NHL Lockout: How Well Prepared Is Each Team?

Tom Schreier@tschreier3Correspondent ISeptember 24, 2012

NHL Lockout: How Well Prepared Is Each Team?

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    No team is really prepared for a lockout.

    Management prepared their teams for the next season, even if they are in a rebuilding mode.

    They brought in veterans to support the young guys or perhaps left positions open in order to allow the best prospects to get the most ice time.

    Having said that, some teams are better prepared for a lockout than others.

    A team in a rut may like a bounce back season, but a little time off to get things sorted out probably would help more than another poor season will hurt them.

    A team on a hot streak is going to want to capitalize on their success for the next team.

    Others that made a big push in free agency can’t be happy that all the money they spent is not going to achieve instant results.

    Still other teams that have a bunch of downtrending veterans might have wanted one last season to squeeze the most they can out of them before they hang up the skates.

    Either way, fans, management and players are all upset that there’s no hockey right now.

    Just some are a little angrier than others.

Anaheim Ducks

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    Preparedness: Low

    Although the Ducks really were not in position to win the Pacific or make a playoff run this year, cornerstone players like Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are in their prime.

    The fact is, once the games start, all speculation goes out the window.

    With low expectations to begin with, Anaheim had nothing to lose by playing hockey this season.

Boston Bruins

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    Preparedness: Very Low

    Boston loves their sports, and especially their hockey.

    This franchise is in win now mode and while guys like Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and certainly Tyler Seguin are far from retirement, giving the other teams in their division time to get their stuff together can’t be a good thing.

Buffalo Sabres

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    Preparedness: Low

    Buffalo underperformed last year and you gotta believe that they want to get back out there and redeem themselves.

    More time to stew in their misfortune/poor play is never a good thing for any team.

Calgary Flames

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    Preparedness: High

    I say high with a caveat—they wanted to win now.

    But some time off may let Calgary management sit back and think. They did let older players like Olli Jokinen go, but a little time to evaluate their prospects in a talented AHL and let them grow and develop without the pressure of wanting to bring them up too early wouldn’t be all bad.

Carolina Hurricanes

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    Preparedness: Low

    This team didn’t go out and get Jordan Staal and re-sign so many players, including Jeff Skinner to a big deal, just because they like spending money.

    They realized they were becoming irrelevant and wanted to do something to tell their fans that they were serious about winning this season.

    And they can’t win games if they aren’t playing hockey.

Chicago Blackhawks

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    Preparedness: Low

    Expectations in Chicago were high for the Hawks and they can’t be happy about how the season ended last year.

    This is a talented squad that could make a playoff run this season.

    Now the lockout has just given Patrick Kane more time to drink

Colorado Avalanche

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    Preparedness: Low

    There was a feeling that things were moving in the right direction in Colorado.

    Fans were starting to go to games again, young talent was filling in for the old guard and this was just a team that underachieved last season.

    Having said that, a year to evaluate the prospects in a stacked AHL as well as take a good, long look at the longer-tenured players currently on the roster might do good for an Avalanche team that has fallen on hard times after setting a precedent for winning immediately after coming over from Quebec.

Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Preparedness: Very High

    Sure, a surprisingly successful season would have been nice—but it wasn’t going to happen.

    This is franchise is a car wreck and a little more time to get the jaws of life in there could do the Blue Jackets some good.

Dallas Stars

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    Preparedness: Very Low

    The Stars realized that hockey was becoming an afterthought in Dallas after years of success and so they brought in the veterans, namely Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney, they needed to get everything in line and help navigate this team through the playoffs.

    Instead those veterans are sitting at home, getting older every day a game is cancelled.

Detroit Red Wings

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    Preparedness: Low

    Hockeytown is never prepared to be without hockey.

    Yes, this roster was aging and yes, the Wings are falling behind the Blues and Blackhawks in terms of standing in the division (presumably), but no, that doesn’t mean a year off is good.

    It’s possible, however unlikely, that some of the Red Wings players may return home to play hockey and decide to stay put.

Edmonton Oilers

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    Preparedness: High

    The people of Edmonton are going to miss their hockey, make no doubt about it, but logistically this is great.

    The Oilers put their best young players in the AHL and will watch them gain confidence beating up on lesser talented players instead of getting smacked around every night at the NHL level.

    Hell, an entire year off might not be a bad thing. Next year’s Oilers come back with a year of hockey under the belt and a little swagger in their step and maybe they’ll be a team that (kinda) surprises everybody.

Florida Panthers

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    Preparedness: High

    As much as the Panthers had a good thing going, coming close to knocking out Eastern Conference champion New Jersey in the first round of the 2011-12 playoffs, the talent in Florida lies in the prospect system.

    Many of these guys are probably not ready for NHL hockey yet, but in a year they will be.

    A little time off wouldn’t hurt the Cats too much. If anything, they may go from one solid season to the next while skipping what might have been a down year.

Los Angeles Kings

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    Preparedness: Low

    The defending champs had LA abuzz about hockey (at least as much as it will ever be) and a roster full of young players that are capable for making deep playoff runs every year.

    While this team will be good for the next few seasons, a Stanley Cup victory only comes once in a blue moon and it would be a shame for the Kings to miss out on a season where their superstars are in their prime.

Minnesota Wild

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    Preparedness: Very Low

    After a few poor seasons, the Wild reinvigorated an already hockey-mad state by signing two local(ish) guys: Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

    The Xcel Energy Center was supposed to be packed and energetic every single night.

    Now it’s just going to draw crowds when Prince and other musical performances come to town.

Montreal Canadiens

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    Preparedness: Low

    Of course this was a bad team last year, but the only place they could go was up.

    And taking hockey away from people in Montreal is like taking steak away from a bulldog—the hand that feeds is going to get bit.

Nashville Predators

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    Preparedness: High

    Nashville has always been a draft-and-develop team. While losing Ryan Suter is just one player, Shea Weber, arguably the better defenseman, was signed to a mega-deal in the offseason, he’s clearly not going to hang up his skates any time soon.

    Having another year to let the young guys develop in the AHL against players that should be in the big leagues can’t hurt the li’l Preds.

New Jersey Devils

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    Preparedness: Very High

    This team looked destined for a Stanley Cup hangover.

    They lost a franchise player in Zach Parise after a devastating series in the Finals.

    This is an organization that is used to winning, but has little money to show for it. A little time to gather some green and let the prospects do their thing at the same time has to help the Devils out.

New York Islanders

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    Preparedness: High (kind of)

    One of my readers, a loyal Islanders fan that has commented on my stuff before and goes by BC ISLEMAN (presumably his mother doesn’t call him that), articulated his team's situation succinctly one of my previous slideshows:

    Actually for the Islanders, the lockout is a mixed bag. On the plus side, they have a wealth of talent in the system that will be another year closer to maturity. N ext fall, most of them should at least be NHL-ready even if they won't be fully matured.

    There are negatives though. The October 2 exhibition with the Devils at Barclays' (sic) in Brooklyn that likely was to be the precursor to a move there is gone. If the season is totally washed out and Visnovsky doesn't elect to re-sign with the Isles, a 2nd round pick in a deep draft will be gone for nothing. And a chance to make some noise and win back some fans would be gone for this year as well.

    Thank you for your comment, sir.

New York Rangers

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    Preparedness: Very Low

    Rangers fans knew their team was a bona fide contender with Rick Nash and now they’ve got to wait around for hockey to start.

    And, in lets be honest, nobody in New York wants to wait around for anything: not traffic lights, not bagels at Grand Central, not taxis in rush hour…and certainly not professional sports teams.

    Remember, this is the city that never sleeps—and gets a little impatient because of it.

Ottawa Senators

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    Preparedness: Low

    I’m sure the Sens and their fans wanted to get this season rolling to see if they could top their stellar performance in the playoffs last year.

    Now, a year after taking the Rangers to Game 7 in the first round, they’ve got to sit around and wait for the season to start.

Philadelphia Flyers

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    Preparedness: Low

    Fans in Philadelphia have moved on from the Carter/Richards era and want to see if Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Co. can do what the LA boys could not:

    Win a damn Stanley Cup!

Phoenix Coyotes

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    Preparedness: Very High

    This is a team that (a) was ripe for a Stanley Cup hangover—they definitely overachieved last season——and (b) is in a lot of financial trouble and is in serious jeopardy of being relocated.

    This puts off the Seattle Coyotes talk for a little bit, gives them some time to find a legit ownership group and lets the prospects develop a little longer.

Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Preparedness: Low

    The expectation in Pittsburgh is that this team will win now, and while it’s a stretch to say the window for the Penguins is closing, losing a year with everyone in their prime is never a good thing.

San Jose Sharks

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    Preparedness: Low

    Fans in San Jose have been accustomed to a winning team and nothing calms a rabid fanbase down more than a bounce back season.

    A quick start would have quickly put last season to rest. The waiting simply gives them time to revel in the misery of last season’s early playoff exit.

St. Louis Blues

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    Preparedness: Very Low

    The Baby Blues are growing up and look like they are ready to take over the Central Division.

    Losing part or all of this season is devastating for a roster of players that clearly broke through last season and would like to avenge that playoff series against LA.

    And remember, although the Blues were brutal following the lockout, St. Louis was a city that did not take kindly to their millionaire players and billionaire owners taking a year off.

Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Preparedness: Low

    The Bolts generated excitement for hockey in Tampa for the first time since, you know, that other lockout.

    After a downer of a season last year, the re-vamped Lightning have Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Matt Carle in their prime and two aging stars in Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis.

    Losing this season really hurts.

Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Preparedness: Low

    With the exception of the guy who called me an idiot last time and claims the Leafs will get first overall next season, most people around the NHL acknowledge that Toronto probably is in a bit of a rebuilding mode.

    Naturally, that would mean a season off wouldn’t be all that bad.

    But this is Toronto, where hockey is craved more than, say, bars that stay open after 11:00 pm—nobody out there is ready to see hockey lockout again.

Vancouver Canucks

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    Preparedness: Very Low

    Canucks fans know they are ready to win now, and if you caught them in an honest moment, they know their teams reign over the Northwest Division is slowly coming to a close.

    This team still has a few good years left in it, but losing part or all of this season isn’t good.

Washington Capitals

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    Preparedness: Very Low

    The Capitals are in a bit of a rut and nothing cures that more than a bounce back season.

    Instead, they’ve seen superstar Alex Ovechkin join the KHL (and make the ridiculous claim that he might stay there for good).

Winnipeg Jets

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    Preparedness: High

    This is a team on a honeymoon and they would definitely benefit from time in the minors.

    A strong 2014 season will erase any bad memories in Winnipeg.


    Tom Schreier writes a weekly column for TheFanManifesto.com.