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THN.com Blog: 10 reasons to get excited about '08-09

Will Wings defenseman Chris Chelios return for his 25th season in the NHL? (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

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Will Wings defenseman Chris Chelios return for his 25th season in the NHL? (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

The 2007-08 season is barely over and already my mind has turned to next year.

Here are 10 things I am looking forward to:

• Can Sidney Crosby wrestle away the scoring title and MVP award from Alex Ovechkin? Sid the Kid was making his move up the scoring charts this season when he suffered a high ankle sprain that ultimately shelved him 29 games. Still, he came back and led his team to the Stanley Cup final.

• Will Chris Chelios play again? Truth is, I hope he does. Although he was a healthy scratch during the final, the 46-year-old Chelios can still be a fine No. 5 defender on the defending champs. I’d love to see him hit his goal of playing until he’s 50.

• Watching the Tampa Bay Lightning. I see a lot of 8-7 and 9-6 games in their future. Lots of forwards, but also lots of questions in goal and on defense.

• Can the Ducks bounce back? A year of turmoil followed their 2007 Stanley Cup victory, but the Ducks should return well-rested and with Scott Niedermayer playing from the get-go.

• The re-emergence of the Edmonton Oilers. I’m not certain if I’m in the minority, but I really like the Oilers’ chances of making the playoffs, depending on how their goaltending holds up.

• Will the Chicago Blackhawks continue their upward trend? I wouldn’t exactly accuse the Hawks of spending like drunken sailors, but the signing of defenseman Brian Campbell is a pretty good indication they expect to make some noise in the Western Conference.

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• Will the Columbus Blue Jackets make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history? If I’m a betting man, I say no. However, if they do, it will all come down to Ken Hitchcock’s coaching.

• Will the Ottawa Senators play with more grit or has their window of opportunity closed? I really like the signing of Jarkko Ruutu who brings some much-needed sandpaper to the table.

• Can the Red Wings become the first team in a decade to repeat? Certainly the signing of Marian Hossa provides them with a fighting chance.

• The continuing emergence of the game’s young stars. You still need a veteran presence to be successful in the NHL, but the game’s young guns are chipping in big-time, too.

Mike Brophy is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor on THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and his column, Double OT, appears Wednesday.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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