2012 NHL Offseason: One Need Each Team Must Address over the Summer
With the NHL playoffs getting set to begin on Wednesday, 16 teams are getting ready for a long road to the Stanley Cup, while the remaining 14 teams get a head start on answering questions that need to be resolved in the off-season.
All but a few teams have a glaring need that has kept them from being successful that must be addressed. Even some of the playoff teams are in need of something or someone that would give them a better shot at the Stanley Cup.
In this slideshow, I will be the listing only the need of the team, not giving any sort of player the team might go after in a trade. For some teams, it's replacing a player that is either assured of or will be possibly leaving. For others, it's a hole that was in this year's team that can't be there next season.
Without further ado, here is the biggest need for each of the NHL teams.
Anaheim: Replacing Teemu Selanne If He Retires
Teemu Selanne has been a leader for the Anaheim Ducks for as long as he has played for them. After some speculation that he would retire at the end of the season, the Ducks caught a break and he re-signed for this season.
The Ducks might not get so lucky this summer.
If Selanne decides to call it a career, the Ducks are going to have to upgrade via the trading market as there are not many players of Selanne's caliber available in free agency.
Boston: No Huge Need
As the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Boston Bruins enter the playoffs with a roster that knows how to get it done when it counts. If they can keep all their free agents, the Bruins will have no pressing needs to fill this offseason.
Buffalo: A No.1 Center
Derek Roy has filled the No. 1 center role as well as he could have the past few seasons. The problem is he hasn't been the superstar-level player that they needed.
In Terry Pegula's rebuild, the one thing he has failed to acquire is a center capable of bringing the Buffalo Sabres to the next level.
Missing the playoffs only makes this need more pressing.
Calgary: Trading Jarome Iginla
The Calgary Flames have been a team that has been on the brink of making the playoffs for the past few seasons, but they have ultimately failed every year. The time has come to start a rebuild and it needs to happen now.
The trade of Jarome Iginla would send shock waves through the city of Calgary.
It would sadden a lot of fans but Iginla has the biggest trade value on the team and would net the Flames a good package of prospects and draft picks.
Carolina: Shutdown Defenseman
Joni Pitkanen. Jamie McBain. Tim Gleason. Justin Faulk. Bryan Allen. Jay Harrison.
Gleason is the name on that list that is a shutdown defenseman.
While a couple of the others are solid defensemen, the Carolina Hurricanes are in need of another shutdown defenseman. The Hurricanes finished with the sixth-most goals against in the NHL with 237.
While that can be put on Cam Ward having an off year, the 'Canes need to have better defense next year to improve.
Chicago: No Huge Need
Jonathan Toews. Patrick Kane. Patrick Sharp. Duncan Keith. Brent Seabrook. Corey Crawford.
Only two years after winning the Stanley Cup, the Chicago Blackhawks have maintained the star power that got them there.
They have the depth that all teams need at every positions, so there is not much the Blackhawks need to do.
Colorado: Replacing Milan Hejduk
Most of the Colorado Avalanche's roster are going to be free agents on July 1, including young superstar Matt Duchene.
In a summer where there could be some big changes in Denver, their captain Milan Hejduk might be on the road to retirement.
The Avalanche will need to look for some veteran leadership.
Columbus: A Good Return for Rick Nash
Teams usually don't get full value for a player that wants to be traded and that will be the case with Rick Nash as well.
That being said, the Columbus Blue Jackets need to get as good a return as possible in order for them to start yet another rebuild.
Dallas: A New Goaltender
Kari Lehtonen has never guided a team to the playoffs as a starter. The Dallas Stars have been close the past two seasons but he hasn't gotten it done in the big game.
The Dallas Stars have Jack Campbell in the prospect pipeline, but he probably isn't ready to take on a starting role in the NHL.
The Stars need to acquire a stopgap to fill in for the next few seasons because Lehtonen has not gotten the job done.
Detroit: A Replacement for Lidstrom
The Detroit Red Wings are likely to lose Nik Lidstrom to retirement at the end of the season but they are more likely to replace him via free agency. The Red Wings rarely make any trades and I don't expect it to change this summer.
Edmonton: A Veteran Defenseman
The Edmonton Oilers have a lot of talented forwards that they have assembled through the past few drafts. The problem is that they have not addressed their defense core.
While they drafted Oscar Klefbom and David Musil in last year's draft, they won't be ready for the NHL for a couple more seasons.
The Oilers need to bring in someone who can lead their defense until the reinforcements arrive. If not, they could be in line for a lot more high draft picks.
Florida: Scoring Depth
Out of the 16 playoff teams, the Florida Panthers scored the second fewest goals, behind only Los Angeles.
The Panthers are going to make it nowhere in the playoffs if they don't score more. And against a defensive team in New Jersey, the odds are not in their favor.
If the Panthers are to continue their new found success next season, they are going to have to acquire more scoring talent.
Los Angeles: Scoring Depth
A year after guiding the Philadelphia Flyers to the third-highest goal total in the league, the Mike Richards and Jeff Carter led Los Angeles Kings could muster only 188 goals this season.
If the Kings' star players can't produce more than they did this season, LA will need to bring in some help this summer.
Minnesota: Improving the Defense
When you look at the defensemen on the Minnesota Wild roster, you see a list of players that doesn't include a noticeable name.
If the Wild want to have success and carry on that success through an entire season, they will need to acquire a bigger name on the defense.
Montreal: Get Bigger
With the departure of Hal Gill, the tallest player on the Montreal Canadiens roster is Mike Blunden at 6'4".
Blunden is not going to be a big part of the team and their most important players are not the biggest players out there.
If it's been said once, it's been said a thousand times: The Montreal Canadiens need to get bigger.
Nashville: Replacing Ryan Suter
If the Nashville Predators don't do what they want to do in the playoffs, they will more than likely be losing one half the best defensive pair in the league in Ryan Suter.
If the worst happens, the Predators hopes re-signing the other half of that tandem, Shea Weber, will prevent a drastic drop-off. If Suter is lost, the Predators will have to do all they can to acquire someone close to his talents to play with Weber.
New Jersey: Replacing Zach Parise
The New Jersey Devils are in the same position as Nashville with one of their star players.
Zach Parise wants to be in a place where he can win the Cup, and if he doesn't see that place as New Jersey, he will leave.
They won't be able to fully replace the production of Zach Parise, and they probably don't need to with Ilya Kovalchuk.
They do, however, need to bring in someone that can at least replace some of the production.
New York Islanders: A Shutdown Defenseman
Much like the Carolina Hurricanes and the Edmonton Oilers, the New York Islanders have talent on the forward lines that makes other teams jealous. Also, like those teams, their defense leaves something to be desired.
Mark Streit is a good leader but they need to bring in someone who can help more on the defensive side of things rather than focusing primarily on offense.
New York Rangers: No Huge Need
The New York Rangers proved that they had what it takes to be successful after an offseason in which they brought in THE big-name free agent in Brad Richards.
After many years of struggling to find the right combination of players, they have finally found it and they won't want to mess with it this offseason.
Ottawa: Scoring Depth
The Ottawa Senators have been one of the biggest surprises of the NHL season.
They have gotten huge seasons from Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson, and Milan Michalek. While this has gotten them into the playoffs, the Senators might not have what it takes to get past first-place New York.
They're not going to need much as their rebuild is working just fine, but an addition or two to give them more scoring is needed.
Philadelphia: Replacing Chris Pronger
The Philadelphia Flyers lost their captain very early on in the 2011-12 season. He left a huge hole on the Flyers defense that the Flyers didn't fill until the trade deadline when they acquired Niklas Grossmann and Pavel Kubina.
With both of those men becoming unrestricted free agents on July 1, the Flyers might need to look elsewhere in a replacement because if Pronger isn't able to come back for some reason, they will be in trouble if they don't.
Phoenix: A New Home
Okay, I know this is supposed to be about each team's biggest need in a trade, but in the Phoenix Coyotes' case there is only one thing they need above anything a trade could bring them.
The Coyotes have been playing pretty well the past few seasons, even under the constant talks of whether the team is or isn't going to move. It's time to end the shenanigans and move the Coyotes to a city where they will be fully accepted.
If I have to put it in trading terms, Phoenix trades the Coyotes to Quebec for a large sum of cash.
Pittsbugh: No Huge Need
The Pittsburgh Penguins are quite possibly the strongest team heading into the playoffs with Sidney Crosby back on the team. This year, they proved that they can be successful with Sid the Kid and should be sending chills down the Philadelphia Flyers necks and those of anyone else Pittsburgh might face during the playoffs.
If there is any need in the off season, the Penguins have the prospects that are ready to step in and take the roles that need to be filled.
San Jose: Start a Mini-Rebuild
The San Jose Sharks have been one of the biggest disappointments of the NHL season, barely making the playoffs.
If the Sharks don't make a miraculous run to the Stanley Cup final, it will be time to make some changes in San Jose.
They should trade as many players as they can to net them some young NHL talent and possibly a few high-end prospects. I'm not talking a huge rebuild, just one that might keep them out of the playoffs for one season and allow them to bounce back the next.
St. Louis: No Huge Need
The St. Louis Blues have always been a team that builds through the draft and adds any additional pieces through free agency. That won't change now that the Blues have returned to the postseason.
Tampa Bay: A Starting Goaltender
Dwayne Roloson's age finally caught up to him this season and it kept the Tampa Bay Lightning from making the playoffs, a year after they made it to the Eastern Conference finals.
Mathieu Garon and Dustin Tokarski did as well as they could through Roloson's struggles, but it never was enough.
This will be the biggest need for the Lightning this offseason.
Toronto: A Starting Goaltender
The Toronto Maple Leafs are in much the same position as the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Jonas Gustavsson is on his way out, and it's possible that neither James Reimer nor Ben Scrivens is ready for a starting job in the NHL, although Reimer only because of the concussion he suffered this season.
The Leafs need to get a goalie that is capable of playing a lot of games and gives them a chance to break their seven-year playoff drought next season.
Vancouver: Trade Cory Schneider
Is it any coincidence that right after I list two teams that need a starting goaltender, I list that Cory Schneider needs to be traded.
The Vancouver Canucks would be able to get a really good package in a deal for Schneider and it would be lunacy to keep him when there are at least two teams that desperately need a goalie of his pedigree.
If Cory Schneider isn't playing in a Tampa Bay or a Toronto jersey this fall, I'll be shocked.
Washington: A Veteran Leader
The Washington Capitals need to take the captaincy away from Alex Ovechkin and allow him to focus solely on his game.
While they could easily just give it to Brooks Laich, I think the Caps need to bring in someone who has has proved himself capable of both being a captain and a leader in the playoffs.
It just might be what the Capitals need to be successful.
Winnipeg: More Firepower
Other than Andrew Ladd, Evander Kane, Alexander Burmistrov and Zach Bogosian, the entire roster of the Winnipeg Jets is much like the Minnesota Wild's defense, not a big name among them.
The Jets need to go out and acquire some top flight players that can give them more of an edge next season.