Biggest Remaining Need for Every NHL Team After Start of 2013 Free Agency Period
The initial NHL free-agency frenzy came and went with a ton of fanfare, and each team still has some needs to address. For some teams, restricted free agents are still unsigned and there are various organizational holes and other issues that need to be addressed sooner rather than later.
There are a few lucky teams that seem to have things together, but here are the biggest remaining needs for each NHL team.
Re-signing Teemu Selanne
The Anaheim Ducks roster currently has 22 players, and there is one final roster spot that is seemingly vacant for a reason. Teemu Selanne has not decided on his fate for the upcoming season, but if he returns, he will be a Duck.
At this point the Ducks should find out whether or not Teemu will return, and then they can finalize their roster for the upcoming season.
Locking up Tuukka Rask
The Bruins haven't signed Tuukka Rask to a contract yet, and there may be a reason for that. The team only has $5,638,690 in cap space, and Rask could get a contract worth upwards of $6 million a year, according to Joe McDonald of ESPN Boston.
According to Shawn Hutcheon of The Fourth Period, the Bruins are currently listening to offers on Chris Kelly and Brad Marchand to create cap space. According to Cam Neely (via Comcast SportsNet's Joe Haggerty), extensions are still being worked out. But what would the Bruins do in the event of an offer sheet?
Peter Chiarelli was confident a deal would be worked out before free agency, but up to this point Rask remains susceptible to an offer sheet.
Re-signing Cody Hodgson
The Buffalo Sabres were quiet on free-agency day, and maybe that was because Darcy Regier had a flashback to signing Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff. The Sabres have a couple of young prospects in the system who could make the team this year or next, so it made sense to keep roster spots open.
One of Regier's biggest moves included flipping Zack Kassian at the trade deadline two years ago, and the return in that trade was Cody Hodgson. Hodgson is a budding center with first-line potential, and the Sabres need to get him under contract as soon as possible.
Once money is allocated for Hodgson, the Sabres will then have an idea of how they want to fill out the rest of their roster.
Find A Starting Goaltender
Miikka Kiprusoff is not coming back for the final year of his contract, and Karri Ramo is the default starter for the Calgary Flames. No slight to Ramo, but he isn't Kiprusoff. The Flames need to retool their team in many ways, but the top priority should be finding a new netminder.
If the Flames can secure a netminder and build from the net out, they will have a chance to expedite their rebuild.
The Carolina Hurricanes only have six defensemen signed for the 2013-14 season. They have two unrestricted free-agent defenders whom they could re-sign, or they could look at the UFA market. Either way, Jim Rutherford needs to add some defenders, because you can never have enough depth on the blue line.
Make A Decision on 13th Forward
The 2013 Stanley Cup Champions have every role on their roster decided except for one. The 13th forward role is currently up in the air, and the two candidates are UFA Jamal Mayers and RFA Marcus Kruger.
Each candidate brings something different to the table when they are in the lineup, and it should be an easy final decision of the summer for Stan Bowman.
A Top-Four Defenseman
The Avalanche have a great group of forwards and a solid goaltending tandem, but their biggest weakness is defense. A player such as Rob Scuderi would have been a great fit on the Avs' blue line, but he signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The best move for Colorado would involve trading Paul Stastny for a top-notch blueliner, because even without Stastny the Avalanche have a great group of forwards.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Upgrading The Defense
The Blue Jackets upgraded their forward group by adding Nathan Horton and retaining Sergei Bobrovsky, but upgrading the defense would truly make Columbus a contender in the Eastern Conference.
The Blue Jackets had a number of players pitch in last year, but adding a veteran defender would be a solid move. The blue line is relatively young in age, and it would have made sense for the team to keep a veteran like Adrian Aucoin.
Although James Wisniewski is still on the team, he hasn't been able to remain healthy since joining the Blue Jackets.
A Top-Four Defenseman
The Stars have limited cap space and roster space, but they sorely need a top-four defenseman. The current group of forwards is solid, and prospects will soon make the jump to the NHL.
Kari Lehtonen is a very underrated goaltender, but he could improve his game if he had a better group of blueliners in front of him.
When you look up and down the roster, Dallas has a number of fringe second and third-pairing defenders, but they lack a bona fide top defender.
Detroit Red Wings
A Backup Netminder
The Red Wings have a number of forwards and defenders who will fill out the roster for the 2013-14 season, but it would be beneficial if the Wings could add a solid backup netminder.
Jonas Gustavsson did not have a great 2012-13 campaign, and it forced Mike Babcock to play Jimmy Howard for most of the season. Howard is a great No. 1 netminder with a bright future, but he does need rest to be effective.
Justin Schultz is a solid young defender, but he hasn't been tested over the length of an 82-game season. The Oilers added Andrew Ference, but he is a third-pairing defender who may play on the second pairing this season.
The Oilers may have prospects like Oscar Klefbom and David Musil, but they are untested at the NHL level. Edmonton should consider flipping one of its talented young forwards for an established defender because it would instantly help them improve the team.
The Panthers only have five defenseman signed for the upcoming season. In addition to adding a sixth defender to play full time, the Panthers need to acquire some depth in the event that a top blueliner goes down with an injury.
Los Angeles Kings
Re-sign Remaining RFAs
The Los Angeles Kings have a couple of key RFAs who need to be retained, and that should be the end of Dean Lombardi's moves this summer. Kyle Clifford, Trevor Lewis, Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez all need new contracts, and each is going to be a key part of the Kings in the foreseeable future.
During the most recent playoff run each youngster contributed in one way or another, and they deserve to earn reasonable new contracts.
No Major Needs
The Minnesota Wild seemingly have no major needs. They are set at goaltending, they have a promising blue line which features veterans and rookies and their forward group is very good.
There is a blend of skilled players like Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Jason Pominville and Mikael Granlund, and there are gritty forwards like Matt Cooke, Kyle Brodziak and Zenon Konopka.
If anything, the Wild could add a young starting goaltender, but they should have a solid roster for the 2013-14 season.
The Canadiens have a number of talented centers on their roster and a few skilled wingers, but they really could use an additional scoring winger.
When you look at the depth chart on Cap Geek, the Canadiens currently have a hole in this area, and it is something that Marc Bergevin should address before the start of the 2013-14 season.
The Nashville Predators lack skill amongst their forward group, and adding a scoring winger would help improve the team. Viktor Stalberg was a good addition, and Filip Forsberg should help add scoring, but the team still has a huge hole at the right wing position.
The Predators might have a solid defense, but you need goals if you want to win.
New Jersey Devils
Re-sign RFA Centers
The New Jersey Devils made some high-profile moves during free agency, but they are not done yet. After handing out some major coin to Ryane Clowe, the Devils are going to be in a pinch as they attempt to sign Adam Henrique and Jacob Josefson.
These centers all have a ton of potential and it will be a difficult task for Lou Lamoriello to retain all three at a reasonable rate.
New York Islanders
The Islanders have great prospects on the blue line, but they currently also have a glut of third-pairing defenders. Outside of Travis Hamonic and Lubomir Visnovsky, the Islanders don't have any notable defenders.
Adding a top-four defenseman would add skill and give the team a buffer for when Griffin Reinhart, Calvin de Haan and Ryan Pullock make their NHL debuts.
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers added depth on UFA day, but they still need some skill in the top six. The Rangers have Rick Nash, Derick Brassard, Derek Stepan and various others, but the team still needs more skill to compete.
Adding a scoring winger would give the Rangers a big boost, and the team should consider dealing from their defensive depth.
Top-Six Right Winger
The Ottawa Senators added Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur, but they still need an additional top-six winger. Jason Spezza and Kyle Turris are the Senators' top two pivots; Ryan and MacArthur will flank them on the left, but the right wing is a little empty right now.
When looking at the team's depth chart, adding a top right winger certainly is the team's biggest need. Even if you count Milan Michalek and Cory Conacher, it would still make sense to add a natural right-winger.
Cap Space via Cap Geek
The Flyers added a ton of players to their roster this summer, but they are now up against the salary cap. Despite using amnesty buyouts, the Flyers are still in the danger zone. They will have RFAs to retain next summer, and if they don't clear space they may not be able to afford them.
Re-sign Mikkel Bøedker
Mikkel Bøedker has not been signed to a new contract yet, and it would be wise for the Coyotes to re-sign the young winger. Bøedker is a great skater; he has solid hands and is a decent goal scorer.
The Coyotes have solid center depth locked up for the next few seasons, so it would make sense to ink Bøedker to a deal so he can maintain chemistry with his linemates.
Top-Six Right Wing
The Pittsburgh Penguins have great depth at left wing and center, but right wing is an area that could use a major upgrade. It may not matter to the Penguins since they have elite talent at center and left wing, but adding quality right wingers would strengthen the Penguins' overall depth.
San Jose Sharks
Thomas Greiss left the San Jose Sharks, and now Antti Niemi is in need of a solid backup. Alex Stalock has been the Worcester Sharks' netminder for a number of years now, but the team could use a backup who has some NHL experience.
Having a solid goaltending tandem is important, and adding a backup should be a priority for Doug Wilson.
St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues have three goaltenders capable of being the No. 1 starter, so it would make sense to deal one for a top-six winger. The right wing position is an area where depth is primarily weak, and Vladimir Tarasenko can't be expected to shoulder the load on his own.
Ty Rattie has the potential to step in and be an impact player, but adding another top-six winger would make a ton of sense.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning have the offense and two goaltenders who have the potential to be starters, but defensive depth is lacking. Matt Carle and Victor Hedman are solid blueliners, but Eric Brewer, Sami Salo and Mattias Ohlund aren't as good as they once were.
Adding a top-four blueliner would help the team surrender fewer goals.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Dion Phaneuf and Jake Gardiner are two of Toronto's top blueliners under contract. Phaneuf is the team captain, and Gardiner is a mobile young blueliner with a ton of potential. After those two, the depth currently drops.
Cody Franson, Carl Gunnarsson and Mark Fraser currently are RFAs, and the Maple Leafs need to pay them. John-Michael Liles rounds out the top six, but adding another blueliner with experience would give the Maple Leafs a blend of talent and experience.
Mend The Bridge With Roberto Luongo
Without Roberto Luongo, the Canucks are sunk. They decided to trade Cory Schneider, but that's not what Luongo wanted. He wanted to leave, but that isn't going to happen. Luongo could decide to not show up for training camp, but then he wouldn't get paid.
No matter how you look at it, for the Canucks to succeed they need Luongo to be at the top of his game, and for that to happen management needs to mend the bridge with Luongo.
Mike Ribeiro left the Capitals during free agency, and the team now has only one legitimate top-six center. Nicklas Backstrom is that man, but the Capitals can't expect him to carry the load offensively amongst centers.
If the Capitals didn't trade Filip Forsberg, he could have stepped in. But the Capitals may have to wait until Evgeny Kuznetsov makes his jump to the NHL.
The Winnipeg Jets have a number of talented wingers like Andrew Ladd, Evander Kane and Devin Setoguchi, but they lack depth at center.
Olli Jokinen is currently the team's No. 1 center, and if the year were 2003 instead of 2013 it wouldn't be a problem. Jokinen's best days are behind him, so it would make sense to add a legitimate first-line center.
Mikhail Grabovski is still on the market, and he would be a great fit for the Jets.