8 NHL Teams That Will Look the Most Different from the 2011-12 Season
The lockout continues to drone on and on.
Reasonable people wonder when we will ever see NHL action again, but nothing lasts forever, including the NHL lockout.
When the shortened season finally begins, many teams will have changes on their roster. All teams will probably have at least one or two changes, but some teams will have major changes done at the end of the 2011-12 season.
Here's a look at eight teams that will look the most different in 2012-13.
The Sabres made a fair amount of moves in the offseason, and head coach Lindy Ruff is going to have a more physical team to work with in 2012-13 than he has in the recent past.
The biggest move the Sabres made was trading for Steve Ott from the Dallas Stars. They also added John Scott and Adam Pardy.
Derek Roy, Brad Boyes and Jochen Hecht are all former Sabres.
It's the addition of Ott that will make the biggest difference. Previously, the Sabres were not the kind of team who were going to respond in a physical manner when challenged last year, and that got under Ruff's skin (via SportingNews.com).
Ott will not take an insult like Boston's Milan Lucic running over goalie Ryan Miller without responding in a physical manner. The Sabres didn't do that in the past.
Ott's edgy play will likely filter through the Sabres locker room and help make the team edgier than it has been.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets had the worst record in the NHL last season.
There was no way they could plan to go into the 2012-13 season with the same kind of roster they had last year.
General manager Scott Howson was trying to move Rick Nash (via Yahoo.com) prior to last season's trade deadline, and he finally worked a deal with Glen Sather of the New York Rangers. Nash will be on Broadway next year, and Kristian Huselius and Marc Methot are also ex-Blue Jackets.
Columbus will have quite a bit of new blood. Nick Foligno, Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Adrian Aucoin, Tim Erixon and Sergei Bobrovsky will all try to make the Blue Jackets a much more competitive team this year.
While the Jackets did not get equal value for Nash, Dubinsky had a 30-goal season in 2010-11. He slumped to 10 goals last year, but there's no reason he couldn't rebound to his higher levels. Anisimov had 16 goals for New York last year.
The Stars were a good team last year but not good enough to earn a Western Conference playoff spot.
They were close and in contention for the No. 8 spot until the final week of the season, but they finished in 10th place with 89 points. It was the fourth straight season that the Stars missed the playoffs.
The Stars have made some significant changes that are designed to make them a more dangerous team. They added Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney as free agents, and they traded for Derek Roy from the Buffalo Sabres.
Jagr and Whitney are 40-year-old veterans with a high level of offensive skills. Roy is also a talented offensive player who is creative with the puck.
Steve Ott, Mike Ribiero, Adam Burish, Sheldon Souray and Radek Dvorak are all ex-Stars. Ott was one of the team's policemen. He would stand up and assert himself any time he saw an opponent try to get physical with his teammates.
The Stars may be more explosive, but they may also lack grit in 2012-13.
Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings have been the gold standard in the NHL for 20 years.
One of the primary reasons for that assessment has been the presence of defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom on their roster.
Lidstrom has not only been one of the best defensemen in the NHL, he is among the greatest to play that position in the history of the NHL. If you wanted to make a pairing of the two best defensemen ever, you couldn't go wrong by putting Lidstrom and Bobby Orr together.
Losing Lidstrom to retirement is going to hurt this team badly. You can't replace a player of that caliber.
In addition to Lidstrom's retirement, the Red Wings lost Jiri Hudler, Brad Stuart and Ty Conklin.
The Red Wings have brought in Jordin Tootoo, Mikael Samuelsson and goalie Jonas Gustavsson. It may prove to be a much more difficult season than Detroit fans are used to seeing.
The Minnesota Wild wanted to join the ranks of the NHL's big boys.
They may have achieved their goal by making the biggest splash of any team during free agency. They signed the two biggest prizes available when they brought in Zach Parise from the New Jersey Devils and Ryan Suter from the Nashville Predators.
Parise has a non-stop motor and was the Devils' heart and soul. He will bring energy and talent to the Minnesota offense, while Suter is one of the top eight defenseman in the league.
The Preds were heartbroken when they lost him, but he should give the Wild much more talent and a physical presence on the blue line.
New York Rangers
The Rangers were the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last year.
They had an excellent regular season and appeared to have an excellent chance of playing for the Stanley Cup. However, they didn't make it out of the Eastern Conference Finals. Despite a solid defensive team, excellent goaltending and good all-around talent, they didn't have enough firepower to play for the Stanley Cup.
General manager Glen Sather pursued Columbus forward Rick Nash prior to last year's trade deadline. Sather could not swing the deal then, but he took up the chase again in the summer.
He finally completed the deal, and he did not have to give up any of the Rangers' core players.The Rangers traded Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, and their 1st round choice in the 2013 draft to get Nash.
When the season finally begins, the presence of Nash will give the Rangers more firepower. Instead of fighting hard for each goal, they may become a much more explosive team.
The Philadelphia Flyers could find themselves in a great deal of trouble when the season begins.
The Flyers lost Jaromir Jagr, Matt Carle and Pavel Kubina to free agency. They also traded potential superstar James van Riemsdyk to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Leafs acquired defenseman Luke Schenn in that trade. Schenn was the fifth pick in the 2008 draft while van Riemsdyk was the second pick in the 2007 draft.
Both players are still young enough to develop. The Flyers need Schenn to come around right away because they are not likely to have Chris Pronger as a result of long-term medical issues from a 2011 concussion.
The Flyers also acquired Ruslan Fedotenko, but he's merely a spare part who scored nine goals for the Rangers last year.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning appeared to be surging at the end of the 2010-11 season.
They made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals where they lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champions the Boston Bruins.
However, the Lightning did not pick up where they left off in 2011-12. They slumped dramatically and did not even make the playoffs.
As a result, the Lightning cleaned house in the offseason. They brought in Anders Lindback from Nashville to play goal, and they will get improved defensive play from Sami Salo and Matt Carle. The Lightning also acquired Benoit Pouliot from the Bruins.
Brett Clark, Mike Commodore and Ryan Shannon are gone. Goalie Dwayne Roloson will not be brought back and while he has not officially retired, there's a good chance he may decide to call it a career.