New Year’s Resolutions For Every NHL Team
New Year's Resolutions For Every NHL Team
With both sides looking ever more optimistic that a deal can be reached and a partial season can be salvaged, every NHL team has at least a handful of things to work on in 2013.
The lockout left many teams with contracts yet to be signed, and much planning for the future left to be settled. Other teams must try and replace retired stars or departed free agents. Attending to a shaky goaltending situation and staying healthy also appear as a recurring theme in this slideshow. The Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning and other franchises will hope that former backup goaltenders can step up their game and lead the way to the playoffs. The New Jersey Devils and Nashville Predators will look to young talent to fill the void left by departing free agents.
Staying healthy in the coming year is also an important resolution in the new year, and could make the difference between a deep playoff run or early trip to the golf course for teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers. With a potentially compacted schedule, inserting young players into the lineup to keep star players healthy will be more important than ever before. Players who have played overseas or in the AHL during the lockout will be more ready for the season and be relied upon heavily by their respective teams.
Here’s a look at one or more things each NHL team should resolve to work on this year, and why it is important that they do so.
The Anaheim Ducks have many things to figure out in the new year. They must hope goaltender Jonas Hiller is back to All-Star form and find secondary scoring on a top-loaded team. The most important thing for the Ducks in 2013 is to sign forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry to long-term deals. Getzlaf, Perry and Bobby Ryan account for a good chunk of the team’s scoring, and the loss of either one of these players coupled with the looming retirements of Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu would leave quite a void on the front line in Anaheim.
The Boston Bruins’ biggest question in 2013 will be goaltending. With Tim Thomas unsure of his future, is Tuukka Rask able to be the Bruins’ full-time netminder? If he proves unfit for the task, Boston needs to be ready with a plan B. The team could also use some depth on their third and fourth lines, the lack of scoring from outside their top six hurt them in their playoff series against the Capitals last season.
If the Buffalo Sabres are to make a return to the playoffs, they must provide support for goaltender Ryan Miller, who has often been asked to do too much for the team. Going forward, the team needs to make decisions on a handful of free-agent defensemen, as only Tyler Myers, Christian Ehrhoff and Andrej Sekera are signed past the 2012-13 season.
An aging Calgary Flames team needs to make a deep playoff run next season, as it may prove to be a last hurrah for Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff. Staying healthy and embracing some of the young talent that has played well in the AHL with the Abbotsford Heat would also both be great resolutions for this Canadian franchise.
The Carolina Hurricanes hope that signing free agent Alexander Semin will give their offense a boost. If he proves to be a good fit in Carolina, the team would be wise to offer him a long-term deal before he again hits the open market. Goaltender Cam Ward often leads the league in games played, and finding a better backup for him would be a wise move for the Hurricanes. Many young players with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers should also be looked to for full-time jobs (Justin Faulk, Drayson Bowman and Zac Dalpe).
On paper, there isn’t much wrong with the Chicago Blackhawks. The team has a ton of young offensive talent and solid defense under contract for years to come. The team needs to decide if Corey Crawford is capable of taking them deep into the playoffs each season, or start looking at other options - getting him a reliable backup wouldn’t hurt either.
If Gabriel Landeskog has a solid sophomore season, the Colorado Avalanche will look incredibly smart for making him one of the youngest captains in history. The team seems sold on letting their young players have a shot right away, but need to strengthen their defense if they expect to be more than a fringe playoff team.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Where to start with the Columbus Blue Jackets? The team needs to continue to rebuild and try and find some way to replace the scoring void left by the departure of Rick Nash. Another concern that needs to be dealt with is goaltending - Steve Mason’s contract expires after this season, so an extension needs to be worked out as soon as possible.
The Dallas Stars, simply put, just need to score more goals. They will hope that adding Derek Roy to the lineup proves beneficial and that goaltender Kari Lehtonen can turn in another solid season. If they can’t provide offensive support, look for the goaltending and defense to suffer.
Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings will start the season with a new captain following the retirement of future Hall of Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. Finding ways to replace his scoring and signing goaltender Jimmy Howard to a long-term deal are top priorities for the new year.
The Edmonton Oilers have enough young talent to make any other team in the league jealous. The youngsters have had no problems scoring with the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons so far this season, and look for the Oilers to address their goaltending situation this year as well(Nikolai Khabibulin isn’t getting any younger and is well past his prime).
The Florida Panthers turned a few heads last season by making the playoffs, and they will look to return to the postseason to prove it wasn’t a one-time thing. This year, they need to look at their goaltending - Scott Clemmensen is signed for two years, Jose Theodore for one, and young Jacob Markstrom’s entry-level deal runs out this season. With Kris Versteeg as the team’s most recognizable “star” forward, adding another key free agent or two up front wouldn’t hurt either.
Los Angeles Kings
The most important resolution for the Los Angeles Kings in 2013 is to avoid the Stanley Cup hangover. The Kings made hockey relevant in southern California last season and they need to get back to the playoffs - scoring consistently will help them achieve that goal.
The Minnesota Wild need to show that their free agent splash was worth it. After signing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in the offseason, anything short of making the playoffs will be a failure. Looking ahead, the team needs to work out a new deal with goaltender Niklas Backstrom.
The Montreal Canadiens did not get a deal done with defenseman P.K. Subban before the lockout, so that should be their first priority. It wouldn’t hurt to find a long-term backup goalie for Carey Price, and new G.M. Marc Bergevin needs to be given some time to do whatever he feels is necessary to once again restore this proud Canadian franchise to glory.
The first order of business for the Nashville Predators is to continue to search for a replacement for Ryan Suter - is youngster Ryan Ellis ready to step up? A return to the playoffs would show that last season’s series win over the Red Wings was no fluke and the Preds are here to stay near the top of the Western Conference.
New Jersey Devils
If there is hockey to be played this season, it may be the last season for New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur. Top resolutions for the defending Eastern Conference champs are to start planning for the future after he retires, and replacing the scoring and leadership lost when Zach Parise left in free agency.
New York Islanders
The New York Islanders have a lot to work on, as usual. They would be well served to shore up their defense, find some scoring to complement John Tavares in wake of P.A. Parentau’s departure and try to find a way out of the Rick DiPietro mess. The pieces are in place for this team to be a playoff contender if they can stay healthy.
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers will be hoping their deal for Rick Nash pays off, and staying healthy needs to be the first priority for this team. With ample offensive weapons and some of the best goaltending in the league, there aren’t many things the Rangers lack if they stay healthy and everyone plays up to their potential.
The Ottawa Senators can make this a good year by continuing with what they started last season, letting their young players have a shot. With Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza nearing the end of the road, Ottawa will need to start planning for the future. Goaltenders Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop deserve a shot at the backup job at some point as well.
The Philadelphia Flyers should have no problem scoring goals, they just need to focus on keeping them out of the net. With Sergei Bobrovsky out of the picture, all eyes will be on Ilya Bryzgalov to finally live up to his contract. Luke Schenn will bolster the defense and brother Brayden Schenn is having a great AHL season, look for the Flyers to get him time on the top two lines this season.
Now that their ownership situation seems to be under control, the Phoenix Coyotes need to look at spending some money to keep their core players around. Goaltender Mike Smith put the team on his back and deep into the playoffs last season, but is only under contract for this season. Young defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who has been playing strong with the Portland Pirates of the AHL during the lockout, will also need a contract extension this year.
Without question, the biggest resolution for the Pittsburgh Penguins is to stay healthy. After that, adding depth to the lineup will help ease the pressure on the top two lines offensively.
San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks have an incredibly talented lineup, their biggest problem is that not everyone on the team plays up to their potential. Coach Todd MacLellan needs to find a way to get Patrick Marleau and others to be better or he might find himself out of a job.
St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues could use an infusion of youth into their lineup, and also need to make a lot of effort this year to lock up some of their young talent (especially defense) for the future.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning find themselves stocked with a lot of young talent, and would be well suited to give some of their young depth forwards an NHL shot. They also have to hope that Anders Lindback can be a franchise goalie, and have a plan in place in case he can’t. General manager Steve Yzerman has made some great moves for the team since taking the reins, look for him to continue drafting well and getting great value in trades.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Resolutions for the Toronto Maple Leafs are simple - stop signing players to ridiculous contracts that they can never live up to. This team desperately needs to return to the playoffs, and will look to young goalies James Reimer and Ben Scrivens and the recently acquired James van Riemsdyk to get them there.
First and foremost for the Vancouver Canucks is resolving the Roberto Luongo situation. At this point, it looks like his days in Vancouver are through, if that is the case the team needs to get as much value as possible in return when dealing him. Finding a capable backup for Cory Schneider also needs to be high on their list this year.
The Washington Capitals need to get all players to buy into new coach Adam Oates’ system immediately if they hope for a successful year. The team also needs to show a willingness to turn to Braden Holtby in net if Michal Neuvirth struggles.
The Winnipeg Jets need to get Evander Kane some help if they hope to ever make their franchise a postseason contender. With 15 contracts set to expire at the end of the season, they need to be aggressive in pursuing free-agent talent while locking up their star youngsters like Alexander Burmistrov.