary in just his 5th NHL season. With a defensive group in Toronto big enough to concuss all of Buffalo's top 6 forwards, Phanuef can regain his confidence and re-establish his game in a city where the team is under the microscope but still expected to miss the playoffs.
1. Steve Mason
A true testament to the 'Sophomore Slump', Mason followed up his Calder-winning season with a dismal performance in 2009-2010. His GAA swelled from 2.99 in 08-09 to 3.06 in 09-10 along with an increase of his SV% from 0.916 to 0.901. Mason will certainly have to perform better if the Blue Jackets are to make the playoffs for only the 2nd time in this being their 10th season. The 6'4 net-minder reportedly came into camp in tremendous shape and started skating much earlier this off-season.
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