NHL Lockout: Ranking Who Would Benefit Most from a Lost Season
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
The NHL is going through a disastrous lockout that is certainly nearing its climax.
Either the two sides will reach an agreement in the next two weeks or so, or the season will be lost entirely.
If the worst happens, and the season does go by the boards, there will actually be some benefit to certain individual players or certain teams.
Those who need the most time to rebuild may benefit from getting another year to plan or get more experience at the minor-league level.
The following slides feature seven individuals or teams that could stand to benefit from a complete lockout of the 2012-13 NHL season.
7. Tim Thomas
Tim Thomas did not have the best of seasons in 2011-12.
He found himself mired in controversy when he failed to go to the White House with the rest of his teammates to celebrate the Boston Bruins' 2011 Stanley Cup victory.
Then, he and his teammates lost a first-round playoff series to the Washington Capitals in overtime of the seventh game.
A few days after the playoffs ended, Thomas announced (h/t Boston.com) that he was taking the 2012-13 season off for personal reasons.
Who does that?
Thomas just walks away for a year for personal reasons? Strange behavior.
However, if the season is lost, Thomas may look somewhat prescient.
6. New Jersey Devils
Last year, the Devils had a successful run in the postseason and got all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they fell to the champion Los Angeles Kings in six games.
However, the offseason has been a difficult one for the Devils.
Star forward Zach Parise left through free agency and signed with the Minnesota Wild. Parise was not only the Devils' best player, but he was their heart and soul.
The Devils also lost assistant coaches Adam Oates and Larry Robinson. That's an especially tough combination to take when you are left with Peter DeBoer as head coach.
The Devils also have significant financial difficulties to contend with as well.
Giving GM Lou Lamoriello an extra year to deal with these problems can only help the Devils come back stronger. Lamoriello's intelligence and creativity gives him an advantage over anyone else who would have these problems.
He is one of the smartest executives in the NHL.
5. Robin Lehner
Goalie Robin Lehner of the Ottawa Senators was not quite ready for prime time last year.
The 21-year-old goalie played eight games last year and displayed plenty of talent, as he had a 2.01 goals against average and a .935 save percentage.
However, he needs time to ripen. During the lockout, he has played for the Binghamton Senators of the AHL. He is 12-4-1-1 with a 1.88 GAA and a .944 save percentage.
If he plays a full season with Binghamton this year, he could come into camp for the Senators ready to become a special goalie in the NHL.
4. Eddie Lack
Eddie Lack is the goaltender of the Chicago Wolves of the AHL.
The Wolves are the top minor-league team of the Vancouver Canucks.
The Canucks have been in the process of figuring out what to do with Roberto Luongo. It seems quite clear that when the lockout ends, he will soon be an ex-Canuck.
Cory Schneider will be the team's No. 1 goaltender, and Lack appears to be the player who will get the shot at being the Canucks' No. 2 goalie.
Giving him another year of experience should make him more prepared to take on the role of backup NHL goalie. Lack has a 3.00 goals against average in 13 games so far with the Wolves.
3. John Davidson
Columbus Blue Jackets team president John Davidson has one of the toughest jobs in hockey: he has to rebuild the worst team in the league.
The Columbus Blue Jackets were the bottom-ranked team in the NHL last year and they also traded high-scoring Rick Nash to the New York Rangers.
While there is much to do, Davidson can use the extra time to come up with an appropriate action plan.
2. Paul Holmgren
The Philadelphia Flyers are a regular playoff team that reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010.
They have the offensive talent on the roster to carry the team a long way.
However, they are defensively deficient. Injuries and a failed free-agent move have played a huge role in hurting this team's preparation.
Chris Pronger still has concussion-related issues and may never be able to play again.
The Flyers also tried to acquire Shea Weber, but that move failed when the Nashville Predators matched the Flyers' monstrous offer.
Andrej Meszaros (Achilles) and Andreas Lilja (hip) also need time to recover from injuries in order to play at the NHL level again.
General manager Paul Holmgren does not want to see the Flyers fall dramatically in the standings, and his team could benefit from a full-year lockout.
1. Alex Ovechkin
Alex Ovechkin scored 50 or more goals in four of his first five seasons with the Washington Capitals.
However, he slumped to 32 and 38 goals in the last two years, respectively.
He was not happy with the Capitals' changing system, in which defense suddenly became a priority and he became a scapegoat for the team's lack of success.
During the lockout, Ovechkin is playing in the KHL and got engaged to Maria Kirilenko, a Russian tennis player.
When the NHL comes back, his psyche and his game may be completely repaired and he could be ready for a huge season.