5 NHL Teams That Should Blow Up Their Rosters When the Season Begins
The NHL and the NHL Players' Association are expected to resume talks to end the lockout.
The presence of a federal mediator may help the process. Perhaps a neutral third party professional can help unlock the stalemate and get NHL teams back on the ice.
Time is critical if there is going to be a 2012-13 season. Assuming that happens, team are likely to play a compacted schedule of 48-to-60 games.
Some teams, like the defending champion Los Angeles Kings, will want to pick up where they left of and make another run at the Stanley Cup. Other teams may consider themselves contenders.
However, there are five teams that probably have no shot of contending this year. Those teams should consider taking a wrecking ball to their roster so they can be legitimate Stanley Cup contenders in two or three seasons.
New York Islanders
The New York Islanders can't look at the 2012-13 season as a year to make the playoffs and make a legitimate NHL comeback.
They should be thinking about the future when they move to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2015-16 (source: CBSNewYork.com). When owner Charles Wang's team begins playing in Brooklyn, they should be ready to compete with the best teams in the division.
Center John Tavares is already a brilliant player and will be peaking at this time next year. The Islanders need to surround him with a special supporting cast, a great defense and goaltending.
This team needs to acquire talent and not delude itself into believing they can win it now.
Stuck in the middle.
The Calgary Flames are stuck in the middle of ordinary Western Conference teams. They don't compare with the elite teams.
The Flames finished with 90 points last year and they're not awful, but they are not close to championship material.
It's a difficult situation for general manager Jay Feaster to face, but the Flames are not going to beat teams like the Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings or San Jose Sharks in a playoff series.
They have bankable veteran stars in Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff, and would have a better chance in future years by trading these mainstays for young talent and draft choices.
It would be painful for Feaster and his team's loyal fans, but it would bring the Flames much closer to Stanley Cup contention than staying the course.
It's over for the Anaheim Ducks.
The Ducks have missed the playoffs two of the last three years, and while there is young talent on the vine, it is not quite ready to bear ripe fruit just yet.
General manager Bob Murray must come to the conclusion that he would be better off building for the future by trading off his most marketable players and bringing in more young talent.
Bobby Ryan is unhappy (source: Los Angeles Times) and the Ducks need to trade him to a contending team that can use a goal scorer. Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu are ancient and are not going to be able to handle the rigors of a contracted schedule.
With players Hampus Lindholm, Ermerson Etem and Rickard Rakell in the pipeline, the Ducks should be able to turn it around in two years.
By trading top assets after the lockout, they will give themselves a much better opportunity to have a bountiful future.
It's still quite amazing to watch Alex Ovechkin's highlight reel from his rookie season (above). Ovechkin was a dazzling combination of speed, power, creativity and shooting excellence. He was also a goal-scoring monster.
His numbers say he is on track for a Hall of Fame career. However, those same numbers show his last two seasons were far beneath the standard he set in his first five seasons.
Ovechkin is unhappy with the direction of the Capitals and he is most unhappy with the current lockout. He has made noises about remaining in the KHL if the terms that end the current lockout are not to his liking (source: Yardbarker.com).
The Caps have made the playoffs the last five seasons, but they have lost in the first or second round each time. They got hot at the end of the 2011-12 season, making the playoffs as the No. 7 seed and beating the defending champion Boston Bruins in the first round, but they were eliminated by the Rangers in the second round.
Interim head coach Dale Hunter promptly resigned and first-year head coach Adam Oates took over. There are too many question marks on this team, particularly if there are continued issues with Ovechkin.
The puck is in general manager George McPhee's zone. If the Capitals don't get off to a scintillating start once the season finally begins, he must make the difficult move of blowing up his roster and start making moves for the future.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The process has already started for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
They traded Rick Nash to the New York Rangers in late July, and that move can only mean that the Blue Jackets are looking to the future and not the 2012-13 season for relief.
That means general manager Scott Howson is no longer in denial. It seemed he was when he failed to complete a Nash deal prior to the trade deadline last season.
However, while there is talent at the minor-league level, the loss of young defenseman Ryan Murray to a torn labrum will slow this team's advancement (source: Toronto Globe and Mail). Murray probably won't be ready to play until the 2013-14 season.
That gives Howson more time to rebuild this struggling franchise.