5 Most Improved NHL Teams Ticked off There's a Lockout

Eric Steitz@esteitz16Analyst IIISeptember 24, 2012

5 Most Improved NHL Teams Ticked off There's a Lockout

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    The third NHL lockout in 18 years is a frustrating time for fans, players and some owners. All the offseason improvements at the draft, through free agency and trades are being put on hold.

    The league has already started cancelling preseason games, and with no progress being made on a new collective bargaining agreement, the 2012-13 season is in jeopardy. The preseason games and training camp are a great time to evaluate players and develop chemistry for the upcoming season. 

    Teams that have spent money this offseason in an attempt to make a Stanley Cup run have to be frustrated.

    Denver Post columnist Adrian Dater says that the lack of progress has all but wiped out the 2012 portion of the upcoming season. 

    The following five teams may be the most upset of all.

Minnesota Wild

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    The Wild brought in the two biggest-name free agents this offseason in Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Both players signed 13-year, $98 million deals, changing the perception in Minnesota and providing a great spark to that market. 

    Minnesota’s epic collapse in the second half of last season was surprising. Bringing in Parise and Suter brought a significant boost of optimism to Wild fans. 

    All the excitement has turned into deflated anxiety as the fans wait to see their new-look team take the ice.

    CBC Sports called the signings a victory for a passionate hockey market. Fortunately for hockey fans in Minnesota, they have some high-quality collegiate hockey programs—that will have to do for now.

New York Rangers

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    The Rangers are another team that made a splash this offseason by bringing in a big name. New York acquired longtime Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash, significantly improving their already-talented offense. 

    The best team in the Eastern Conference last season, New York also added Taylor Pyatt, Arron Asham and Jeff Halpern. Could they get any better? 

    With as much talent as the Rangers have, the upcoming season brought hopes of a Stanley Cup.

    The Rangers improved significantly this offseason. Coming off a 109-point season, the sky was the limit. Now, a new CBA is the limit. Anyone else think coach John Tortorella has a few choice words for this lockout?

Dallas Stars

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    The signing of crafty veteran Jaromir Jagr headlined the Dallas Stars' offseason. The Stars built a team that is designed to win now—until the lockout got in the way.

    Jagr, Ray Whitney, Aaron Rome and Derek Roy all joined the Stars this offseason. The addition of skilled veterans combined with some talented young guns like Jamie Benn made the Stars a very complete team. 

    No one knows how long Jagr will perform at a high level. The Stars were hoping to get at least a season out of him. Will the lockout even allow the Stars a season with these additions? 

    A number of the new additions in Dallas have been through a lockout before, though that surely doesn’t help frustrations any.

Carolina Hurricanes

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    The Hurricanes' most notable addition this offseason was Jordan Staal. Jordan joins his brother, Carolina captain Eric Staal, in the red and black.

    But the lockout won’t let the brothers play together. That’s like not being able to go out and play until you finish your vegetables at dinner. 

    The ‘Canes weren’t done dealing. They signed Alex Semin, Marc-Andre Gragnani and Tim Wallace. Carolina’s offseason could have made it favorites in the Southeast division, but its quest for a division crown is being delayed. 

    NESN feels that the ‘Canes and the Washington Capitals are the favorites for the Southeast.

    Carolina also spent money on Jeff Skinner, and goaltender Cam Ward isn’t far removed from an All-Star season (2011) and is looking to rebound from last season. 

    A hurricane of frustration is settling over Carolina.

Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Sticking in the Southeast division, the Tampa Bay Lightning improved tremendously this offseason, adding defensemen Sami Salo and Matt Carle.

    They improved in goal by acquiring Anders Lindback from the Nashville Predators, and they snagged Benoit Pouliot to add some grit.

    Tampa was a game away from the Stanley Cup Final two years ago and missed the playoffs last year.

    The Southeast division is wide open, and Tampa is as much of a contender for the division crown as anyone. Head coach Guy Boucher has shown some intensity on the ice; imagine what he’s like when he’s forced to stay away from the ice.

    Tampa’s veterans in Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier are nearing the end of their careers. They are still performing at a consistent level, but who knows how long that will continue. 

    The significance of this season for the Bolts should frustrate them more than any other team in the NHL. This season also marks the 20th anniversary of the Tampa franchise. 

    With so much to play for and so much money spent this offseason on roster moves and improvements to the Tampa Times Forum, the Bolts must be livid.