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Even the Islanders could be good...

The more I look at the way this 2005-6 NHL season is shaping up, it really could be the best year for hockey in a long, long, time. Not just with the rules changes and goalie equipment restrictions that should open up play and increase scoring, but the overall talent level in the league is likely to be much higher than normal - here's why:

You've got basically two years' worth of draft picks getting ready to enter the league, as 2004's picks continued their development outside the NHL, and this year's draft is considered very deep in talent, led of course by Sid Crosby. Current NHL players have had a year off to recover from various injuries, which they normally don't get the chance to do given the short offseason (especially for playoff teams). Then toss in the veteran stars who are going to hang on just a little longer, in part because they've had time to recuperate (like Steve Yzerman from his eye injury, and Dominik Hasek from groin surgery), and also because they want to give the new rules a shot and see if the game truly opens up.

Could we actually see (gasp!) multiple 100-point and 50-goal scorers again?