10 things to know about the upcoming NHL season

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 17, 2013 at 5:02 am •  Published: January 17, 2013
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No one enjoyed watching all those games get canceled, but Minnesota generated the most buzz last summer by signing free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to mega contracts. Then the Wild and their eager fans had to wait for perhaps the best team in the franchise's 13-year history to be unveiled. Now they get the chance to see what Parise and Suter can do, and capable complementary players like Mikko Koivu, Matt Cullen, Cal Clutterbuck and Pierre-Marc Bouchard are poised to help the Wild make the playoffs for the first time in five years.

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7. How is Sidney Crosby's head after a long layoff?

The headaches are gone for Sid the Kid, whose post-concussion symptoms have nagged one of the game's greatest stars for the last two years. Crosby, 25, is ready to help Pittsburgh return to prominence.

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8. Who are the best rookies to watch?

Detroit's Damien Brunner, Edmonton's Justin Schultz and Minnesota's Mikael Granlund, to name a few. Brunner is expected to get plenty of scoring chances, as he did playing in Switzerland with teammate Henrik Zetterberg. Granlund, a Finnish sensation who has paparazzi and fans following him all over his home country, will be on the second line for the Wild.

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9. Which will be the next franchise to relocate?

The New York Islanders are leaving Long Island for the fancy new arena in Brooklyn beginning in 2015. The Coyotes continue to face an uncertain future in Phoenix, and the NHL would love to add another team in Canada.

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10. Speaking of moving, whatever happened to that realignment plan?

That still must be ironed out. The NHL decided about a year ago to move from six divisions to four conferences. Carolina, both New York teams, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington would be in one group; Boston, Buffalo, Montreal and Toronto, Florida and Tampa Bay would be another; Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg would be a third; and Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, Phoenix, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton and Vancouver would be the last.

The NHL Players Association stalled the implementation, citing concerns about increased travel and competitive imbalance, with two conferences of eight teams each and two others with seven apiece. The issue was not part of the CBA talks, though, so that's the next item for the two sides to work on. When the Atlanta franchise moved to Winnipeg in 2011, the Jets remained in the Southeast Division. So some kind of shift will have to be made.

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Follow Dave Campbell on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DaveCampbellAP