1 - Why is this team worth watching? Because they are pretty damn good and if destiny has anything to say about it, they will win the Stanley Cup in their Centennial season (even though there is controversy over this as they don't turn 100 until December 4th, 2009 and the lockout robbed a year). But whatever, they decided to celebrate it and have more Cups than anyone else so what better way to celebrate than to add another one? Along the way, you should also watch Long Island boy Mike Komisarek, who is steadily becoming the best defensive defenseman in the NHL. Komisarek plays his position strongly, blocks shots and makes some huge hits. They really need to start giving out the Rod Langway Award.
2 - Are they better or worse than last year? Better. I don't think Alex Kovalev will slack off like some pundits are predicting and they added Alex Tanguay to help carry the offensive burden. They also added big Georges Laraque, the top tough guy in the NHL and a gentleman to boot. The Kostitsyn's are only getting better and Carey Price now has some actual experience under his belt - even though I think he will prove to be a modern day Steve Penney. It's true that Mark Strait has left to piss his career away with the Islanders, but I wouldn't be shocked if they make a deal to replace his offense from the blueline by the deadline.
3 - Who should YOU draft in fantasy? Tomas Plekanec is one of the most underrated players in the NHL. He works hard, goes to the net and does well on both sides of the ice. He should put up a point per game this season, as should Kovy and Tanguay. The Kostitsyns should be good for 60 points or so, as should Andrei Markov - a solid offensive defenseman. Buyer beware with their goaltenders as Price could well be supplanted by Jaroslav Halak (who subbed in for a game in the playoffs) and don't be shocked if Marc Denis bounces back to push them because he used to be a helluva goaltender when he had no pressure in Columbus.
4 - Is there any way they can top last year's Comeback? I really don't think so. As a Ranger fan, it was one of the most horrifying things I have ever seen, utterly disgraceful. As a hockey fan, it was one of the most remarkable. Watch out NHL, no five-goal lead is safe when the Habs are around ...