The Colorado Avalanche are an easy choice. Will Jarome Iginla have the same luck that Ray Bourque had when he moved from Beantown to Colorado? I think hockey fans everywhere would be happy for Iggy if he could life the Cup just once. Another recent Avs addition, Daniel Briere, is another fan favorite who's certainly on the backside of his career hoping to chip in with what will likely be 3rd line minutes. I'm not a huge Briere fan myself, but there's no denying fans love him just about everywhere he goes.
Nashville may surprise some of you as a potential feel good story, but with Mike Fisher and Olli Jokinen past their prime those two form a tandem that have worked long and hard for their chance to lift the Cup. With several new offensive weapons, a tough defense and a healthy Pekka Rinne, Nashville just might be in the hunt.
Two new acquisitions found their way to Tampa Bay when Brenden Morrow and Evgeni Nabokov signed there in the off-season. Nabokov was one of the best regular season goalies for several seasons, but repeatedly fell victim to the San Jose curse that plagues them in the playoffs. Brenden Morrow is a tough, respected leader who will be able to play a role with the Lightning that takes advantage of his skill set. Tampa, already loaded with young talent, may lean on these veterans as motivation throughout the season. And let's not forget Eric Brewer: a guy who's bounced around over the years and at 35 years old would love to win it all.
Other guys worth keeping an eye on and rooting for this upcoming season include Manny Malhotra with Montreal, Matt Ellis with Buffalo, Dainius Zubrus in New Jersey, Chris Phillips with Ottawa, Kimmo Timonen with Philadelphia and Shane Doan with the Coyotes. Malhotra and endured a lot during his career and continues to work on his game to stay relevant and competitive. He's an easy guy to cheer for. Ellis, although a long shot with the Sabres, is the kind of guy every team wants. He works his ass off each and every shift. Undrafted, Ellis has carved an NHL career out for himself through his hard work. Zubrus has been around a while and has finally settled in New Jersey for the last few years. Another guy who's watching the clock tick. Chris Phillips has stayed true to Ottawa, giving them 16 years of good service. It would be good to see a quiet leader like Phillips win it all. Timonen, always a big minute guy, is starting to see his age catch up to him with recent injuries and medical issues. For all he's given to the game of hockey, he deserves some love back. Doan may seem an odd choice here, but I feel like with the way he plays the game and for as long as he's played it that way, he's at risk for any season to be his last. Here's hoping Shane Doan get to hoist Lord Stanley.
Finally, we have the best of the rest. A group of unrestricted free agents who for a couple of them, may have already seen their last chance pass them by. Ed Jovanovski, Saku Koivu and Daniel Alfredsson are still out there. I fully expect Alfie to be signed somewhere before the season starts. Koivu may find his way back to Anaheim or Montreal. Jovo Cop - I just don't know. He's had some serious injuries and I'm not sure the body is as willing as the mind to continue. They've all had long, productive careers, but wherever these guys end up may at least one of them get one last shot at Stanley.