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Discussion Starter #1
Whether they're sagging veterans working their way back or highly-touted rookies looking to edge their way in, it'll be a tough battle. Here's a team-by-team look at the hottest spots up for grabs with training camps only weeks away ...

WESTERN CONFERENCE (cont.)

EDMONTON OILERS

Fourth-line center: Rookie Robbie Schremp will have his hands full trying to fend off the likes of Kyle Brodziak and Marc-Antoine Pouliot for that final Edmonton pivot spot.

Power-play quarterback: So much youth and inexperience. Marc-Andr Bergeron is the most experienced, but don't count out Ladislav Smid and Danny Syvret from stealing the role in camp.

LOS ANGELES KINGS

Backup goaltender: Dan Cloutier will be the starter, but last year's No. 1 and No. 1A will battle for the backup role -- Mathieu Garon and Jason LaBarbera.

No. 7 defenseman: Journeymen Mike Weaver and Kevin Dallman will battle it out for that final spot on the blue line.

MINNESOTA WILD

Backup goaltender: Josh Harding is ready for NHL duty, but he'll have to earn it by beating out Niklas Backstrom.

Fourth-line winger: This one is wide open, with Mattias Weinhandl, Matt Foy, Derek Boogaard, Roman Voloshenko, Benoit Pouliot and Stephane Veilleux all vying for just two spots.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

A winger on one of the top two lines: Steve Sullivan, Paul Kariya, Jason Arnott and David Legwand will all be there, but who will take the other two spots? Alexander Radulov could take one. So could Martin Erat, Scott Hartnell and Josef Vasicek, if the latter is moved to the wing.

No. 6 and No. 7 defensemen: Alex Henry will battle with Nolan Yonkman and Mikko Lehtonen.

PHOENIX COYOTES

Backup goaltender: Curtis Joseph needs a backup. Will it be David LeNeveu, or Mike Morrison?

Two spots on the fourth line: A ton of candidates will be fighting to sneak into the lineup on those final two depth spots: Yanick Lehoux, Georges Laraque, Patrick Fischer, Joel Perrault, Don MacLean, Josh Gratton and Mike Zigomanis.

SAN JOSE SHARKS

No. 1 goaltender: Vesa Toskala got the nod in the playoffs, but don't count out Evgeni Nabokov just yet.

Power-play quarterback: Rookie Matt Carle has the inside track, but Christian Ehrhoff also wants the job, and has the talent to win it.

ST. LOUIS BLUES

Second-line right wing: Sophomore Lee Stempniak will have his hands full battling highly-touted Swedish winger Magnus Kahnberg and Slovak Vladimir Orszagh.

Starting goaltender: It will likely be a shared situation to start the season, but Manny Legace and Curtis Sanford will be going to camp looking to come out No. 1.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

First-line right wing: The most coveted available job in the NHL, with the winner playing on a line with Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin. Contestants include Jesse Schultz, Taylor Pyatt, Matt Cooke, Jozef Balej, Jan Bulis and Jason King.

Second-line right wing: The second-most coveted available job in the NHL. Contestants are as above, with the winner playing alongside Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Whether they're sagging veterans working their way back or highly-touted rookies looking to edge their way in, it'll be a tough battle. Here's a team-by-team look at the hottest spots up for grabs with training camps only weeks away ...

WESTERN CONFERENCE

ANAHEIM DUCKS

First-line left wing: There is a plum spot on the port side of center Andy McDonald and right winger Teemu Selanne. Chris Kunitz has the inside track, but do not count out Dustin Penner and Stanislav Chistov!

Starting goaltender: The much-publicized upcoming battle for Ducks' goaltending supremacy will come to head in training camp. Ilya Bryzgalov will duke it out with J.S. Giguere, with the loser possibly being trading.

CALGARY FLAMES

First-line left wing: Kristian Huselius has excellent chemistry with second-line center Daymond Langkow, so that's where he's most likely ticketed to start the season. Anyone of Tony Amonte, Jeff Friesen, Chuck Kobasew and Jamie Lundmark could start alongside Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay -- who looks to get a shot at center.

No. 7 defenseman: Brad Ference is the second Ference on the team (Andrew Ference is no relation). He's got the inside track, but he'll have to beat out Mark Giordano and Richie Regehr for the job.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

Fourth-line forward: If Denis Arkhipov pushes Patrick Sharp to the wing, it will force Brandon Bochenski and Matthew Keith to battle for that last spot on the wing.

The No. 4-6 defensemen: Rookie Cam Barker looks to crack the lineup as the No. 4 rearguard. He should make the squad, but where he lands on the depth chart will depend on his camp.

COLORADO AVALANCHE

Second-line center: Pierre Turgeon will try to hang on for another year as he battles Tyler Arnason for that lucrative spot between rookie Wojtek Wolski and sophomore Marek Svatos.

Fourth-line wingers: Both the right and left sides will see a serious battle between Brad May, Antti Laaksonen, Matt Murley, Mark Rycroft, and Cody McCormick.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

Fourth-line wingers: Eric Boguniecki, Jaroslav Balastik, Jody Shelley, and Alexandre Picard will battle for the last two spots on the wings. For Balastik and Boguniecki, it would also mean some power-play time.

Backup goaltender: Ty Conklin will have his hands full battling newcomer Fredrik Norrena to see who gets to play behind Pascal Leclaire.

DALLAS STARS

Backup goaltender: With Marty Turco ready to play 75 games, Dallas will be looking to pin their backup hopes on inexperience -- Mike Smith, Tobias Stephan and Dan Ellis.

Third-line center: Jeff Halpern versus Patrik Stefan. The winner gets to be second-line center when Eric Lindros gets hurt!

DETROIT RED WINGS

First-/second-line winger: Rookie Jiri Hudler would like nothing better than to play on the wing with either Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg at center. He'll have to fight Jason Williams, Mikael Samuelsson, Tomas Holmstrom and Robert Lang for a spot, though.

No. 2 defenseman: Niklas Kronwall would love to push the aging Mathieu Schneider down a peg on the depth chart. He's certainly ready.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Whether they're sagging veterans working their way back or highly-touted rookies looking to edge their way in, it'll be a tough battle. Here's a team-by-team look at the hottest spots up for grabs with training camps only weeks away ...

EASTERN CONFERENCE (cont.)

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

Second-line left wing: Sean Bergenheim had some great late-season chemistry with Alexei Yashin and Robert Nilsson. Bergenheim has since moved on to the Russian League, so the likes of Jeff Tambellini and Andy Hilbert will battle for the spot.

No. 4 defenseman: Bruno Gervais, Tom Poti and Radek Martinek will all jockey for position on the depth ladder.

NEW YORK RANGERS

Third-line left wing: Marcel Hossa has the talent, but not the consistency. Nigel Dawes and Lauri Korpikoski are hungry rookies who would love nothing more than to take the job from him.

No. 1 defenseman: This one is wide open, with Fedor Tyutin, Michal Rozsival, Sandis Ozolinsh and Karel Rachunek all looking to win the role.

OTTAWA SENATORS

Second-line center: Rookie Alexei Kaigorodov will try and win the spot over Mike Fisher and Antoine Vermette.

Second-line winger: Antoine Vermette, Patrick Eaves, Peter Schaefer and Dean McAmmond all hope to win the job.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

No. 1 goaltender: We know Antero Niittymaki and Robert Esche both want it. But who gets it?

The entire fourth line: With Keith Primeau's health in doubt, and Petr Nedved coming off a weak season, the depth forwards all have a shot. These include Brad Tapper, Randy Robitaille, Ben Eager, Turner Stevenson, Mark Cullen and Ryan Potulny.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

The ticket to stardom: Sidney Crosby will make a star out of whomever is on his wing. It will mean big points, and likely a big contract down the road. The fighting will be fierce, and the candidates include Colby Armstrong, Mark Recchi, Ryan Malone, Nils Ekman, Michel Ouellet and John Leclair.

Another ticket to stardom: The above group of forwards get a second chance if they lose the Crosby battle. Evgeni Malkin will be in need of some wingers, too.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

Second-line winger: Ruslan Fedotenko can play either wing alongside Brad Richards, so left and right wingers can both audition for the other spot. Candidates include Radek Smolenak, Nikita Alexeev, Dmitry Afanasenkov and Ryan Craig.

Backup goaltender: Sean Burke will have his hands full staving off the efforts of Swedish goaltender Johan Holmqvist.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

Backup goaltender: Jean-Sebastien Aubin's late-season exploits are already forgotten. He's the early underdog in his battle with Mikael Tellqvist to back up Andrew Raycroft.

Fourth-line wingers: Aleksander Suglobov, Bates Battaglia, Robbie Earl, Jeremy Williams and Ben Ondrus will all try and crack the lineup for good in camp.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS

First-line right wing: Another available, highly-coveted job is the right to play with superstar Alexander Ovechkin and center Dainius Zubrus. Chris Clark looks to retain that spot, but he will have to battle Richard Zednik and Alexander Semin for it.

No. 2 defenseman: Steve Eminger will look to knock Jamie Heward further down the depth chart.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Whether they're sagging veterans working their way back or highly-touted rookies looking to edge their way in, it'll be a tough battle. Here's a team-by-team look at the hottest spots up for grabs with training camps only weeks away ...

EASTERN CONFERENCE

ATLANTA THRASHERS

First-line center: Without an elite center, this plum spot between Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa is wide open. Bobby Holik, Steve Rucchin and even Niko Kapanen or Bryan Little could take it.

Power-play quarterback: Steve McCarthy could win this role, but Niclas Havelid may maintain his grip on it.

BOSTON BRUINS

Second-line left wing: Phil Kessel will battle all the hype, as well as Petr Tenkrat, for that final spot on the Top 2 lines. Camp will determine if Kessel has the NHL goods at just 18 years of age.

No. 2 defenseman: Zdeno Chara was brought in to be the top guy on the blue line, but Brad Stuart and Paul Mara will battle it out for the right to be his partner.

BUFFALO SABRES

Fourth-line winger: Adam Mair has the inside track for one of the spots, but Dan Paille is ready as well. Ditto for Drew Stafford and Jiri Novotny.

No. 7 defenseman: Nathan Paetsch and Jeff Jillson both want to become full-time NHLers. Only one of them will be. Training camp will decide it.

CAROLINA HURRICANES

Cory Stillman's job: Stillman had the perfect spot on Eric Staal's left wing, but he will miss the first 15 games or so after undergoing shoulder surgery. Andrew Ladd, Ray Whitney and Scott Walker all hunger for that spot -- or the 'Canes may just sign a player.

No. 7 defenseman: Anton Babchuk will look to make the team this year full-time, but Andrew Hutchinson may have something to say about that.

FLORIDA PANTHERS

Second-line left wing: Gary Roberts has missed an average of 29 games per year the in last four seasons, so whoever wins this job will see plenty of first-line action. The candidates are Rostislav Olesz, Ville Peltonen, Juraj Kolnik and Martin Gelinas.

No. 1 goaltender: With Ed Belfour on the scene now, the job is not written in stone for Alex Auld.

MONTREAL CANADIENS

Third-/Fourth-line wing: It will be a dogfight to see who lines up with pivots Radek Bonk and Tomas Plekanec. Mike Johnson and Chris Higgins are locks for a second- or third-line spot, but Alexander Perezhogin, Garth Murray, Steve Begin, Aaron Downey and Andrei Kostitsyn are in for the fight of their lives.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS

Fourth-line center: Rookie Travis Zajac will battle Michael Rupp for the final pivot spot.

Fourth-line left wing: With the injury to Jason Wiemer, and with the current salary-cap problems, this spot is wide open for a rookie like Nicklas Bergfors and Barry Tallackson to snatch.
 
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