What Are The Biggest Roster Questions Facing Each NHL Team This Year?

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The 2014/15 NHL season is just days away!  Training camps and preseason games are winding down, teams are getting settled, and fans are debating with all their passions on display the wisdom of various roster decisions.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the biggest roster questions facing each team are this year…

  • Anaheim – will Ryan Kesler provide the impact 1-2 punch with Ryan Getzlaf down the middle, vital for contending in the tough Western Conference?
  • Arizona – will Dave Tippett fix Sam Gagner, allowing him to become the offensive dynamo Phoenix has always wanted?
  • Boston – will Zdeno Chara’s play drop to the point that he is no longer considered elite?
  • Buffalo – will Sam Reinhart prove to be the franchise player that the Sabres so desperately need?
  • Calgary – will Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie recreate last year’s magic and stop the team from being a lock for the league’s basement, along with the addition of a bona fide starting goalie in Jonas Hiller?
  • Carolina – is the Cam Ward era coming to a disappointing end?
  • Chicago – can Brad Richards prove his worth without the pressure of an enormous contract, providing the team with a bona fide second-line center?
  • Colorado – will Colorado’s roster weather the loss of Paul Stastny and prove that they are not the product of “luck”?
  • Columbus – will Ryan Johansen build on his breakout season and become the star center Ohio has been crying out for forever?
  • Dallas – will the additions of Ales Hemsky and Jason Spezza turn the Stars from “promising” to “true contenders”?
  • Detroit – can Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and Nik Kronwall stem the tide for one more season, allowing Detroit’s promising youth another year to mature?
  • Edmonton – will the Oilers’ solid offseason additions – Benoit Pouliot, Mark Fayne, Nikita Nikitin, Teddy Purcell – be offset by the probable rookie struggles of Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, Brad Hunt and Leon Draisaitl?
  • Florida – will Jonathan Huberdeau return to his rookie season levels, where he looked like a superstar-in-waiting, but struggled last year?
  • Los Angeles – will Marian Gaborik continue to be lightning in a bottle for what is sure to continue being a stingy defensive squad?
  • Minnesota – will the addition of Thomas Vanek to a squad that already boasts Jason Pominville, Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund and potentially Nino Neiderreiter, finally provide the Wild with an offensive identity?
  • Montreal – will Alex Galchenyuk take the next step in becoming the team’s first star center since Saku Koivu?
  • Nashville – will James Neal prove capable of being the sole focus of Nashville’s offense?
  • New Jersey – will the Corey Schneider era of Devils hockey get off to a good start?
  • NY Islanders – will Garth Snow’s startlingly savvy offseason moves (by Islander standards) – Nick Leddy, Johnny Boychuk, Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, Jaroslav Halak, Chad Johnson, Cory Conacher – finally kick start John Tavares and co into high gear?
  • NY Rangers – can Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan McDonagh and Rick Nash propel this team back into the Stanley Cup Finals?
  • Ottawa – will Bobby Ryan prove to be the franchise player that this sorry-looking team so desperately wants?
  • Philadelphia – will Steve Mason continue to reclaim his career from the abyss he found himself in before his move to the Flyers?
  • Pittsburgh – will the team’s improved depth – re-signing Marcel Goc, and signing/trading for Nick Spaling, Patric Hornqvist, Christian Ehrhoff, Blake Comeau and Steve Downie – result in improved playoff results?
  • San Jose – will the team’s bizarre offseason transactions – trading Brad Stuart, signing John Scott, setting free Dan Boyle, stripping Joe Thornton of the captaincy, not doing anything else of note after stating the team was rebuilding – prove to be genius or destructive?
  • St Louis – will Brian Elliott be able to handle the starter’s load?
  • Tampa Bay – will Jonathan Drouin create a special kind of magic with Steven Stamkos?
  • Toronto – will anyone else give Phil Kessel a helping hand?
  • Vancouver – will Radim Vrbata’s knack for goal scoring bring the Sedin twins back to their elite scoring levels?
  • Washington – will Alex Ovechkin earn back the respect of his peers by returning to true superstar form?
  • Winnipeg – will Evander Kane ever hit the 20-goal plateau again?!

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