NHL Free Agency: One Flaw Each Team Must Still Address This Summer
It is at that point in the month of July where everything related to NHL free agency has hit a brick wall. The major dominoes have fallen, a few remain on the trade market and others are still pondering offers.
Teams have taken strides to address some of their overall flaws to this point but there are still some holes to be filled. Some of these flaws could be replacing players, overall depth and holding onto key players.
Here is one flaw that each team must still address this summer so they can be as competitive as possible in 2012-13.
Anaheim: Forward Depth
Outside of Anaheim's big three and Teemu Selanne, the Ducks don't have tons of scoring forward depth. It only makes matters worse when you factor in that Getzlaf, Selanne and Perry are free agents in 2013.
The Ducks have some prospects in the pipeline like Emerson Etem and Kyle Palmieri, but there are no guarantees that WHL and AHL success will carry over into the NHL.
The Ducks surprisingly were shopping Bobby Ryan at one point and even Ryan said that he wanted out of Anaheim. It wouldn't be surprising if Gezlaf or Perry left that Ryan is shown the door this season.
It would be wise to add some complimentary pieces to convince the star forwards to stay past this summer or sell high on one of those players at the deadline if Bob Murray feels that he can't resign his two star forwards.
On the open market, Perry and Getzlaf will make a fortune and they both would have the opportunity to join better teams than the Ducks.
Boston: Veteran Backup Goaltender
Tuukka Rask is going to be the Boston Bruins starter in 2012-13. It is expected that Anton Khudobin will back up Rask.
However, it would be wise for the Bruins to go out and sign a veteran goaltender. If Rask has trouble adjusting to his new found role, a veteran backup could mentor him and could make additional spot starts when needed.
Tim Thomas played a good role with the Bruins, but now that he is gone, the team will head in a new direction.
Buffalo: Scoring Center Depth
Unless Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons can make the team out of training camp, the Sabres will be thin on scoring center depth.
They have young centers in Tyler Ennis ,Cody Hogdson and Steve Ott already, but it would be nice to have a veteran center with upside.
Hogdson is a player who will emerge as a solid center in 2012-13—Ott will remain a pest and Ennis has significant upside.
Ennis also plays the wing, so if one of the big names made the team, he could slide back to the left side.
Buffalo has solid wingers in Thomas Vanek, Drew Stafford and Jason Pominville, but those players will need a consistent pivot to set them up.
The Flames are a team that relies on many of its older players.
Jarome Iginla is their best offensive player and is approaching free agency next season. Their starting goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff is also getting up there in years. Alex Tanguay, Scott Hannan and assorted others are also in their early to mid 30s.
The Flames have some young players in Roman Cervanka and Mikael Backlund, but they have relied on the aforementioned players for so long that there could be a major adjustment in a few years.
Don't get me wrong, the Flames have some younger pieces, but the franchise is still defined by their captain and their goaltender for the most part.
Carolina: Backup Goaltender
The Carolina Hurricanes have a solid group of young forwards and defenseman in the mix. They have a blend of veterans as well and an all-star goaltender in Cam Ward.
One area they could address is the backup goaltender position, considering that Brian Boucher will be injured to start the season and that he is getting up in age.
The Hurricanes have a lineup featuring the Staal brothers, Jeff Skinner, Jiri Tlusty and assorted others, but the backup goaltender position is one area they could really improve upon.
Chicago: Starting Goaltender
The Blackhawks were interested in Martin Brodeur when he spent a limited amount of time on the free agency market and now rumors suggest they could be after Roberto Luongo.
These two incidents suggest that the team would like to add a starting goaltender to replace Corey Crawford, especially considering the fact that he had a poor showing during the 2011-12 Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Colorado Avalanche have a group of defenseman signed for the next few seasons, but they lack that legitimate No. 1 defender. Adding a key defender to build around is the next logical step for Colorado to take their franchise rebuild to the next level.
If the Avs could add one or two quality shutdown defenders, they could bolster their blueline and overall defensive depth.
Erik Johnson was a No.1 overall selection in the NHL Draft, so there is still time for him to live up to his hype in Colorado.
Columbus: Starting Goaltender
Steve Mason is clearly not the answer in Columbus. If the Blue Jackets want to become a serious team, they need some stability in net. They added Sergei Bobrovsky to the fold, but he is still young and he may not be the answer.
The Blue Jackets drafted Ryan Murray to be a future anchor of their blueline, but any additions they continue to make will be all for naught unless they get a serious goaltender.
The Dallas Stars only have four defenseman signed for this season. They have done an exemplary job upgrading their forward core, but they need to fill out the remaining spots on their blueline and they also need to add some depth in that area to safeguard against potential injuries.
It would be wise to sign a blend of youngsters and veterans so the defense can grow and mature over time.
Detroit: Another Top-Six Forward
The Detroit Red Wings are one of the top teams in the NHL and Western Conference.
That may be the case, but the Wings are a team that never stops improving.
If the Wings look to continue this trend, they could look to add another top six scorer. Alex Semin is still on the market and the Wings also have an interest in Shane Doan.
The Oilers have one of the youngest forward groups and there is so much upside in that core. They also have a young blueline with blue chip prospect Justin Schultz and a few veterans sprinkled in.
The Oilers one knock is their goaltending. Devan Dubnyk is a young netminder who has upside, but Nikolai Khabibulin's best days are behind him.
Dubnyk has no real competition, so there isn't any motivation there. If the Oilers added another young talented netminder to compete with Dubnyk, a true starting goaltender would emerge.
Florida: Power Play
The Panthers lost Jason Garrison to free agency. He was a key part of the Panthers' power play unit and his booming shot will be sorely missed.
This is an area the Panthers could really address, and hopefully Jonathan Huberdeau and other prospects slated to make the team can step in and help address this loss.
Los Angeles Kings: Deal Expendable Pieces
The Los Angeles Kings are the Stanley Cup champions and they don't really have any holes. They have retained many pieces that were crucial in one way or another during their playoff run. The one area they could address is dealing expendable pieces like Jonathan Bernier.
Bernier is a backup goaltender who could become a starter on the right team, so it would be wise for the Los Angeles Kings to sell high on him.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are one team that has expressed interest in acquiring Bernier.
Hearing the Leafs have put in an offer to G Jonathan Bernier.
— Andi Petrillo (@andipHNIC) July 17, 2012
Not counting prospects like Jonas Brodin that could crack the lineup some time in the near future, the Minnesota Wild have exactly six defenseman on their roster. It is a group headlined by Ryan Suter and it is a group that could use some depth help.
If a top tier defenseman goes down, it could really weaken the Wild's overall depth. Suter can't carry the load alone, so it would be wise to maybe shore up the defense before the season starts.
Montreal: Lock Up PK Subban Long Term
The Montreal Canadiens have taken care of most of their business. One area they need to take care of is locking up PK Subban long term. By doing that, they will hold onto one of their best defenseman and they will strengthen their core group of defenders.
Josh Gorges is locked up long term, so by adding Subban to the mix, the Canadiens will have a group of players in it for the long haul.
Nashville: Replace Ryan Suter
The Nashville Predators lost Ryan Suter and could lose Shea Weber, so it would be wise to make a move to add another defenseman on par with Suter.
The Predators would be wise to act sooner rather than later because if they can effectively replace Suter, Weber may be more willing to sign with the Predators long term.
A player like Keith Yandle is someone the Predators would probably love to add to their ranks, especially if Phoenix does eventually relocate.
New Jersey: Overall Team Depth
The Devils could stand to improve in the overall depth of their team. They lost one of their top scorers in Zach Parise, they lost their Hall-of-Fame defense coach Larry Robinson and lost Hall-of-Fame assistant coach Adam Oates.
Those losses will affect the depth of the Devils' top six, their power play and penalty kill. Travis Zajac is an impending UFA and Zach Parise's best friend, so they could also lose him along with David Clarkson and Patrik Elias at the end of this season.
The Devils also have an inexperienced defense core that will be mentored by Scott Stevens and the oldest goaltending tandem in the league.
When you add the franchise's financial problems, the state of affairs is a huge mess and it will be hard to add depth to the team.
New York (I): Defense
The New York Islanders could improve a lot on their team, but defense is an area that could use some work. The Islanders ranked fourth overall in goals allowed per game.
Outside of Mark Streit, the Isles don't have many big-name defensemen who can still play solid two-way hockey.
If the Islanders could tighten things up defensively, they could improve their playoff chances for the future.
Lubomir Visnovksy was a nice start, but he is older and Griffin Reinhart and Calvin de Haan likely won't be NHL ready this season.
New York (R): Top Six Forward
The Rangers have had talks with the Columbus Blue Jackets about acquiring Rick Nash for months now. It appears that may not be an option at this point because of Scott Howson's outlandish demands.
The Rangers have also shown interest in Bobby Ryan, but up to this point, there have not been any significant progress to be reported.
Glen Sather could always forgo making a move during the summer and could target someone like Michael Ryder, Ryane Clowe, Corey Perry, Jarome Iginla or Joffrey Lupul at the trade deadline.
Ottawa: Add Veteran Defenseman
Sergei Gonchar is a veteran defenseman for the Ottawa Senators and is 38 years old. He will likely finish his career in Ottawa, but it would be smart to add another veteran defenseman to keep on the blueline.
Erik Karlsson is a solid offensive defenseman, but it would be beneficial if he could learn from a veteran defensive defenseman. He could really take his overall game to a new level if that were to occur.
Chris Pronger is already sidelined for foreseeable future and possibly the rest of his career with concussion-like symptoms.
Pronger was arguably the Flyers' most important defender, as he brought a lot to their lineup. The Flyers lost Matt Carle to free agency and could lose Kimmo Timonen after the end of this season.
The Flyers struck out on Ryan Suter, so they will have to explore other options to bolster their blueline.
The Phoenix Coyotes lost their top scorer in Ray Whitney to the Dallas Stars and they could also lose their captain and career Jet/Coyote Shane Doan.
Both of these players were top offensive performers and were key to the success of the team. The team has youngsters like Mikael Bøedker who could step up next season, but the team is going to need a lot more than that.
Pittsburgh: A Winger for Sidney Crosby
The Pittsburgh Penguins pushed hard to acquire Zach Parise and, in the end, he signed with the Minnesota Wild. Ray Shero wanted to add Parise so he could play alongside Crosby for the next 10 years.
This pairing would have given the Pens the deadliest top six in the NHL.
The Pens already have Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Sidney Crosby, but the Pens still would love to add a winger for Sidney Crosby.
San Jose: Another Top-Six Forward
The San Jose Sharks were another team that had a strong interest in Rick Nash. However the cost is pretty high, but that alone tells you about their interest in acquiring another top six forward.
Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton are both getting older and the Sharks could use a top winger to play with Logan Couture for the next few years.
Adding another top six forward would give the Sharks an added offensive punch, some flexibility and depth.
St.Louis: Top-Six Forward
The St.Louis Blues have a formidable goaltending tandem in net. They have a solid backend and they have some solid forwards in David Backes and TJ Oshie.
They have prospects like Jayden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko who could make the jump soon, but they need a game-breaking top six forward.
If the Blues added a top six forward, they could really take their team to a whole new level.
Tampa Bay: N/A
The Tampa Bay Lightning are one of the rare teams that took the bull by the horns and really overhauled their team.
The Lightning needed a goaltender and Steve Yzerman traded for Anders Lindback and drafted future goaltender Andrei Vasilevski.
The Lightning need to shore up their blueline and Stevie Y signed Matt Carle and Sami Salo.
Those two areas were glaring holes that needed to be addressed and Steve Yzerman stepped up to the plate.
Toronto: A Starting Goaltender
Jonas Gustavsson is gone and James Reimer is the only man standing, but Brian Burke wants to add a real goaltender. He was interested in Roberto Luongo and now it appears that the Leafs have made an offer for Jonathan Bernier.
Hearing the Leafs have put in an offer to G Jonathan Bernier.
— Andi Petrillo (@andipHNIC) July 17, 2012
If this is the case, the Leafs may finally get a young goaltender to invest their future in.
Vancouver: Solve Goaltending Situation
Roberto Luongo is a player who could bring the Canucks tons of assets. Cory Schneider is the starting goaltender for now, but he won't be given the job officially until Luongo is traded.
What happens if Schneider has a string of bad starts? How quick will it be before Alain Vigneault puts Luongo back in the crease because of the past success and the trust the two share?
Trading Luongo is something that needs to happen for the development of Schneider and the future of this franchise.
Washington: Replace Alex Semin
The Washington Capitals have not resigned Alex Semin, so they will need to replace his production. Semin may have declined over the past few seasons, but he will still be a potent threat on the power play for the Capitals.
The addition of Mike Ribeiro should help overall offensive ,but the Caps could stand to add more.
Winnipeg: Lock Up Evander Kane
The Winnipeg Jets have added some players like Olli Jokinen to their roster, they have added Al Montoya as a backup and they have resigned some of their other free agents.
Evander Kane is a player that the Jets need to lockup long term because he is a future 40-goal scorer and he could be a franchise player for the Jets.
This is the one area that is a top priority for Winnipeg because he is the future of their franchise.