NHL: Top 10 Teams That Need to Improve This Season

Matt Davidson@MattDavidson22Contributor IIISeptember 13, 2012

NHL: Top 10 Teams That Need to Improve This Season

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    A general manager's job is never done.

    Their job is to constantly find ways to make their teams better. They may be happy at times with what they have, but ask any of them what they would like to improve and you'll always get a response.

    While I'm sure all 30 teams have an area or two they would like to bolster, there are some teams in the league that need more help than others.

    This article will take a look at those ten teams that, more than others, still have some work to do before the puck drops on the upcoming season. If it does drop, that is.

Anaheim Ducks

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    The first thing Anaheim needed to do was something they took care of last season, which was to replace Randy Carlyle.

    With the hiring of Bruce Boudreau, the Ducks immediately began to turn the season around. They almost made the playoffs, despite a weak first half of the season. It will be interesting to what the team can do with Boudreau about to start his first full, and maybe condensed, season behind the bench.

    Franchise icon Teemu Selanne is also on his last legs with the team and will be gone soon. Knowing this, the Ducks will need to find a way to replace him once he does hang the skates up.

    They have had their drama this summer with Bobby Ryan asking for a trade and then apologizing for it.

    Lubomir Visnovsky also said that the Ducks' trading him to the New York Islanders was not official because he had a no-movement clause. However, through arbitration, the trade was recognized and Visnovsky is now donning the orange and blue on the east coast.

    The draft pick they got in return for Visnovsky should help them better this team.

    With Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Selanne, and Ryan leading the offense, they could use one more playmaker in there to get things going—seeing as how they still finished 23rd in goals-per-game last season.

Calgary Flames

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    It's been 23 years since the Calgary Flames won the Stanley Cup in the 1988-89 season.

    Captained by former Flames legend Lanny McDonald, the Flames were able to eliminate the Montreal Canadiens in six games to capture the Cup, thus redeeming  themselves from the 1985-86 finals in which Montreal won.

    These days, Flames fans are hoping to have similar success but their window has been shrinking for some time now and a rebuild is on their horizon.

    Calgary has been trading and signing to fill in the holes and work for success. However, their star players are getting older. The time to start drafting and bringing in younger players is now.

    The two most recognizable names on the roster—Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff—are also the oldest players on the team at 35 years old.

    Another good chunk of the roster is between the ages of 28 and 34, so the time to start getting the younger players in is now to allow time for them to develop alongside the current core.

    Bringing in Jiri Hudler from the Detroit Red Wings and Dennis Wideman from the Washington Capitals is a good start. Now, Jay Feaster needs to have a look at his prospects and start working them into the lineup.

Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Columbus has been working on their rebuild for a while now, and they finally seem to be making some progress.

    Although they are still not where they want to be, the Jackets have been on the right track by bringing in Jack Johnson from the Kings, Sergei Bobrovsky from the Flyers and by acquiring Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky from the Rangers in the Rick Nash trade.

    The good news for the Blue Jackets is that they are one of the youngest teams in the league (average age around 26). This will allow the team to have some time to form chemistry as they continue to rebuild.

    What they need to do to better themselves for the upcoming season is find a pure goal scorer, to help alleviate the departure of Rick Nash.

    Although it will be hard to recreate what Nash has done for the franchise, the Jackets will need to explore the remaining free agents and/or trade avenues and see what kind of offensive help they can get.

Detroit Red Wings

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    This summer saw Ken Holland experience something unusual: disappointment.

    While Lidstrom's retirement had been expected, it still stung. Add to that the fact that Brad Stuart is heading back to San Jose, and now the Wings have a problem.

    They have been a powerhouse in the NHL for the past two decades but will need to get some work done quickly if they want to remain so.

    They made offers to Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, who both chose to sign with  Minnesota. They pursued Shea Weber, but that did not work out. They also talked to Calgary about Jay Bouwmeester but were unable to strike a deal. 

    The Wings offered unrestricted free-agent Carlo Colaiacovo a contract, but he initially wanted a longer term than what he was offered and did not immediately sign. However, it has been reported that he has agreed to a two-year contract that is worth $5 million. The only question remaining with him now is, can he stay healthy for the majority of the season?

    Detroit was able to bring Mikael Samuelsson back while also adding Jonas Gustavsson and Jordin Tootoo.

    While more veteran insight, a promising backup goalie, and some grit are nice to have, the Wings could still use a big name defenseman to come to Hockeytown.

Edmonton Oilers

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    If you aren't sure what the Oilers have been doing right over the past few seasons, this guy is here to clear things up with his signs...and he's nailed it.

    Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle are three key pieces on this team as they carry on into next season.

    With the additions of Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz during the summer, the Oilers are taking more steps in the right direction but could still use more help in their own zone.

    The Oilers finished 23rd in goals-against last season and 19th in shots-against. While they had similar, or worse, offensive numbers, they have been adding young top draft picks for the past couple of seasons. That should help turn those numbers around.

    Devan Dubnyk totaled decent numbers in net with a 2.67 goals against average and .914 save percentage, and two shutouts. If this team could get some more established defenders in front of him then they would be poised to start making the playoffs again.

    Given the remaining unrestricted free agents left, Jason Arnott would be a great fit for the team. He could provide the veteran leadership the young guns on the team need. They could probably sign him to a one- or two-year deal for a relatively reasonable cap hit and he would do wonders for the younger players.

Florida Panthers

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    First of all, hats off to Dale Tallon for what he has already done with this team over the past couple of seasons.

    He helped the Panthers win their first division title in franchise history last season and will hope to repeat that in 2012-13. However, the Hurricanes, Lightning, and Capitals are all stronger heading into next season, so the Panthers have more work to do.

    Primarily, they need to get their goaltending in order.

    There is talk of bringing back Roberto Luongo for a while, but the labor talks have thrown a wrench into the mix. They have prospect Jacob Markstrom ready to join the ranks as well. If they can get the Luongo-Markstrom tandem running at full steam then their problems in net should be solved.

    The Panthers could also use another pure goal scorer. They were decent at getting the puck to the net, finishing 18th last season in shots-for, but not so great at getting the puck in the net, coming in at 27th in goals-for.

Montreal Canadiens

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    The Montreal Canadiens' efforts last season were disappointing.

    They finished in the cellar of the Eastern Conference after having made the playoffs the past four seasons and finishing atop the Conference in 2007-08.

    The first thing this team needs to is make sure that P.K. Subban stays put in Montreal. He has been a young, integral part of their blueline and they will need his help to get things back in the right direction.

    They also need to find a way to get Scott Gomez producing again, or send him off for someone else who will produce points. Brian Gionta is also lagging in production and they need him to be a point producer for the team as well as captain.

    Gomez and Gionta are both products of a defensive New Jersey system and have struggled somewhat since coming to Montreal. Gionta has been better off, producing 46 points in first two seasons with the Canadiens but only 15 last season. In his defense, he did only play 31 games last season.

    Once Montreal can find a way to get its goal scoring back they will be in better shape but it is something they still need to work on heading into the season.

New York Islanders

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    While it is not their fault, the Islanders' biggest flaw is that they are in the Atlantic Division.

    Having to compete in a division with the Devils, Rangers, Flyers, and Penguins is no easy task and the Islanders have had trouble with it over the years.

    The last time they didn't finish last in the division was in the 2006-07 season when they went 40-30-12 for 92 points and fourth place, finishing ahead of Philadelphia.

    When taking a look at the things that the Islanders can help, their goaltending comes to mind. Their focus for the 2012-13 season needs to be on finding a goalie that can provide them with consistency.

    Before the 2006-07 season started, the Islanders signed DiPietro to a 15-year, $67.5 million dollar contract. Since signing that contract, DiPietro has missed a considerable amount of time due to injuries. As they stand right now, Evgeni Nabokov is the only other goalie they have signed and while he has had a solid career, he is also 37 years old.

    One way the Islanders can begin to improve is pursuing Joey MacDonald. He has played for the Islanders before and had a strong season backing up Jimmy Howard in Detroit. Now with Jonas Gustavsson in the picture, MacDonald has requested a trade as he hopes to assume more responsibility with a team.

    They could also get involved in the trade talks for the Los Angeles Kings backup, Jonathan Bernier.

Toronto Maple Leafs

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    The Toronto Maple Leafs are one the most historic franchises in the league today. They are an Original Six team, they have won 13 Stanley Cups, and they have some of the most passionate fans in sports.

    These loyal fans show their support as they continue to show up night in and night out to support the Leafs, hoping that they can end their 45-year cup drought. The Maple Leafs have not even seen the playoffs since the 2003-04 season and they still have work to do if they want to change that.

    Brian Burke needs to find a way to bolster practically all positions on the team. The areas that need the most improvement, however, are in net and on the blue line.

    The Leafs allowed the second-most goals-per-game at 3.16 and the seventh-most shots-against-per-game at 30.8. They took their chances in trying to sign Martin Brodeur during his brief moment of free agency but, as expected, Marty stayed put in New Jersey. They have also been trying their luck with Roberto Luongo but that isn't showing much promise either.

    They were able to bring in James van Riemsdyk in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers and he should make an immediate impact on the team—but is not enough to solve their problems.

    Burke has said that they believe in Reimer but would have upgraded their goaltending given the opportunity. For now, it seems like a good thing they have confidence in Reimer because he is likely to be their starter heading into the season.

Winnipeg Jets

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    The Jets just finished up their first season back in Winnipeg after making the move from  Atlanta.

    Being a team with such a fresh start, there is some work that general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff needs to do before the season starts. Two areas the team can improve on are in goal and forward.

    In net, the team has a tandem of Ondrej Pavelec and Al Montoya. Pavelec is the starter and posted decent numbers last season but the team still finished 26th in goals-allowed with 2.95 per game. Pavelec started in 68 games and could use a more established backup to help share the workload. The goalie market is slim but there are trades that could be worked out for Joey MacDonald, Jonathan Bernier, or Roberto Luongo (although he has said his preference is Florida).

    In terms of a forward, the franchise has to wish that Ilya Kovalchuk had still been with the Thrashers as they made the move to Winnipeg. However, they could still acquire a forward from the remaining free agents or extend offer sheets out to some of the remaining restricted free agents.