6 NHL Teams Helped Most by the Lockout
The NHL lockout is only in its early stages, but with Gary Bettman carrying the baton for the NHL owners, it threatens to be a long and painful one.
He has a track record of keeping the players out of their locker rooms and letting the rest of the world pass the NHL by.
From a strategic standpoint, some teams will be hurt badly by a lockout in 2012-13, especially if it lasts the entire season the way it did in (gulp) 2004-05.
The Boston Bruins are one year removed from winning in 2011, and they have the kind of power and nastiness that could make them a contender again. How about the Pittsburgh Penguins getting a full season out of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin? The Flyers can score goals in bunches, and the Tampa Bay Lightning want to resurrect the 2010-11 season.
In the Western Conference, the Vancouver Canucks want one more crack at getting after the championship, while the San Jose Sharks are running out of time. Not having a chance to play would be ruinous for them.
How about the Minnesota Wild and the Edmonton Oilers? The Wild added superstars Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in the offseason and should be strong playoff contenders. The Oilers are loaded with young talent that needs to play to develop.
They would all be hurt by the lockout.
But other teams that may be going through identity problems or are starting to age could actually benefit from the lockout. Here's a look at six of those teams.
The Flames have failed to make the playoffs each of the last three seasons.
They have made a few minor adjustments like adding defenseman Dennis Wideman from the Washington Capitals and center Jiri Hudler from the Detroit Red Wings in the offseason, but they are basically sticking with the same basic roster.
It's too bad for Jarome Iginla that he remains with a team that is likely to finish on the outside looking in at the end of the season. He needs a chance to play for a team that will be a Stanley Cup contender, not an also-ran that may look like it has a shot in February only to finish back in the pack with the also-rans at the end of the season.
A lockout could give the Flames more time to think about their roster and their position in the NHL. General manager Jay Feaster may come to his senses and realize that he has to make moves and not just keep on trying to climb the mountain when the others in the race will get there much faster than he will.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets were the worst team in the NHL last season.
During the offseason, they traded high-scoring Rick Nash.
Things don't figure to get much better for the Jackets any time soon.
Nash, of course, wanted to be traded and was sent to the New York Rangers. While Columbus general manager Scott Howson attempted to play hardball with Rangers general manager Glen Sather, he was not able to get stars in return for Nash.
The Blue Jackets got serviceable players in Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Tim Erixon. That's not going to be enough to lift the Blue Jackets.
A lockout could give Howson more time to re-examine his roster, and he could also get a chance to let young talent develop in the minors rather than have them move up before they are ready.
The Blue Jackets aren't going anywhere in 2012-13, so a lockout won't hurt them much.
Detroit Red Wings
The 2012-13 season does not necessarily have to be a bad season for the Detroit Red Wings, but they could face more difficulty than in most years.
The end of the 2011-12 season was galling for Red Wings fans and head coach Mike Babcock. They lost a first-round series to the Nashville Predators, and their season ended with shocking suddenness.
After the season, future Hall of Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom decided to retire. One of the best and most impactful defensemen to ever play the game, Babcock knows that his loss will be decisive.
The Red Wings had their eyes on free-agent stars like Zach Parise and Ryan Suter and came up empty.
They still have Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, two of the best players in the NHL. They are capable of carrying the franchise a long way.
However, the Red Wings don't just try to have winning seasons or make the playoffs. Their goal is to win the Stanley Cup, but that seems a bit out of reach this year.
A year off might give Ken Holland the time he needs to acquire more stars.
The Nashville Predators are the story of the little team that could.
They were an unlikely expansion team in 1998-99, and there were a lot of doubters. A team in Nashville? Whatever for?
Oh, yeah, so the NHL could make that all-time winning combination of country music and hockey.
Well, the idea may have seemed ludicrous, but it has worked. The fans have fallen in love with the Preds, and the team has made the playoffs in seven of the last eight seasons.
However, the team took a body blow in the offseason when Ryan Suter signed with the Minnesota Wild. It almost got even worse when Shea Weber signed an offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Preds didn't let Weber go without a fight. They matched Philadelphia's offer and he will stay with the team.
However, general manager David Poile seemed like he was in shock when Suter left (source: nbcsports.com).
The team needs a bit more time to put a shiny finish on the product. Taking a year off might not be the worst thing.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils had a great run in the postseason last spring.
They didn't win the Stanley Cup, but it still had to be quite rewarding to head coach Peter DeBoer and his players.
After outlasting the Florida Panthers in seven games, they punched the Philadelphia Flyers in the mouth and eliminated them in five games. Next came the favored New York Rangers, and the Devs dispatched them in six games.
They couldn't handle the Los Angeles Kings, but they made them sweat before they bowed out in six games.
The offseason has been disastrous. Zach Parise, the team's best player, left in free agency and signed a contract with the Minnesota Wild.
Assistant coaches Adam Oates and Larry Robinson have also departed.
The team has financial problems (source: New York Post).
This is not to say that general manager Lou Lamoriello can't handle it and get the team back on track, but having a lockout year would give him extra time to rethink his plans and come up with a winning alternative.
No general manager has ever done more with less than Lamoriello, and a year off may put the Devils back in the (Bruce) driver's seat.
However, once the bubble burst against the Los Angeles Kings, reality took hold.
The Coyotes' uncertain financial future may have played a key role in Ray Whitney's decision to leave and a sign a free-agent contract with the Dallas Stars. Defenseman Adrian Aucoin also left the desert and will play with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Shane Doan finally decided to stay just before the lockout hit, but he was unsure about his future until the last minute because of the shaky ownership situation in Phoenix (source: NHL.com).
Greg Jamison is in line to purchase the team, but the situation won't be finalized until the lease situation with the city of Glendale is resolved.
A lockout may give this team a chance to stabilize and retool.