NHL Lockout: Which Teams Have Been Hurt the Most and Least?
The details of the next collective bargaining agreement (CBA) as well as the extra months of rest due to the lockout will impact how each NHL team addresses its current situation and its plan for the future.
The work stoppage has not benefited every team, but there are some clubs that will be positively affected by the extra time off.
Let's look at the three NHL teams that have been hurt the most by the lockout, and the three teams that have been hurt the least.
Teams Hurt the Most
The Vancouver Canucks will be one of the teams hit the hardest by a lowered salary cap in the new CBA. The cap ceiling during the 2013-14 season could be as low as $60 million, according to TSN's Pierre LeBrun.
General manager Mike Gillis has 11 players with contracts that include salary cap hits of over $4 million for the 2013-14 season, the most of any team. These 11 players make up about $48.68 million in salary, which would leave a little over $10 million in cap space (if the new cap is $60 million) for Gillis to fill the rest of the roster.
It's going to be hard for the Canucks to get below the new cap ceiling in the first full year of the next CBA, which is why the team might have just one more season left as a Stanley Cup contender.
In addition to salary cap concerns, the Canucks needed a full 2012-13 season for some of their key players to adjust to their new roles.
Defenseman Jason Garrison knows the Vancouver fanbase well, but he's never played with a lot of the Canucks players and isn't used to being on a contending team. Transitioning from the Florida Panthers to the Canucks blue line won't be easy.
If starting goaltender Roberto Luongo's career in Vancouver is going to end soon after the lockout, then Cory Schneider will be the starter without a proven backup.
Schneider has not been the No. 1 goalie at any point in his career during the regular season, and taking over this role will be an adjustment for him.
The Canucks have not benefited at all from this lockout, and will be under immense pressure to gel as a team and make a Stanley Cup run this season.
The Anaheim Ducks won't have much time before the trade deadline to determine if there is a chance that the team will be able to re-sign superstar forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry before they can enter free agency in the summer.
If the team doesn't trade them, it will risk losing both stars in free agency and also get nothing in return.
Anaheim plays in arguably the toughest division in the league, and a poor start would prevent them from making the playoffs.
The Ducks have shown in recent seasons that they improve as the season progresses and are capable of making a late-season run toward the playoffs in the last few months of the year.
They won't have the opportunity to make up ground in a shortened season because there will be fewer games played than normal. Anaheim doesn't have the depth or talent needed to reach the playoffs in a shortened year in the Western Conference.
The lockout also has prevented top Ducks prospects who are vital to the team's future success, such as talented forward Emerson Etem, from establishing themselves as NHL regulars.
The 2011-12 season was the most successful year in Coyotes history, which ended with a loss to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals. The Coyotes had never won a playoff series prior to last season.
Hockey fans from the Phoenix and Glendale areas were supporting the team throughout the postseason and there were rarely any empty seats at Jobing.com Arena during playoff games, which was very much unlike the regular season, when lots of empty seats were found at the arena on a nightly basis.
The lockout has likely ruined any momentum and excitement that the team built from its impressive playoff run last year, and rebuilding this momentum will be a difficult challenge for the Coyotes.
The team is still talented enough to make the playoffs, but the offseason departure of top scorer Ray Whitney is a massive loss, and general manager Don Maloney has yet to adequately replace the 39-year-old star via trade or free agency.
The lockout has also prevented many of the Coyotes' best young players and prospects from getting valuable NHL experience this season, and unless the team's veterans perform like they did last year, 2012-13 could be a disappointing season in Glendale.
This work stoppage came at the worst time for the Coyotes.
Teams Hurt the Least
The Bruins have not been hurt much by the lockout because many of the team's best players are still young, and the key players who battled injuries toward the end of the last season have had plenty of time to recover and prepare themselves for another lengthy playoff run.
Boston had several players go overseas during the lockout to play professionally and stay in shape. Star players such as Tyler Seguin and Tuukka Rask were very impressive overseas, and will come into training camp in shape and ready to go.
The lockout has also allowed defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who is the team's top prospect, even more time to develop in junior hockey. Hamilton continues to lead all OHL defensemen in scoring, and looks fully ready for the NHL.
As a team that thrives when it plays a physical style of hockey, the Bruins players will benefit from playing fewer games this season.
Since many Philadelphia Flyers defensemen were battling injuries in October, the team may actually benefit quite a bit from a later start to the 2012-13 season.
The Flyers cannot win the Stanley Cup if their blue line is missing too many key players, so the extra time off to rest and recover will certainly have a positive impact on this team.
Several of the team's best players, such as Claude Giroux and Danny Briere, were able to play overseas during the lockout and stay in shape during the work stoppage.
A number of the team's important young players, such as Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn, have played well in the AHL during the work stoppage. This experience will help them make a smooth transition to the NHL once a new CBA is finished.
Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov recently decided to leave the KHL . He was performing at a high level in net for CSKA Moscow over the last few weeks, and will now come into the new NHL season with some much-needed confidence.
Like many teams who play a physical style of hockey, the Flyers will benefit from a shortened season. Expect Philadelphia to start the 2012-13 season strongly.
Los Angeles Kings
This lockout will help the Los Angeles Kings tremendously, and may even increase their chances of becoming the first repeat champion in 15 years.
Most Stanley Cup-winning teams don't get to have a normal amount of offseason rest following a grueling playoff run, but the added months of rest due to the lockout have given the Kings players plenty of time to recover from a lengthy postseason last year.
The Kings' chances of avoiding the "Stanley Cup hangover" have drastically improved since they won't begin their title defense following a shortened offseason. Los Angeles, for the most part, should be injury-free and full of energy when the season begins, which will help them avoid a slow start.
The Kings also did not make any significant changes to their roster in free agency, and haven't lost any key players from last year's championship triumph. The lockout will give them a stronger chance for success than they would have had if the season begun in October.
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