The 10 NHL Teams That Will Suffer the Most Due to the Lockout
The 10 Teams The Lockout Will Impact Negatively
The NHL Lockout has now nearing its second month and with it comes plenty of unrest. What had the chance to be a short and benign event in the course of the NHL season has become a rabid and divisive struggle between owners and players.
While there have been some positives along the way, there have been at least an equal amount of negatives, which has led the league to its current position that can be summed up quite easily: No hockey.
A lockout has many consequences and most will impact every team in the league. Yet, each team is different and it is clear that the lack of games this season, whether or not there is a shortened season, may have a larger impact on some teams more than others.
This impact can be positive or negative, but in these ten teams’ case, it could be extremely devastating. Whether it is due to key contracts expiring, veteran players getting older, certain players unable to be traded or simply the inability to capitalize on strong play at the end of last season.
All of these things can have varying effects on a team’s success once the games start up again, but one negative consequence will likely impact all teams if there is a shortened season: injuries.
As the NFL showed due to a condensed training camp last season and the NBA to a compressed 66-game season, injuries will be a common theme throughout the league in the event of a shortened season. Therefore, that factor has not been considered while compiling this list.
For the opposite view, see fellow Rant columnist Emma Harger's take on the 10 teams that could benefit from the lockout.
The apocalypse is coming, and it has nothing to do with the Mayans.
The Anaheim Ducks were in the NHL news a lot this offseason with the Bobby Ryan saga, but that should pale in comparison to the rumors that will swirl next offseason.
The common school of thought is that both Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf are not happy in a Ducks uniform anymore. There have been as many rumors surrounding them since the Ducks’ awful start a season ago as there have with Ryan, they simply were dismissed a lot more quickly.
But now it seems more likely that both may be shopping for a new home come July 1, 2013. The Ducks were simply awful last season beyond a nice stretch after Bruce Boudreau was hired. Imagine if they lost Perry and Getzlaf on top of that? That doesn’t even include Teemu Selanne, who has basically been the personification of the fountain of youth the past two seasons.
The contracts of their two stars being up isn’t necessarily the troubling part for the Ducks. The troubling part is the front office and Boudreau do not really have a shot at keeping them in a Ducks uniform by showing them his system works or other players will be brought in to help. Instead, Perry and Getzlaf are left with what would be a shortened season to determine their preference, and, as the NBA showed last season, a shortened season isn’t necessarily the best environment to do that.
The lockout will likely impact their decisions to come back, and may leave the Ducks high and dry come the opening of the season next year.
Much like the Ducks, the Calgary Flames may come out of the lockout without one of their best players: Jarome Iginla.
The difference between Igninla and Perry and Getzlaf is that Iginla is arguably the best player that has ever suited up in a Flames uniform. Lanny McDonald and Joe Nieuwendyk certainly are in that conversation, but, unlike Iginla, McDonald suited up for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Colorado Rockies (now the New Jersey Devils), and Nieuwendyk had played for four other teams during their careers as well.
Flames general manager Jay Feaster did not do much to improve the team around Iginla this offseason, and Iginla has never had the opportunity to play with a top center during his Flames career. There is a real possibility he may want to end his career donning a new sweater playing with a center that could have gotten him 70 goals in his prime.
There is one major argument as to why the lockout could be somewhat beneficial for the Calgary Flames: Sven Baertschi. But when compared to the one major argument as to why the lockout will hamper the Flames, it seems as if Flames fans would rather have Iginla than an unproven prospect
Detroit Red Wings
While there is a possibility that the Ducks’ and Flames’ best players may leave town, the Detroit Red Wings need not worry about that.
Their worry? Their stars are not getting any younger.
Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterburg, Johan Franzen, and Niklas Kronwall, the Red Wings’ top four players, in talent and salary, are all at least 31, and Datsyuk is 34. A lost season certainly does not help their long-term prospects as their players are not getting any younger.
On the heels of losing the best defenseman in franchise history in Nicklas Lidstrom the fact that Datsyuk and Zetterburg are approaching the twilights of their career cannot be a comforting notion to the Red Wings’ front office.
While there are a few talented prospects coming up through the pipeline for the Red Wings, Hockeytown should be nervous about losing some or all of a year with their aging stars.
Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings do not have much to worry about for the upcoming season.
They have every significant piece from their Stanley Cup winning team back for next season, and given the streak they were on at the end of last year, should have no problems replicating their success for the upcoming season.
So what’s the problem then? That streak and momentum that was mentioned.
Cup hangovers are not a myth, as the Boston Bruins started off very slowly last season. Who knows what the effect will be on the Kings with the extended layoff.
With the talent and coaching the team has, it should not be too big a problem for the Kings, but with the only hope of hockey this year being a shortened season at this point, they will have much less leeway to start of slowly than the Bruins did last season.
The Minnesota Wild surprised everyone in the hockey world when they were able to land Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in the free agent frenzy of the offseason. That type of coup is almost unheard of in the NHL, and instantly the Wild became one of the toughest wins in the Western Conference.
Will Parise and Suter instantly turn the team into Cup contenders? Likely not given their youth and relative lack of defensive depth, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t make some noise during the season.
Now the Wild fans are left hanging. The excitement of the upcoming season has been extinguished by the lockout, and, especially if the entire season is lost, fans may not have the same enthusiasm when games start up again.
As is the same with the New York Rangers, the new acquisitions will also have less time to become acclimated to one another, which may impact the end-of-season result.
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers face a similar problem as the Wild. The acquisition of Rick Nash was certainly one of the biggest moves of the offseason, but instead of suiting up for the Rangers on a line with Brad Richards or Derek Stepan, he’s playing with Joe Thornton in Switzerland.
The Wild’s situation with their new superstars is not as pressing as it is with the Rangers and Nash because Parise and Suter have different positions and will not be paired together. Nash on the other hand will be placed with Richards or Stepan and need to create some sort of chemistry with them immediately when games start, meaning he may struggle at first.
Nash is an excellent player and will surely find his way sooner rather than later, but the fact that he’s learning how to play with Thornton right now and not a Blueshirt is not the start the Rangers wanted for him.
One of the most unexpected teams last season was the Ottawa Senators, who pushed the top seed Rangers to a seventh game in the opening round of the playoffs. The Sens also gave the defending champs all they could handle, pushing them to the brink for the division, losing out to them in the last few games of the regular season.
Ottawa is young and talented, so why the worry?
The answer lies in the notion that the Sens were more of a flash in the pan rather than a consistent force.
Daniel Alfredsson battled injuries but was his steady self all season. Jason Spezza was his post-lockout self – the 2004-05 lockout that is – showing his deft playmaking abilities by making Milan Michalek a goal scoring threat. Erik Karlsson showed what having a fourth forward can do for a team, winning the Norris Trophy in the process.
But can that last?
Sure, the team has plenty of youth, including a burgeoning Kyle Turris and Mika Zibanejad, but are Craig Anderson, Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop the answer in net? Lehner played well in his first five games, but Bishop struggled at times and Anderson is, well, Craig Anderson. Anderson, given his $3-plus million salary will likely head into the season as the starter, so can he play as well as he did last year?
Alfredsson is also staring down retirement, with it becoming more and more likely each day a game is not played. Karlsson will have a lot more trouble replicating last season than many would think, as his contributions to games hurt opponents a lot more than Spezza’s or Michalek’s, and will likely be game planned for a lot more.
The time off may unravel the momentum the team created for itself, making it harder for them to start off as well as they did last season. Improved teams in Buffalo (assuming they avoid the injuries), Montreal and Toronto will certainly not make it any easier.
Don’t be surprised to see the Sens regress this season, whenever it starts.
Last season could not have been any more magical for the Phoenix Coyotes.
After finding their stride about halfway through the season, the Coyotes rode goaltender Mike Smith to the Pacific Division crown and the Western Conference Finals where they lost to the eventual champion Los Angeles Kings. While falling short of the Stanley Cup was not the goal, the Coyotes had to feel good about what they accomplished in the shadow of the franchise’s uncertainty.
While the Coyotes seem to have, at least for now, rectified their ownership situation this offseason, the team may lose out on the momentum they created in the Arizona desert with the deep run into the playoffs.
San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks are in a similar spot as Detroit: They’re simply not getting any younger.
The biggest difference between most aging teams and the Sharks however is the Sharks simply do not have the high-end prospects to fill the voids that will eventually be left by their older stars like Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.
In last year’s trade with the Wild for
Brent Burns, the Sharks gave up Charlie Coyle, who is competing with Mikael Granlund as the top prospect in the Minnesota system. Now, the Sharks’ best prospects, not including Logan Couture, are likely Thomas Hertl, this year’s first round draft pick, and Matt Nieto, Coyle’s former teammate at Boston University.
Once Thornton, Marleau, Ryan Clowe, Dan Boyle, and Martin Havlat are not the same players, or on the roster anymore, the Sharks will have trouble replacing them from within.
For many years, the Sharks have been preseason favorites, and although that may not be the case this year, another year should not make them any more likely to win that elusive Cup.
The defending Presidents’ Cup trophy is not in an enviable position with their longtime starting goaltender Roberto Luongo.
The Vancouver Canucks have not made it a secret they are trying to move Luongo, especially with the emergence of Cory Schneider last season.
In reality, the longer it takes to move Luongo, the lower the price the Canucks’ general manager Mike Gillis will likely receive for the veteran netminder.
It is uncertain what Luongo’s price would have been if he was moved at the beginning of the offseason, and while it will certainly not be cheap, it will likely be lower than they would have liked.