NHL Lockout 2012: Stanley Cup Contenders That Cannot Afford to Lose a Season

Nicholas Goss@@NicholasGoss35Correspondent IAugust 27, 2012

VANCOUVER, CANADA - OCTOBER 18: Chris Higgins #20 of the Vancouver Canucks tries to redirect the puck past goalie Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers during the first period in NHL action on October 18, 2011 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Rich Lam/Getty Images

There are several Stanley Cup contenders that don't want to see their chances of winning the cup destroyed because of a lockout.

The NHL will lock out its players on September 15 if a new CBA isn't agreed to, and this could be bad news for teams that have spent money and made bold trades for veteran players to become championship caliber.

Let's look at three Stanley Cup contenders that cannot afford to lose the 2012-13 season due to a lockout.


New York Rangers

Losing an entire year would halt the progress that Rangers general manager Glen Sather has made in developing an incredible roster for a Stanley Cup run this season.

The Rangers have the goaltending, defensive depth, goal scoring and leadership needed to win a Cup.

Since Ryan Callahan, Marian Gaborik and Henrik Lundqvist have just two years left on their current contracts, the Rangers might have two chances to make a run with their current roster. In two years' time, the Blueshirts will have quite a few players needing raises in their new deals.

Keeping everyone and meeting their demands may be difficult, so New York needs to make the most of its opportunities over the next couple of years.

The playoff experience that the team gained last season plus some improvements made this summer have made the Rangers the favorites to win the Eastern Conference next year.

With that said, it's not hard to understand why losing a season would be devastating to the franchise.


San Jose Sharks

A lost season could trigger a rebuild in San Jose—the team cannot afford to wait an entire year before making another playoff run since the roster is already full of aging stars.

Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Martin Havlat Michal Handzus, Dan Boyle and Brad Stuart make up most of the star talent on the Sharks roster, and each of these players is over 30 years old. Losing a season and having these players age another year wouldn't be ideal for the Sharks.

If San Jose is determined to make one last run at a Stanley Cup title with its current group of veterans, it needs a season to happen.

A canceled season could force the team to build for the future around star center Logan Couture.


Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks are a team of aging stars that has just a few more years as a top contender in the Western Conference.

Winning two straight Presidents' Trophies is proof that the Canucks are still a top team despite their disappointing playoff results in recent seasons.

Of the four best forwards on the Canucks roster (Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Alexandre Burrows), only Kesler is under the age of 30. Defenseman Kevin Bieksa, one of the team's best players and a leader, is 31 years old. Vancouver needs to win now before its best players exit the prime of their careers.

The Canucks also spent a lot of money to sign free-agent defenseman Jason Garrison to help the team win now.

Vancouver is the team with the most to lose if there is a canceled season because of a lockout. Its time to contend for the Stanley Cup is right now.


Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. He was also the organization's on-site reporter for the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in Boston. Follow him on Twitter.